Humidity continues to be one of the modern bathroom’s greatest enemies. During a warm shower, most bathrooms experience a sudden increase in airborne moisture, which can lead to dangerous and unsightly mold growth. Should you keep the bathroom door open or closed after a shower to help prevent mildew build-up?
You should keep your bathroom door open after a shower to help prevent mold growth and keep mildew down to a minimum. Exhaust fans can pull moist air from the room, but combining it with an open door is far more effective.
This article will explore why keeping a bathroom door open is a better solution to humidity and unwanted mold. It will also discuss some potential situations where you may want to keep that door closed.
Why Should You Keep the Door Open?
Shutting the door when leaving a room is a built-in habit that many people share. But closing the bathroom door immediately after taking a shower might not be a great idea. There are three primary reasons why closing a bathroom door after showering is a bad habit:
- Shutting the door traps moisture and humidity, which can lead to indoor mold growth and excess mildew build-up.
- Indoor mold can be extremely toxic and could lead to severe respiratory distress.
- Removing mold from a bathroom can be incredibly costly, and mold cleaning services are just as pricey.
A door that swings into the bathroom is much more convenient to leave open compared to a door that swings into a hallway.
Keeping your bathroom door open and leaving the exhaust fan on for at least 30 minutes after a shower is an easy way to reduce your bathroom’s humidity and prevent mold growth.
Humidity and Mold
There are thousands of species of mold. In the article about preventing mold in bathrooms, I talk about the most common molds in our homes. But despite all of their minute differences, they share at least one environmental condition in common: Mold cannot survive without moisture. Also, large swaths of mold are often found in high-humidity areas and environments.
While kitchens are prone to mold growth, they’re often designed to be very open, allowing for more excellent airflow and evaporation. Bathrooms, however, tend to be reasonably small, and unless they’re being used, they’re often completely dark.
This combination of moisture and darkness makes the bathroom a prime target for mold and mildew. Spores can spread exceptionally fast, and if they’re left to grow, they can cause serious health problems and unsightly damage to your home.
Dangers of Indoor Mold
Breathing-in or touching indoor mold can be problematic at best. At worst, it may necessitate a hospital visit.
While those with allergies, sensitive respiratory systems, or compromised immune systems are at the most considerable risk of experiencing the mold-related symptoms, perfectly healthy individuals can also suffer from long-term mold inhalation.
Some of the most common health complaints associated with mold include:
- Watery eyes
- Difficulty breathing
Asthmatic individuals and small children are also particularly prone to mold exposure. For some, these symptoms may become intense enough to require hospitalization.
While you or your loved ones are recuperating, the bathroom mold that potentially caused this situation won’t be resting. The longer that mold and mildew stick around, the more they damage and consume their surrounding environment.
Mold Removal and Cleaning Costs
After recognizing that you have a bathroom mold problem, you’ll likely want to seek professional assistance in treating, eliminating, and cleaning the mold. However, depending on the size of the bathroom, any pre-existing water leaks or mold sources, and the extent of mold growth and damage, these services may cost you upwards of $2,000.
You can decide to use bleach to remove mold, but be aware that you’ll be working with a high-strength bleach solution. You may want to wear a protective painter’s mask and wear your worst clothing. Doing so will protect your lungs and ensure that you don’t accidentally bleach your favorite pair of jeans.
What I would recommend instead is to use vinegar to remove mold. This is much safer and I would argue more effective than bleach.
Even after removing spores and scrubbing the spot on which they once lay, you may experience mold or mildew staining. While you could use ammonia or an over-the-counter mildew remover solution in an attempt to remove the stain, it may be too deep to scrub away. In these cases, you’ll need to either retile the affected area or apply a fresh coat of mildew-resistant paint.
Overall, shutting your bathroom door could cause you to incur a few financial and physical costs, especially over the long-run. These costs include:
- Your and your family’s health
- Your home’s overall condition and hygiene
- The cost of increased medical care
- An expensive mold and mildew removal bill
- The time and money spent on DIY remediation and cleaning
- The money spent on fresh paint or new tiles during refurbishment
There are very few reasons not to keep your bathroom door open after a shower. Still, there are a few exceptions to the “always open” rule. These situational allowances require bathrooms to have an alternate source of airflow and ventilation that is comparable to an open door.
Can You Keep the Bathroom Door Closed?
In some cases, you may be able to keep your bathroom door closed after a shower and avoid the dangers of indoor mold and mildew. If your bathroom has a large, unblocked window or a powerful exhaust fan, you can probably keep the door closed.
However, the smartest and most effective solution to bathroom mold is to use an exhaust fan and keep the door open.
Many bathrooms have a window to let natural light stream in during the daytime. If your bathroom window has a latch and can safely open, you can consider using it as a ventilation device after showering.
However, if this window is blocked by an object, like a large tree, it won’t be able to ventilate the room as efficiently as an open door. This is also true of tiny windows. If your bathroom window cannot be opened, is blocked, or is small, you may still be able to close the door after showering.
But to do this, you’ll need a powerful exhaust fan.
A high-quality bathroom exhaust fan will be able to pull massive amounts of warm, humid air upwards and out of the room. This action allows the wet areas to evaporate more quickly, preventing the growth and spread of mildew and mold.
Here I have a list of 8 super quiet bathroom fans. They are truly the quietest on the market today and I will keep this list updated.
Still, that’s not all that a bathroom exhaust fan can do. Exhaust fans can also rid bathrooms of noxious odors (like from cleaning supplies), helping you and your family breathe more easily. They can also remove harmful contaminants from the air and reduce the likelihood of errant mold spores settling in your bathroom.
Yet another reason to consider an exhaust fan is the price. The costs associated with installing a bathroom exhaust fan are still far lower than the cost of removing and cleaning a mold infestation.
Should I Run the Bathroom Fan While Showering?
I often have migraines. Once a friend told me, a way to combat migraines is by taking a shower in silence and in the dark. In my bathroom, the fan and the light switch are one and the same. Taking a shower in the dark meant taking a shower with no fan. I started wondering should I run the bathroom fan while showering? I didn’t want to inadvertently cause damage to my bathroom.
Related article: 7 Reasons Why a Bathroom Fan is Not Removing Steam
The bathroom exhaust fan should be running while showering. When you turn on the shower, your bathroom fills with steam. This steam increases humidity. When the fan is not running, it sits on the surfaces in your bathroom, making everything moist. This moistness eventually develops into mold.
If you don’t have a bathroom window or an exhaust fan, and you’re not ready to invest in either option, leaving your bathroom door open after a shower is always the better choice. However, if you can access a window in your bathroom and have a powerful exhaust fan in that room, you can take advantage of those features to prevent mold and mildew growth.
Still, the most effective solution to a humid bathroom relies on a combination of these factors. Keeping the door open and using a fan may be the wisest choice. While you could also choose to open a window, this may pose security issues, especially in a single-story home. Running a fan and keeping the bathroom door wide-open is the safest option.
- Amazon: Panasonic FV-0511VQC1 WhisperSense Ventilation Fan
- How To Prevent Mold in the Bathroom? (Seven tips to keep mold away)
- How To Prevent Mold in the Bathroom? (Seven tips to keep mold away)
- Central Heating & Air Conditioning: Bathroom Exhaust Fans | A Homeowners Guide
- EPA: A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home
- HomeAdvisor: How Much Does It Cost To Install A Bathroom Fan?
- HomeAdvisor: How Much Does Professional Mold Removal Cost?
- Sciencing: Does Mold Grow Faster in the Light or Dark?
- WebMD: Mold Reactions: Who’s at Risk?
- Wikipedia: Indoor Mold