Oy with the Squeegees Already!

Yeah, because that's real water and squeegees are actually that effective.

Yeah, because that’s real water and squeegees are really that effective.

Listen. I love our apartment. It’s perfectly located, close enough to stuff to be convenient but out of the way enough to be quiet. I love our neighbors. There’s only 4 of them in the building, and they’re all nice and friendly and helpful. I love that even though we share laundry, it’s free. I love that our apartment is old and has big bay windows and light wood floors. I even love the radiators.

But what I don’t love, what I am getting really really tired of, is our bathroom.

I would like to register an official complaint about the typical Danish apartment bathroom. It is slowly driving me crazy.

So if you’re in Aarhus or Copenhagen and maybe you got an AirBnB apartment or you just found a place to live and it’s an older apartment, you are going to run into this type of bathroom. It’s the all-in-one style. As in, your bathroom is literally both a bathroom and a shower in one small room the size of a closet. As in, the water will go everywhere when you take a shower. But don’t worry, you have a handy squeegee to clean it up afterwards! As in, you may want to warn any flat mates before you take a shower so that they can use the restroom because that toilet is going to be soaking wet and unusable for the next two hours until it air dries.

Now, our bathroom is not quite this bad. We are able to pull a shower curtain around a corner of the room where the shower is located, separating it from the rest of the room and keeping our toilet mostly dry. But the walls and floor? Forget about it.

It's so small, I can't even get any good pictures of it!

It’s so small, I can’t even get any good pictures of it!

And the shower side. What's that, you don't see the shower? Oh, it's that thing on the wall between the pipes. You just pull the curtain around and voila! Instant shower.

And the shower side. What’s that, you don’t see the shower? Oh, it’s that thing on the wall between the pipes. You just pull the curtain around and voila! Instant shower.

It is such a little thing, but you would be amazed how annoyed you can get with always stepping out of the bathroom with wet feet. And then you go back in to dry your hair and the floor is still wet!

These bathrooms, and ours is no exception, tend to have horrible ventilation, unless it’s warm enough outside that you can open the window. So in the winter everything remains vaguely damp and develops this mustiness that I absolutely cannot stand. We try to air it out by leaving the door open, but that only encourages the must to spread into the kitchen, which is not an ideal situation. We finally switched to Danish towels – which are craaaazy thin for anyone coming from the US – after I had a brainwave that maybe they’re that thin on purpose. They dry faster! It’s helped a little, but it’s still must city in there.

And oy with the squeegee-ing already! It barely helps. (Did I mention the wet feet already? Did I post that unrealistic picture of a squeegee actually removing water from tile?).

But my main problem, the thing I absolutely cannot stand, is how difficult this kind of bathroom is to clean! You think it’d be easy; just spray everything down and then rinse it all off. But, no. Or maybe other all-in-one bathrooms are this easy to clean. Ours, however, is a horse of another color.

See, our bathroom has all of the pipes exposed, outside the walls. (I refer you back to the pictures above and all those white pipes everywhere!) Which means that I can clean as much as I want, but I can never quite reach the spaces in between the pipes and the wall. Spaces that nonetheless get soaked every time we take a shower. Spaces that I am sure – because I can see it! – are crawling with mold and mildew and ick of every kind.

And what are we going to do when we have a toddler in the house and it wants to stick its little fingers in those spaces made exactly the right size for little fingers?! Ahhh, I don’t even want to think about it!

I guess we’ll just keep the door closed all the time and deal with the must.

So if you are in Denmark – or elsewhere in Europe, these bathrooms are a European phenomenon – and are dealing with this type of bathroom, you have my sympathies. If you somehow made out with a fancy modern bathroom with a shower separated by a lip or – gasp – even a tub, you have my envy. If you’re back in the US and can take a bath whenever you want because everyone has bathtubs there, I’m not sure I feel like talking to you right now.

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22 thoughts on “Oy with the Squeegees Already!

  1. I feel for you with this. Our bathroom is a bit bigger (we have a tub/shower, though we want to tear it out and make it a shower/laundry), but still has wretched ventilation. You may want to invest in some Rodalon to deal with the mold. Once every few months should take care of the worst of it. It has both an indoor and outdoor type, so look for the indoor stuff, and keep the window cracked a bit (as long as you don’t freeze). 🙂

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    • Thanks for the tip. I use a regular bleach cleaner to clean the whole bathroom, but I have been thinking about using something specifically for mold, even if I can just spray it in the cracks and leave it for a bit and clean out *some* of that stuff. I’ll definitely check out that brand.

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  2. Your last paragraph has me laughing loudly.

    We’ve lived in five places here in Norway, and two of them had bathrooms you’re dealing with — although they were a little bigger, and only one had exposed pipes, so I guess not really. I won’t tease you with a description of what we have now. But we don’t have a window … and no bathtub, so there’s that ….

    Do you have warming cables in the floor? That helped to dry out the worst bathroom we had, but I don’t know if that’s part of Danish culture.

    (Years ago, I threw away a squeegee we’d bought. They’re really useless, aren’t they? And even if they did clean a little water — it seemed to cling to it, which of course then would start to get slimy, and was just one more thing to try and clean. No thanks! 🙂 )

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    • I totally agree about the squeegee! Now I have to clean it, too, every time I clean the bathroom, otherwise you’re just squeegeeing more bacteria around every time you use it. They do have heated floors here, but not in most apartments. It’s the kind of thing you’d put in if you were remodeling, I think. I guess at least we have a window so I can ventilate if we need to.

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  3. Yes. Yes, yes, yes! We were actually lucky in our last place to have a tiny triangular shower nook with a lip, but even so, it was annoying! We’re quite spoiled in our new place, and I actually had forgotten what showering in a proper bathroom was like! But about the toddler problem, I never really had it, because the door had to be closed at all times, otherwise he’d head straight for the toilet brush, and that was worse than any behind-the-pipes-mystery-stuff….

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    • This is very true, I hadn’t thought about the toilet brush… Truthfully, when I think about a toddler running around our apartment I start to freak out. It’s so far from being baby proofed! I know we have a while, but that’s going to be a scramble when we finally need to do it. I’m glad you guys have a nicer bathroom in your new place. I really do think it makes a big difference if you can start your morning without muttering under your breath at the shower curtain because it keeps sticking to you because you only have 2 feet of space! 🙂

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  4. Uh. Bathrooms! Another pet hate of mine in Denmark…and I’m European! I can categorically say that I have not seen such bathrooms where I come from! We always had a tub (and, shock horror…another bathroom with a shower!). And this was normal. Even when I lived in London in some shitty small places, we always had a tub! I think this is just the Northern European way 😉

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    • You may very well be right. I had heard of these same types of bathrooms in Germany, so I guess I just generalized and said they were European 😉 But I’m glad to hear that not everyone in Europe has to deal with this kind of thing!

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    • They do have a place like Home Depot, though I’m not sure if they have shower pans. That’d be a good idea, though. We can’t add anything permanent, but if it were just something temporary we could put on the floor it might definitely work. Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll check it out next time we’re there.

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  5. We had a pretty basic/cheap apartment in Aarhus N and our bathroom was older but definitely had a lip and a reasonably sized shower. Do you have a 1 bedroom? My husband’s studio in the same complex had a tiny bathroom like yours, but once we stepped up to a 2 bedroom, the bathroom was bigger. However, I’ve seen one bedrooms with separated larger showers as well. I found the hard water buildup a real pain to clean without super chemicals. Grrrr.

    You got to open the window in winter because you’ll get mold if you don’t. I don’t find Danish winters that cold, so it isn’t that bad.

    I also haven’t studied the showering habits of a variety of Danes, but I noticed mine doesn’t linger in the shower. The water is on quickly, he turns it off to soap up, and turns it back on briefly. I could see why with what a crappy shower he had for years.

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    • Turns it off to soap! I would freeze! lol But maybe you’ve hit on something. Maybe showers in Denmark are just quick and dirty and don’t leave much time for water to get everywhere. We’re in a “3 room” apartment, but it’s really just 1 bedroom. The rest of the apartment is pretty spacious, but it’s in an older building so I think we just got stuck with an older, squeezed in, un-renovated shower. It’s really not horrible, just aggravating after a while. I’ll be sure to continue to open the window all through this winter, though, since that seems to be the trick.

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  6. Hey, would a toothbrush head fit behind the pipes? I make a mixture of bleach and baking powder and brush off mildew/mould with an old toothbrush…. But if they’re too close to the wall, I don’t know what you can do 😦

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    • It fits behind some of them, but I can’t get it behind others. I have to use a toothbrush to scrub the shower anyway – all that grout between small tiles! – so I’ve tried. Thanks for the suggestion, though. 🙂 Maybe I’ll just periodically spray some bleach back there and just hope it does it stuff without scrubbing…

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    • Nice! I think that’s the big difference, if someone has taken the time to renovate the apartment and upgrade the bathroom. That’s really the best of both worlds, and old building with a modern bathroom!

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  7. Funny, I thought these types of bathrooms were typically Asian! I had one in Korea that was recessed off the bedroom/living room. Almost the entire thing was fiberglass, however, which made it easy to clean; and Koreans are obsessed with shower shoes, so I was well-equipped in that department. Here in Holstebro, I’m lucky enough to have a proper bathroom. Then again, I live in Holstebro.

    Congrats on the coming baby!

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    • Thanks! I would loooove to have an all fiberglass shower. I get so tired of scrubbing away at all that grout, lol. I don’t know much about bathrooms in Asia apart from what I’ve seen on the American show House Hunters. 🙂

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  8. Looks like I have another fun thing to look forward to this winter – mould in our windowless bathroom! I am just happy we have a shower recess at all because so many Copenhagen apartments have the shower directly over the toilet. However, our bathroom has no sink. No sink! It’s so annoying to have to go to the kitchen to wash your hands, brush your teeth and all other normal bathroom activities.

    It is nice to hear that I’m not the only one struggling with the bathroom situation here though 🙂

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    • I definitely feel your pain, so know that you are not alone 🙂 We, too, were just happy at first to have a shower that could be at all separated from the toilet. That lasted about a year, and now I’ve gotten to the point where I want more out of a bathroom. But I guess at least we do have a sink in there. I can imagine how frustrating that would be! If you remember to keep your bathroom door open, it helps a lot with the mold. Good luck! 😉

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  9. Hi, I really enjoy reading your blog. And I really feel for you with the small bathroom/shower situation. They can be really annoying – even to danes like me! But there is a historical reason for them. Back in the olden days, the apartments were built without a shower (and when you go back even longer they didn’t have toilets either). Back then all the people in a building had to share the comunal bathing facilities most often located in the basement of the building. Obviously over the years, people first wanted their own toilets and later showers in their apartments. This means that ALL the old buildings in the city where originally built either without a bathroom or with only a toilet. Then when people started “demanding” showers installed as well, the easiest solution was to install them in the small room where the toilet was, if the apartment already had a toilet that is. Some times it was possible to get a bit of extra space from the back stairs, originally used as a fire escape, if they were located close to the toilet. They could also take the extra space from another room in the apartments, but that would usually require a larger renovation. And even today there are still buildings in Aarhus (though very few left) that only have shared shower facilities in the basement.
    So to sum up: A great location in the city centre = Tiny bathrooms. And tiny bathrooms = no room for installing bathtubs, sadly.

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    • Hi Jane. Thanks for your comment and all the good info! I figured it was something like that. You can tell from most of the buildings that they had to be kind of retrofitted to include a bathroom at all. It’s especially apparent with my bathroom and all the exposed pipes that the bathroom wasn’t there originally. It’s really not the end of the world, just occasionally annoying 🙂 And in the end we still think that the trade offs of location and atmosphere are worth it. Plus, at least we don’t have to use a shared bathroom in the basement! 🙂

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