Things You'll Need
Wood stove or space heater (optional)
Desiccants, such as calcium chloride, rock salt or silica
Waterproof containers for desiccants, such as yogurt containers or baking pans
Check ceilings, walls and window frames for signs of leaks. Add weather stripping to windows and doors, caulk cracks in window and door frames.
If a room's dampness is the result of moisture seeping in from the outside, waterproofing may be required to solve the problem.
Have a licensed contractor assess any structural problems.
Ideal relative humidity in the home is 30 percent to 50 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Add a ventilating fan if the room lacks windows that open. Running a fan that vents to the outside after every shower and after cooking helps to keep bathrooms and kitchens drier. Add vents to a basement to improve air flow, if possible.
Gas heat adds humidity to the air; burning natural gas such as butane and propane releases steam along with carbon dioxide.
Although plants improve indoor air quality, they can increase humidity, so you might remove them from a room that's too humid.
Some desiccant products are toxic. Calcium chloride isn't safe to eat or drink, although it's OK to pour the collected water down the toilet, according to Minnesota Energy Smart website. Read labels, and don't use desiccants where children or pets can get to them.
Turn the wood stove or heater off when the house will be unoccupied to reduce fire risk, and equip the room with a smoke detector and a fire extinguisher.
The best alternatives to a dehumidifier depend on the causes of the humidity, the room's features and your budget. Excess humidity promotes mold and mildew, yet running a dehumidifier can have a major impact on your electric bill. You may need more than one alternative method to dehumidify a damp room, and in some cases, expert help may be needed.
Improve the Air Flow
Run a fan to reduce dampness in a humid room. Keeping the air moving reduces water vapor. Use a window fan to improve ventilation if the room has a window that will accommodate one. Get a model with an exhaust setting so you can vent dank air before blowing in fresh air.
Open windows often if the outside moisture is lower than the inside moisture. Better ventilation can stop condensation on walls and windows, reducing the risk of mold. Keep a humidity meter in the room to gauge the effectiveness of the improved air flow. Hardware stores supply these.
Run an air conditioner if you have one. Contemporary air conditioners dehumidify while cooling the air, and advanced systems have separate controls for adjusting humidity, such as by setting it to a comfortable 60 percent.
Absorb the Moisture
Place containers of desiccant in the room. These include commercial products designed to draw moisture out of the air with calcium chloride, a salt crystal. You can get this material from home improvement and hardware suppliers.
Check the containers once or twice a week to determine how often they need to be tended. Pour off the water that collects in the containers regularly.
Add more dessicant to the containers as needed. Add more containers of dessicant if you're having to empty them more often than is convenient.
Dry the Air
Run a wood stove or space heater if it's safe and feasible to do so. Warming the air reduces humidity as long as you use a dry heat source, not gas heat.
Turn the heat off or down before the room temperature reaches 95 degrees Fahrenheit; higher temperatures in a humid room could result in steam damage to the walls.
Run a fan while heating the room for greater dehumidifying.
- Minneota Energy Smart: 5 Ways to Dry Out Your Dehumidifier
- Master Climate Solutions: Methods of Dehumidifying
- American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers: Top Ten Things About Air Conditioning
- Environmental Protection Agency: A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home
- Environmental Protection Agency: Mold Cleanup
Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.