Combat Dry Winter Air with 7 Tips and Tricks

With temperatures low across the country, heating systems on full blast, and houses buttoned up against the cold, the air in your home can pretty dry this time of year. To improve indoor air quality, promoting health and comfort in the bargain, follow with these simple and easy tips and tricks.

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  1. Cultivate Houseplants


    In winter, combat poor indoor air quality by cultivating some of nature's own air purifiers. Several hardy species have been scientifically proven to remove impurities from the air. And that's in addition to the gifts that these living things of beauty already bestow to decor.

    Related: 10 Houseplants to Improve Indoor Air Quality

  2. Use a Humidifier


    The minute you turn on the heat, the air in your home gets drier. And since dry air feels cooler than moist, homeowners crank the heat up even higher, in turn making the air even dryer and more uncomfortable. It's a vicious cycle! Therefore, a one-room or whole-house humidifier can not only undo the familiar effects of dry air, but it can also help you keep the thermostat at a money-saving low.

    Related: The Benefits of a Whole-House Humidifier

  3. Humidify the DIY Way


    Although it helps, you don't actually need a humidifier to increase the moisture content of the air in your home. You can always humidify the DIY way by leaving out saucers of water. Better yet is to position those saucers near heat sources—radiators, for instance, or forced-air vents. The heat hastens evaporation, creating more humidity more quickly.

  4. Omit the Oven


    Use of the oven tends to dry out the air, while cooking on the stovetop does the opposite. So whether you're boiling water for tea or heating up a frozen pasta dish, do it on the stovetop (and not, for example, in the microwave). Through the dry winter months, every bit of incidental moisture can help you feel more comfortable home—for free and for very little extra effort.

  5. Air-Dry the Dishes


    Here's another free and extremely easy way to increase the moisture content of dry indoor air: At the end of a dishwasher's rinse cycle, open the door to the appliance and pull out the rack, letting the clean dishes air-dry in the kitchen. Like cooking on the stovetop, air-drying the dishes allows you to accomplish two household tasks at once. Your dishes do dry, but in a way that contributes to the health and comfort of your home.  

    Related: Your Dishwasher Can Do Better

  6. Vacuum Vigorously


    If you suffer from allergies, being at home during the winter can actually make you feel sick—unless you reevaluate your cleaning practices. First of all, avoid the use of toxic cleaners, whose fumes cannot escape with the windows shut tight. Second, make it a point to vacuum more frequently than you would at other times of year. Doing so goes a long way toward minimizing dust and other allergens, so you can breathe easy. 

    Related: The Benefits of a Central Vacuum System

  7. Crack a Window


    Whenever possible—on an unseasonably warm day, for example—why not open the windows? Though chilly, fresh air offers an immediate remedy for stuffy air that may be harboring impurities, whether from cleaning supplies or fireplace woodsmoke. While you're at it, consider a trickle vent: These simple openings admit fresh air, and equally important, they provide an escape for stale air.

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