How to Raise the Humidity in Your Home

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

As the weather turns colder, don’t be surprised if your body feels drier. Chapped lips, rough patches on your reddened hands, even dry and flaky skin can all be signs that winter is doing a number on you. Despite the snow and sleet and even cold rain that comes our way in late fall and throughout the winter, the cold season is typically associated with the dry season when it comes to our bodies. And it’s not only our skin that feels this way. Dry air can lead to dry nasal passages, an itchy scalp, and even a dry, tight feeling in our throats. To combat this irritating winter issue, let’s look at how to raise the humidity in your home.

Too-dry air and illnesses

Keeping your home’s humidity level high enough in the winter is about more than just staying comfortable. It can also help you ward off illnesses that are more common when you live in a dry-air environment. According to doctors with the Cleveland Clinic, being in environments with low humidity in the winter can make you more susceptible to nosebleeds, and also to respiratory problems like bronchitis and sinusitis. You need enough mucus in your nasal passages to trap infection-causing agents before they make you sick. When the inside of your nose is too dry, the mucus can’t do its job. Dry air can also worsen asthma for those who already have it.
A lot of this dry air that surrounds us comes from our home’s heating systems. This can be from a forced-air furnace, like most of us have, or a wood stove or fireplace. And as the temperatures drop, home heating systems are cranked up and kick on much more frequently.

Dangers of being in a too-dry environment

Think of being in a low-humidity environment as being a sponge that is slowly being squeezed of its water. It can also lead to an overall feeling of dehydration. Other health problems associated with dry air include:

Adding moisture to your home

To keep these and other dry-air problems at bay, you should check your home’s humidity levels during the cold season. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends keeping indoor humidity in the range of 30% to 50%. How do you know if your home’s air level is in this target zone? If there is no humidity meter on your furnace, you can pick up an inexpensive one at your local hardware store to track the humidity percentage of your indoor air.
Here are some ways to raise the humidity level in your home:
Use a humidifier. These can be whole-house humidifiers, or small humidifiers that add moisture to one room or one area of the home. Be sure to clean your humidifier correctly.
Simmer pots. If you’ve ever made a big pot of homemade soup in the winter, you’ll notice that as it simmers the air in the kitchen gets warmer, more humid and nearby windows will start to fog - all signs of added moisture in the air. But creating a simmer pot works just as well. Fill a small pot with water and bring it to a simmer on the stove. Add some cinnamon sticks or cloves for a festive scent.
To prevent dry skin during the winter, try these tips:
  • Take shorter, warm showers instead of long, hot showers.
  • Towel off after a bath or a shower and while your skin is still damp, use a moisturizer. This helps trap the moisture on your skin.
  • Drink more water, herbal tea or other beverages.
  • Use lip balm.
  • Use hydrating sprays on your face or those formulated for your nasal passages.
Photo credit: Getty Images

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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