Regardless of how much time and effort you put into creating your beloved closet space, one thing you always need to be extremely conscious of is the air quality.
While we have little to no control over the air quality in the area of the world where we live and may have very little control over the air quality inside our homes, being aware of the risks it could pose to any closet space and the items inside is critical.
Humidity happens everywhere, which creates moisture or water vapor in the air. For small confined spaces, humidity and moisture has the potential to create a muggy, stuffy environment which could create many problems inside your closet if you don’t take preventative measures beforehand.
Unfortunately, most closets are a breeding ground for mold and mildew if you aren’t careful. Because of most closets being in a small confined space, it also restricts airflow which causes humidity to be trapped inside.
When this happens, it could create a musty smell and even cause mold and mildew to grow on your shelves, garments, linens, and other spaces inside your closet.
In order to keep your closet and all the items inside smelling and looking their best, there are steps you can take to limit the moisture inside your closet, control the humidity and prevent that nasty odor from infecting everything inside.
So, what things do you need to be aware of and how could you absorb this unwanted moisture from your closet space? Here are the top 10 things you need to be aware of in order to avoid absorbing moisture in your closet.
Table of Contents
What You Need to Know About Moisture in Closets
1. Excess Water
The first thing to be mindful of is any excess water or moisture seeping into your closed spaces such as leaks, air ducts, or windows.
Pipes with minor leaks that may be letting water into your closet space should be fixed and secured so your closet isn’t exposed to any unnecessary water.
The same goes for any air ducts that may not be secured appropriately and are creating extra moisture in the air. It is important to make sure to repair all pipes and air ducts so they are completely and securely sealed off, which will prevent any of this from happening.
2. Closet Door & Doorway
Many closets have a single panel wooden door that stays closed the majority of the time unless your closet is in use.
A better idea for a closet is to replace the door with a more breathable style door to allow air to move in and out more freely. Louver doors are a much better option as they have small spaces between the panels that allow for better airflow as opposed to a single flat panel door.
It could also be helpful to allow your closet more breathing time throughout the day instead of keeping your closet door closed all of the time. If your closet is opened for a few hours throughout the day, it gives some adequate breathing time and could help prevent your closet from getting so stuffy.
Dehumidifiers pull excess moisture from the air and prevent any mold or mildew from growing. Not all closets are big enough to require a dehumidifier, but specifically, if you have closets in a basement, bathroom, laundry room, or another area of your home prone to excessive heat or added moisture, this may be your best bet.
High humidity has the potential to create mold and damage a lot of things, but specifically, in closets, it can destroy delicate items like undergarments and vintage or designer clothing, important documents, tools, and instruments.
Humidity could also be damaging to any food items kept in a kitchen closet or pantry that is not well ventilated. Basically, if there’s too much humidity in the air you need a dehumidifier. It’s that simple.
You don’t need something big and fancy, you can find inexpensive small dehumidifiers like airBOSS Closet Dehumidifier, Pro Breeze Electric Mini Dehumidifier, and Eva Dry Wireless Mini Dehumidifier.
They are perfect for small spaces, lightweight so they are easy to move around and empty, and easy to use. They are also energy efficient and very quiet, so you don’t have to worry about much noise if you are going to use it for a closet in your bedroom or office.
Typically, a light will let you know when the water tank is full and you simply take out the water tray, empty the water and place the tray back in the dehumidifier. It’s that simple.
Sometimes a simple fan can even do the trick if you can position it in a way that allows for consistent airflow in and out of your closet.
If you place it in a back corner and it is able to blow the warm air out of the closet and create a cycle where newer fresh air is coming into the closet, that will create much less humidity. You will most likely need to keep the door at least partially open for this to be successful, but for smaller spaces it should do the trick.
If you have space and ability to do so, installing an exhaust fan in your closet would also be a good option because it will pull the warm air up towards the ceiling which would minimize the amount of moisture and humidity setting on your clothing and shelves.
5. Store Desiccants
Desiccants are moisture-absorbing products like silica gel, baking soda, chalk, or washed charcoal that could help soak up any unwanted moisture and humidity in your closet.
Some very easy and low-cost options are the airBOSS Closet Dehumidifier, Aoerzn Bamboo Charcoal Bags, Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifying Natural Deodorizer Bags, DampRid Fresh Scent Hanging Bag Absorber or Dry & Dry Rechargeable Silica Gel Beads.
All of these items work to remove unwanted odors, absorb moisture, and purify the air making a fresh and clean environment in your closet. Some of the deodorizing bags can last up to 2 years and they all come in different sizes depending on the size of your closet and how much you will need.
You can even have refillable bags that you could hang in your closet and also use some for things like your shoes, gym bags, boots, in drawers, or even in refrigerators.
6. Measure Humidity
If you are not sure about the level of humidity in your closet because your home is relatively new or you are new to the home or apartment and there are no indicators that it has been an issue in the past, you might want to start by testing the level of humidity that exists.
An easy and inexpensive way to do this is to get a humidistat or hygrometer that monitors humidity levels, such as the ThermoPro TP55 Digital Hygrometer that digitally monitors levels of humidity or the Inkbird Humidity Controller IHC200 Humidistat which monitors and controls the humidity by dehumidifying the space when the level goes above the normal range and humidifying the space if it goes below the normal range.
You can also use the hygrometer in conjunction with other methods previously mentioned to monitor the humidity levels and be sure you are effectively eliminating excess moisture from the air.
7. Remove Damp or Absorbent Materials
With a closet being such a high-risk area for trapping in moisture and humidity, the last thing you need are items in your closet that suck in the moisture or make more moisture to make matters worse.
Things like carpets or rugs in your closet might be a cute accent piece, but you might want to think again before placing one on your closet floor. You should be careful not to store heavily absorbent items like blankets, pillows, towels, etc. in your closet out in the open because they could also trap in some of the humidity, creating a musty smell that will stink up your whole closet and ruining whatever item is the culprit of the unwanted smell.
You also have to be very careful when putting things away in your closet after wearing them, such as boots, shoes or jackets that they aren’t tracking in any additional moisture before you store them.
Be mindful of leaving any damp towels or linens in the closet as well and always make sure blankets or other items you might be storing away are secured and completely dry before placing them in your closet.
This one may seem a little backward but allowing a low-wattage light to burn in your closet for about 6 hours each day could actually help prevent moisture in your closet.
The added heat from the lightbulb, especially if it is positioned closer to the floor, will burn off excess moisture and humidity in the air.
Be careful to position the bulb far enough away from clothing or any other flammable items to prevent any damage and try to time it so you aren’t leaving the light on for too long, causing it to overheat.
9. Storing Items
If you have storage items in your closets, such as boxes, plastic tubs, or other enclosed shelving units, be mindful of where you are placing them. Using wire shelves with space in between the wires rather than placing these items on the floor will allow for more breathing room underneath the items.
Sometimes when items are placed on the floor, depending on how long they are there, they have the ability to trap in moisture underneath them. If you don’t have the ability to add additional shelving for these items and the only place to store them is on the floor of your closet, just make sure you are attending to these items regularly.
It is always good to rotate the items from one area to a different area periodically and regularly clean the floors and enclosed shelving to remove any moisture that might be trapped in corners or underneath. Doing this on a regular basis will ensure your closet stays clean and fresh.
10. Air Fresheners
You can also use different fragrance spheres or air fresheners instead of actual candles for a safer way to keep your closet and its contents smelling nice and clean. Typically, these items last for up to 30 days and have many different scents to choose from.
Essential oils also work great in this way but are careful with heated oil diffusers as they may add moisture to the air and work against you. Automatic spray air fresheners are also a great option to keep your closet smelling fresh.
Just be sure they aren’t positioned directly at any of your clothes to avoid overpowering smells when you go to wear them or any damage the spray can potentially cause to delicate fabrics.
If you would rather be more creative or are on a very tight budget, it is possible to make your own hanging desiccants for your closet simply using a box of chalk. If you take a dozen small pieces of chalk and fasten them at the end with a rubber band, you can tie a ribbon around the rubber band and leave enough to create a loop or long enough tail to tie up in your closet somewhere.
If you hang this from a clothing rack or shelf upside down, the chalk will absorb any moisture in the air and prevent your closet from any mold, mildew, or musky smells. You should switch out the chalk about every 2-3 months for the best results.