Few things frustrate me in the morning as much as a foggy mirror. Having to wipe off the steam so I can see while I put on my makeup is something I’ve been doing for years. A lifetime, really! I only recently found out, however, that I don’t have to live this way, thanks to steam free mirrors. But how do steam free mirrors work? And do I need to buy a new one for my second bathroom?
Steam-free mirrors are relatively new innovations that use heating panels to prevent steam from building up on your mirror. By heating the mirror’s surface, steam-free mirrors can mitigate the condensation that occurs when you’re in the shower. It’s also possible to add a heating element to an existing mirror or use inexpensive hacks to prevent fogging.
Steam-free mirrors are awesome because they make your mornings a little easier by preventing that post-shower fog. Shaving and makeup application is a breeze. Plus, you don’t have to clean your mirror as often, because you’re not constantly leaving finger smears when you try to wipe away the condensation.
In this post, I’ll show you the very cool science between steam free mirrors, some of my favorites, how you can make your existing mirror steam free, and some DIY hacks to make a regular mirror less foggy.
The Science Behind How Steam Free Mirrors Work
To understand how steam free mirrors work, we need to recall a little middle school science. Remember when you learned about the different phases of the water cycle, liquid, solid, and vapor?
What’s coming out of your shower is liquid water, and what’s traveling through the air is water vapor.
Your hot shower water creates vapor (steam). When the vapor encounters a “cold” surface, it condenses back into liquid. Your mirror is cooler than the surrounding air, so this is the surface that attracts the vapor.
This is similar to when you pour a glass of ice water on a summer day, and the water glass fogs up just above the waterline. It happens because the warm air outside condenses on the cold glass.
Steam Free Mirrors, Explained
Steam-free mirrors (also known as anti-fog mirrors or anti-steam mirrors) effectively turn your “cold” surfaced mirror into a hotter surface that matches the temperature of the water vapor.
This means that condensation is far less likely to occur because there is a maximum temperature at which water will condense. This is known as the dew point. The dew point is the temperature at which air is cooled to become water vapor. Those airborne water vapors, when cooled further, become water in their liquid form (dew).
When switched on, a steam-free mirror’s element warms up to match the temperature of the surrounding air. This prevents the vapor from condensing on the mirror and turning to dew.
Most steam-free mirrors require electricity to run the warming feature, but an electrician should be able to install one in your bathroom on the same circuit that your bathroom lights work on.
However, soon I’ll introduce you to a smaller steam-free mirror that doesn’t use any electricity. Instead, you add a small amount of warm water to a tube behind the mirror. This equalizes the temperature of the mirror and the water vapor, and achieves the same anti-fogging effect.
What Are The Benefits Of A Steam Free Mirror?
- Watch yourself shave and don’t miss spots, with an in-shower steam free mirror
- Easy to apply makeup after showering with vanity steam free mirror
- No finger smears from wiping away condensation to see your reflection.
- Requires less cleaning than a regular mirror.
- Reduces bathroom mold and mildew.
Top 3 Steam Free Mirrors: My Picks
You can get a variety of steam-free mirrors for the bathroom: There are mirrors to hang over the vanity in different shapes, there are mirrors for inside the shower itself, and travel-sized steam-free mirrors. Here are my recommendations:
1. mLt Mirror Anti-Fog LED Lighted Oval Bathroom Vanity Mirror
But if you prefer an oval-shaped mirror for shaving or makeup application, check out this highly-acclaimed LED Lit Bathroom Vanity Mirror. There are three settings for the light: dim, warm, and bright. And simply use the touch-sensor to instantly defog the mirror’s surface!
2. Hauschen Home LED Wall-Mounted, Anti-Fog Mirror
This mirror is more expensive than the first, and even though it looks like a regular mirror, it’s made of a highly durable, anti-corrosive copper-free silver. The Hauchen Home mirror is also dimmable with a smart touch sensor and, of course, it’s steam-free.
You can control the color temperature, as well as the brightness, with touch sensor on the mirror. Or you can use a wall-switch to turn it on and off.
3. ToiletTree Deluxe LED Fogless Shower Mirror
Now you can shave in the shower and really see what you’re doing! Put this shatterproof, steam-free mirror on your shower wall with the silicone adhesive that’s easily removable.
This mirror uses different technology than other steam-free mirrors. You fill a small reservoir behind the mirror with water the same temperature as what you use to shower. This prevents fogging. It is scientifically impossible for it to fog up!
It also has LED lighting and a built-in shelf for razors.
If you do choose to get a new mirror, you might want to read What’s the Perfect Size Bathroom Mirror for Your Vanity.
Love Your Existing Mirror? Make It Steam Free!
Great news! If you have an existing mirror that frequently fogs up, but you otherwise love, there’s a super solution on the market now. It’s called a defogging pad. It gently warms the back of your mirror which prevents condensation from forming.
A defogging pad is a device that has been used in luxury homes and hotels for quite some time already, but they haven’t been widely available. Now, you can easily install one on the back of your existing mirror at a fraction of the price of purchasing a new steam free mirror.
I recommend the WarmlyYours Defogger which is available in a variety of shapes and sizes.
5 Ways to DIY a Steam Free Mirror
Here are some very cheap hacks you can use on a regular mirror, if you don’t want to buy a steam-free mirror or a defogging pad:
1. Shampoo or Shaving Cream
This may seem a little bit weird, and it’ll require a bit more effort on your behalf, but you can use shampoo or shaving cream to mitigate steam fogging up your bathroom mirror.
If you apply shampoo or shaving cream to a paper towel, wipe it over your mirror, and then wipe it dry just before your shower, your mirror will not steam up. Be warned, though, you need to do this each time you shower.
And, especially if you’re using expensive hair products, it’s going to work out to be an accountant’s nightmare. So it’s not as budget-friendly as it may seem to be and should instead be used as a once-in-a-while fix.
You can use either liquid dish soap or a regular bar of soap, and you’ll get similar results, but the liquid soap is significantly easier because you can just mix it up with water. Some people, however, believe that wetting a bar of soap, smearing it across the mirror, and creating a layer of thin hardened soap, then wiping it off is more effective, but that seems like way too much effort. Especially considering you’d be doing it before every shower.
3. Run Cold Water First
Since you now know how steam free mirrors work, this hack should make a lot of sense: Start your shower by running cold water for a while before you step in. This will create cooler air for your hot water to run through before it reaches your mirror, keeping condensation at bay… for a while.
However, the surrounding air will eventually heat up, and hot water vapors will be able to travel through the air and condensate on your mirror just like it always has.
This one takes less effort than the shampoo or soap, but it’s also less effective and will only work up to a certain point.
4. Turn on the Extractor Fan
Installing an extractor fan in your bathroom ceiling or wall can do quite a lot to mitigate the steam. So turn it on before you shower and only turn it off after the steam has subsided. (Read my guide to getting a great quiet bathroom fan.)
And if you really want some bells and whistles, try a smart bathroom fan. These fans have humidity control sensors, which are great for preventing bathroom mold and mildew. (And if you already have a bathroom mold or mildew problem—or you suspect you might—definitely read my battle plan for how to get rid of bathroom mold.)
A smart bathroom fan can also have a motion detector so you can set it to go off 5 minutes after you leave the bathroom. Plus you can get other bells and whistles like dimmable LED lights and Bluetooth speakers. Read more about How Smart Bathroom Fans Work & Top Picks.
5. Open a Window or Skylight
Also not completely effective, but an open window, much like an extractor fan, can serve as an outlet and blow in colder air from outside that’ll prevent steam from traveling from your shower to the mirror. You can also pop open your bathroom skylight, if you’re lucky enough to have one.
How Steam Free Mirrors Work
By equalizing the temperature of the mirror’s surface and the temperature of the water vapor, steam free mirrors prevent condensation on the glass.
Some steam-free mirrors accomplish warming the surface with a heating pad behind the mirror. Others use a low-tech method of adding a vessel of warm water behind the mirror.
But no matter how these mirrors accomplish their anti-fog wizardry, they will make your life just a bit easier every single day. And if you want to amp up the magic in your bathroom even further, join the smart bathroom revolution. Learn more about smart showers, smart bathroom fans, smart toilets and touchless bathroom faucets.
If you want a steam-free bathroom mirror that also has built-in Bluetooth technology, read my post on Bluetooth bathroom mirrors for more top picks.