Cheap ways to stop condensation this winter
Now that temperatures are dropping and winter is on its way, thousands of homes will begin to suffer from condensation.
Condensation occurs when warm air hits cold surfaces leading to the air cooling quickly, which creates droplets on nearby surfaces such as windows and walls. Condensation happens most in rooms where steam rises, which is why kitchens and bathrooms are so badly affected.
For the most part condensation is harmless, however it can become a real problem if it’s left untreated, turning quickly into mould and damp.
Damp, which has a musty smell, leaves permanent black marks on walls and ceilings. It also damages clothes and furniture and, most worryingly, worsens health conditions like asthma, eczema, and bronchitis. In extreme circumstances it can even lead to death.
Therefore, it’s best to conquer condensation before it turns into damp – and it doesn’t need to be costly to do so. Here’s ten cheap and easy hacks to get moisture under control.
Always use a pan lid when cooking
As liquid evaporates it hits the pan lid and immediately condenses. This means the liquid stays within your cooking and doesn’t contribute to the humidity of your home. It’ll also stop your food from being dry.
Close kitchen and bathroom doors and open windows (if possible)
Having a bath or shower can create one litre of moisture, while cooking or using a kettle can add an extra two to three litres a day. To reduce moisture in the air, close doors when cooking or showering to stop hot air escaping into colder areas and open windows (when possible) to ensure good ventilation. When filling the bath, always run the cold water first and then add the hot – it’ll reduce vapour by up to 90%, which leads to condensation.
Cat litter in a sock
Cat litter is designed to absorb. Place it in a few old socks, tie the tops and leave it on or near windows and it’ll soak up the moisture from the air. Refill when needed but it’s best to change the socks every month as they’ll become damp and can start to smell unpleasant.
Bowl of salt
Salt is one of the most absorbent natural products available. Half fill small ramakins with salt and place them near windows. You should notice a difference quickly, with condensation levels dropping after just a day. It’ll turn black or become wet once it has reached its maximum level of saturation and should then be changed.
Don’t hang wet clothes inside
Energy is expensive and using a dryer is not an option for some. However, hanging wet clothes to dry creates a huge amount of moisture – up to five litres per wash. Invest in a heated clothes airer to keep energy bills down and condensation at bay. Aldi has heated clothes airers for £39.99.
Go green with house plants
Houseplants not only add colour to your home – they can also act as a natural humidity regulator. Species such as the Spider Plant, Peace Lily, Snake Plant, Boston Fern, English Ivy and Aloe Vera are best. Place them near areas prone to condensation, and group them together for maximum absorption, or place them on humidity trays with rocks to supercharge their powers.
Moisture absorbers, which are also known as disposable dehumidifiers are cheap – you can pick them up from pound shops and discount retailers - and work well. They contain crystals that absorb the moisture. You’ll need to place about five around a room to see a real difference and you’ll have to keep an eye on them as they fill up quickly and will need replacing.
Wipe down windowsills
Get into a routine of wiping down windowsills every morning to stop condensation pooling. Use a shower squeegee or cloth, but make sure to wring it out after every use instead of dying it on the radiator, as this will create moisture. You could also consider buying an electric window vac to suck up the wet – Amazon has them from as little as £25.99.
Move furniture away from external walls
You should avoid putting furniture too close to external walls as it affects airflow and creates pockets where mould can develop. Make sure furniture is at least 50mm away from walls to improve air flow and let wardrobes and cupboards breath by not overfilling them.
Store logs outside
If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, it’s important to store your logs outside during winter. Logs contain a significant amount of water because of the amount of time they’ve spent outdoors. Storing them in your house will intensify the water vapor in the air. Only bring in logs when you’re planning on using them.
When does condensation become a problem?
You only need to worry about condensation if it turns into mould. Mould is bad news and can cause serious harm.
The first clue you have mould is a foul smell. It can grow in a variety of colours from bright reds to swampy greens. Because it can look like nothing more than a small patch of dirt, it can be easy to ignore until it’s too late.
Small patches of mould can be handled with a little elbow grease and a bucket of water mixed with washing up liquid. Scrub until it has gone and then wipe dry with a towel. You might need to repeat this process a few times to ensure it’s completely eradicated. More stubborn outbreaks might require a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and warm water. Let it sit on the mould for an hour before scrubbing.
Make sure you wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when cleaning mould to avoid breathing in its spores. For greater protection you could also wear goggles and gloves.
If the mould is growing quickly, it’s best to call in the professionals and ask their advice.
If you’re a tenant, you need to report mould to your landlord, and they should take action. It’s your landlord’s responsibility to deal with mould and if they don’t, you could take them to court.
Tenants in private rented accommodation or housing association tenants should also contact their local authority’s environmental heath department to report the matter.
If you or anyone in your house becomes unwell from mould at any time, you should contact your doctor or call 111 for medical advice. If someone becomes serious unwell with breathing difficulties, you should call 999.
Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.
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