Dehumidifiers are highly effective in pulling moisture from the air. High-capacity units can collect gallons of water in their tanks within 24 hours. It may seem like a waste dumping this water down the drain when you can find other uses for it. For instance, depending on the air quality and how often you clean your dehumidifier, this water may appear clear enough, or almost like tap water. However, it doesn’t undergo any of the filtration processes to make it safe like commercially available water.
Dehumidifier water may contain traces of air contaminants that make it unsafe for human and animal consumption. But you may still use this water for inedible plants. If you don’t want to waste any water, there are other ways you can benefit from your dehumidifier’s condensate like cleaning around the house, flushing the toilet, and many other household activities.
How Does a Dehumidifier Produce Water?
First, it’s important to understand how your dehumidifier produces condensate. There are different types of dehumidifiers based on the process of moisture removal that they use, namely the refrigerant, desiccant, and thermoelectric dehumidifiers. Most residential dehumidifiers condense the water vapor they pull from the air, collecting water in a tank.
This is probably the most common type of dehumidifier used at home. It works similar to an air conditioner or refrigerator with a cooling system that uses a compressor to circulate the refrigerant. It cools down the air, condenses the vapor, and then reheats the air. A fan draws in the warm, moist air from the room and passes it over the cold coils. As the temperature drops, the air loses its ability to hold moisture. Condensation occurs and water drips down into the tank or flows out through the drain hose. Dry air is then released back into the room at a slightly warmer temperature.
The desiccant dehumidifier uses hygroscopic chemicals or desiccants that extract moisture from the air until they are fully saturated. Common household desiccants can either be disposable or renewable. If the desiccant is disposable, or what is more commonly called a moisture absorber, the water absorbed by the desiccant collects at the bottom of the container. Rechargeable desiccant units typically use silica gel and do not produce water. When fully saturated, you only need to recharge it by plugging it into an outlet.
Full-size units also use silica gel filled into the desiccant wheel that rotates inside as the moist air passes through. A portion of the dried air is then reheated and it passes through the saturated desiccant in the opposite direction, removing the moisture again. The resulting warm and moist air passes over the condenser and the moisture forms droplets that collect in a tank below.
Mini dehumidifiers also use a method called the Peltier effect or thermoelectric cooling technology. The principle of the cooling process is similar to that of a refrigerant dehumidifier. However, instead of a compressor and refrigerant, it uses a Peltier with different temperatures on each side to cool down and then heat the air. Moist air is drawn by a small fan through the cold side of the Peltier. The moisture condenses and water drips into the tank. The dried air then passes through the hot side before it is released into the room.
Is Dehumidifier Water Good for Plants?
The most practical way to benefit from your dehumidifier water is to use it for watering inedible plants. You can also use it for indoor hydroponic gardening so that no water goes to waste. However, dehumidifier water likely contains some air pollutants and heavy metals so be careful not to use it for plants that you plan to eat.
Dehumidifier water comes from the condensed vapor in the air. Although the air passes through a filter before condensation, the filter can only remove large contaminants. The water itself is not filtered or processed and thus, the smaller particles remain in the water. It may not be visible to the naked eye but it is still there. These traces of microorganisms present in the water may actually be healthy for some plants and the soil. Again, just make sure you’re not going to eat these plants.
Note that unlike tap water, your dehumidifier condensate may lack some natural minerals that your plants need for growth. To provide the nutrients to your plants, you may combine tap water with dehumidifier water.
Can You Drink Water from a Dehumidifier?
Water from a dehumidifier does not undergo any filtration or purification process to make it potable. Remember that this is condensed water from the air in the room. Although larger dust particles may have been removed by the air filter, there remains the mold spores, bacteria, and other pollutants in the air still in the water. The air also passes through the plastic and metal coils which can further contaminate the water.
Thus, you cannot drink this water without potential health and safety risks. It’s also unsafe for pets to drink. Commercial drinking water goes through one or more purification processes to remove contaminants. No matter how often you clean your dehumidifier coils and tank, the collected water is contaminated and NOT safe to drink. No dehumidifier manufacturer will say otherwise.
Of course, if you really want to, you can filter or purify the dehumidifier water using any method you desire to remove the contaminants. Depending on the air quality and how clean the dehumidifier coils and collection tank are, there are filtration processes you can do on your own. The easiest would be to filter out the large particles and then boil the water to kill any remaining pathogens. You can look into DIY water purification kits if you want to make your dehumidifier water drinkable.
While it’s technically doable, it requires too much time, effort, and money, when you can simply buy bottled water or drink from the tap. Unless clean drinking water is a true scarcity in your area, it is much safer and more economical to drink tap water, buy bottled water or other commercially available sources.
What Can You Do With Dehumidifier Water?
Dehumidifier water has come into contact with the plastic and metal inside the appliance. The air passes over the coils made from copper and other heavy metals before water forms and drips into the tank along with some dirt, dust, and other particles from the air. As it is, dehumidifier water is considered gray water which can be reused.
Gray water is wastewater from sinks, showers, baths, washing machines, and all other streams except for toilet water. It may contain traces of dirt, grease, and household cleaning products but may still be used for different purposes.
Besides watering plants, the most common use for dehumidifier condensate is for cleaning. You can collect the water in a larger bucket instead of dumping it straight down the drain. When you need to clean the house, you can use this water to mop floors, clean windows, or wipe tables instead of using fresh water. You can mix it with detergent, bleach, or vinegar to make a disinfectant solution and neutralize any odors.
Flushing the toilet wastes a lot of fresh water, amounting to as much as 1.25 gallons to 3.5 gallons per flush. You can help conserve this much water if you reuse your dehumidifier water to flush the toilet. Just pour the water from the dehumidifier tank directly into the water closet or if you have multiple dehumidifiers, collect the water in a larger bucket for later use.
Dehumidifier water can also be used to steam iron clothes. Some tap water contains minerals that build up inside the iron and then stick to your clothes. Hard water can cause limescale which can damage the iron beyond repair. Using your dehumidifier water can help prevent these. Like distilled water, dehumidifier water lacks the minerals in tap water that can leave deposits in the iron and on the clothes.
Washing the Car
Car washing also wastes gallons of water. You can reduce the waste by saving your dehumidifier water. Instead of fresh water, use the condensate and mix it with your car wash detergent. The soap will break up any microorganisms in the water. Since dehumidifier water lacks minerals, it can also help prevent water spots when the car dries.
You can find many other uses for dehumidifier water such as for recreation. If you’re an artist, you can use the water for painting or washing paint brushes after. You can also use it to fill flower vases for decoration in your home.
Although dehumidifier water is not safe for drinking, it is usually good for watering plants. There are ways to make this water drinkable, but it’s not recommended to do so. It’s safe for plants as long as they’re not grown for human or animal consumption. In fact, some plants may benefit from the traces of particles in the collected water. You must still be careful and observe your plants if you use this water. You may combine it with tap water or mix in the necessary nutrients for your plants. In any case, there are many other benefits from dehumidifier water in the household. To minimize your wastes, collect the water in a larger container and use it to iron clothes, flush the toilet, or clean the bathroom floors, windows, or cars. Creative people can find many other ways to use this water safely.