No Humidifier, No Problem – 13 Alternatives To Increase Humidity

Ile Kauppila

Written By

Ile Kauppila

Expert Reviewed By

Josh Mitchell

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I live with breathing issues, so I use a humidifier to help me breathe. A couple of years ago, my unit broke and I couldn’t immediately fix it.

I was stuck without a humidifier for more than a week! It was awful.

I resolved to never let it happen again and started researching how to humidify a room without a humidifier.

Here are my 13 awesome, tried-and-true DIY tips and tricks to humidify your home, even without a humidifier.

Key Takeaways

  • You can add humidity to your room without a humidifier using simple and creative techniques like adding houseplants, boiling water, placing damp towels, spraying mist etc.
  • Adding moisture can help against a plethora of illnesses that are typical to dry air.
  • Try to maintain humidity levels between 30%-50% in your room for healthy air.

How To Humidify A Room When You Don’t Have A Humidifier?

how to humidify without a humidifier

1. Get Some Houseplants

I love plants, so I was really happy to learn that houseplants and flower vases can help keep indoor air humid!

They “sweat” through a process called evapotranspiration, which releases moisture into the air through pores on plants’ leaves. (1)

Some houseplants I can recommend for humidifying the air include the spider plant, jade plant, and areca palm.

The more plants you have, the more they humidify the air.

Important Note:

Just remember that evaporation removes water from the plant and the soil pot. So, remember to water your green friends regularly!

TL;DR: Plants naturally release water into the air as part of their living. Hence, they are the best way to raise humidity.

2. Turn Radiators Into Humidifiers

Heat causes evaporation, and you can harness this method to your advantage to humidify dry air.

Fill a medium-sized ceramic or metal bowl with water and place it on a warm surface, like a radiator.

Alternatively, you can drape damp towels or wet sponges over them. I’ve found that towels may be somewhat more efficient, but they can also drip.

Whether you use a bowl or a damp towel, the water will evaporate and add more moisture to the air.

This can be a simple and affordable way to humidify the air in your home.

Be careful not to block important ventilation holes on your heater or spill water on any electronic appliances.

Additionally, change the water regularly, as warm water can quickly begin to grow mold and bacteria.

TL;DR: If you have a radiator in your home, put a water filled metal/ceramic bowl or a wet towel on it.

3. Put Bowls Of Water In The Sun

I’m a bit of a green freak, so on a sunny day, I sometimes harness solar power to humidify my home. Place containers of water in direct sunlight on sunny windowsills.

The sun’s heat will evaporate the water, adding humid vapor to the indoor air in your home.

Important Note:

Make sure you do not place the bowl close to curtains or any object that can become damp. Dampness breeds bacteria and mold.

If you crack the window open as well, the breeze could distribute the water vapor more effectively around the place.

However, if the outdoor air is very dry (like it is in my home region) keep the window shut — otherwise, you’ll make your bowl of water useless.

TL;DR: Let the heat from the sun evaporate a water bowl. This method will obviously not work at night.

4. Boil Water On The Stovetop

If having a water bowl on a heater isn’t doing the job, it’s time to up the ante. Get a kettle or pot of water and set it to boil on your stove.

The boiling water releases hot steam that will quickly add moisture to the air. Your DIY stove steamer can be a very effective and fast-acting humidifier.

You can achieve the same results also by leaving a crock pot uncovered and turned on low.

I sometimes add a couple of drops of my favorite essential oils into the water to produce a soothing fragrance.

Just remember to keep an eye on the pot so it doesn’t boil dry and crack.

TL;DR: Use the good old fashioned fire to turn water into steam. 

5. Leave The Bathroom Door Open While Showering

A hot shower naturally produces warm water vapor. I tend to leave the bathroom door open while I shower to let the mist waft into other rooms.

If your shower has glass doors, leave those cracked open to let the hot water vapor out without soaking the floors.

This is a very effective method to humidify your home. It can also help prevent mold growth in your bathroom by dispersing the humidity elsewhere.

You may want to warn possible roommates about it before you shower, though!

TL;DR: Did you take a hot shower? Let the vapors seep into your dry living room by keeping the doors open.

6. Leave Your Tub Undrained After A Bath

If you prefer baths to showers, you can still use hot water to combat dry air. Once you’ve finished bathing, don’t drain the tub.

Let the bath water sit in it and open the bathroom door.

The water will slowly evaporate and raise the humidity level in your home.

Its evaporative efficiency decreases as the water cools down, so once you’ve let the bathtub water cool completely, feel free to drain the tub.

TL;DR: Similar to taking a shower, leave the tub undrained for a while. Caveat: do not let the water sit in their for too long!

7. Spray Water Into The Air

A humidifier does nothing but sprays fine water mist or steam into the air.

I’ve achieved similar results by using a spray bottle with a sufficiently fine nozzle.

Fill the bottle with water and spritz it into empty air every now and then.

The airborne fine water mist evaporates, increasing moisture in your home.

Important Note:

Make sure you don’t spray any furniture or carpets, though, as they could get too damp and start growing mold.

TL;DR: You can manually put water into the air by using a spray bottle with fine nozzle.

8. Dampen Your Curtains

On a sunny and breezy day, you can turn your curtains into humidifiers with a spray bottle.

Moisten the curtains and crack a window open. Sun’s heat will evaporate the water and the wind will push the much-needed moisture into your home.

If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can also flick water on the curtains with your hand.

Remember to only moisten the curtains slightly. I recommend not getting them soaking wet or you could risk mold growth. Also, this method will not work on overcast or rainy days.

TL;DR: You can turn curtains into something similar to wick filters on an evaporative humidifiers. Damp curtains will disperse vapor once heated by sun or by the push of wind. 

9. Leave The Dishwasher Open

Ever get hit in the face by a cloud of hot steam when you open your dishwasher? I sure have, and that steam can be your ticket to humidifying your living space!

After the dishwashing cycle is done, skip the drying cycle and open up the dishwasher door.

The hot steam wafting from the dishwasher can be very effective at humidifying your home.

As a little bonus, you’ll save a bit of money on electricity bills by not using the drying cycle.

My wallet certainly appreciates it!

TL;DR: Dishwashers produce hot vapor as part of their process. Leaving them open just before the dry cycle can help moisturize the air.

10. Dip A Towel In A Water Bowl

You can build your own humidifier with nothing but a towel, a bowl, and a coat hanger.

Fill the bowl with water and hang the towel above it so that it just barely dips into the water.

The towel will act as a wick, absorbing the water and allowing it to evaporate.

This method works more effectively than having the bowl sit out on its own.

If you want to make your homemade humidifier contraption even better, I recommend setting up a small fan to blow air over the towel.

The airflow increases evaporation and also helps distribute the moisture more evenly.

TL;DR: This is similar to curtain above. A wet towel will act as a wick filter as the water evaporates from it.

11. Air-Dry Your Laundry

If you have a load of laundry fresh out of the washer, don’t throw it in the dryer.

Instead, drape your laundry over a drying rack and allow it to air dry in a central location in your home.

As your damp clothes dry, the evaporating water will increase indoor humidity levels.

You will also save energy and money on electricity by not using your dryer. Frankly, I rarely use my dryer these days and opt to air-dry my clothes.

TL;DR: You can turn your laundry sessions into something even more productive. Wet clothes will naturally raise the humidity as they dry.

12. Buy An Indoor Water Feature

Indoor water features — like small fountains or waterfalls — can help add humidity to your home.

There will always be a bit of evaporation coming off them, so they can offer a slight air moisture content boost. Also, I love how they look!

A small water fountain will likely be cheaper than a full-blown humidifier, so it can be an affordable solution.

You also won’t have to refill it as often, although you still should clean it regularly to make sure it doesn’t start growing bacteria or mildew.

TL;DR: Not only can these be a sight for sore eyes, but they have the added benefit of keeping the air moist. Just make sure you clean them regularly.

13. Get A Fishy Friend

An aquarium can be surprisingly effective at humidifying indoor air.

Evaporation is part of a fish aquarium’s natural operational cycle, and all that water vapor gets added to your home air.

Tropical fish are gorgeous (at least I think so!) and fishkeeping is a relaxing hobby, so you can also enhance the mood in your home.

Important Note:

Sometimes aquariums can add too much moisture to the air and need to be covered to prevent the air from getting excessively damp.

TL;DR: Similar to an indoor water feature, aquariums can work as robust humidifiers. Evaporation is part of their operational cycle. 

Why Is Humidity Important In The Home?

We spend a lot of time indoors (sometimes too much, if you ask me) so properly humidified indoor air is crucial for your and your home’s health.

What are the Optimal Humidity Levels

Both dry air and excessive humidity can cause problems for your respiratory system and damage your house.

I’m slightly asthmatic, so dryness is a real problem for me.

If the humidity is too low, you can experience a dry nose and mouth, dry skin, and difficulty breathing.

Low humidity can negatively impact those with allergies and make sinus issues and asthma worse.

Dry air also allows cold and flu viruses to thrive, which can increase the risk of getting sick.

However, too much humidity can encourage the growth of mold, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and more.

All of these are biological pollutants and can leave you or your loved ones seriously ill.

Additionally, too humid air is bad for asthma as well, as I have unfortunately found out. (2)

Properly moist air can bring you serious health benefits.

Appropriate humidity levels (30-50%) make air easier to breathe and moisturize your mucous membranes, reducing congestion, irritation, coughing, and sleep-disrupting snoring episodes.

Important Note:

60% is considered the upper limit. Do not take the humidity beyond this level.

Humid air keeps your skin and hair moist, which can be particularly good for those with skin conditions like eczema.

Additionally, humidity is good for your house or apartment. It prevents wooden furniture, walls, and floors from drying out and cracking.

And if you have plants and flowers, they will thrive in proper humidity.

TL;DR: Optimal humidity levels are essential for myriad of health benefits. However, humidity can be a double edged sword. Make sure it does not get excessively high. Get a hygrometer or a humidistat for monitoring the levels.

Common Questions

How Do You Know If The Air In Your House Is Dry?

You know the air in your home is too dry if you start noticing health conditions caused by dry air, such as constant congestion, nosebleeds, dry skin, chapped lips, and increased allergy symptoms.

You may also notice excessive static electricity and dry rot on wood floors and furniture.

Can Dry Air Make You Sick?

Dry air itself won’t make you sick, but it can contribute to other factors that will.

Flu and cold viruses tend to thrive in dry environments, and dry air contributes to asthma and sinus problems, especially during cold winter months.

Do Candles Increase Humidity?

Candles don’t generally impact indoor humidity levels in any significant way.

Some sources claim they can increase humidity by burning hydrocarbons to produce water vapor, but the effect is so small that it likely won’t matter.

Does Fire Eliminate Humidity?

Yes, a fire will reduce humidity levels in your home. If you suffer from health issues caused by dry air, avoid lighting a wood-burning stove or a fireplace in your home.

What Is The Ideal Home Humidity?

The ideal home humidity level is between 30-60%.

Relative humidity above 60% gets uncomfortably clammy and can promote the growth of microbes and dust mites, while humidity below 30% can irritate your airway and help cold viruses thrive. (3)

So, Yes You Can Humidify Without A Humidifier

Proper humidity levels are vital for both you and your home. Luckily, there are many ways to humidify the air you breathe and reap air moisture’s health benefits.

A dedicated humidifier will always be the most efficient solution, but it isn’t the only one.

I’ve tried a lot of different tricks and told you the best of them. Now, you can increase the humidity in your home even if your precious humidifier breaks.


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Ile Kauppila

MA Multimedia Journalism / BA English Philology

Ile Kauppila
Ile Kauppila is a globetrotting writer and editor living in Virginia. Ile holds an MA degree in Multimedia Journalism and a BA in English Philology. Ile has written for a variety of home, HVAC, and energy-related websites and publications. He has covered HVAC solutions, insulation, and energy-efficient construction, automotive AC systems for multiple auto dealerships and garages.

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