Humidity continues to be one of the modern bathroom’s greatest enemies. The steam produced during a warm shower can lead to dangerous and unsightly mold growth among other problems. The only way to counter this is through ventilation. The bathroom door can be an important factor in ventilation.
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.
Keeping the bathroom door open after a shower will enhance the natural or mechanical ventilation system that exists in the bathroom. Closing the door traps the steam and puts strain on exhaust fans.
Why Should You Keep the Door Open?
Shutting the door when leaving a room is an instinct that many people share. But closing the bathroom door immediately after taking a shower is not a great idea.
There are three primary reasons why closing a bathroom door after showering is a bad habit and they all have to do with trapping the moisture and humidity:
- Superficial damage.
- Structural damage.
- Indoor mold growth.
A door that swings into the bathroom is much more convenient to leave open compared to a door that swings into a hallway. So, if your door opens into the hallway, have a look to see if you can turn it around.
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, prevent your fan from dripping, and prevent mold growth.
This can make your bathroom look a lot older than it is. It can also make it look dirty regardless of how often you clean it, which is very frustrating and disheartening.
Fixing the damage is time-consuming.
- You will have to first remove the old paint, plaster, or wallpaper.
- Then you will need to clean the surfaces as you cannot paint, plaster, or wallpaper over dirt—it interferes with the adhesion.
- Once the walls and/or ceiling are clean, you can paint, wallpaper, or plaster (and paint or wallpaper).
It can also be expensive. Depending on what you buy, you can end up paying between $20 and $100 per gallon. Most bathrooms require 1-2 gallons. This is if you do the work yourself and it also assumes that you have all the painting hardware necessary.
Hiring someone to do the paint job will incur additional labor costs as will buying paint brushes, trays, and tape.
Furthermore, if you do not address the source of the humidity, you are looking at an endless loop of repair as the new finishes become damaged in the same way that the old finishes were damaged.
Moisture causes wood to rot and metal to rust. While these materials are treated to resist water when used in house framing, excessive exposure and/or low-quality materials can result in damage.
If the supporting structure of the house is weakened, it can collapse, threatening your safety.
Replacing compromised framing is expensive. At best, you will only need to replace individual beams, which will cost about $100 per beam. Worst case scenario would be a full replacement of a section of the framing, which can set you back thousands or even tens of thousands.
The process is extremely invasive. You have to remove the drywalling or ceiling boards, trim, and insulation. You may also have to move or remove wiring, piping, and ducting.
You can do it yourself, but you will still have to pay for rubble removal and specialist consultations when it comes to the infrastructure (pipes, ducts, and wiring). The cost of drywalling materials can also set you back thousands even if you do the installation yourself.
Depending on how extensive the work is, you may even need to move out of your house for the work to be done.
Indoor Mold Growth
There are thousands of species of mold. In my article about preventing mold in bathrooms, I talk about the most common different types of molds in our homes.
But despite all of their differences, they share at least one environmental growth requirement. Mold cannot survive without moisture.
Bathrooms are not the only spaces vulnerable to mold in a house, but they are the spaces that are most vulnerable. Bathrooms tend to be relatively small, exposed to significant amounts of steam at least once a day every day, 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
Inhaling 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.
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.
Can You Ever Keep the Bathroom Door Closed?
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.
Since an open interior door is not sufficient ventilation in itself, you should already have an openable window or mechanical ventilation system. These need to be utilized properly and for longer if you leave the door closed.
To use bathroom windows effectively, you have to open them when you shower and leave them open until the steam dissipates.
If you leave the door closed after showering, you should open the window to its full extent and leave it open for longer. You should also remove any lace curtains as these impede the airflow. The area outside the window should also be kept clear, so trim back any trees or bushes that are blocking the opening.
You can support the airflow out of the window with pedestal fans pointing out of the window.
If there are no windows, they don’t open, or you can’t open them for reasons of privacy, security, or weather, then you have to have a mechanical ventilation system.
The easiest to install and use and most common mechanical ventilation system is an exhaust fan.
To use it properly, you have to start with a properly-sized fan and correct ducting. You have to run it for the duration of the shower and for another 20-40 minutes at least.
If you leave the door open after you shower, you will likely have to run the fan longer after each shower.
If you have openable windows and an exhaust fan, then use both to make sure the steam escapes as fast as possible.
Shorter showers, cooler showers, and no back-to-back showers are also going to help the ventilation process with a closed bathroom door because less steam will be produced at a time.