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How to Reduce Humidity in Your Bathroom

You've finally created the dream bathroom. You can end the day in a hot, soaking bath or reinvigorating shower. But no matter how well designed your bathroom is, there’s always the risk of condensation buildup, which can lead to structural damage and cause mold.
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You've finally created the dream bathroom. You can end the day in a hot, soaking bath or reinvigorating shower. But no matter how well designed your bathroom is, there’s always the risk of condensation buildup, which can lead to structural damage and cause mold. Being the most humid room in the house, the bathroom is prone to excess moisture and requires constant cleaning to prevent mold and mildew buildup, not to mention peeling paint and wallpaper. Once the mold is established, it is very hard to remove completely and will often return if you don't make changes to humidity levels in your bathroom.

Bathrooms are designed specifically to prevent splashing and excess water remaining on surfaces, but it is more than likely to suffer from far more condensation problems than any other room in your house. A bathroom's humidity level is increased by the large amount of steam that a hot shower or bath produces, and as the moisture drifts in the air, it makes contact with colder surfaces and creates water droplets.

Mirrors, windows, tile grout, and many other porous surfaces allow the condensation to remain well after you have finished your bath or shower, which creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew to form. If you are in contact with even a small amount of mold over a period it can lead to skin and respiratory conditions.

Signs of Excess Moisture

Water damaged bathroom wall

At surface level, bathrooms often appear to be very clean, but if you look into the areas where moisture is usually present you may see a different story. Some of the tell-tale signs of excess moisture include condensation on mirrors, walls, windows, and tiles. After you've had a shower look up and take note of any water collecting on the ceiling. Tile grout is the perfect place to harbor mold and mildew. Water can penetrate through cement-based grout and create the perfect habitat for mold to form. Dampness can also damage the structural integrity of walls and lead to tiles loosening and eventually falling off.

If you have painted or wallpapered surfaces, excess moisture can increase the possibility of paint peeling and flaking or wallpaper becoming unstuck. Damp patches on walls can also be attributed to high humidity levels in bathrooms. If left unchecked, it can lead to costly repairs.

There are many ways to easily reduce and control humidity levels. Some may be as simple as leaving the window open. Others involve some renovation work in your bathroom. While you can never eliminate condensation, some simple steps can help prevent mold buildup and the likelihood of expensive water damage.

Use the Fan

It’s essential for all bathrooms to have an extractor fan installed, which is powerful enough to remove damp air from the room and vent it outside your house. Make sure the fan is running and drawing out humid air while you are in your shower and bath. Leave it running for a minimum of 30 minutes post-shower. Some fans are wired to turn on when you flip the light switch, which is a great way to ensure that you turn it on. Just remember to keep it running after you leave the room. For extractor fans to run efficiently, they need to be cleaned and maintained regularly. Most have removable filters that can be cleaned following the manufacturer recommendation.

Open the Windows

Condensation collecting in the bottom corner of a bathroom window

If you are lucky enough to have windows that open to the outside in your bathroom and weather outside allows (or permits), then one possible way to reduce humidity is to keep them open during and after your shower. The open window may draw moist air out and keep your bathroom cool and dry. Unfortunately, wintery climate can make the bathroom very cold, and all the warmth from your bathroom might escape. As a security measure, make sure to only leave your windows open when you’re at home.

If you notice a large amount of condensation beading on your windows, you might want to consider swapping them out for new double-glazed windows. Single-paned windows tend to be colder and, as a result, create more condensation.

Some recommendations also include keeping the bathroom door open while you shower or bathe, as this may also help in removing moist air. Possible drawbacks include a lack of privacy and the fact you might be moving humidity to another area in the home.

Passive Ventilation

A hand with scourer cleaning a dirty ceiling vent

Passive ventilation units are also common and may help with humidity. Unlike extractor fans that require electricity, cooling vents are a natural, low-cost method of ventilation. It relies on the principle of warm air rising and lower, outside pressure sucking out humid air. Heating and cooling vents need to be regularly cleaned to continue the unhindered flow of air. Also, make sure that vents aren’t closed or even partially closed.

Wipe Down Tiles, Mop the Floor

Another way to remove humidity from your bathroom is to wipe down tiles and surfaces where condensation collects post-shower. Use a towel or cloth to remove any water left on tiles or in the shower and bathtub area. A squeegee is perfect to remove condensation on windows and mirrors. Remember that any leftover water creates an environment for mold and mildew to grow, especially in tile grout. If you’re concerned about mold and mildew growing in tile grout and constant grout scrubbing isn't your idea of post-bath relaxation, you may want to think about alternatives. Acrylic paneling has the advantage of being non-porous. Without joints, there’s little place for mold to form.

Water on the floor is not only a safety hazard, it makes tiling susceptible to mold forming on grout. Mop up any water that may have splashed onto the floor and keep it as dry as possible. If you leave the water to evaporate, it will make the bathroom more humid.

Demist your Mirror

A bathroom with a misted over mirror

The perfect place in your bathroom for condensation to form is your mirror, and it can also be the most annoying. A misted-over mirror is common after showering, as the cold mirror surface attracts water droplets and is not warm enough to dry them out. This can keep moisture in the bathroom long after you have finished. Apart from cleaning with a squeegee after every shower, another solution involves demistable mirrors. They are easy to install and, since these mirrors are warm, condensation can’t form, which means less moisture and humidity in the bathroom.

Wet Clothing & Towels Placed Outside

Humidity is not only caused by moisture in the air during your shower, it can remain long after you’ve finished, especially if any wet clothing and towels are left behind. Hang damp clothing outside the bathroom to reduce the amount of moisture.

Take Shorter, Cooler Showers

A nickel shower head and rod

Here’s a simple solution that might not be to everyone's liking. Save water, energy, time, and money by reducing the temperature of your shower or bath. A cooler shower reduces the number of water particles in the air, which means less condensation on surfaces. 

Use a Dehumidifier

Readily available in most housewares stores, dehumidifiers may help reduce the humidity in your bathroom. If you are looking into buying one, there are several factors that you need to be aware of before you purchase, including: room size, airflow rate, extraction capacity, and noise level. Consider every aspect. Since they’re electric, dehumidifiers require an outlet in the bathroom. They also come in all shapes and sizes, which means you should be able to find the right one for your bathroom. If you don't have the room or don't want to spend too much, then an alternative to electric humidifiers are moisture absorbers.

Plants

A bathroom featuring a medium-sized house plant

Not only used to bring natural beauty to your bathroom, plants can also help reduce moisture in the air. Some plants thrive in humid conditions and may help absorbing moisture and returning oxygen to the air. This not only creates a fresher bathroom, when used in conjunction with other solutions, it can help reduce mold growth. However, not all plants are suitable to be used in the bathroom. Some can boost humidity since they release water vapor the following plants could help to absorb moisture.

The peace lily

A peace lily plant in a brown pot

A beautiful, flowering plant that thrives in hot, steamy conditions, the peace lily is native to tropical forests, so bathroom conditions are perfect for this plant to thrive. It requires low maintenance, can live in reduced light conditions, and has the added ability to purify the air. By absorbing moisture from the air through its leaves, the peace lily can help reduce humid conditions in the bathroom as well as bring added grace to your decor with its beautiful blooms.

However, care should be taken as peace lilies can also be mildly toxic to children and animals when consumed and should always be kept out of their reach.

Boston fern

A boston fern in a small, square pot next to white basin

Ferns are a great option for plants in the bathroom, especially varieties like the Boston or bird's nest fern. They can survive in low light and prefer warm, moist conditions. Most ferns can handle the varied temperature ranges in a bathroom, and they tend to thrive in humidity. Direct sunlight, however, can damage fern leaves, so make sure you place them in shaded areas or dappled light.

Orchids

An orchid in a white pot with rolled up towels next to it on a stool

The colorful and delicate orchid is perfect for bathrooms that aren't too cold and have indirect sunlight. Most orchids like to be in a humid environment. Some species (epiphytes) will absorb moisture from the air.

Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema)

A Chinese evergreen plant in a see-through bowl that shows a messy knot of roots

These potted plants are often kept on windowsills in the bathroom and thrive best in bright, indirect sunlight as well as high humidity conditions. It can also tolerate low light, prefers constant light moisture, and is an exceptional air purifier.

Managing Ongoing Humidity

A bathroom with a wooden ladder shelf

If you've found that your bathroom still suffers from humidity problems after trying some of these suggestions, you might be looking at a more serious problem. Some tell-tale signs of humidity problems include damp patches, crumbling plaster, peeling paint and wallpaper, dry rot in wood, and mold. If you do need major bathroom renovations, consider replacing tiles and grouting with seamless acrylic wall paneling, and maybe increase your extractor fan size or replace old windows with double-glazed ones. A humidity-free bathroom is not only healthier and more appealing to the eye, it allows you to spend more time relaxing in the bathtub and less time cleaning it.

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