Tired of condensation on your windows? Try our tips and banish excess moisture for good

Experts share the best ways to avoid condensation and how to get rid of it.

When the weather begins to turn and the temperature drops, many of us will come face to face with an unwelcome guest as we draw back our curtains each morning.

Discovering water droplets on the windows is a sure sign of condensation. It’s a nuisance that can damage your woodwork and, more worryingly, lead to damp. So we asked the experts for advice on how to stop condensation in its tracks.

Condensation dripping down an internal windowCredit: Shutterstock/Klever_ok
Moisture in your home turns from vapour to a liquid and results in condensation

In the home improvement team at Saga Exceptional we also believe that prevention takes less time than cure – and we’re all for having more time to enjoy what we want to do, rather than what we must do.

Therefore, finding ways to manage condensation, and reduce the amount that forms, will remove the need to deal with the damage it causes.

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1. Keep your rooms ventilated

Open your windows – it’s free

“Ventilation is one of the best ways to prevent condensation on windows,” says Nigel Bearman, CEO and managing director at Daily Poppins. “Simply opening your windows when you’re at home will stop condensation forming and may even solve the problem.”

Keeping your bedroom window open slightly at night is also a good idea. “The air we breathe while sleeping produces warm, moist air that needs to escape,” says Miroslav Gaydov, window cleaning specialist at Fantastic Services. Simply leaving the window open a crack at night will help to prevent condensation on your windows.

Opening the window vents at the top of your windows, if they have them, will also help to keep air circulating. And if you are thinking about replacing your windows, choose models that have them.

Another trick is to keep your curtains open slightly at night. “If you keep your curtains closed at night, the surface of the window will be cooler. Having them open helps to keep the glass closer to room temperature,” adds Gaydov.

It’s also less of an issue to keep your curtains open slightly during autumn and winter, as the evenings and mornings are darker and you’re less likely to be woken by a stream of sunlight.

For a longer-term solution, Bearman suggests installing air brick or air vents into your external walls, to create a better flow of air throughout your home.

Woman opening air vent on windowCredit: Shutterstock/Larisa Rudenko

2. Use your extractor fan

Pay special attention to kitchens and bathrooms

Gaydov says that a top priority is ensuring the bathroom and kitchen are well ventilated, as they are areas particularly prone to high moisture. “Whenever you cook, take a shower, or use an appliance that produces moisture, you need to open a window or two and use an extractor fan.”

And if you don’t already have an extractor fan, Bearman says it’s well worth the investment. “While installing an extractor fan will cost you money, it will prove very beneficial in the long run for clearing up misty windows.”

3. Take care when drying clothes indoors

Allow excess water to escape

Drying clothes indoors can cause excessive moisture and humidity in the home. Because of the poor weather in the UK, drying clothes outside isn’t always an option, and not everyone can afford a tumble dryer, so clothes are often dried on radiators inside.

To combat the problem of excess moisture in the air, the best approach is to increase the amount of ventilation in the room where your clothes are drying. Simply placing a clothes airer next to an open window will make a difference, as will spreading clothes out on the airer and hanging clothes on hangers. For more tips, read our feature on how to dry clothes indoors.

4. Use a dehumidifier

Remove moisture from the air

“During the winter months, when heating systems dry out the air, you can control humidity levels in your house by using a dehumidifier,” says Gaydov.

But how does a dehumidifier work – and how does it help prevent window condensation? According to Explain That Stuff, a dehumidifier is a bit like a vacuum cleaner – sucking out air from your room, removing the moisture, then blowing the air back out again. The moisture then drips through into a collection tank that will need emptying.

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Tip

It’s always worth saving the water captured in the dehumidifier to use elsewhere in your home. It can be used to help wash up by hand, or to flush the loo.

What size dehumidifier do I need?

Dehumidifiers vary based on the capacity of water they can extract from the air each day – this is different to the capacity of the water collection tank. For home use, you’re looking at dehumidifiers that can collect 7-25 litres (12-44 pints) of water a day.

What you choose depends on your needs and living space. Which? suggests that if you live on your own in a modest flat, a small 7-12 litre (12-21 pints) dehumidifier will be sufficient. However, if your household is larger and there’s more frequent showering and washing to dry, a medium dehumidifier with a 14-16 litre (25-28 pints) capacity will be more suitable. If you have a large quantity of laundry to dry, opt for one with an 18+ litre (32 pints) capacity.

Person removing water tray from a dehumidifierCredit: : Shutterstock/Creative Cat Studio
A dehumidifier will collect excess moisture in your home and help prevent condensation

5. Try dehumidifying crystals

Damp crystals are an inexpensive way to reduce condensation

Sometimes known as “damp crystals”, dehumidifying crystals work by attracting moisture and absorbing it. The crystals will then form into a solid mass. They can be particularly useful when placed on windowsills to help capture excess water that forms as condensation, but they will not eliminate the problem on their own.

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6. Insulate your windows

Reduce the temperature difference

Condensation can also be reduced by insulating your windows, so there’s less of a drastic temperature difference between the glass and the air inside. Gaps and leaks can be sealed with weather stripping around the windows.

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If you have single-glazed windows, double-glazing will add an extra level of thermal insulation that will reduce the temperature difference. There are also other methods if you are unable to replace your windows.

For instance, if you have single-glazing in a period home, you can get secondary-glazing fitted from the likes of Bronze Casements. Another option is to go down the do-it-yourself route, as there are plenty of DIY versions available online that can be attached to your existing windows with magnets.

7. Adjust your heating

Prevent swings in temperature

As mentioned above, sudden temperature changes can cause condensation. Bearman recommends keeping your heating on a low heat. This will “prevent frequent temperature swings and balance out the air temperature”. However, he does warn that keeping your heating on constantly will affect your energy bills.

8. Draw back your curtains during the day

Help the air to circulate

Although not many of us will keep our curtains closed during the day in the rooms we occupy – unless we’re having a nap or work nights – you might keep them drawn in a spare room. If this is the case, Gaydov recommends pulling them back: “You’ll allow warm air to circulate near the windows, which is a wonderful way to help control the humidity levels at home.”

Person wearing rubber gloves cleaning window with squeegeeCredit: Shutterstock/Aomas
A simple squeegee can be used to remove condensation

How to clean condensation on windows

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to remove condensation from your windows, a window vac will do the job. Bearman says: “It may be necessary to vacuum windows every morning, depending on how bad the condensation is.”

They are also useful for removing excess water from a bathroom after taking a bath or shower, helping to remove the amount of moisture in your house that can lead to condensation.

However, as Bearman points out: “Window vacuums are a great tool, but they can be quite expensive.” So, what other methods are there to remove condensation?

Bearman recommends using a window squeegee and an old towel, as these will achieve the same effect as a window vac, at a fraction of the cost. “You can easily remove condensation from windows by wiping them down with a squeegee,” he says, “then wipe over the moistened area with an old towel once it has all collected in one place.”

I prefer using a plastic squeegee, without any metal on the tool, as they are less likely to damage tiles or polished surfaces in the bathroom.

It’s not even necessary to purchase a squeegee to remove condensation from your windows. Gaydov recommends simply cleaning them regularly. “A clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel can be used to wipe away the condensation from them.” However, he does note that you’ll find it easier to clean larger windows with a squeegee.

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What is condensation and why does it form?

Water vapour changes from a gas to a liquid

Condensation is simply the process where water vapour becomes a liquid – it’s the reverse action of evaporation. But what causes condensation to occur? Bearman explains: “Condensation occurs when warm air collides with cold surfaces, or when there is too much humidity in your home. Water is created as droplets, due to humid air colliding with cold surfaces. It is especially likely to occur in the winter when your central heating system is turned on at cooler times of the day.”

“In colder months, the air inside your home is usually warmer and more humid than the air outside,” says Gaydov

Why is condensation on windows bad?

Condensation can lead to damp, mould and rot

If left untreated, condensation can lead to damp patches and the knock-on effect of mould growth. “Mould can harm your health, cause damage to fabric and leave an unpleasant odour, as well as creating an unclean appearance,” says Bearman.

If you have timber-framed windows, prolonged water damage can lead to rot and start to erode the window’s structural integrity.

Black mould and condensation on windowCredit: Shutterstock/Stoatphoto
It’s not a pretty sight – condensation around windows can quickly lead to the buildup of black mould

How to spot the first signs of mould

Bearman suggests checking your windows for black spots that will appear around the seal or sealant and paintwork (depending on whether you have timber-framed or UPVC windows).  If you spot any marks, it’s a sign that you have a problem with mould

Applying an anti-mould sealant is one way to prevent mould occurring on timber-framed windows.

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Camilla Sharman

Written by Camilla Sharman she/her

Updated:

With her 30 years of experience, Camilla Sharman has covered a wide range of sectors within the business and consumer industries both as a feature, content, and freelance writer.  As a business journalist, Camilla has researched articles for many different sectors from the jewellery industry to finance and tech, charities, and the arts. Whatever she’s covered, she enjoys delving deep and learning the ins and out of different topics, then conveying her research within engaging content that informs the reader.