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Why Is Your Dorm Room So Dry? Causes and Solutions

You may think that living in a dorm may not be as comfortable because of privacy and other concerns. However, a common problem that students don’t mention as often as they should is dry air and what causes it, and ways to fix it. 

Your dorm room may be dry because the college’s heating system drains moisture from the air. You can fix this common problem with humidifiers, placing wet sponges in the room, or getting a small house plant. 

Dry air can cause health problems, conditions, and a general sense of discomfort. This article will explain and explore why dorms get dry and the best and some creative ways to fix it.

Causes of a dry dorm room.

1. Cold Weather and a Heating System 

Dry air is the product of cold air warmed by a heating system. 

Heating systems completely suck the moisture out of the air and can cause several issues, from coughing and cracked lips to trouble breathing and warped wood (source). 

Dorms are not the most comfortable places to live, but it’s great to live on campus and get to your classes promptly. It is also sometimes mandatory for students to live on campus due to scholarships, so they may not have much choice. 

You may not have much choice regarding where you live. However, there are ways to fix the dry air causing you problems. 

How To Fix

Humidifiers are a fantastic and straightforward way to get moisture back in the air, and they work by expressing mists of water into the air periodically. 

However, college students know that each penny counts when trying to get through college, so here are a few creative ways to get moisture back in the air without spending money on a pricey humidifier (source): 

  • You can place damp sponges in the room and allow them to dry. That will give you some added moisture. 
  • Hang wet clothing in your dorm. If you already are doing some washing but want to save change on drying, not only will you save some coins, but you can add some extra moisture. 
  • A house plant is an excellent way to include extra moisture and even cleaner air in your dorm room. Depending on the rules regarding plants and what you can have in your dorm, you may need to ask permission from your housing administration before enduring a plant into your room. 

2. Dust and Dirt

Another reason why your dorm may have dry air is due to dust and dirt. Dorms may not always be the cleanest areas to live in. They are also often old and have had many people move in and out of the rooms. Dirt and dust can collect and dry out the air. 

Not only does dust affect the air quality, but adding moisture to the air can help reduce dust and dirt. 

If you notice that your dorm is pretty messy with dust collecting on the walls or the floors, you may have dry air in your dorm room, which can cause trouble breathing and other issues for you and your roommates. 

How To Fix

If your dorm room is dry and needs added moisture, then you may be able to help aid the air in your room by adding a humidifier or a house plant. Along with adding moisture, you should get a dust mop or use other cleaning supplies to stop the dust from collecting. 

It may be challenging to find the time to clean with the time-consuming obligations that college brings, but getting rid of dust and dirt can help keep moisture in the air.

How To Tell If Your Dorm Room Is Too Dry

Dry air is not suitable for you or roommates, but if you are a college student using a laptop, phone, or any other device and your dorm is dry, it can damage any electronics you have. 

There are a few ways to tell if your dorm is too dry for you, your roommates, or your electronics (source): 

  • Electrostatic discharge: If you feel a slight shock when you touch your door handle, you may be experiencing something known as electrostatic discharge. It can happen when the air is too dry. 
  • Extra thirst: Another way to tell if your air is too dry is to feel extra thirsty and need to drink water more than usual. 
  • Nosebleeds: Nosebleeds are a common problem from dry air. If you notice that you have frequent nosebleeds that aren’t related to allergies or an infection, dry air could be the cause. 
  • Dry skin or trouble breathing: Dry air could be the culprit if you notice that your skin seems dry and itches, or you have trouble breathing when you have never had problems before. 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then you may benefit from buying an air humidifier or using one of the above creative solutions to dry air. 

Best Ways To Add Moisture to the Air Without a Humidifier

If you are a college student, you may be counting your money and trying to learn the basics of budgeting. You may also be suffering from a dry dorm that is causing you nosebleeds or coughing at night. 

That can be a complex problem to deal with while maintaining a good grade point average and studying. As a college student, you already have enough to worry about, and dry air should not be one of them. 

So here are a few of the best ways to moisten the air without spending extra hard-earned cash on a pricey humidifier. 

House Plants

If you search for a natural and cost-effective way to keep your dorm room moist without spending much money, a house plant would be your best bet. 

If you are allowed to have house plants in your dorm and don’t want to have bowls of water sitting everywhere, you may decide that getting one or two house plants will add a nice homey touch and some moisture to your dorm. 

Spider plants are great for adding moisture to the air. If you have a green thumb and don’t mind taking care of a house plant while studying, you may decide that this natural air humidifier is best for you (source).

Wet Sponges

If house plants aren’t your thing, or you aren’t allowed to have house plants in your dorm, leaving wet sponges around can add moisture to the air. It may not be the most decorative way to add water to the air, but it can do the trick if you are not interested in taking care of a plant on your busy schedule. 

Hanging Up Wet Clothes

If you are already washing clothes and want to save coins on laundry and getting a humidifier, a great natural way to add extra moisture to the air would be to hang up wet clothing. It is almost the same thing as sponges, but you won’t have to explain to your roommates why you have five sponges lying around your dorm. 

Hanging up wet clothes to dry is an excellent way to save money and time and give your dry dorm some extra moisture so you won’t cough so much at night or get a pesky nosebleed while studying. 

Keep a Bowl of Water Out

If you don’t want to hang up clothes, take care of a house plant, or leave random sponges around your dorm, you may decide that placing a bowl of water in your dorm can help moisten the air. It may not give the same amount of water to the air as a humidifier or hanging up damp clothes, but it can help if you are desperate for relief from dry air. 

Seal Your Windows and Doors

If you are still having problems with dry air in your dorm, you may need to have better sealing on your windows and doors. You may need to speak with your administration housing office and let them know that you are having problems keeping the air moist in your dorm, causing you health problems. 

Most housing offices will take complaints like this seriously because it affects your ability to study. 

An Aquatic Pet

As a college student, you may very well know that pets aren’t usually allowed in dorms. However, some dorms allow fish as pets as long as the tank doesn’t exceed ten gallons (37.8 L). 

If that sounds like a good idea to you, a pet fish may be the right choice for your dry air problems. Having a watery friend helps to keep the air moist, and used fish tanks can come pretty cheap when bought from the right places (source). 

Put Vases in the Sun

If a pet fish, a house plant, or any of the above suggestions don’t seem right for you, then you could also try placing a decorative vase filled with water in the sun on a window seal. 

You may only need to do this a few times before the air in your dorm becomes moist. If you need to keep doing this method, or the methods mentioned above, you may need to speak with your housing advisor. 

This method is an excellent choice if you don’t want to keep random sponges or wet clothes hanging around your dorm. It’s a great way to humidify your air without spending extra money naturally. 

What To Do if You Have a Problem With Your Dorm Room

If you’ve tried all of the above methods and are still having problems with your dorm room, you may need to bring up your issues with your resident advisor. It may be difficult or uncomfortable asking your advisor for help, especially if you are more introverted. 

However, it’s essential to let them know that you are uncomfortable in your dorm room. 

Dry air can cause many health problems and concerns, and your advisor can assist you or point you in the right direction. If the air in your dorm is causing you to have a problem breathing, you may have more than just dry air. 

You may have mold or some other problem that needs to be looked at as soon as possible. It may not just be causing you problems, but it may be causing your roommate’s issues as well. 

Room conditions are usually kept on file rather than searched by staff themselves. The student’s job is to notify the college when there is a problem, such as mice, bed bugs, or other dorm room problems. 

It is also essential to make sure you fill out your dorm room inventory and let the campus know there is an issue, or you may be held responsible for any problems. 

Another note that should be taken is to only involve your parents if need be. Most advisors would rather speak with the student to assess and resolve the issue without the parent in the middle. 

Only involve your parents if you feel that you are being mistreated or if your problem is ignored.


Dorm rooms are not always the most comfortable, and it may be up to you to give your new space some added comfort. It may be a simple fix such as putting a bowl of water out or buying a house plant. 

However, before speaking with your advisor, you should try the above-mentioned methods. 

Dry air is annoying and can cause health problems. It’s essential to take care of the issue before you begin to have trouble breathing. If you cannot solve your dorm room air quality issue, it is best to speak with your housing advisor for further assistance. 

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