German Language Blog

Lüften: Germany’s Airing Obsession & Covid-19 Posted by on Mar 17, 2021 in Culture, Language, News, Traditions

Guten Tag! In a recent post on things you can expect to find in a German home, I talked about how die Heizung (the heating) and die Lüftung (the airing/ventilation) systems in German homes are different to those in US homes, meaning the Germans have to open their windows more often to prevent mould & mildew build-up. In fact, it is a bit of a stereotype that Germans are ‘obsessed’ with airing out rooms, otherwise known as lüften. Today we’ll talk a little about that, and how it’s become even more important in Germany in the age of Coronavirus.


Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay CCO

lüften / die Lüftung

The verb lüften means ‘to air out’ or ‘to ventilate’. It stems from the noun die Luft – air. There is also a noun, die Lüftung, meaning ‘airing’ or ‘ventilation’. Here are a couple of article headlines using these words. The first uses the verb, the second uses the noun:

Zimmer richtig lüften: Die besten Tipps
‘Best tips for airing rooms out correctly’

Lüftung für Schulen
‘Airing/ventilation (solutions) for schools’



Photo by Anna Dudkova on Unsplash

stoßlüften / die Stoßlüftung

But there is another word, stoßlüften (noun: die Stoßlüftung), which translates literally to ‘shock ventilation’. Der Stoß means shock, impact, or push. Though it sounds pretty aggressive, it is literally just a case of opening the windows to let some fresh air in for a few minutes, before closing them again. This tactic is used to ventilate stuffy rooms as quickly as possible. The point to make about stoßlüften is that Germans do this all year round. Yes, even on the coldest of winter days, they will throw open the windows to ‘shock ventilate’ the rooms. This is common practice in schools and offices as well as in homes – it is even written into some tenancy agreements as a must-do activity to keep rented homes free from der Schimmel (mould/mildew)!



Photo by Devon Owens on Unsplash CCO

querlüften / die Querlüftung

One step further is querlüften (noun: die Querlüftung), whereby ALL the windows in a home/building are opened for a few minutes as a means of ‘cross ventilation’. The word quer translates to across, diagonally, aslant.

As can be expected, many do not like the tradition of stoßlüften/querlüften, complaining that it’s simply too cold to have all the windows open. There is a common saying about it:

‘Erfroren sind schon viele, erstunken ist noch keiner!’
‘Many have frozen to death, but no one ever died from a bad smell!’


Photo by Jennifer Latuperisa-Andresen on Unsplash CCO

Lüften and Coronavirus

During the pandemic, the importance of lüften in Germany is apparent – this time, as a means of keeping the virus at bay. The German chancellor Angela Merkel herself has stressed the importance of proper ventilation, saying it could be one of the cheapest, easiest ways to contain the virus.

Late last year, the German public health guidelines for Coronavirus were changed to include two new instructions. Known by the acronym ‘AHA’, it has since changed to ‘AHACL’, which includes a very familiar instruction! Take a look:


Abstand (distance)
Hygiene (hygiene)
Alltagsmaske (mask)


Corona-Warn-App (Coronavirus alert app)
Lüften (airing/ventilation)!


What do you think of the concept of lüften, Stoßlüften, and Querlüften? Are you the type to ventilate your home even during the winter, or do your windows stay firmly shut until the summer?? Let me know in the comment box!

Bis bald,

Tags: , , , ,
Keep learning German with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


  1. Barbara:

    Born in Germany, entered US as 14 yrs. Am 84, still air my bedroom even in the coldest mornings for fresh air. Was unable to transfer this custom to my daughter,who keeps windows shut all year: heat and the air condition. Der Artikel was wunderbar! Danke, wie immer. Barbara

    • Constanze:

      @Barbara Freut mich, Barbara! 🙂

  2. Alison:

    This was,very interesting. When Ihave visited family inGermay I have noticed many homes, my daughter-in-law ‘s included that has open windows even when temperatures are below freezing. Now i know why.

    • Constanze:

      @Alison I’m glad it helped! 🙂

  3. Harry:

    Enyoyed the new small words, thank U.

    • Constanze:

      @Harry Glad it helped, Harry! 🙂

  4. m:

    Querlüften is a well known concept in my home because when food burns in the kitchen, even in the winter, all windows become opened! Great to know the German word. Thanks.

    • Constanze:

      @m Hahahah very true! Thanks for sharing 🙂


    Ich denke, dass das Lüften von Räumen auch im Winter durch Öffnen der Fenster für vielleicht eine halbe Stunde eine gute Idee ist. Die Räume werden bei eingeschalteter Zentralheizung schnell wieder warm, und es kostet sehr wenig. Der Nutzen für die Gesundheit ist bekannt, und das ist wichtiger als der Verlust von etwas Heizgeld.

    • Constanze:

      @PETER YORK Ich stimme zu, Peter! Danke! 🙂

  6. Jane E Romey:

    I live in Holland, Ohio, USA and I have always done these things! I think it’s a great idea and should be adopted by more Americans. I’ve taught my children about what my mom & dad always called “cross-cut ventilation” and a quick airing out (equal to eine Stoβlüftung). Another practical German tradition!