Fogged-up bathroom mirrors are one of the many mundane annoyances we face in our morning rush to get ourselves clean and presentable for work or school. You hurry through a hot shower to wake yourself up, and by the time you emerge, the steam has condensed on the mirror so that you have to either waste precious minutes waiting for it to clear, or try futilely to wipe the mirror off with your hand or a washcloth, often smearing the mirror in the process.

If you are fortunate enough to have a large, airy bathroom, or one of those fancy-schmancy heated mirrors that repel condensation, you don't have to worry about this sort of thing. But for the rest of us who have to contend with small, poorly ventillated baths, here are a few tips for clearing the fog:

  • If your bathroom has a built-in vent fan, make sure it's running and in good condition. Many bathroom fans get lots of dust bunnies caught in them, and dust doesn't do your ventillation any good. If your fan's cover can come off with the removal of a few screws, take it off and see if you can clean it out with some compressed air. If cleaning it means you've got to go digging in there with your fingers, though, turn off the electrical breaker first just to be safe.

  • Shower with your bathroom door open or at least cracked. Sometimes, if you live with others, keeping the door wide open isn't feasible if you're concerned about privacy. However, if you get a rubber doorstop, you can block your door open a few inches to keep the steam down and not worry about giving the roommates or family a peep show.

  • Get a small squeegee. You can generally find these in the bathroom sections of discount, hardware, and bed-and-bath stores. These squeegees work much better than a paper towel or washcloth, and keep your mirror clean. However, they do little good if your bathroom has quite a lot of steam, since the mirror will immediately fog again.

  • Get some plain white shaving cream. Clean your mirror, then cover the entire thing in a layer of the shaving cream. Let the stuff dry, then wipe it all off with a dry paper towel or your trusty squeegee. Your mirror should appear clean and streak-free, but it will now resist condensation for a while.

  • Alternately, get a no-fog cloth from a hardware or automotive store and rub your mirror down with it. This will be more expensive than the shaving cream method, but it's also less time-consuming.

  • Use your hair dryer on the mirror; this will clear off fog quickly if the bathroom is getting aired out otherwise. However, running a hair dryer in an unventillated, steamy bathroom with steam-damp hands may create an electric shock hazard and might decrease your dryer's life span. And running your hair dryer at 6 a.m. with the bathroom door open won't make you popular with your roommates.

  • When you're finishing your shower, point the shower head away from your body and set the water as cold as you can. Let the cold water spray for ten seconds or so; this will pull a lot of the steam out of the air. It works best if you do this before you open your curtain or shower stall.

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