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How to Clean a Dehumidifier

Updated
Six steps to a cleaner dehumidifier.

If you fail to keep a dehumidifier clean, its effectiveness will decrease, and it could be wasting energy.

You should clean your dehumidifier often to ensure that it runs properly. But perhaps your user manual isn’t super thorough.

We’ll walk you through our six-step method for how to clean a dehumidifier. By the end, you’ll be glad you’ve prevented mold and musty odors in your home.



Does a Dehumidifier Need to Be Cleaned?

You might be surprised at how dirty a dehumidifier can get, so it’s important to clean it regularly, depending on usage.

As we explained briefly in the steps above, keeping the air filter clean is crucial for the unit’s efficiency.

Furthermore, mold is the last thing you want to grow in the tank since it can make its way into the air.

How Often Should You Clean a Dehumidifier?

Dehumidifiers require regular cleaning in order to function correctly. We recommend cleaning it every three weeks if you use it frequently.

How to Clean a Dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers contain several important components — such as an air filter and a reservoir — that won’t function right if dirty. Let’s get it clean.

  • Time: 50 minutes (plus drying time).
  • Difficulty: Easy.

What You’ll Need

  • Cloths.
  • Dish soap.
  • Water.
  • Sponge.
  • Distilled white vinegar.
  • Spray bottle.
  • Large container or sink.
  • Vacuum cleaner.

1. Unplug

Before cleaning your dehumidifier, turn it off and unplug it from the outlet. This ensures that the unit is completely safe to touch.

2. Clean the Exterior

The outer shell is also what catches bigger particles, like dust and debris, that try to enter the dehumidifier.

To clean the exterior, use a dry cloth to wipe off dirt and grime clinging to the outside. If the dry cloth isn’t helping, dampen it slightly. You might also need to use some good old elbow grease.

Keep In Mind

Never spray water or solvents directly onto the exterior. This could damage the internal and electrical parts of the dehumidifier.

3. Clean the Tank

The dehumidifier tank or reservoir is where all the extracted water is collected. Emptying this whenever it’s full is essential, but it’s also important to clean it every so often. Consequently, mold can begin to grow within the tank if you don’t clean it properly.

To clean and sanitize the reservoir, empty it. Then, fill it a quarter of the way with clean, warm water and one or two squirts of dish soap. Use a sponge to scrub it — make sure you get into the corners.

After scrubbing, empty the contents and spray the entire tank with pure vinegar — it will smell strong until it dries. Allow the vinegar to sit for up to 10 minutes, then wipe with a damp cloth and leave the tank to dry. Once it’s fully dry, put it back into the dehumidifier.

If your dehumidifier is draining through a hose to a nearby drain, the hose could be housing some mold. Therefore, you should remove the hose and flush it using white vinegar.

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Why White Vinegar?

White vinegar is an excellent natural disinfectant. Although many use bleach to kill mold, we prefer to use vinegar unless mold is actively growing in the tank (1).

4. Clean the Filter

Refer to the user manual if you’re unsure where the filter is located. Some units have it at the back, so you can slide it out after removing the tank.

After taking the filter out, inspect it and consider if it needs replacing. Dehumidifiers generally use washable or reusable filters, but even these need to be replaced at some point.

If it’s still usable, start by giving it a quick clean with a vacuum to remove any loose dirt or dust. Then, make a cleaning solution of warm water and mild detergent in a large container.

Place the air filter in the solution and allow it to soak for up to 10 minutes. Dry it off completely before putting it back into the dehumidifier.

Check Your Manual

Most dehumidifiers come with a guide on properly cleaning the air filter. Some require warm water and mild detergent, while others only need to be vacuumed. Refer to the manual to ensure you’re not damaging the filter.

5. Clean the Bucket Filter

The bucket filter is what catches any impurities that made it into the dehumidifier. Not all dehumidifiers have this small filter. However, if yours does, it’s essential to clean it to avoid clogs.

Simply remove it and rinse with warm water. Then allow it to dry and then put it back into place.

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6. Plug It In

Once you’ve cleaned all parts and everything is completely dry, it’s time to put everything back into place.

Plug the dehumidifier into an outlet and turn it on to see if it works correctly. Next, check the display if there are any indications of faults. Finally, allow the unit to run for a couple of hours and then check the reservoir and humidity to see if it works as it should.

FAQs

What is the Brown Stuff In My Dehumidifier?

The brown stuff in your dehumidifier is a mixture of dirt, mold, and bacteria. It gets collected as part of the moisture extraction process and deposited inside the dehumidifier.

How Many Years Do Dehumidifiers Last?

A Dehumidifier should last between two and five years, depending on how heavily it gets used. It also depends on the brand and the capacity of the dehumidifier.

How Often Should I Change My Dehumidifier Water?

You should change your dehumidifier water at least twice a day. However, it depends on the amount of use the dehumidifier gets and the air’s humidity level.

How Often Should You Change the Filter In a Dehumidifier?

You should change a filter in a dehumidifier every three months, depending on the amount of use it gets. If you live in a damp environment, you may need to do this more often.

How Do You Get the Musty Smell Out of a Dehumidifier?

The best way to get that musty smell out of your dehumidifier is to clean it regularly with white vinegar and baking soda. If you don’t keep the dehumidifier clean, mold will accumulate and cause that musty odor.


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About the Author

Matthew Sullivan

Matthew is a freelance writer with several years of experience in DIY and HVAC. For as long as he can remember, Matthew has always found great pleasure in taking things apart and learning how to put them back together.