How to tackle condensation: top tips to reduce it

Fed up with excess condensation causing damp? Here’s how to reduce your moisture levels at home.

As the unpredictable weather continues to fluctuate from warm to cold, it can feel like condensation is an unwelcome guest who has long overstayed its welcome.

Although they make less of an appearance during the summer months, these pesky droplets of water still show up on windows and ceilings, toilet cisterns and walls. Ignore them, and you’ll not only end up with puddles of water everywhere, but potentially cause damage to your home.

Wipe away your worries with our tips for reducing condensationCredit: Shutterstock/Konstantin Christian
Wipe away your worries with our tips for reducing condensation

What is condensation?

Condensation is caused by too much moisture in the air. While air always contains an element of moisture, when it becomes too much to handle it reaches the ‘dew point’ and the excess moisture turns into water droplets that attach themselves to cold surfaces.

The damage? The risk of peeling paint, wet carpet, lifting wallpaper, rotting wood and mould – all the result of condensation dampness – an issue which has probably “become the major cause of ‘environmental’ dampness within a property” according to experts at the Property Care Association (PCA).

How to cut down condensation in your home

When you discover that the average household (based on a family of four), generates approximately 24 pints (14 litres) of airbone water through normal everyday activities such as cooking, washing, bathing and even breathing it’s no wonder our homes are full of moisture.

While it’s clear we can’t just stop these necessary activities, are there any ways we can water down this unwanted water?

The good news is there are plenty of tricks – and some don’t even cost a penny.


1. Use your saucepan lids

Reduce steam and save energy

Always use lids on your pots and pans when cooking unless your recipe specifically says to keep the lid off. Make sure you use the minimum amount of water needed – for example, don’t fill a pan to the brim to cook rice when only a few cups of water are required.

As well as reducing the amount of steam released, it will also save energy by cooking your food more quickly.

man having fun cooking at homeCredit: Shutterstock / AlessandroBiascioli

2. Run a bath with cold water first

Bathe wisely for a 90% reduction in steam

According to the PCA, if you’re running a bath, add the cold water first and then add the hot. Adding cold before hot will reduce the amount of steam generated by up to 90%. While it may seem luxurious to bathe in a hot and steamy atmosphere, it’s sadly not a great beauty treatment for your walls.

3. Closed or open?

Knowing when to close and open doors is key

Although it may seem contradictory to talk about open and closed windows and doors in the same point, it’s the equal measure of both that will get the best condensation reduction results.

Close your doors when you know you’ll be adding extra moisture to the air to prevent it escaping to other rooms in the house. This includes when you are bathing or showering, cooking, or drying clothes on an airer.

The right amount of ventilation is key to reducing condensation. Where possible, opening a window is the first thing you should do. The Energy Saving Trust also says: “Ventilate so the moist air leaves the house. Always use the extractor fan when you’re cooking, showering or bathing, leave any window vents open, and don’t block off any other vents.”

Avoid using radiators to dry clothes where possible. The fact they are located on walls means you’ve got an automatic magnetic-like attraction between the moisture evaporating from your clothes and the wall.

Instead consider using a heated airer such as this one from Lakeland who are currently offering a free cover with every purchase. As a heated airer owner, I’d thoroughly recommend getting a cover as it speeds up the drying time.

4. Free your furniture

Leave space for your room to breathe

If you’re in the process of undertaking your annual spring clean and moving the furniture to remove any dust that’s gathered, don’t push it back against the wall when you’re finished. Leave room for the air to circulate around the room – and behind the sofa.

Where possible, also try to ensure furniture isn’t placed against external walls – internal walls are better as they are warmer and attract less condensation.


5. Clean extraction units

Removing dust improves performance

It’s easy to forget to clean bathroom extraction units when they’re placed high and don’t catch your eye. Unfortunately, the slatted or grid design makes them a dust magnet, and the more there is, the worse your fan’s performance.

Next time you’ve got the vacuum out, use an appropriate tool to clear away the dust. Or use a telescopic microfibre duster such as this one from John Lewis. It will be money well spent – you can also use it to clean blinds.

Kitchen extraction fans also reduce moisture as well as smells, so make sure maintaining them is part of your regular cleaning routine. If the fan has removable liners, ensure they are regularly washed and replace them as necessary. The harder the extractor works, the drier your home.

Use an extendable duster to keep your extractor fan cleanCredit: John Lewis
Use an extendable duster to keep your extractor fan clean

6. Use your thermostat wisely

Keep at a steady temperature to avoid cold spots

Although many of us have had to lower our thermostat this winter, it can have a negative effect on condensation.

The colder the inside of your home is, the more chance there is for condensation to form. Anything below 15 °C (59 °F) increases the risk of condensation, so try to avoid falling below this temperature, particularly in areas such as kitchens and bathrooms where more moisture is generated.

Keep a steady temperature to avoid cold spotsCredit: Shutterstock/Monkey Business
Keep a steady temperature to avoid cold spots

7. Reduce humidity

Using a dehumidifier may not be as costly as you think

If you can’t dry clothes outside or have an older house with colder external walls that are more prone to condensation, a dehumidifier may prove a worthwhile purchase.

With some costing as little as 5p an hour to run, using one in rooms where you know condensation to be an issue could save you having to invest in costly damp treatment further down the line.

8. Try anti-condensation paint

Decorating with the right products can prevent the problem

If you are thinking of redecorating and know you’ve got a problem with condensation, why not try specialist products that may help?

Anti-condensation paint claims to prevent moisture forming on your walls. It works by improving the thermal performance of your walls to make them less cold – thus lowering the risk of damp.

This paint will only work if cold surfaces are the main cause of your condensation. And as with many specialist paints, painting over them will also reduce or negate their efficacy.

9. Don’t let it linger

Always wipe condensation away to avoid long-term damage

Although it may seem another chore to add to the list, removing condensation is one of the most important things you can do to tackle the problem.

Leaving it only worsens the problem and the longer a surface remains wet, the more chance there is of mould and damp forming.

For windows and sills, use a multi-purpose window squeegee such as this one from Amazon. It’ll help keep your windows streak-free as well as removing the excess moisture.

For sanitaryware and walls, microfibre cloths are an essential part of any cleaning kit. Quick to absorb moisture, they can also be regularly popped in the washing machine to keep them squeaky clean.

They are easily found in most supermarket stores, or you can buy them in bulk from Amazon and take advantage of the variety of colours to separate them for use in specific rooms – yes, I’m a bit of a cleaning freak!

Wipe away condensation to prevent dampCredit: Shutterstock/Abdie
Wipe away condensation to prevent damp

Don’t forget to use gloves and open windows if you have discovered mould and need to use a specialist cleaner to remove it.

10. Invest in a ventilation system

Extra help is available to control moisture levels

Although for most of us, opening windows, clearing condensation, and keeping homes at a steady temperature will help, circumstances sometimes make this difficult. This is especially true if you are at home a lot or live in an older house with poor insulation.

James Berry, Technical Manager from the PCA says: “If it’s not viable to provide appropriate ventilation through the basic steps above, especially during the colder months, one of the most effective ways to then tackle the issue is through the installation of a ventilation system.

“Where condensation is a real problem though,” adds Berry, “we would encourage engagement with a specialist surveyor to explore the cause(s) and to help find a solution.”

Handy resources:

Sarah Harley

Written by Sarah Harley she/her


Since first picking up a paintbrush and experiencing the joy of re-decorating her bedroom in a questionable red, white and grey scheme as a young teenager, Sarah Harley was hooked on the world of interior design. This obsession even led to a real life ‘Grand Designs’ project in 2005 when she donned a pink hard hat and appeared on TV screens, project managing the renovation and extension of a Grade II listed 17th century Folly in South Wales.

Throughout her career, Sarah has gained an array of experience in several different roles, ranging from copywriting, PR, events management and photography to interior design and home staging. With her two passions being the written word and the joys of a beautifully designed home, Sarah’s mission is to open the door on the world of interiors, inviting readers in to help them work their way through the vast choice of products, ideas and trends so that their own homes can reach their full potential.

Away from work, Sarah fills her Pinterest boards with more ideas, dreams of where to travel, takes photographs and loves being by the sea. She has two sons and if she absorbed everything they said would also be a football expert. The fact is she is often more interested in the colour and design of the kit – but don’t tell them that.

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