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Guide: Control Humidity in Wine Fridge (Increase & Reduce)

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A critical aspect of keeping wine for long periods is the correct temperature and humidity. In built-in cellars, that process is simple given that its purpose-built below ground. Wine coolers are a great substitute for a suburban wine keeper, but you need a guide to control the humidity in the wine fridge. 

Controlling humidity in a wine fridge is critical for the health of the wine. Humidity below 50% will cause corks to dry and crack, allowing oxidation. Humidity levels above 70% allow mold to grow and break down glue around the fridge rubbers. The best humidity level is between 55 and 65%. 

Wine reacts rapidly to extreme temperature and humidity fluctuations and can spoil fast. One way to ensure wine is kept correctly is to ensure the wine fridge humidity is controlled effectively. There are a few DIY steps to help you control, reduce and increase humidity in your wine cooler, and let’s take a  look at how.

How to Control Humidity in Wine Fridge
How to Control Humidity in Wine Fridge

TIP: If you are interested in checking out the best refrigerator for wine storage I recommend trying out Nutrichef (18 bottles) compressor wine refrigerator. You can find this refrigerator by clicking here (Amazon link).

Why Is My Wine Fridge So Humid?

Irrespective of how dry air is, there will always be water vapor content. As the air gets heated, the molecules are pushed further apart, and the vapor molecules inside are pulled further from one another. The further apart the molecules, the more saturated they become with moisture. 

When water vapor turns from gas to liquid, condensation occurs. When the vapor density is stable, and no extra vapor is added, the humidity level will drop. That is because the ratio between how much water the air can hold versus the amount of water in the air decreases. 

Cold air has the opposite effect on the molecules. The air molecules are closer together in colder air, and in turn, the vapor molecules are pulled closer together.

The humidity goes up as the saturation density decreases. Humidity can reach 100% if the temperature falls low enough. This happens because the difference between saturation and actual vapor density drops to zero. 

When the saturation and actual vapor density drops to zero, it is called the dew point. At the dew point, water droplets are condensed from vapor molecules. Exposure to low enough temperatures will trigger condensation. This is what happens in a wine cooler where condensation is visible. 

As the door to the wine fridge is opened, warm or hot air enters. The hot or warm air is trapped inside the wine fridge as you close the door. The hot air that is trapped inside will be cooled as soon as the temperature lowers when the cooling system starts up. 

Air with enough humidity and sufficient water molecules will reach saturation point when the internal temperature is reached. Condensation will form when the humidity reaches 100%. If the wine fridge is constantly opened and closed, condensation will form faster. 

A wine fridge will likely have higher humidity in coastal and sub-tropical areas because the air is generally more humid and saturated. In certain geographical locations, the winter months are very humid, and condensation will be more prevalent in the wine fridge. 

What Is The Ideal Humidity For Wine Storage?

The ideal humidity level for wine storage is between 50 and 70%, while the ideal storage temperature is 55 degrees F. The lower the humidity level is, the more likely the wine corks will start to dry out, crack or crumble and allow oxygen to enter, causing oxidation. 

Humidity levels that are too high will create an environment where mold and mildew will grow rapidly and spread.

The high humidity will loosen the label glue, and mold can grow underneath them and on the bottle corks. Mold can ruin the interior of a wine fridge if the humidity levels are not stable. 

Do Wine Coolers (Fridges) Have Humidity Control?

Typically wine fridges or coolers do not have a humidity control function. The general humidity in a wine fridge is between 40 and 50%.

If you are particularly serious about your wine collection, investing in a superior wine fridge with a humidity control function would be great. 

Wine Fridges With Humidity Control (Amazon links):

TIP: To learn if a wine refrigerator is needed for ideal storage, you should check out this helpful article I wrote.

How To Control Humidity In Wine Fridge

If you do not have a wine fridge with a humidity control feature, you can attempt to control it manually. There are a few DIY methods that you can try below:

1. Airing the wine fridge or cooler

Just like airing out a new fridge gets rid of the new smell, a regular airing of the wine cooler will allow any odors or excess moisture to evaporate and dry out.

The airing will prevent mold from forming in corners and under the sealing rubbers. Condensation creates the perfect environment for mildew and mold to develop. 

2. Adjust the wine fridge temperature

Airing out the wine fridge should be followed by looking at the temperature setting. Ensure that the temperature setting is at least 55 degrees but not higher than 60 unless the wine fridge is large and has a large bottle capacity. The over 55 degrees should prevent condensation from forming. 

3. Don’t open and close the wine fridge constantly

Once the wine fridge has reached the correct temperature, the best way to maintain it is to avoid constantly opening and closing the fridge.

In winter, it should not affect the overall temperature as much as it would in summer. It makes sense that more wine would be enjoyed in summer, and the fridge opened more often will result in condensation forming faster. 

4. Clean any visible mold

Mold can form and grow almost overnight if the right environment presents itself. Mold can be especially prevalent in wine fridges that use wooden dividers or shelves. Once mold penetrates the wood, it should be discarded immediately. 

Wine fridges that have mold inside indicate the humidity levels are too high. The mold will accelerate condensation and allow more mold to grow. Clean mold very carefully and do not use bleach. Always wear a respirator designed for mold protection.

The wine fridge needs a good cleaning at least every few months to prevent mold from forming and growing.

A good way to clean it would be to use a fridge-safe, mold removal chemical such as hydrogen peroxide. It is safe to use and will not leave an odor in the fridge. Here is a quick guide on cleaning mold from a wine fridge:

  • Please turn off the fridge and unplug it from the socket
  • Use gloves, safety glasses, and a respirator
  • Remove all the wine from the fridge
  • Remove the dividers and shelves and place them outside
  • Pour a cup of 35% volume hydrogen peroxide into a suitable spray bottle 
  • Spray the entire fridge surface inside and let the peroxide bubble
  • Wipe down with a damp single-use cloth and discard once used. 
  • Air out the wine fridge for a few hours and switch it on.
  • Clean the wood with peroxide and seal

5. Make sure the drainage pipe is not blocked

Regular maintenance on the wine fridge will prevent any unexpected issues from arising. One of those issues is a blocked drainage pipe.

The pipe will cause condensation and leak if it becomes blocked. In the summer months, this can happen faster because the wine fridge will inevitably work harder to keep the wine cold. 

Here is a guide to unblocking your wine cooler or fridge drain pipe:

  • Remove the drainage pipe from the wine fridge
  • Pour hot water down the pipe to check.
  • To safely unblock the drainage pipe, pour two tablespoons of baking soda down the pipe and then a cup of white vinegar. This will bubble profusely and unblock the pipe. 
  • Pour two to three cups of very hot water down the pipe to see if it was successful.
  • Repeat if needed.
  • If it does not work, it might be a good idea to call a technician.

TIP: To learn if a wine fridge can be safely kept on the carpet, please check out this helpful article I wrote.

How To Reduce Humidity In A Wine Fridge

How To Reduce Humidity In A Wine Fridge
How To Reduce Humidity In A Wine Fridge

The humidity in a wine fridge can become too high. The level that is considered too high will be over 80%. Reducing humidity in a wine fridge is easy if you follow the following troubleshooting guidelines and fixes:

  • Place a food-grade charcoal filter inside the wine fridge or cooler. If you already have one, perhaps it needs to be replaced.
  • Ensure the rear end of the wine cooler is away from the wall to ensure proper ventilation for the motor. This will help so that it does not overheat.
  • Check that the wine fridge is at least half full or fully stocked for the proper thermal mass. Anything less than half capacity will create more humidity inside the unit. 
  • Check the wine cooler’s rubber seals on the doors and make sure there are no gaps that could be letting in warmer air, creating a higher humidity. Replace any faulty rubbers immediately. 
  • Check that the bottles do not touch the back wall of the wine fridge. There should be sufficient space between the fridge wall and the bottom of the bottle to allow ventilation. 
  • Remove any paper or cardboard packaging around the bottles. Paper traps moisture and will elevate the humidity. 
  • If the wine cooler is in direct sunlight, the heat can cause the humidity to rise significantly. Move the wine cooler into a darker, cooler area. 
  • Do not place a wine cooler close or next to other appliances that can heat up the outside of the unit. 

To further reduce moisture in a wine cooler or fridge, you can try the following methods:

  • Silica Gel Packets – Silica gel desiccant or packets is a highly effective product that reduces moisture in various products. It is made from silicon dioxide and formed into small beads. They readily absorb moisture, so place a few packets inside the wine fridge or cooler. Replace regularly and use according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. 
  • Clay Desiccant  – The clay desiccant is also highly absorbent and works similarly to the silica gel beads. It is a natural product and safe to use. Place inside the wine fridge and replace regularly. 
  • Baking Soda – Baking soda is another cheap and highly absorbent material it can be purchased from a pharmacy or supermarket. Place the baking soda in a glass or plastic container and place it inside the wine cooler or fridge. The baking soda will become clumpy when it needs to be replaced. Another benefit is that baking soda absorbs any foul odors. 

How To Increase Humidity In A Wine Fridge

Suppose you have a wine fridge that does not produce a lot of humidity or does not come with a humidity regulator. In that case, you can increase the humidity by using the following suggestion. You will need the following supplies: 

  • A Hygrometer
  • A water tray or a bowl
  • A dense sponge or a microfibre cloth

Using the hygrometer, you can get a reading on the humidity level. A select few wine fridges have them fitted in the factory. If not, place the hygrometer inside the fridge for 24 hours on the middle shelf to get an accurate reading. 

If the reading shows that the humidity is below 50%, you will need to elevate it. The right humidity levels are crucial for the cork’s health. It will dry up and destroy the wine through oxidation if it is too low.

  • Wet the sponge or cloth and squeeze most of the water out of it
  • Place the sponge or cloth inside the bowl or tray and place it inside the fridge. On the middle shelf is a good position. Leave it inside for at least 24 hours and do another reading with the hygrometer. 
  • If the humidity level is above 55% and below 70%, you can use this method every four days. Wet the sponge or cloth and place it back inside the wine cooler.
  • If the humidity drops, you can wet the sponge or cloth a little more and leave it back in the wine fridge. Wet it every 24 hours. 
  • If the sponge or cloth method seems ineffective, you can place a bowl with water in the fridge, which will help raise the humidity fast. 
  • Take a reading every 24 hours and reduce it to three to four days. Adjust the method as needed. 

Conclusion

Controlling humidity in a wine fridge or cooler can be tricky if the unit does not have a built-in facility to regulate it. It is a good investment to purchase one of the more top-end wine coolers purpose-built to control the humidity levels.

Humidity that fluctuates damages the wine bottles and the wine itself by irreversibly marring the corks and labels. If your wine fridge does not have a humidity controller, purchase a hygrometer and regularly measure and adjust the humidity as indicated in the steps. 

And if you are interested in buying a great wine cooler with humidity control, check out the wine coolers listed above (Amazon links):

TIP: For a complete list of wine products and accessories I really love, check out this page. You’ll find my recommendations for wine refrigerators, wine decanters, and wine aerators, along with the best place to buy wine online. Click here to see the complete listing.