How to Clean a Dehumidifier

Let’s walk you through this.

Dehumidifiers are highly effective at improving our indoor environment by lowering the humidity. They work by drawing air in through a fan and then cooling it on coils before reheating and emitting the dry air. As a result, the collected water is usually gathered in a bucket that you have to empty when full.

Besides emptying the bucket when needed, there are other important things to do to maintain a dehumidifier. If you fail to keep the machine clean, its effectiveness will decrease and it could be wasting energy.

Does a Dehumidifier Need to Be Cleaned?

Should you clean your dehumidifier? 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 units’ efficiency. Furthermore, mold is the last thing you want to be growing 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 properly. We recommend that you clean it once every three weeks if it’s used 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. Here’s how to clean a dehumidifier:

1. Unplug

Before you start to clean 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

Dehumidifiers draw air in through vents and as a result, there can be a significant amount of dust and dirt. The outer shell is also what catches bigger particles 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 tank or reservoir of the dehumidifier is where all of 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, if you don’t clean it properly, mold can begin to grow within the tank.

If mold or mildew begins to form within the tank, it could spread into the air and through your home. Mold can trigger allergies and asthma in sensitive individuals (1).

To clean and sanitize the reservoir, you need to first empty it completely. 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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Take Note

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 (2).

4. Clean the Filter

The air filter plays an important role in protecting the internal parts of the dehumidifier and also cleaning your dry air. If the air filter is filthy and covered in grime, the dehumidifier simply won’t work as the air can’t pass.

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. In general, dehumidifiers 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 a 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.

Take Note

Most dehumidifiers come with a guide on how to clean the air filter properly. 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 important to clean it to avoid any 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.

Last Advice

Cleaning your dehumidifier is crucial, and it’s important to do so before dirt and mold build-up.

Most dehumidifiers come with a guide on when it needs to be cleaned. Some even have indicators on the display to notify you. However, it’s still important to do your own inspection of the filter and bucket.

Thankfully, you don’t need any special products or cleaners for maintaining the dehumidifier. A bit of mild detergent, vinegar, and warm water can do the trick. Happy cleaning!

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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.