Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
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Summary: To manage a bathroom without an exhaust fan, use dehumidifying crystals, an electric heater, or a dehumidifier. Promote ventilation with a window fan and after-shower sprays. Address mold early with bleach or vinegar.
An exhaust fan, commonly called a bathroom fan or bath fan, is a ceiling vent that removes unpleasant odors and moist air that can otherwise create a damp environment and allow mold growth and mildew in your bathroom.
Lacking a bathroom vent fan can result in peeling paint on your walls, a musty smell, and the destruction of other surfaces, such as wall tiles and tile grout. It’s important, therefore, to find out what you could do for a bathroom without an exhaust fan to prevent moisture build-up and potential health issues caused by mold growth.
Here are 10 effective ways to deal with a bathroom that has no exhaust fan:
- Use high-quality dehumidifying crystals.
- Use an electric space heater with a heating fan.
- Use a dehumidifier to help lower humidity levels.
- Open your window while showering or in the tub.
- Consider using an air purifier.
- Leave your bathroom door open to vent steam.
- Install a shower dome.
- Purchase or make your own after-shower spray to use.
- Use a window or box fan.
- Clear any mold growth at its onset using appropriate chemicals.
In this article, I’ll explore all the abovementioned methods and explain the best way to carry them out.
1. Use High-Quality Dehumidifying Crystals
Dehumidifying crystals are hygroscopic salts. They can absorb moisture from the air surrounding them. These crystals come as a package with absorbent crystals and a small cup to collect the excess vapor.
One of the best dehumidifying crystals in the market is the DampRid Moisture Absorber (available on Amazon.com). The cups are long-lasting (up to 90 days) and can eliminate smells such as a musty odor caused by dampness in the bathroom.
The crystals absorb excessive moisture in the air and become a hard solid mass. However, when exposed to more water, the crystal coils start dissolving to form brine and empty into the basket.
When the bucket gets filled up and all the crystals have dissolved, empty the water into the toilet. After that, refill the bucket with crystals to start the process again.
One of the most significant advantages of dehumidifying salts is they’re very safe for the environment and don’t excessively dry the air and damage clothes and plants.
2. Use an Electric Space Heater With a Heating Fan
These fans heat the room by spreading warm air using a fan. This way, the hot air circulates the entire room.
To use the electric space heater, place it on a dry surface in your bathroom, such as on top of the toilet tank, and run it every time you take a shower or in the bathtub to reduce a buildup of steam. You should also leave it on for at least 15 minutes after you finish showering.
When using an electric fan in the bathroom, be sure to place it far enough from any water source so that its cords don’t come into contact with water.
It’s also beneficial to let the heater face the direction of any exit, such as an open doorway, window, or louvered door. After the 15 minutes are over, use a towel to dry any remaining wet portions of the bathroom.
Electric space heaters are outstanding options for quickly reducing dampness in a bathroom because the heat also contributes to the reduction.
If you choose the electric fan heater option, I highly recommend the Aikoper Space Heater (available on Amazon.com). It’s highly efficient and heats the room rapidly. Plus, it’s adjustable to better result in the exact temperature you desire.
3. Use a Dehumidifier To Help Lower Humidity Levels
When you’re without an exhaust fan, a dehumidifier is a great way to decrease humid air. Dehumidifiers are designed to handle such a job, but it’s essential to take safety precautions in place to ensure it’s as far from any water source as possible.
Also, since mold thrives in high humidity, using a dehumidifier to dry the air prevents mold from flourishing. I highly recommend leaving the dehumidifier on for at least an hour after a shower to rid the bathroom of excess moisture fully.
Furthermore, you won’t have to worry about the dehumidifier blowing chilly air, especially in cold weather, since most of them blow warm air because heat helps decrease humidity when adequate ventilation is present.
Another benefit of using a dehumidifier is the low maintenance effort required. Depending on the frequency of your showers, you’ll need to empty the bucket every one to two weeks.;
4. Open Your Window While Showering or in the Tub
Most building codes in various areas require a bathroom window for air circulation when no exhaust fan is installed. If this is the case for you, open your window when showering and in the tub in lieu of having an exhaust fan. An open window will bring in fresh air and help to release most of the steam.
For wintertime or during colder weather, it might make more sense to use the other methods described in this article and only leave the window open as a solution the rest of the year.
However, if privacy is one of your most significant concerns about leaving the window open, I suggest creating a waterproof curtain. Follow the following steps to make a simple, DIY waterproof curtain:
- Use a tape measure to measure the size of your window. (You could also use a cardboard box to estimate its size.)
- Cut an old shower liner with dimensions slightly larger than your window size.
- Hang the liner on your shower curtain rod and enjoy your privacy and proper ventilation.
You could also get the Instruban Window Privacy Film (available on Amazon.com). It offers a beautiful frosted glass effect while granting you full privacy. Plus, it blocks out harmful UV rays and provides heat insulation.
5. Consider Using an Air Purifier
One of the most common uses of a bathroom exhaust fan is clearing odors from the bathroom, dust, and other air pollutants. Air purifiers can do all these in addition to filtering out mold spores and bacteria.
Most air purifiers have no mechanism to absorb moisture from the air. Therefore, I recommend using another method in this article alongside air purifiers to reduce moisture levels in your bathroom better.
However, some air purifiers have fans, which can help remove particles and odors, increase bathroom ventilation, and prevent the growth of mold and mildew. One such air purifier is the MOONQUAKE Air Purifier (available on Amazon.com).
6. Leave Your Bathroom Door Open To Vent Steam
Opening doors while showering and up to 15 minutes after showering can provide natural ventilation to prevent moisture issues in the bathroom. You could also solve the problem even further by leaving a box fan running in the shower for at least 15 minutes after you finish bathing.
If you notice the problem is mainly solved by opening your door yet are concerned about privacy, consider having a louver installed in your door. Or, you could help limit how far the door opens and prevent it from being fully opened by installing a long chain lock.
These options will vent out the steam optimally and ensure you keep your privacy.
7. Install a Shower Dome
A shower dome decreases dampness by stopping the formation of steam, preventing condensation and mold formation. Condensation in your bathroom occurs when the warm water you’re showering with produces steam, which mixes with cooler air outside your shower.
A shower dome is fitted tightly at the top of your shower and prevents condensation by preventing the steam produced when you shower using warm water from mixing with cooler air outside the bathroom.
The shower dome should match the dimensions of your shower to work optimally. There are so many sizes of shower domes available, though it’s best to find one slightly larger than your shower and then cut it to the precise dimension during installation.
If you decide to go with the option of buying a dome, I recommend the ICON Skylight Dome (available on Amazon.com). It’s very high quality and has standard dimensions that fit most showers. It’s sure to significantly reduce condensation in your bathroom and help prevent mold formation.
8. Purchase of Make Your Own After-Shower Cleanser Spray
Since exhaust fans work very well to prevent the formation of mold and mildew in bathrooms, lacking them can mean your bathroom is at a higher risk of getting damaged. Washing and regularly drying a bathroom is one of the best ways to prevent and clear mold.
However, it’s impractical to attempt to thoroughly wash and dry bathroom walls daily. For this reason, after-shower sprays were created to help people keep their showers and tubs clean after use without much effort.
After-shower sprays are specially formulated waterproof cleaning solutions made for regular or daily use to help keep mold and mildew out of your bathroom walls while you’re in between the more rigorous bathroom cleaning sessions.
To use an after-shower spray, spray it to your bathroom walls, especially in areas where there are deposits like scum and grime. If any of them remain even after use, wipe the surfaces using a clean cloth to remove them.
Sprays are easily found at home-improvement and hardware stores or online, including the Fuller Shower Spray (available on Amazon.com). This after-shower spray is easy to use, and the bottle is similar to a shampoo bottle, so it can be conveniently stored in your shower area for immediate use after showering. Simply spray and walk away, as there’s no need for rinsing, and it can eliminate scum, grime, and mildew effectively with little effort.
While after-shower sprays are affordable and efficient, some are made with curious or questionable chemicals that you may wish to avoid using. Luckily, it’s incredibly easy to make your own after-shower spray using some common household items – and it helps to save a few dollars.
To make an after-shower spray, simply mix the following together in a clean spray bottle:
- ½ cup of vinegar (118.29 ml)
- 1½ cups of water (354.88 ml)
- 3-4 drops of essential oil of your choice (optional)
9. Use a Window or Box Fan
The lack of an exhaust fan in a bathroom can mean less ventilation and more moisture. Using fans can solve the problem by increasing ventilation and helping to dry the air.
A window fan is a good option for a bathroom because it’ll occupy less space in the actual area you use to shower. Most windows are usually placed far from water sources, which significantly lessens–if not fully eliminates–the risk of damage caused by potential contact with water.
To properly use a window fan for this, place it facing outward so that it pulls the air out while you shower. Then remove it once you’re finished.
I also highly recommend using a heat lamp along with your fan if you have access to a window or door for ventilation. The heat from the heating lamp dries the moisture in the bathroom even quicker than when you use the fan alone and prevents the growth of mold and mildew.
When buying a window fan, verify that its dimensions are close to your window’s dimensions. It’s also a good idea to focus not only on the flow rate but also on the amount of noise it makes while running.
10. Clear Any Mold at Its Onset Using Appropriate Chemicals
In some climates, even with the use of all these hacks, mold could still form in the bathroom – less mold than without the hacks, but still some. When mold starts growing on your bathroom surfaces, it’s advisable to treat it early using treatment chemicals easily found in most stores.
The most common chemicals used to clean mold off bathroom walls are bleach and vinegar.
To use bleach:
- Mix ten parts bleach with twenty parts water
- Apply the solution on the wall using a sponge
- Allow it to air dry
To use vinegar:
- Add pure white vinegar into a spray bottle
- Spray the vinegar directly on the mold-infested areas of your wall
- Wait 30 minutes, then wipe away using a clean cloth or sponge
Dealing with a bathroom lacking an exhaust fan requires proactive measures to prevent dampness, mold, and odors. By implementing the strategies discussed in this article, you can effectively manage a bathroom without an exhaust fan, ensuring a dry, odor-free, and mold-free environment.
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