How to Clean a Dehumidifier

Regular cleaning of your dehumidifier is essential to maintain its proper functioning. Some models may require you to empty the water tank or clean the air filter in order to operate, but that’s not all the upkeep you need to practice.

Dehumidifiers are a great investment if you want to control indoor humidity. They remove excess moisture and help prevent mold and mildew

work by drawing in the air and removing the moisture through different methods depending on the type of the unit. The water collected is then stored in a reservoir or drained through a hose. 

Dehumidifiers typically require very little maintenance, but you must still check up on your unit regularly to prevent any problem. Failure to keep the unit clean can decrease its effectiveness and efficiency. To ensure your health and comfort and help your dehumidifier last long, it’s recommended that you clean the unit at least every few weeks.

Why you need to clean your dehumidifier

High levels of indoor humidity can cause discomfort and difficulty in breathing. To reduce humidity, the dehumidifier collects moisture as well as dust, dirt, and mold spores in the air. This greatly improves the air quality in your space. Cleaning your dehumidifier removes any of these airborne particles that accumulated on the surface and inside the machine. Skipping this routine maintenance can lead to poor air quality.

If you already notice signs of mold growth in the area, that is all the more reason to run a dehumidifier. It is highly effective in eliminating mold and mildew, but if you let the collected moisture sit in the reservoir, the drain hose, or other parts of the unit, it may attract mold too. You don’t want to grow mold within your dehumidifier. Mold releases spores which get in the air you breathe. This can cause severe reactions in people with allergies or asthma. Cleaning your dehumidifier regularly reduces the chance of mold growth and the harms it causes.

Frequent cleaning also helps maintain proper functioning and prolong the life of any appliance. 

Collected grime on the grilles and filters can hinder the dehumidifier’s ability to purify the air. It has to work harder in order to accomplish its tasks. This wastes a lot of energy on a poor performance. Keeping your dehumidifier clean maintains its effectiveness and efficiency.

Check out this video for a quick guide in cleaning a dehumidifier.

Materials you need to clean a dehumidifier

To start, you need a few household cleaning items. Mild liquid soap or dish soap should be enough for regular cleaning. If you need something stronger, you can make a solution with water and mild soap or bleach, or white vinegar in water. 

You’ll also need some basic cleaning tools like a sponge, dishcloth or rag. You can clean the grilles or other hard to reach areas with a wire brush or small toothbrush. 

The following are optional but extremely useful when cleaning any appliance. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to get a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands from dust and grime as well as chemicals from soap and other cleaning agents. If you have allergies or sensitivities to airborne allergens, you’ll also want a dust mask. Lastly, a wet/dry vacuum cleaner with hose attachment can be used to remove remaining dirt and grime inside the dehumidifier.

Safety steps before you start to clean your dehumidifier

Put on your cleaning gear if necessary. Before you proceed to wipe or disassemble any part or component, make sure to turn off the dehumidifier and unplug. Detach it from any ducting and pipe connections.

You should also find a good location for cleaning. You don’t want to get any debris in your kitchen or living space. A good spot would be at a sink, or a laundry room or outside for bigger units.

Wipe the exterior

Once it’s safe, you can start by wiping the exterior of the dehumidifier. It is the machine’s first defense against dirt and bacteria. When they accumulate on the surface of your dehumidifier, dehumidification performance can decline significantly.

If you notice dust or grime collecting on the exterior of the unit, simply wipe it down with a dry cloth. Heavier grime will need heavier cleaning. Dampen a rag or towel with diluted liquid soap and wipe the dirty surface. Remember that you are cleaning an electrical device. Be extra careful not to spray water or any cleaning solvents directly on the unit. 

How to clean a dehumidifier tank

Frigidaire Dehumidifier Tank

If your dehumidifier uses a tank to store the extracted water, it’s likely that it has an auto shutoff function that kicks in when the dehumidifier tank is full. There are visible and audible indicators to alert you when this happens. The unit will only start working again once you have drained the water. 

You shouldn’t stop there, though. This water may contain harmful particles from the air. Whenever you throw out the water, rinse the tank before you put it back. It’s also important to clean it thoroughly every so often. Neglecting this step can lead to mold growth within the water tank.

To disinfect the tank, the first thing you need to do is drain the water completely. Fill it with liquid soap diluted in warm water and use a sponge to scrub it. Make sure you cover every corner until it’s squeaky clean. You can also use a solution of white vinegar and water for scrubbing.  

After rinsing, spray white vinegar on the entire tank and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Don’t worry about the smell – it will dissipate over time. Another option is hydrogen peroxide. Just pour a few drops into the tank and let it sit. Wipe the tank and allow it to fully dry before reinstalling.

If you’re using a drain hose, it is still essential to clean the tank in case there is standing water. The hose also needs to be washed with the same solution of soap or vinegar. Pour the solution into one end and let it flush through the entire hose.

Wash or replace the air filter

Honeywell Dehumidifier Filter

Dehumidifiers usually come with at least one filter to purify the air as it enters the unit. The air filter also protects the internal parts of the machine. Dust accumulates on the filter and eventually gets in the air. If the air filter is covered in grime, this can also cause the unit to malfunction. 

Most filters are easily washable with water and soap. Some may need to be vacuumed. The unit should come with a guide on the proper way of cleaning the air filter. Some dehumidifiers have an indicator light to alert you when it’s time to clean the filter.

Each model has a recommended period in which you need to replace the filter. Refer to your user manual for more specific instructions on filter cleaning and replacement. 

Clean the bucket filter

The bucket filter further decontaminates the moisture collected in the dehumidifier. This small filter isn’t found in every dehumidifier, but for those who have one, it’s also important to clean it. Check your manual to confirm its location. Then, remove it and rinse with warm water. Allow it to air dry before putting it back into the dehumidifier.

Vacuum the inside

For some dehumidifiers, the tank and filter can be easily accessed from the outside. But if you want to be thorough, you need to remove the outer cover of the unit to access the inner components. This includes the fan blades and condenser coils. You can simply wipe off the fan with a damp cloth.

If you operate in particularly cold conditions, it’s even more important to inspect the coils frequently. Take out the coils carefully as they can be very sensitive. Let the frost buildup thaw completely before you clean the coils. You can use a soft brush to remove clumps of dirt and grime. Spray the coils with a coil cleaner or a simple solution of water and soap. Rinse with warm water and allow it to dry.

If you still notice some dust or loose dirt remaining, suction them all away with a vacuum cleaner. For a desiccant model, you will also need to detach the desiccant wheel and clean it. You can use the vacuum cleaner or wash it with water and soap.

How often should you clean a dehumidifier?

You may be tempted to put off cleaning your dehumidifier until there are glaring signs of filth on its exterior. However, it’s important to do so before the dirt and mold ever take hold of its internal components.

Depending on the frequency and duration of usage and your indoor environmental conditions, a dehumidifier should go through routine maintenance and cleaning every few weeks, probably twice a year at the very least. Follow the unit’s cleaning guide if it has one. It won’t hurt to also do your own inspection from time to time.

These are only some basic rules you can observe to keep your dehumidifier working effectively and efficiently. Each model is different. It usually comes with specific guidelines for usage, troubleshooting, and maintenance. Consult your user manual for instructions or contact the manufacturer directly.