Informational Guide

Do Dehumidifiers Clean The Air?

Dust, smoke, odors and pet dander can infiltrate your home but does a dehumidifier clean the air and get rid of these unwanted intruders?

by Josh M

Dust, smoke, and other odors are insidious and often make their way into homes. This can be uncomfortable for homeowners. Basements often have damp areas that can create mold and mildew as well.

Bedrooms can be a popular place for dust to accumulate as pet dander, hair, clothes, and bedding fiber all contribute to dust mites. Does a dehumidifier clean the air? Yes, the dehumidifier can help to clean the air by removing dust particles through an internal air filter as well as lowering the relative humidity level (to keep mold and mildew spores away).

Do Dehumidifiers Clean The Air?

Yes, dehumidifiers can help clean the air, but not necessarily in the way that you might think. Most dehumidifiers have an internal air filter that can trap large dust particles (most dust particles are large) and remove them from your air. Dehumidifiers are primarily used to lower the relative humidity level in your home.

High humidity levels are problematic for a couple of reasons.

First, they encourage the growth of mold and mildew spores.

Second, dust mites need water to survive, so by lowering the humidity in the home, it is harder for dust mites to grow and proliferate.

Third, high humidity levels make it possible for pets to feel “hot,” and pets in humid environments create more pet dander. Although a dehumidifier will not properly clean the air (like an air purifier will), they can help by making it difficult for mold spores, mildew spores, and dust mites to flourish.

Aromatic Candle and Palo Santo Stick

Do Dehumidifiers Help with Dust?

In our homes, we experience dust on a daily basis. Dust is especially frustrating for people with asthma and allergies because they often experience coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

However, too much dust in the home can make anyone uncomfortable. Dehumidifiers help control dust because dust mites thrive in humid environments.

Bedding and furniture fibers, rug fibers, pet dander, hair, skin cells, and clothing can all contribute to dust mites. A dehumidifier in any area of your home will lower the moisture level so that the dust mites can not grow.

Moist air helps dust mites clump together and multiply. Air purifiers are more powerful against dust mites, but dehumidifiers help. If you live in a humid environment or have several damp spots in your home, we recommend both a dehumidifier and air purifier to combat dust mites.

Do Dehumidifiers Help with Smoke?

Smoke typically comes from the homeowner through cigarette smoking, weed smoking, or through a wood burning fireplace. Smoke can also come from nearby homes through outdoor fires and other means. If smoke gets into your home, it can aggravate allergies and asthmatic conditions.

Dehumidifiers are not a good choice for smoke problems. Although the dehumidifier can help to limit the effect of smoke, they cannot eliminate smoke entirely. We recommend purchasing an air purifier with a carbon filter to reduce smoke odor.

Odors are typically enhanced in humid spaces, so a dehumidifier can help lessen the scent, but it will not help as much as an air purifier (made to clean the air).

Smoke Coming from Building

Do Dehumidifiers Help with Bad Odors?

Yes, dehumidifiers can help with bad odors. However, dehumidifiers help the most with specific odors. If the odor in your home is from mold or mildew, then a dehumidifier will help solve the problem.

Dehumidifiers draw moisture from the air, and without enough moisture, mold spores and mildew cannot grow. As the mold spores are killed, that gross musty smell disappears because it came from the mold.

Dehumidifiers are not as helpful when the odor is from something like smoke because a dehumidifier was not made to clean the air. This appliance was made to lower the relative humidity level in the home.

If you want to get rid of the rotten smell and mothball smell in your home, then a dehumidifier is your best option. If you want to also get rid of pet smells and smoke smells, then we recommend an air purifier as well as a dehumidifier.

Cigarette Smoke in a Room

Using a Dehumidifier to Effectively Clean the Air?

Dehumidifiers are best used to remove and reduce dust and moldy or damp odors. The dehumidifier will help pull moisture out of the air and make sure that wet, damp areas cannot create mold or mildew.

This will also keep mold spores out of the air, which is important for most people (mold isn’t only dangerous for those with allergies or asthma, but can cause allergy-like symptoms for many people).

Dehumidifiers will also help to keep dust at bay through its filter. The filter installed in most dehumidifiers is high-quality enough to filter most dust particles out.

The best prevention method is to place the dehumidifier near wet, damp areas in your home. For example, many basements are prone to mold and mildew because humidity levels are higher.

If you know where your home experiences the highest levels of humidity, you can place your dehumidifier there and prevent them from becoming too humid. Too much humidity creates the condensation that leads to mold, mildew, and proliferates dust.

Woman Smelling Blooming Flowers in Garden

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Do dehumidifiers improve air quality?

Dehumidifiers can help improve air quality by lowering the risk of mold and mildew in the home. Dust mites also enjoy humid places, and a dehumidifier can reduce their presence in your home.

We recommend using an indoor air quality test kit to determine both the quality of your indoor air as well as what machine would be the most helpful for your home (dehumidifier, humidifier, air purifier).

Is a musty smell dangerous?

A musty smell is typically a warning sign that something unusual is happening in the home. For example, musty smells often indicate that the home has a damp, wet spot.

Once you find the source of the musty smell, we recommend performing a thorough cleaning, bringing in a dehumidifier, and circulating air with a fan as well as opening any windows/doors.

Will the smoke smell go away in the house?

The smoke smell may go away if you take action. Our recommendation is to flood the home with as much fresh air as possible while running an air purifier. It is best to use an air purifier with a carbon filter as carbon helps to absorb smoke.


Dehumidifiers can help eliminate dust build-up as well as mildew and mold. Although they won’t do much for smoke, you can avoid damp odors by using your dehumidifier. Add an air purifier with carbon to eliminate the smoke smell, and your home will be a comfortable environment again.

Last Updated on January 13, 2023

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.