How to de-steam bathroom most efficiently?
July 2, 2010 1:33 PM   Subscribe

After a shower, to get rid of the steam in the bathroom, is it more effective to run the bathroom fan or just open the window? Does it help to do both?

Specifics: The window opening is about 15x30 inches. It's pretty humid here, and we don't have air conditioning, so that's true inside as well as outside the house.

Related question: When running the bathroom fan, is it helpful to close the door, so as to eject just the steamy bathroom air?
posted by lakeroon to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience you get the best results by opening the window. Of course, in very cold weather you might not want to, that is the limiting factor. And no, when running a fan it is not helpful to close the bathroom door. The air will flow better if it can both enter the room from other rooms, and then leave by way of the vent. It is hard to suck air out of a sealed container.
posted by grizzled at 1:36 PM on July 2, 2010

I would run the fan and open the window. The more bathroom air and non-bathroom air mixing you can achieve, the more quickly the humidity will normalize (in my opinion anyway).
posted by aheckler at 1:37 PM on July 2, 2010

The fan pulls air out of the bathroom, causing air to rush in through other openings. It's up to you (and the outside weather) where you want to get it from. The downside of opening the door is that it will, as a rule, make the rest of the house slightly more humid, though not as much if the fan were off and the window closed.

2nd fan on, window open, assuming it's not unbearably hot/cold outside.
posted by supercres at 1:40 PM on July 2, 2010

My bathroom always desteams the fastest with everything open and the fan on. The more fresh air getting in and being sucked through the fan the better. Even outside air is going to be less humid that the actual steam coming from the shower. If you don't want to open the window at least open the door so the fan has something to suck against, and leave it open once the room is dry too (opening the door stopped my towels being wet every single day). It does kind of share things around the house a bit more straight after the shower but overall the bathroom will stay drier if it's allowed some circulation in there.

I've also found that even when it's really humid and wet outside opening a window to get some fresh air in *still* makes the house slightly less damp. Stops my sheets being wet and my books sticking together. Aircon would be even better to bring in dry air but it's pretty uncommon where I live.
posted by shelleycat at 1:49 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I noticed you specified "after a shower." I turn the fan on when I get in the shower, as opposed to afterwards, and no steam ever accumulates. Have you tried that?
posted by CheeseLouise at 1:51 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

In the winter, I tend to take showers with the doors and windows closed and the fan on, because anything else makes it seem even more freezing cold. Then, once I'm dry and warm, I open the door to the rest of the house and turn off the fan, because winters are dry, and spreading that extra moisture into the rest of the house isn't a bad thing. I also don't like the idea of ejecting all the house air that I just paid good money to have the funace heat up for me, so I try to run the fan as little as possible.

In summer, though, I run the fan until I remember to turn it off (we don't have AC), and shower with the doors open to maximize that airflow. (I'd do it in the winter if it weren't just too darn cold). I don't open the bathroom window mostly because of the logistics involved in not flashing the neighbors while operating the window/blinds.

In short, more open (doors/windows) to reduce steam, but keep in mind that running the fan and opening a window are both reducing your climate-control.
posted by aimedwander at 1:56 PM on July 2, 2010

I don't have a fan in my bathroom, and I can attest that just opening the window does not work very well, so I'd have to say either fan, or fan + window.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:13 PM on July 2, 2010

I might be mistaken, but I have a feeling that it depends on a lot of factors including how big the window is, how powerful the fan is, how big the bathroom is, how humid it is outside, etc., etc.

Have you tried experimenting to see what works best in your bathroom?
posted by box at 3:15 PM on July 2, 2010

Thanks, everybody, for the input. Yes, this is a warm-season-only option, and is also made possible by the bathroom window facing the house of an elderly neighbor lady who I suspect doesn't see very well, and has probably seen too much in her years to care anyway. I do turn on the fan before getting into the shower - maybe I need to learn to use cooler water.
posted by lakeroon at 3:15 PM on July 2, 2010

A fan draws air from the path of least resistance. If the fan is near an open window or open door, then air will mostly flow from the opening to the fan and little room air will be exhausted. The ideal situation is the fan on one end of the room and the opening on the other. So the answer depends on the layout of the room.

A fan is more effective when air can freely flow to it and the outlet for the fan has low resistance. If steam from a shower isn't gone by the time you have dried, it may be time to evaluate the fan and its outlet.
posted by llc at 10:49 PM on July 2, 2010

Open the window. In my experience, those fans do a much better job of making noise than moving air. However, box is correct -- depends on your specifics.
posted by Rash at 10:49 PM on July 2, 2010

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