Help me tame humidity in my bathroom!
November 3, 2010 6:42 AM   Subscribe

I'm renovating my new apartment and my main closet is now going to be IN the bathroom. What are the problems & solutions for the humidity that will be present?

So I just bought my first apartment, an alcove studio, and there are two closets in the apartment. One which is large, right by the front door, and another large closet that is in the bathroom (it is actually two closets side by side that I'm combining and enlarging).

The entry closet is too far from my bed alcove for it to make sense as my main closet, which means that I am going to have to keep all my clothes (suits, shirts, silk ties, shoes, etc) in the bathroom closet.

Here are my concerns:

- Instead of doors, I am installing sliding glass doors. Is there some sort of material I can put around the edge of the sliders that will block moisture from getting through?

- If I got a dehumidifier and put it in the closet, could that counteract the humidity?

- If I shower with the door open (I'm single) will that take care of a lions share of the problem? (I have no problem showering with the door open, making sure that the moisture doesn't remain in the bathroom).

The bathroom is not large (5x7) and the closet will be right next to the shower area. I obviously don't want to ruin my clothes, but because of how the closets lay out in the apartment I really have no choice. My contractor said I shouldn't do it that way, but my options are so limited that I'm doing it anyway.

Any info will be appreciated!
posted by darkgroove to Home & Garden (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would recommend an exhaust fan in the bathroom (if you don't already have one) which you use during the shower and for 5-10 minutes after to reduce bathroom humidity. A dehumidifier in the closet in the bathroom will fill quickly, so you would need (1) a fairly sizeable dehumidifier, and (2) a good way of draining it.
posted by JMOZ at 6:45 AM on November 3, 2010

Also, a layout would be useful if you'd like the Hive Mind to see if there's an alternative you missed.
posted by JMOZ at 6:48 AM on November 3, 2010

Just out of curiosity, why does your closet need to be near your bed?
posted by decathecting at 6:50 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: DampRid makes hangable bags of desiccant for use in damp, musty closets.
posted by CutaneousRabbit at 6:53 AM on November 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

If an exhaust fan is not an option most dehumidifiers let you bypass the reservoir and connect a hose instead. You could route the hose to the sink, toilet, or shower so you'll never have to empty it. I do this in my basement. The unit shuts on and off automatically depending on the humidity level or with a timer.
posted by bondcliff at 7:00 AM on November 3, 2010

Both my parents and my home have bathroom closets that store our clothing, and neither of us have any mildew/dampness problems - but in both cases, construction is less than 20 years old and there are exhaust fans in both bathrooms (FWIW, i steam up the place somethin' fierce and never use the exhaust fan).

You can also get a dehumidifier that drains into the plumbing - if the layout worked to make that advantageous.
posted by kpht at 7:03 AM on November 3, 2010

Response by poster: Here is the floor plan with the bathroom area clearly laid out. The reason I can't flip the closet into the living room is because I want to mount my TV there, and if I mounted it on the opposite wall, I would have a couch blocking my closet.

Floor Plan
posted by darkgroove at 7:23 AM on November 3, 2010

If you're really worried, you could you get a wardrobe/armoir as a freestanding closet replacement and use it to separate the bedroom from the living room.
posted by fermezporte at 7:31 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

An exhaust fan usually involves cutting a hole in the exterior wall or window, but it's a good option; you can have the fan run whenever the bathroom light is on, with a delay of several minutes after the light goes off.

Showering with the door open probably isn't going to help all that much if you're taking long showers. Taking short showers (like five minutes or less, which is perfectly possible if you're only showering to get clean) will make a big difference in keeping condensation down to ignorable levels. I typically shower for about five minutes, and afterwards there's no obvious condensation either in the air or on surfaces.

If you keep the room above 68F / 20C, that'll help dry things out between showers. I'd personally not worry about using a dehumidifier unless I lived somewhere with high natural humidity; I'd probably just wait and see if my clothes started to feel noticeably damp.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:32 AM on November 3, 2010

Response by poster: @ decathecting: It's just in regard to the flow of the apartment. When I go to resell it, I can't tell someone to walk across the apartment (despite it's small size) to the front closet for their clothes. It's just how things are set up in NYC (where the apartment is). When you start making people go out of their comfort area to get their clothes (out of the bedroom, etc) then it is a downside. Then again, having the closet in the bathroom isn't exactly ideal either... and I realize that, but it is what it is (I'm in real estate as well, FYI).
posted by darkgroove at 7:34 AM on November 3, 2010

Is there a window in the bathroom you can pop for the duration of your shower/several minutes afterward? (This is especially good if you have included-in-your-rent radiator heat.)
posted by phunniemee at 7:37 AM on November 3, 2010

Response by poster: @ phunniemee: No window, unfortunately.
posted by darkgroove at 7:40 AM on November 3, 2010

The smaller closet that you're combining (according to the photo)......can you make that wall that you're going to have there put in on an angle? You could mount your tv on that wall, and to the left of your tv you could put the door to your closet. That solution also increases the size of your closet - you'll have a large angle in the upper right corner. If this doesn't make sense I can draw what I'm thinking.
posted by iconomy at 7:42 AM on November 3, 2010

To be clear, the real solution to this problem is not to build your main closet in the bathroom.

Among other things, it's going to wreck your clothes and screw up your resale value.
posted by mhoye at 7:50 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @ iconomy: Not sure what you are saying (a diagram may help) but I'm more interested in dealing with the moisture instead of moving things around.

I will say that the wall that is to the right of the doorway (rectangle with the diagonal line through it) has piping which cannot be moved. And the closet that faces the Living Room has the bathtub on the left side of it.
posted by darkgroove at 7:52 AM on November 3, 2010

Response by poster: @ mhoye: I hear you, believe me. But if I don't do that, I screw up the space in the living room as I would have the closet now open to the living room. It doesn't allow for optimal placement of couches or other stuff, and will also hurt the resale value. Believe me, I've weighed the pros and cons.
posted by darkgroove at 7:53 AM on November 3, 2010

darkgroove, here's what I was thinking. Only the finished design would know. Nice. Not like my drawing ;)

I'm more interested in dealing with the moisture instead of moving things around.

Yeah. I understand. I also know I would never buy an apartment with my clothes closet in the bathroom. Something to think about for down the road. I read your response to mhoye, and I still think a prospective buyer would much rather have a nice door in their living room than their clothes hanging in the bathroom. Just my opinion, I'm sure you've given this a lot of thought.
posted by iconomy at 7:56 AM on November 3, 2010

I'm confused as to how your resale value is hurt by where you choose to store your clothes. I lived in NYC for a number of years, and I can't figure out why potential buyers are going to care where you put your clothes. And if they really do care, just move your clothes before you start showing it. But in the meantime, while you're the one living there, I would not store clothes in the bathroom.
posted by decathecting at 7:59 AM on November 3, 2010

Best answer: Have you considered louvered bi-fold doors instead of sliding glass doors? Even if you somehow manage to seal the sliders, you're still going to have moisture coming in through the walls themselves (she says, speaking from experience). Louvers will let the air circulate.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:00 AM on November 3, 2010

(And...yeah, I wouldn't want my clothes in the bathroom, either.)
posted by thomas j wise at 8:02 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

My friends remodeled their house so that they have their main closet in the bathroom and they don't seem to have any problems. They don't have a bathroom door, though, it just opens out into the bedroom. This is in New Orleans, so on one hand, it's insanely humid here, but on the other, it's also very air conditioned here. So, if their closet is any indication, leaving the door open seems to work.

Also, now that I think of it, before we remodeled, I had all of my clothes and the kids' clothes in a tiny dreary utility room with the washer and dryer. There was no vent and the door was rarely left open and we didn't have any problems with mustiness or mildew. I don't know that a washer and dryer get things quite as damp as a shower, but it's another data point of heat and water in an enclosed space with clothes. I had hanging clothes (pretty tightly squished) and folded clothes in wire cube shelves on the wall. And usually a huge pile of dirty clothes on the floor. I currently have the new washer and dryer in my closet with some clothes, but now I have a shmancy front loading efficient set that doesn't seem to get the room as hot or steamy.

I would love to have all of my clothes in the bathroom, as that's where I get dressed. But then, I live in a weird old double shotgun house where I go through the den and the kitchen to get to the bathroom from my bedroom. (But you don't have to walk through any bedrooms to get around the house, which is the usual shotgun problem.)
posted by artychoke at 8:08 AM on November 3, 2010

Response by poster: @ iconomy: Ahh, I see what you are saying. I certainly didn't think of that! The size of the closets is a little hard to explain, and in a nutshell, that wouldn't really work (that closet in the corner is the smallest and essentially that would turn a closet into a void of space.

But it is certainly one of the more unique ways to work the space.

@ Everyone talking about the closet in the bathroom: The nice thing is that the next buyer (5 years from now, or so) could always flip the closets into the living room if necessary. (I'm a guy and NEED my big TV on the wall.) So if a woman purchases this from me, she could spent a few thousand dollars and flip the doors. So all is not lost.
posted by darkgroove at 8:11 AM on November 3, 2010

I like iconomy's idea.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:12 AM on November 3, 2010

Is it necessary to enlarge the closet? Could you get a free-standing wardrobe instead to put in your room and avoid the humidity issue altogether?
posted by pised at 8:28 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @ TWinbrook8: Unfortunately, his idea does not work, given the space. But if the space was slightly bigger it could.

@ pised: I'm not a fan of wardrobes.

I think that the Damprid idea is probably what I'm going to go with. I don't think that moisture will be a huge issue, but I obviously want to make sure that it will never be a problem.
posted by darkgroove at 8:33 AM on November 3, 2010

My parents's house has a large walk in closet that opens into their bathroom- no doors at all. I think that putting doors on your closet might be overthinking it a bit- by sealing the closet, you are sealing moisture into the closet with your clothes. An alternative would be to make this doorway as open as possible, to keep things aired out, with a dehumidifier as a back up.
posted by pickypicky at 8:42 AM on November 3, 2010

If you have a fan in the bathroom already, look into upgrading it.

How about building a closet that extends the line of the bathroom/interior living room wall so that it partially closes off the bedroom?
posted by amtho at 8:43 AM on November 3, 2010

What if you put a door in the bathroom, between the sink and the toilet, perpendicular to the closet door? Close it when taking a shower.
posted by CathyG at 9:42 AM on November 3, 2010

DampRid doesn't last very long - it's a dessicant that sucks water out of the air, turning from a dry powder to a slurry. And then you go buy another container of it. If it's that important to you, it'll solve the problem, though.

My bathroom has a linen closet (built into the wall), and I have not had any issues with moisture inside. When we bought the place, it was a (tall) kitchen cabinet on one half and open shelves on the other. After a long steamy shower, there'd be moisture condensate on the walls in the upper shelf of the open section but not a huge effect on the stack of sheets, while the closed cabinet door meant no visible moisture in the other cabinet. We bought a door for the open shelves (a full-lenght mirror on hinges, actually) and that seems to be working the same as the ready-made cabinetry. We didn't install a hygrometer or anything to establish humidity levels, but it seems to be not a huge deal. I pulled the winter comforter out after a summer spent in the top shelf and it didn't even occur to me to worry about it, nor were there any smells or mildew to remind me.

My bathroom does have a vent fan that we run during and after showers to keep the walls from mildewing, but it's kind of crappy, we still get visible moisture on the walls and mirrors. I'll recommend to you a timer switch so you can run the fan for some amount of time after the shower's over. If you wanted to be even more conscientious, you could make a habit of leaving the closet door open after you get dressed, and it'll air out all day, then closing it when you get home from work.
posted by aimedwander at 10:13 AM on November 3, 2010

Dehumidifiers are expensive to run. I like the idea of a closet in the bathroom. You are naked after your shower and your clothes are right there!
posted by futz at 11:15 AM on November 3, 2010

My place has a closet that is in the master bathroom. It is accessible through a wooden (or wood-veneer) sliding door that we pretty much never close (floorplan: closet's at the top, picture). Both people who live here take daily long, hot showers and regular baths that turn the bathroom into a sauna and only occasionally bother to turn on the fan – we've been here for over a year and had no issues with moisture and humidity.
posted by halogen at 12:30 PM on November 3, 2010

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