A lot happens in your home-your bathroom in particular. Without letting some fresh air in once in a while, it’s easy for stale air to build up and cause problems.
When clouds of humidity fill your bathroom after a shower, it’s natural to think of the window as the first escape route. But where there are pros, there are always cons that you should weigh before deciding how you will handle humidity.
Keeping the window open after a shower helps protect against damp and prevent the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria. However, it is not always practical in winter or rainy weather. It can also pose a security risk. Keep the window open if you can. If you can’t ensure ventilation is provided in other ways.
Reasons to Leave Bathroom Window Open After a Shower
An Open Window Allows Warm and Moist Air to Leave the Bathroom
A fogged-up mirror is a nuisance but it doesn’t compare to the frightening issues that can arise from post-shower humidity.
Showering causes the build-up of warm and moist air in the bathroom, which facilitates the growth of mold and mildew and can damage bathroom furniture or even the structure if there is an issue with the waterproofing.
Household mold is more common than anyone would like, especially in moist areas like the bathroom. Given the opportunity, it will make itself at home growing as horrifying green, brown, and even black splotches. Not only can the fungi significantly damage your bathroom, but they can also compromise your health.
Over time the humidity will create a build-up on the wall and yellow streaks could appear.
Allowing humid air to exit the bathroom through a window after a shower can reduce the chances of mildew and mold development. Paired with an exhaust fan, an open window during and after your shower clears out excessive clouds of steam and optimizes air circulation for an anti-mold environment.
Mold and Mildew Can Pose a Risk to Health
Opening your window after a shower can help prevent mold, and in turn, save you from illness. While the severity of mold- and mildew-associated risks vary, the bottom line is that none of them are good for you.
For someone sensitive to mold, exposure can irritate the throat, nose, and eyes in a similar way to a cold or allergies. If you or someone else in the house has asthma or a mold allergy, it could heighten the symptoms. Other pre-existing conditions are at risk for severe damage when exposed to mold.
Toxic Mold Poisoning
Mold poisoning, or mycotoxicosis, is the most significant complication that can arise from mold exposure.
Mycotoxicosis is often said to correlate with several neurological issues and other health complications after mold spore inhalation. Common mold poisoning symptoms may include:
- extreme fatigue
- memory loss
- difficulty focusing
- inflammatory lung disease
Most Dangerous Bathroom Mold Species
Stachybotrys (coined “black mold” due to its dark color) is commonly referred to as the most dangerous household mold, though this has not been officially confirmed.
Other dangerous molds include:
Removing Mold and Mildew Can Be Troublesome
If the health risks weren’t enough reason, the irritating process of mold removal might have you considering cracking a window when you shower.
In some cases, bathroom mold removal could cost anywhere from $500 to $4000. In other words, it could end up being a small investment!
As you now know the health risks associated with mold, you’ll need to make sure that you are protected from mold exposure during the removal process. The EPA advises gloves, goggles, and a respirator to keep mold spores from being inhaled or touching your skin.
You can remove some molds with a vinegar solution, but make sure you use the correct vinegar. It can also be time-consuming as you have to apply the solution, leave it to sit, then scrub it off, and repeat until you have eliminated every single spore. If you leave any mold behind, it will quickly reproduce itself, negating all your efforts.
Preventative methods, such as open windows and exhaust fans, could save you from the time and effort that mold removal requires.
You can read my article on How to Remove Mold From Bathroom Ceilings With Vinegar for a more detailed cleaning guide.
Borax, bleach, and mold-specific cleaning products are also solutions for banishing bathroom mold.
Repairing Damp Damage Can Be Expensive
Condensation builds up on the window and other cool surfaces as bathroom humidity rises. When this happens, damage to wood, metal, fabric, and other water-sensitive materials can occur.
Rotting wood, water stains, rust, and peeling paint can also result from frequent high levels of humidity. Hiring a professional for repair and replacements can wind up costing you hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Dehumidifiers can help to reduce the moisture levels, but they are a much pricier solution than opening a window, especially when you purchase a more effective unit such as the Homelabs Energy Star Dehumidifier(amazon link).
Letting water vapor out of the window instead of allowing it to accumulate could be easier on your wallet and home.
The bathroom door itself can be damaged by the excess moisture. In addition to leaving the door open after a shower, you should also make sure that your door is painted with the correct paint and in the best way to ensure durability.
Towels Cannot Dry in Humid Air
When the air is humid, towels soak up moisture, and perpetually damp towels are breeding grounds for bacteria.
Even when dry, harmful microbes cling to towels in your bathroom, making weekly washing a strong recommendation.
If your towels remain damp for an extended period after a shower, that is a sign your bathroom is not getting enough ventilation. In this case, opening the window after you shower can aid in keeping your towels clean.
Reasons Not to Leave the Bathroom Window Open After Showering
Open Windows Are Unpleasant in the Winter
If you live in a cold climate, cracking a window to let freezing air flow through is shiver-worthy, especially considering the fact that showering is not something you can do with a sweater on!
Furthermore, when running your furnace to keep your home warm, an open window can require extra effort from your HVAC system, and the cost of comfort could become even more expensive than it already is.
Cold air coming in through the window could create issues when combined with the hot, humid air inside the bathroom. The combination may produce higher rates or amounts of condensation and amplify the problems you are trying to prevent (mold, mildew, damp, etc.).
You Cannot Leave Windows Open When It Is Raining
Opening a window can be a tool to rid your bathroom of extra humidity, but not when more water is coming in than going out!
If you’ve ever left a window open accidentally during a rainstorm, you might be familiar with the frustrating pools of water left all over the bathroom. Condensation damage is one thing; full-on water damage is even worse.
This argument does not necessarily say you shouldn’t open your windows after a shower at all. However, you should have other means to clear out humidity for the times that you can’t.
Open Windows Can Be a Security Risk
If you shower at night, you leave for work directly after showering, etc., then leaving your bathroom window open can become a security risk. You don’t want to invite burglars into your home for the sake of eliminating humidity.
Ensure that you have a reminder to close and lock the window fifteen minutes or so after your shower if you know you may forget. If you have children that are in the habit of opening the window, bear in mind the additional risk of it being left open.
For insurance purposes, know that you likely won’t be covered if you forget to close the window and thieves gain access to your house in this way.
Alternative Ways to Keep Humidity Levels Down After Showering
Be Consistent With Your Exhaust Fan
It’s crucial to have an exhaust fan to regulate humidity levels. There’s a wide variety of bathroom fans to choose from, and you should run yours every time you shower to eliminate stale air and prevent damage.
Use a Dehumidifier
As their name suggests, dehumidifiers work to remove unwanted moisture from the air. If you don’t have room for one that is full-sized, or you’d like to spend less, you can try out a mini-dehumidifier.
A window fan can make a practical addition to your bathroom. They’re often multi-purpose and can function to clear humidity or for cooling purposes.
Open the Door
A method that requires no additional purchases, reducing humidity can be as simple as opening the door. Like the window, an open bathroom door for around half an hour after a shower aids in air circulation. Allowing the humidity to spread out of the bathroom can be a preventative measure against mold and mildew.
A whole-house ventilation system can regulate humidity levels throughout your home. They install above the ceiling in a central location to optimize air circulation-reducing the need to open the windows as often.
Leaving the bathroom window open after showering is a good idea, but it is not always possible. Many alternative methods can work just as well or better. The important thing is that your bathroom is getting the ventilation it needs.