ShyeAnne lives on beautiful Vancouver Island off of the west coast of British Columbia, Canada—an area prone to moisture and humidity.
How to Dehumidify Your Home With Cheap Alternatives and Home Remedies
We live in a cabin on the south end of Quadra Island, located off of the east coast of Vancouver Island, which is just off the west coast of Canada. Our climate is balmy and beautiful, though liberally sprinkled with rain and wind, for approximately eight months of the year.
The winter months are cold and damp to us west-coasters, and these are perfect conditions for humidity to rise in our home. Due to our geographical location and climate, we've had to find ways to dehumidify our rooms and house with cheap, natural, and portable moisture absorbers.
Dehumidifying Solutions Covered in This Article
In this article, we will discuss the following:
- How to get rid of humidity in a house or room naturally
- Natural and homemade dehumidifiers: rock salt, DampRid, Dri-Z-Air, and baking soda
- What causes moisture buildup
- The signs of humidity and moisture problems
- The consequences of humidity (health and home damage—electronics, warped floors, peeling paint, etc.)
4 Natural Ways to Dehumidify a House or a Room
If you discover that you have humidity and you don't want to invest in a dehumidifier, here are four different solutions that are cheap and easy.
Using these solutions, you can forego buying expensive moisture controls like moisture fans, portable electronic dehumidifiers (energy-efficient models can be expensive), AC units (cold evaporator coils can be expensive to repair), and heat pumps.
1. Rock Salt
I have tried this rock salt method for removing moisture and it works for me. Rock salt will pull moisture out of the air and decrease humidity.
How Well Does Rock Salt Work?
Rock salt is highly effective for dehumidifying. Rock salt or NaCl is a hygroscopic material, meaning it both draws and stores water and works much like an electric humidifier. It's natural, non-toxic, cheap, easy to find, and easy to work with—not to mention, no electricity is needed!
- 2 five-gallon buckets
- 1 bag of rock salt
- Using a drill, put a couple of dozen holes in the sides and bottom of a bucket.
- Place this bucket inside the other intact (not drilled) bucket. Pour rock salt into the top bucket. Place the buckets in the area to be dehumidified.
- As the rock salt pulls moisture from the air, it will collect in the bottom bucket. Dump liquid and replace rock salt in order to continue dehumidifying the area as necessary.
DampRid is a product that will control high humidity in your home or greenhouse. It comes in a hanging packet, as a bucket or as a spreadable powder. As the crystals absorb the moisture, they harden and turn into a solid mass.
The white crystals are calcium chloride. This chemical compound is composed of calcium and chlorine and can be generated by limestone. The crystals are typically white or colorless, but small amounts of mineral deposits can cause the crystals to take on a faint rust color.
How Well Does DampRid Work?
DampRid is an easy product to find in most home repair and hardware stores and is not too hard on the pocketbook at $5 or less. This product is nice because you are able to monitor its effectiveness visually, which makes it extremely user-friendly. It is also self-contained, so no messes.
If you are curious to see a thorough demonstration of how DampRid works, watch the video below.
Video: DampRid Dehumidifier Reviews
Dri-Z-Air is another cost-effective product easily found in most hardware and/or big box stores. The crystals in Dri-Z-Air absorb excess humidity in the air.
How Well Does Dri-Z-Air Work?
Dri-Z-Air is highly rated on major sites like Amazon and contains a nontoxic salt—calcium chloride. No electricity is needed for this product and each individual unit will work well for a 10' x 10' space.
To use, you simply empty the crystals into the provided container (made of recycled plastic) or make your own, and store it somewhere unobtrusive. Simply dump the liquid in a toilet or the sewer (it is non-toxic brine) and replenish.
- Line a colander (plastic is best) with a vinyl screen and fill it with Dri-Z-Air.
- Place the colander in another larger bowl or bucket. As the crystals pull water from the air, it collects in the bottom container.
- When all crystals have liquified, pour out the contents of the bowl or bucket and repeat with more crystals if necessary.
4. Baking Soda
For a cheap, homemade, energy-free, easy fix for room humidity that will help to reduce moisture levels, try baking soda. Simply place an open bowl of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) anywhere that you have moisture problems—including cabinets and cupboards.
How Well Does Baking Soda Work?
Baking soda is a great alternative to store-bought products, though less effective than rock salt. It does well for smaller spaces like closed cabinets and cupboards. This kind of setup does require occasional stirring once the baking soda begins to absorb moisture from the room.
This is an all-natural, cheap, effective choice for small spaces like closets and bathrooms.
How to Use a Hygrometer to Monitor Indoor Humidity
You will need to purchase a hygrometer and place it in the room, greenhouse, closet, or garage, wherever you need to monitor the humidity. A hygrometer is a meter that measures the moisture in the air.
They can be purchased for ten dollars or less at most big box stores, hardware stores, and such. You will find them in the hardware aisle. Hygrometers usually come coupled with a thermostat, as temperature plays a big part in the humidity level in the room.
What Is Relative Humidity?
When air reaches its maximum holding capacity, we being to notice the humidity. More vapor means higher humidity—this is what we "feel."
Relative humidity levels describe the amount of moisture in the air at a certain temperature versus the amount of moisture the air can actually hold:
- Relative humidity: The percent of water vapor in the air relative to the temperature and the amount of water vapor air can hold at that temperature.
- Absolute humidity: The amount of moisture or water vapor in the air.
Keep in mind that warm air holds more moisture than cold air. Even at the same absolute humidity, the humidity will be lower in warm air than in cold air.
How to Determine Relative Humidity
Relative humidity can help us also determine the rate at which water will evaporate. In hot, dry areas, evaporation is fast compared to cold, wet areas. Cold air has less capacity to hold water vapor than warm air, so cold, wet conditions lead to slower evaporation and more condensation in the home.
To calculate relative humidity, you will need the following measurements (g/m3 is gram-per-cubic-meter):
- Measurement 1 or M1: g/m3 water vapor in the air
- Measurement 2 or M2: g/m3 maximum moisture in the air at a given temperature
[M1 (g/m3) ÷ M2 (g/m3)] × 100 = % relative humidity
You may also choose to simply purchase a cheap hygrometer for 10 dollars. In addition, some advanced thermostats will report and control indoor humidity by heating and cooling your house and maintaining room temperature.
What Causes Humidity in a Home?
Poorly ventilated bathrooms
Rain and roof leakage
Steam from cooking or ironing
Inadequate window seals
Leaking pipes (sinks and toilets)
Laundry machines (dryers)
Signs of Humidity Problems and How to Identify Their Cause
- Condensation on the panes of windows and doors
- Spots of mold growth in corners or on the ceiling
- Musty smells
- Puddles or wet spots in basements, attics, or crawl spaces
- Allergies (cough, dry eyes, watery eyes)
1. Do You Live in a Wet Climate?
Where we live, being surrounded by such lush greenery and plants creates even more opportunity for high humidity in the home. When I am not careful, I find myself mopping puddles of water and condensation off of the insides of windowsills.
We keep the wood stove burning 24 hours a day during the winter months. One of the reasons, of course, is to keep us toasty warm, and another reason is that heat assists in keeping our living space dry and humidity down.
2. Was Your House Built to Prevent and Repel Moisture?
Ours wasn't. It is constructed with wood and covered with shake. It sits close to the ground perhaps a foot from the soil with no solid foundation. There is also no vapor barrier, plastic or otherwise, between the floor and the ground in one of the bedrooms. This causes moisture to condense under anything that may be laying on the floor—clothing, dog beds, those kinds of things.
Condensation also forms under beds and dressers—places where there is little or no circulation. Rooms particularly prone to trapped moisture include basement rooms (may require the installation of a sump pump), attics, crawl spaces, and poorly ventilated bathrooms.
3. Are You Seeing Water Damage?
Humidity can compromise the structural condition of your house. It is important to control the humidity in your home to protect your investment. Too much moisture and condensation can cause damage to window sills, skylights, dark closets, and small rooms because of collecting and pooling water in places with poor ventilation.
All in all, this is a very unhealthy and unsafe circumstance to have inside of one's home, especially for health reasons. High humidity is a breeding ground for molds and mildews. Breathing in mold spores, even dead ones, can cause many health issues for humans.
Damp Home Environment Survey
Health Reasons for Controlling Humidity
The word "humidity" refers to the amount of water in the air. Many organisms thrive in moisture and can cause reactions in humans with allergies. Optimum indoor humidity is between 30–50%.
Too high a temperature will create too much humidity, potentially growing mites, molds and other nasty fungi. All are significant indoor allergens. Mold is especially harmful and toxic to humans. Grey mold grows on the surface of dirt in greenhouses if the soil becomes too damp and humid. Too low humidity coupled with low temperatures will also cause mold and mildew.
On the flip side, too low humidity is not good for humans or plants either. Low humidity causes dry skin and hair, static electricity and dry mouth while sleeping. All of these things can be avoided by choosing one or all of these four easy and cost-effective ways to lower the humidity.
Health Issues Caused by High or Low Relative Humidity
Rashes (heat rash)
Eyes, nose, throat irritation
Dry or chapped hair, skin, nails
Throat and nose irritation
Video: Balancing Humidity Levels in Your Home
- How to Get Rid of Dampness and Humidity in the Home
Do you ever ask yourself, "Why is my house so damp?" Every house can suffer from moisture problems for many reasons, but here are some things that will work to get rid of dampness once and for all.
- Benefits of a Dehumidifier in Your Home
There are many benefits of a dehumidifier for your home. Health, mold, dust mites, wood, surfaces, and electronics can all be negatively effected by too much moisture in the air. Learn how a dehumidifier can preserve health and home.
- What Is Relative Humidity, and What's an Ideal Level for Your Home? | Molekule Blog
Ideal relative humidity is important for health and your home's condition. If too high, mold may grow, while too low can be problematic. Find out what is best.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: Does Damp Rid have to be replaced in a dish, etc., immediately when all the crystals have turned to water?
Answer: Yes, in order to keep dehumidifying.
© 2012 ShyeAnne
Tony on February 24, 2019:
Great tips. I'm wondering if the rock salt or baking soda methods would work for my situation. I air dry charcuterie in my cantina (cold cellar) and have noticed that the unpredictable Toronto weather has made it hard to control my humidity inside the space. At the time of writing this my cantina was 86%, where I need it to be in the range of 65%-70% for my meats to cure and dry completely
ShyeAnne on September 29, 2018:
Hey Andra, Thank you for your inquiries..I would replace the rock salt every thirty days or so and use it for as long as you need to draw moisture out of the air. Some homes require ongoing treatment. I didn't check humidity percentage before and after, sorry!
Andra on September 29, 2018:
Hey ShyeAnne, I am curious how much rock salt have you used and for what amount of time? When does it need replacing and what was the humidity percentage in the house after and before using it? Thank you for sharing this experience with you !
ShyeAnne (author) from Deep Bay, British Columbia, Canada on February 12, 2017:
Thank you for sharing what you do to dehumidify your home Jason Silva.
ShyeAnne (author) from Deep Bay, British Columbia, Canada on February 12, 2017:
Much luck! How are you doing with your dehumidifying? Thank you for your comment.
Jason Silva on January 12, 2017:
I use non of these methodes I use a dehumidifier fan I made but looking to build a dehumidifier box for a3000sf building the house is 1800 withs a dirt floor basement and I achieve 50% humidity
ShyeAnne (author) from Deep Bay, British Columbia, Canada on August 17, 2015:
jcpmc,Thank you for your comment. I live on an Island and the potential for humidity and mold in our home is tremendous. It is an ongoing challenge to stay ahead of it.
JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on August 16, 2015:
During the rainy season humidity increases in the Philippines. Kroger ventilation sometimes is not sufficient. We up dehumidifiers and keep moisture to a minimum. I hate it when molds grow.
ShyeAnne (author) from Deep Bay, British Columbia, Canada on January 31, 2015:
Thank you for your comments. I live in an old house now, about 40 feet from the ocean. Condensation is a big issue for me too. Like you, I wipe the windows and patiently wait for summer. Thank you for your comments.
ShyeAnne (author) from Deep Bay, British Columbia, Canada on January 31, 2015:
I would try any of these methods. I am not an expert, just someone that has battled with humid environments. good luck and thank you for your question.
Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on January 05, 2015:
Very helpful information about condensation in the home.
Here in New Zealand no matter what I do to help keep the home dry there is always dripping windows in the winter.
I just dry off windows with a towel every morning to stop the water dripping down on the carpet and keep the fire going.
There are lots of reasons why some homes are wetter than others and it does help us living in a valley and only seeing the sun for about five hours a day when it shines.
You can get dripping windows in the summer when the temperature drops down to about 5 degrees and it does happen here in NZ.
Hope 2015 is a great year for you.
email@example.com on January 04, 2015:
Do you think it will work in a 4 season room with a hot tub in the room with cover?
ShyeAnne (author) from Deep Bay, British Columbia, Canada on December 12, 2014:
Thanks Lady Guinevere , for the comments. It is a very wet world that we live in here in the Pacific Northwest !!
Debra Allen from West By God on December 11, 2014:
Great advice and I sent it to a firend who is looking for these solutions.
ShyeAnne (author) from Deep Bay, British Columbia, Canada on October 30, 2012:
Thank you Glosei for your kind words. I love our cabin too! I hope it works for you. Hopefully the damp basement goes away.
Also Thank you to Ken for your comment.
Gloria from France on October 30, 2012:
First Shyeanne I love your cabin, it looks so cosy and close to nature it's great.
We get damp in our basement so I love the idea with the Rock Salt and worth trying out thanks for some good tips.
Ken on October 30, 2012:
Very informative and well written.