If you find yourself waking up every morning and wondering how your windows get steamed up, then look no further. We explain why it happens and how to stop condensation on windows in the winter.
It seems like just yesterday we were asking whether to keep windows closed in hot weather (opens in new tab) and how to keep our houses cool (opens in new tab), but now it's starting to get cold outside you might notice your windows have been steaming up. Not only does this look unsightly, but it can also encourage a build up of mould around your home and have you looking for a black mould cleaning product (opens in new tab).
Nigel Dawson (opens in new tab), senior designer at More Kitchens, told us, “It all comes down to ventilation. The room needs airflow to extract the additional moisture in the air, created from steam, which causes condensation. If left untreated, built-up moisture can result in mould and damp patches appearing. To avoid mould, you need to understand how to stop condensation.” So don't worry, there's plenty of things you can do to combat condensation and keep your windows and the rest of your house looking its best. Here's why our windows get steamed up in the mornings and how to stop condensation…
How to stop condensation on windows
1. Open windows
Unlike in the summer when you open windows to ventilate a room, it may be too cold to do that winter. However, it's good to open a window to let fresh air in when you can, even if only for a short while.
Adam, says: “If your home is suffering from condensation, damp or mould, the best thing you can do is to try and improve the ventilation inside. Try to regularly open windows to allow air to move freely and let moist air escape from the property.”
every morning when we open the blinds, stripes obsessively licks the condensation off the window pic.twitter.com/3o3rj27mLYOctober 23, 2022
Nigel Dawson adds to this, saying, “Simply having the window open allows air to flow outside, rather than settling in and around your house. Likewise, the door of the any room using hot water - like a bathroom - should always be closed to stop steamy air from flowing throughout the home.”
2. Use a fan when cooking or showering
Use your bathroom and kitchen fans every time you cook or shower, as both showering and cooking release a lot of moisture into the air. Only run the fans for 15-20 minutes at a time though - and don't do it overnight.
Nigel says, “Fans are now an installation requirement in new build homes, to extract old air and expel it out of the home. Older homes do not always come with an extractor fan, but if the room has a window, it isn't essential to have one installed. However, if the room in question doesn't have a window, a ventilation system should be installed to comply with building regulations.”
3. Adjust your heating
Sudden increases and decreases in temperature can cause condensation on windows, so boiler cover company Hometree (opens in new tab) suggests keeping your heating on a constant low heat to balance out the air temperature and prevent the frequent switch between hot and cold.
It's worth bearing in mind, however, that with energy bills (opens in new tab) increasing this is a more costly option for getting rid of condensation on windows compared to other solutions, so if you're looking to learn how to save money (opens in new tab) it may be better to take a different approach.
4. Hang your washing in well ventilated areas
According to Adam, “Reducing how much moisture is in the air can have a huge impact on tackling condensation dampness. Little changes such as having your tumble dryer vented outside and hanging washing in airy spaces, instead of drying it inside warm rooms, can really help to keep the mould at bay.”
However, with the current cost of living crisis not everyone can afford to run a tumble dryer and more people are putting wet washing around their home to dry. Chris Michael (opens in new tab), managing director of air purification specialists Meaco (opens in new tab), advises placing wet items away from walls to prevent the moisture from being trapped, and hanging items individually and with as much space in between them as possible so they will dry more quickly.
He adds “Before you take them out of the washing machine, use a rinse cycle to keep the amount of water left in the clothes to a minimum.”
5. Make sure your home is well insulated
The key to preventing condensation is making sure the inside of your windows are not too much colder than the temperature inside your home - and the only way to do this is with insulation. Although it is a big investment, it may be worth it if you are worried about black mould.
Adam says: “Double glazing, wall insulation and draught-proofing will help to reduce the amount of heat that is lost from your home. Having well installed, energy-efficient windows will help to keep the property's temperature high, which can have a massive impact on condensation and mould growth.”
6. Try anti-condensation paint
Damp-proofing specialist Permagard (opens in new tab) explains that anti-condensation paint is able to prevent moisture from forming on surfaces and are usually designed to repel water as well as provide some thermal insulation.
It does this by raising the surface temperature of the internal walls with a number of tiny hollow glass beads that reflect thermal energy away from the walls. They add: "By effectively repelling warm air back into the room, the paint prevents moisture from forming on the walls and causing damp issues and mould growth."
You can buy anti-condensation paint on Permagard's website as well as at home improvement stores.
Ronseal Anti Condensation White Matt Damp seal paint, 2.5L (opens in new tab)
Ronseal Anti Condensation Paint adds an extra layer of insulation to your wall and puts a stop to condensation building up and mould growing. It can be used either as a topcoat, or you can paint another colour over it. Its tough, scrubbable finish is moisture resistant and helps to prevent the causes of mould.
7. Buy a dehumidifier
One of the most effective ways to prevent condensation on windows is by using a dehumidifier. By taking moisture out of the air in your home, they reduce condensation and are often also able to relieve allergy symptoms (opens in new tab) and make breathing easier. You can leave them on overnight if you'd like, as there's no risk to your health by doing this.
Chris says, “Look for dehumidifiers that have a dedicated laundry mode where the machine run up to six hours before switching itself off to save energy. For further energy savings, look for models which use a humidistat, which means the dehumidifier switches itself off when the target humidity is reached, only switching on again if it detects an increase in humidity.”
However, some humidifiers can be quite noisy or really dry out a room, so you might want to consider that before purchasing one. If you're worried about cost, you might be interested in our article on how much do dehumidifiers cost to run (opens in new tab). You can also check out some of the best Black Friday dehumidifier deals (opens in new tab) to save money on these handy devices.
What causes condensation on windows?
Condensation occurs when hot and humid air comes into contact with a cold surface (like a window). When this warm, moist air meets the cold surface, the moisture in it condenses.
This water vapour is known as condensation, and though it is more likely to happen on single-glazed windows that get very cold during winter, condensation forms on double-glazed windows too.
Why am I getting condensation on the inside of my windows?
In winter, our homes are a lot warmer than the outside temperature, because we put the heating on. This temperature difference means condensation on windows is more likely to form.
To add to that, because it’s cold in winter we are much less likely to have our windows open, meaning the water vapour cannot escape our homes.
Why do my windows have condensation on the outside?
Condensation forms on the outside of windows in the same way. So, for condensation to form on the outside, the temperature of the glass must be colder than the dew point outside.
You don't need to worry about condensation forming on the outside of windows, because it usually means the window is working well at preventing heat loss from your home - usually because they are double or even triple glazed.
Is condensation on windows bad for health?
Condensation is fine in small amounts, but it can become a problem if it is left to build up for a while. This is because it could result in black mould.
Some people will experience cold-like symptoms as a result of condensation, such as runny noses, sore throats and coughing, but more extreme cases have seen people develop respiratory issues if there's too much mould in the home. In addition, condensation has been linked to childhood asthma. People most at risk are babies, the elderly, and anyone with allergies or a weakened immune system.
Condensation is common during colder weather, but what are the health risks associated with damp and mould? Info: https://t.co/xfHIwzyUtS pic.twitter.com/wfjsDhfZ5HDecember 12, 2016
Adam Pawson (opens in new tab), head of digital at window supplier Safe Style (opens in new tab) says, “If mould has already built up around your window frame, it’s important that you take action to remove it in order to avoid any health risks. Wearing protective gloves, use a household black mould remover and a non-abrasive brush to go over the affected area. Leave the solution for up to 15 minutes to allow it to break down the bacteria and then go over the area with a damp cloth and repeat the process until the mould is completely removed, before wiping over with a clean cloth. We’d recommend keeping the window open until the area is completely dry.”
As long as you keep on top of condensation, there shouldn't be anything to worry about.
Should I wipe condensation from windows?
Wiping down windows is a good way to prevent a build up of condensation. If mould has developed, the NHS recommends (opens in new tab) that you wipe it away with a cloth soaked with soapy water.
You should use a dry cloth to remove any moisture, and throw both cloths away after using to prevent contamination.
Adam agrees with this advice. He says, “If you do start to see water beads appearing on or around your windows when the temperature outside begins to drop, make sure that you’re clearing the area on a daily basis. We’d suggest using a microfiber cloth to remove any dampness, before applying any cleaning solution.”
The best dehumidifiers to stop condensation on windows:
RRP: £259.99 | Dimensions: H59.5 x W38.5 x D29 cm | Weight: 12.6kg
If you live in a three to five bedroom house and suffer from condensation, mould or damp then this model will deliver excellent results. The Meaco system runs the dehumidifier to your chosen target relative humidity, and once the humidity has stabilised it goes into sleep mode, waking every 30 minutes to test the air until it has to start dehumidifying again. There’s a whole bunch of useful features too, like a motorised rotating louvre to help dry washing faster, a large front loading water tank, two fan speeds, an off timer, a digital display to show you the room humidity, a variable humidistat and a child lock. It comes with a strong carry handle and large castors to make it easy to move the dehumidifier when you want to dry laundry or dry the kitchen or bathroom.
- View Meaco 20L Low Energy Dehumidifier & Air Purifier | £259.99 - Available at Meaco (opens in new tab) | John Lewis (opens in new tab) | Amazon (opens in new tab)
RRP: £129.99 | Dimensions: H46 x W29.5 x D25.1 cm | Weight: 11.3kg
This dehumidifier is Meaco’s quietest, and as well as being energy efficient it features laundry drying, a child lock, an off timer, and auto stop when the tank is full of water. The low power consumption makes it a low cost way to get rid of that pesky condensation or dry your laundry, and it’s easy to use with simple controls and a display showing current room relative humidity and options to set a chosen humidity level. The child lock prevents the settings from being tampered with.
- View MeacoDry ABC Dehumidifier, 10L | £129.99 - Available at Meaco (opens in new tab) | John Lewis (opens in new tab) | Amazon (opens in new tab)
RRP: £259.99 | Dimensions: H56.2 x W37.6 x D23.2 cm | Weight: 15kg
Another quiet one, this dehumidifier boasts being more than twice as quiet as the industry standard. The appliance has been specifically optimised for the British climate, and dehumidifies most efficiently between 10°C and 20°C, to extract the maximum amount of water from the air, when you need it most. Standard dehumidifiers are created to work most efficiently at 27°C, way above the average temperature of a British household. The medical grade H13 HEPA filter helps to clean the air in your home, removing smells and physical particles, making it a great option for people with allergies too.
- View Meaco Arete Dehumidifier & Air Purifier, 20L | £259.99 - Available at John Lewis (opens in new tab) | Argos (opens in new tab) | Amazon (opens in new tab)
RRP: £34.99 | Dimensions: H22 x W13 x D15.6 cm | Weight: 1.04kg
If you’re after something a bit smaller and more lightweight, this is definitely the one to go for. Great for removing moisture from smaller spaces and easily moving around your home, the Pro Breeze dehumidifier uses Thermo-Electric Peltier Technology to allow for whisper quiet eco-friendly operation, and has an auto shut-off option for when the tank is full. Another good option for allergy sufferers, this appliance helps to improve air quality by removing mould spores and dust mites, which are common triggers for those with respiratory problems.
- View Pro Breeze Dehumidifier 500ml Compact and Portable Mini | £34.99 - Available at Pro Breeze (opens in new tab) | Amazon (opens in new tab) | OnBuy (opens in new tab)
RRP: £254.99 | Dimensions: H50.8 x W33.4 x D22 cm | Weight: 9kg
This one may be more pricey, but it’s capable of removing up to 12 litres of excess moisture in 24 hours to keep your windows condensation free. The integrated handles mean it can easily be moved between rooms, and the double filtration filter improves overall air quality thanks to a dust filter and removable allergen filter. The transparent tank means the dehumidifiers performance and water level can easily be checked at any time.
- View DeLonghi Tasciugo AriaDry Multi 12L Dehumidifier | £254.99 - Available at DeLonghi (opens in new tab) | Amazon (opens in new tab) | Appliances Direct (opens in new tab)
Video of the Week