The Air in Our Home Is Very Dry in Winter. Can a Humidifier Help Protect Wood and Leather Items?

Room with Hammock, wood dining table, air humidifier and view from the balcony. Photo: Dmitry Galaganov/Shutterstock

The dry winter air that makes your throat scratchy and your skin itch can also affect the contents of your home, especially those items made of natural materials—like wooden instruments, flooring, furniture, and leather goods. Using a humidifier to maintain optimal humidity levels can help preserve them. Here’s how to ensure your musical instruments and other goods made of wood, as well as leather items, don’t suffer during those dry days.

Musical Instruments
Acoustic guitars and other wooden instruments can easily fall out of tune, and potentially warp, if the air is too dry. Dedicate a space for them where you can keep the relative humidity between 45 and 55 percent and choose a humidifier sized for that area. You can also buy humidifiers specifically designed for your instrument.

More on Humidifiers

Wood Flooring
Excessive dryness can shrink floorboards, creating gaps and making them creak. To prevent that, maintain room humidity between 30 and 40 percent in cooler and drier seasons.

Wooden furniture can split if allowed to dry out. Keep it out of direct sunlight and away from heat and air-conditioning vents.

Leather Goods
The pores in leather, which help it maintain a supple texture by letting in moisture, can shrink in dry environments. This can cause clothing, accessories, and upholstery to crack. One solution: Apply a leather conditioner. And never leave leather objects outside.

Tobie Stanger

I cover the money side of home-related purchases and improvements: avoiding scams, making sense of warranties and insurance, finding the best financing, and getting the most value for your dollar. For CR, I've also written about digital payments, credit and debit, taxes, supermarkets, financial planners, airlines, retirement and estate planning, shopping for electronics and hearing aids—even how to throw a knockout wedding on a shoestring. I am never bored. Find me on Twitter: @TobieStanger