Affordable Dry Winter Air Solutions

by Reader Contributors

Affordable Dry Winter Air Solutions photo

Our frugal readers share their most effective tips for affordably combatting dry winter air in your home. No humidifier necessary!

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
It seems every year I end up buying a humidifier and it turns out to be a waste of money. Do any of your readers have any affordable dry winter air solutions for putting moisture into the air without having to run an appliance?

I already put wet towels on my heat registers.
Toni B.

Laundry Combats Dry Winter Air

Hang your laundry in your home. I purchased two collapsible drying racks, and I rarely use my dryer during the winter months. I’ll hang a load or two a night, and they’re completely dry by morning.

It adds moisture to the air and saves us money, too.

Dry Air and Houseplants

Keep houseplants, as many as your available light and space will allow. Keep them watered appropriately and mist them one to three times daily with just an ordinary spray bottle and water. This will serve to humidify your surroundings and remove pollutants as the plants grow.

Also, you can add moisture as well as good scents by keeping a pot of soup, stew or beans going.

Especially around the holidays, I almost always have my smallest cook pot on the stove filled with the rind of a citrus fruit and some cinnamon, cloves and maybe allspice (whole or powdered). Kept just below a simmer, it will make the place smell inviting for a full day.
Anna Marie

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Exhaust Fan Causes Dry Winter Air

One of the easiest ways to increase the moisture in your home is to seal the gaps around your window and doors. This will decrease the number of changes of air that take place in your home. Outside winter air is usually dryer than the air inside the house in the winter.

The next step would be to run your shower with the exhaust fan off. This will increase the moisture in the air near the bathroom. If you have a fireplace, place a cast iron pot with water on top and keep it filled. A pot on the stove with water and a few sticks of cinnamon will not only add moisture, but will also add a nice aroma.

Vents Fight Dry Winter Air

If your electric clothes dryer is inside the house (as opposed to the garage or basement), consider an internal dryer vent. They’re inexpensive, recycle heat into your house, and add loads of moisture back into the house. We use ours every winter and never have a problem with dry air static build-up.

To keep the lint from flying, we place a section of old pantyhose over the holes in the internal vent. It works wonderfully.

Evaporation Key to Dry Air

In order to add moisture to the air:

  1. After washing your clothes, hang them on a drying rack and let them air dry. (See How to Air Dry Clothes without Stiffness.)
  2. If you don’t have toddlers in the house, after your bath, leave the water in the tub with the door open so that the water can evaporate some and add moisture. After an hour or two, drain the rest of the water. Don’t take baths? During your shower, close the drain and gather water in the tub. Then, leave this in for a few hours.
  3. When boiling water for that pasta dinner, leave the cover off the pot. The steam will add moisture.
  4. Make sure your windows and doors are weather-stripped and locked. This allows less moist air to escape the home. The locking closes the windows and doors better, thus tightening the seals.
  5. After washing dishes, allow the water to stand for a while. Don’t hand wash dishes? When using the dishwasher, allow it to air dry instead of electronically dry. Also, when hand washing, allow the dishes to air dry instead of wiping them dry.

These are just a few ideas to help you add moisture to the house. Think about the ways you use water and how you try to get rid of it. Let it go away naturally while adding moisture to your home, saving you energy and health.

Dry Winter Air? Eat Soup

I live in the desert, and winters can be extremely dry. This is the time of year I make all sorts of stock and soups and either consume them or freeze them. Gentle simmering all day does the trick.

In addition, if you have a fireplace insert like I do, I put a kettle of warm water on, and it gently steams away while the fire is going, usually at night. The cooking activity heats up the small house during the day, and the fire continues to keep it warm at night with enough moisture added to the air at no additional cost.

Scents Needed for Winter Air

During colder days/months, I use a Dutch oven on top of my stove, just as if I were cooking. I get the water to a rolling boil, add vanilla and cinnamon, and then reduce to a simmer. This permeates the air with a wonderful smell and simmers all day.

I purchase the vanilla and the cinnamon at the dollar store, so it’s very inexpensive to use. Plus, once the cold days are over, a quick run through the dishwasher and the pot and lid go away with the other cookware. There is nothing left to “store.”

Slow Cookers Make for Affordable Dry Winter Air Solutions

My apartment gets very dry in winter. Last year, I experimented with using old crockpots as humidifiers, and it was so successful I’m doing it again this year. The crockpots are small enough to tuck away in every room. Set on low, without the lid, they efficiently pump out a lot of moisture. I already had one I wasn’t using and bought the others at Goodwill. They are especially cheap if you find one without the lid!

Using distilled water is an option that makes using them a bit more expensive, but if you use tap water, you will have to use vinegar at some point to descale the pots. So there is some cost either way.

Try Some Coffee Cans or a Fish Tank

We use an empty can, such as a coffee can, soup can, etc., and fill it 3/4 of the way with water and set it inside the central unit’s vents. We have an intake vent in the floor, so a coffee can fits nicely and keeps moisture in the air. Have a larger home? Use multiple cans of water.

Another thing that helps with our dry Minnesota winter air is a fish tank. The kids got a tank for Christmas and it seems to have helped with our humidity, so we’re looking to get another one. This gives the family an inexpensive pet while helping our air quality!

Reviewed January 2024

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