How to Clean a Dehumidifier: 2 Simple Methods

Christine Herrington

Christine is our Chief Editor and a contributing writer to the site.

Last Updated on June 9, 2021

If you live in a house where the air is excessively humid, this can create various health problems for you and your family. High humidity and poor air circulation encourage mold growth. Exposure to mold over a long period can lead to eye and throat irritation while ingesting mildew can cause headaches and respiratory issues.

Investing in a dehumidifier allows you to remove excess water vapor from your household, reduce humidity levels, and prevent the future growth of moisture-loving microorganisms.

Once you’ve installed this dehumidifier, you should try to clean it at least once every two weeks to ensure that the unit continues to operate effectively and circulate fresh, dry air throughout your home.

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Table of Contents

What is a Dehumidifier and Why Should You Get One?

Before looking at how to clean a dehumidifier, it’s helpful to understand what this device does and the components that make it work.

A dehumidifier extracts excess moisture from your living space, reducing the amount of mold and fungal growth in your house in the process. There are two main types of dehumidifiers: refrigerant and desiccant.

The refrigerant dehumidifier is made up of a series of coils: the unit sucks in damp air through a filtration system. This air moves over extra cold coils, the water vapor particles in this air condense. The condensed water flows into the tank directly underneath the coils, while an integrated fan spreads the newly dry air around your room.

A desiccant dehumidifier contains a built-in absorbent substance that draws out water vapor particles from the air either through physical adsorption or chemical reaction. A desiccant rotor then powers a heater that condenses these particles, allowing them to drip down into the unit’s integrated water tank. A fan then circulates the remaining dry air around the room.

There are many excellent reasons why you should invest in a high-quality dehumidifier, including:

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1. Gets rid of unpleasant smells

If your house has a lingering, musty smell, then this could mean you’ve got mold or mildew growing under your carpet, on the inside of your wallpaper, on fabric, or in your drywall. Dehumidifiers can remove the surplus moisture from your air, creating a far less humid environment that prevents future growth. As a result, after cleaning away the current mold, your house smells fresher.

2. Creates a healthier living space

When dehumidifiers remove water vapor particles from your air and prevent the growth of damp stains, mildew, and mold around your house, they also create a healthier living space for you and your family.

If you’re living in a house where there’s an excess amount of humidity in the air, you’re more likely to experience health problems related to respiratory issues and various allergies. Mold and mildew are common allergy triggers, emitting spores that get into your respiratory system and cause congestion, chest tightness, and sneezing. When you reduce the levels of mildew and mold in your house, you breathe in healthier and cleaner air.

How to Clean a Dehumidifier

Now that you understand more about the benefits of one of these units, it’s crucial to look at how to clean a dehumidifier to ensure the appliance functions optimally.

  • Cleaning a standard refrigerant dehumidifier

If you own a refrigerant dehumidifier, you should try to clean the unit once a week. If you don’t clean it regularly, the mold and mildew will build up in the bottom of the tank and create a potentially dangerous microclimate inside the appliance. 

Make sure you’re taking the dehumidifier apart before you begin the cleaning process, as you want to ensure you’re removing sediment and mold buildup from every component. Remember to unplug the dehumidifier and cut off the power supply before you disassemble it.

Once you’ve taken it apart, start by cleaning the water tank. This section is where you’ll find the most buildup, so take your time when scrubbing down the basin. Mix an equal parts water and vinegar solution or 3% hydrogen peroxide diluted with water, then use a spray bottle to squirt this liquid onto the tank’s surface. You can use a microfiber cloth or hard-wired brush to scrub the scale or mold deposits away.

Next, you’ll need to clean both the filter and the coils of the unit. Use a softer brush to clean out any buildup of dust or dirt particles on the coils and around the filter. You can then squirt some of the vinegar and water solution onto the coils, letting this liquid settle for 10 to 20 minutes. Once you’ve done that, you can rinse with tepid tap water.

You can then move on to cleaning the fan blades. This part of the cleaning process is simple: just rinse out your micro cloth and wipe down the surface of the blades to clear away any stains or mildew. Make sure you’re not dropping any water on the dehumidifier’s motor when you’re doing this.

If there’s an accumulation of dirt and dust in the corners of the dehumidifier’s central section, you can use your vacuum cleaner’s soft brush attachment to suck up these particles. Leave all the dehumidifier components to dry, then reassemble the unit and plug it back into an outlet.

  • Cleaning a standard desiccant dehumidifier filter

Those people who own a standard desiccant dehumidifier should try to clean this unit’s filter every 2 or 3 weeks. However, if you have the dehumidifier on at full power constantly, you’ll need to clean out the filter at least once a week.

Unplug the unit, then remove the panel on the back of the dehumidifier. You’ll find the filter attached to the inside of this panel. Slide this filter out, then rinse this rectangular piece under your kitchen’s faucet for a few minutes, making sure you’re clearing away all the dust particles caught up in the mesh. Let the filter drain for a few hours, then give it a final wipe down with a towel or kitchen cloth. Insert the clean filter back into the rear panel and click the panel back into place in the dehumidifier. Plug the unit back into an outlet.

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Learn How to Clean Your Dehumidifier and Prevent Mildew Buildup

Investing in a dehumidifier is a great way to reduce humidity levels in your house. Homeowners who want want to prevent future growth of mold and mildew and helping to remove dank, musty smells from your living room or bathroom will need this simple gadget. 

However, you need to make sure you’re cleaning this unit several times a month. If you don’t, you’ll encourage a buildup of mold and minerals in the base of your dehumidifier.

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