Easy 11-Step Guide to Thoroughly Clean Your Dehumidifier

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

Expert Reviewed By

Holly Curell

Last Updated On

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I use dehumidifiers in my home every day and it’s shocking how quickly dirt builds up on the vents. But that’s just the dirt I can see, and there’s a lot more dust and debris building up inside the appliance.

Over time, this dirt can stop a dehumidifier from running.

That’s why I make sure I properly clean my dehumidifier regularly to keep it working as it should.

Key Takeaways

  • Get the right tools such as rubber gloves, cleaning agents and mask before the cleaning process.
  • Make sure the Air Filter, Coils, Bucket Filter, Exterior surfaces, and the reservoir tanks are all thoroughly cleaned.
  • Not cleaning your dehumidifier can make it breeding ground for diseases and mold. Follow the instructions in your dehumidifier's manual for learning how to disassemble your unit and get to the parts that require cleaning.

5 Clear Signs That Your Dehumidifier Needs Cleaning

how to clean a dehumidifier

I often find that in the summer the dehumidifier vents become noticeably dirty – which is obviously a clear sign that you need to clean the appliance.

However, even if your dehumidifier seems clean on the outside, you may be unaware of a potential problem growing internally.

The signs that you need to clean your dehumidifier include:

  1. Louder than usual noises from your dehumidifier while it is running. This is usually because of a blocked air filter.
  2. Increased allergy symptoms while in use, usually because your dehumidifier bucket or air filter is dirty.
  3. A musty smell coming from the machine when in use.
  4. Black spots or mold can be seen on the inside.
  5. It has been over a month since you cleaned it. I have a strict cleaning routine and if it’s been too long, it’s definitely time to clean!

TL;DR: A dehumidifier will often show signs of trouble when it hasn't been cleaned in a long time. Your health may also get adversely affected. 


What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Dehumidifier?

If you don’t clean a dehumidifier properly then it won’t function properly and it could harm your health and well-being.

Dust, bacteria, pet dander, dirt, and potentially harmful microorganisms all accumulate inside your dehumidifier tank and air filter, and if they aren’t cleaned out then the dehumidifier will start to release these into your home.

Your dehumidifier may also struggle to run properly if it isn’t cleaned regularly.

This can leave you with excess moisture in your home and may cause your dehumidifier to draw more power to function, increasing your electricity bill.

In extreme cases, the dehumidifier can even stop working completely. This just isn’t an option for me because I live in a very humid area so I have a strict cleaning schedule to keep the device running.

TL;DR: A dehumidifier will either decrease its efficiency or stop working entirely if it hasn't been cleaned.

does a dehumidifier clean the air
Child Covered with a Blanket and Resting on Sofa with a Dehumidifier

Cleaning Tools You Need To Clean A Dehumidifier

Pair Of Rubber Gloves

Rubber gloves protect your hands from the cleaning solution and bacteria that may be lurking inside your machine.

This stops your skin from transferring or absorbing harmful things.

Dust Mask

A dust mask ensures that any pet dander, dirt, or bacteria that enter the air does not get into your airways and damage your health.

Towels, Rags, Wire Brushes, & Small Toothbrushes

Cleaning supplies like towels, rags, and brushes help you remove any pollutants from your machine and thoroughly clean the dehumidifier’s parts.

I like to use a toothbrush to clean some of the harder-to-reach areas within the dehumidifier.

Soap & Household Cleaning Agents

Soap and other cleaning agents eliminate bacteria and ensure that your dehumidifier is clean and safe to use year-round.

Dry-Wet Vacuum Cleaner

A dry-wet vacuum cleaner ensures that you remove dirt and dust from all the nooks and crannies of your dehumidifier, cleaning and drying at the same time.

TL;DR: Before starting the cleaning regime of your dehumidifier, it is important to have all the requisite material in hand. 


How To Clean Your Dehumidifier

To properly clean a dehumidifier, I recommend washing each individual component separately using soap, water, or distilled white vinegar.

This cleaning process will eliminate all the dust, mold spores, bacteria, and remaining dirt so that your dehumidifier functions properly.

Not all dehumidifier components can be removed, and it depends on the size and type of dehumidifier you have.

If you can’t remove the individual components then I recommend cleaning the dehumidifier more frequently if possible. 

TL;DR: It is recommended to clean all the important individual components separately.


Dehumidifier Components Which You Need To Clean:

  • Air Filter
    A dehumidifier air filter is designed to remove any air pollutants as the dehumidifier is pulling moisture and air in.
  • Coils
    These cold coils cool the air before it is reheated and emitted back into your home. These are one of the most important parts of the dehumidifier and need to be maintained properly.
  • Bucket Filter
    Some dehumidifiers come with a second filter in their reservoir bucket. This is tiny bucket filter is used to help improve the dehumidifying process.
  • Exterior surfaces
    The exterior surfaces and outer shell of your dehumidifier help protect its parts and keep them in place in an aesthetically pleasing way.
  • Reservoir / Reservoir Bucket
    The reservoir bucket holds the water that is removed from your air during the dehumidifying process. These can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria, pollutants, and dust mites because of the stagnant water.

Step By Step Dehumidifier Cleaning Process:

  1. 1
    Step 1
    Turn off and unplug your dehumidifier.
  2. 2
    Step 2
    Put on your protective gear and thoroughly ventilate the area.
  3. 3
    Step 3
    Disassemble your dehumidifier according to manual instructions.
  4. 4
    Step 4
    Empty and clean your reservoir.
    Empty your reservoir into the sink and rinse it carefully with warm water. Fill the sink with hot water and dish soap and let it soak for a few minutes. Then, use a soft cloth to clean your reservoir and a soft-bristled brush to scrub the corners. Leave the water bucket to dry.
  5. 5
    Step 5
    Remove and clean or replace your filter according to manual instructions.
  6. 6
    Step 6
    Clean the coils and internal parts.
    Use a spray detergent or spray bottle filled with a cleaning agent to cover the coils and leave them to soak for a couple of minutes. Give them a scrub with a cleaning toothbrush. Cover the motor to avoid water damage, and pour warm water over the parts. Use a dry cloth to pat it dry.
  7. 7
    Step 7
    Wipe and lubricate the blades with a damp cloth and 3-4 drops of oil.
  8. 8
    Step 8
    Dust and vacuum the rest.
  9. 9
    Step 9
    Once all the parts are completely clean and dry, put the dehumidifier back together according to manual instructions.
  10. 10
    Step 10
    Wipe down the external surfaces with a damp cloth and mild liquid soap.
  11. 11
    Step 11
    Run the machine, keeping an eye out for condensation on the coils.

ACLAB Tips:

If you do find condensation on your coils, I would recommend calling in a professional to provide restoration services and fix your dehumidifier. It may also be a sign that you need to replace it altogether.

TL;DR: The exact process of removing and cleaning individual components can differ from model to model, hence it is important to consul the manual.

Woman on Humidifier Maintenance

Can You Clean A Dehumidifier With Vinegar?

Yes, you can clean a dehumidifier really effectively with white vinegar instead of dish soap or detergent.

White vinegar is an effective disinfectant that helps to dissolve bacteria and mold build-up [1]. I mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water to create my own cleaning solution that’s much cheaper than other chemical cleaning products. 


How To Clean Your Dehumidifier With Vinegar – Step By Step Guide

  1. 1
    Step 1
    Turn off and unplug your dehumidifier.
  2. 2
    Step 2
    Put on your protective gear and thoroughly ventilate the area.
  3. 3
    Step 3
    Disassemble your dehumidifier according to manual instructions.
  4. 4
    Step 4
    Empty and clean your reservoir.
    Remove your dehumidifier bucket reservoir according to manual instructions. Empty the dehumidifier bucket in the sink and rinse it carefully with warm water. Using equal parts vinegar and water, scrub with a soft bristle brush or soft cloth and leave to soak for five minutes if necessary. Once done, rinse and leave to dry completely.
  5. 5
    Step 5
    Remove and clean or replace your filter according to the user manual.
  6. 6
    Step 6
    Clean the coils and internal parts.
    Spray them with equal parts vinegar and water and leave them to soak for a couple of minutes. Give them a scrub with a cleaning toothbrush. Cover the motor and pour warm water over the parts, drying with a cloth.
  7. 7
    Step 7
    Wipe and lubricate the blades with a damp cloth and 3-4 drops of oil.
  8. 8
    Step 8
    Dust and vacuum the rest.
  9. 9
    Step 9
    Once all the parts are completely clean and dry, put the dehumidifier back together according to manual instructions.
  10. 10
    Step 10
    Spray water and wipe down the external surfaces with a clean cloth.
  11. 11
    Step 11
    Run the machine, keeping an eye out for condensation on the coils.

TL;DR: Vinegar is a very potent cleaning agent and it can be used instead of soap to clean the dehumidifier.


Cleaning The Filter Of Popular Dehumidifier Brands

How To Clean A Frigidaire Dehumidifier Filter:

  1. Turn off and unplug your dehumidifier.
  2. Remove the filter according to manual instructions.
  3. Rinse it under clean water and leave it to air dry.
  4. Remove the bucket according to manual instructions.
  5. Rinse well and clean with warm soapy water.
  6. Leave them both to air dry.
  7. Replace them once completely dry.
  8. Reset your filter reminder according to manual instructions if necessary.

How To Clean A GE Dehumidifier Filter:

  1. Turn off and unplug your dehumidifier.
  2. Remove the filter according to manual instructions.
  3. Clean the filter with warm soapy water. Do not put it in the dishwasher.
  4. Rinse it well.
  5. Leave it to completely air dry.
  6. Replace the filter.
  7. Reset the filter reminder time by pressing the button for three seconds.

How To Clean A Haier Dehumidifier Filter:

  1. Turn off and unplug your dehumidifier.
  2. Pull the filter up and out to remove it.
  3. Vacuum the filter carefully, removing as much dirt and debris as possible.
  4. Rinse it well with water.
  5. Leave the filter to dry completely.
  6. Replace according to manual instructions.
  7. Plug in and turn on your dehumidifier.

How To Clean A Hisense Dehumidifier Filter:

  1. Turn off and unplug your dehumidifier.
  2. Remove the bucket according to manual instructions.
  3. Pull the filter down and away from the machine.
  4. Vacuum the filter and inside thoroughly.
  5. Wash the filter in warm soapy water.
  6. Leave the filter to completely air dry.
  7. Replace the filter and bucket according to manual instructions.
  8. Plug in and turn on the dehumidifier.
Orange Cat Beside a Dehumidifier

How Often Should You Clean Your Dehumidifier?

You should clean a dehumidifier every 2-3 weeks.

Regularly cleaning the dehumidifier is essential to keep it running properly and the more you use it, the more frequently you should clean it.

I use my dehumidifier more in summer, so I clean the outside every week and clean the internal components every 2 weeks. In winter there’s less humidity so I only clean the inside every 3-4 weeks.

How much water should a dehumidifier collect in a day

Make sure you empty your dehumidifier tank daily alongside regular cleaning. If you leave the tank full it will stop the dehumidifier from being able to draw moisture from the air, allow bacteria, dust, and dirt to build up in the reservoir, and could even cause water damage.

TL;DR: While the tank must be emptied almost every day, the internal components must be cleaned every 2-3 weeks. They should be cleaned more frequently if the weather is extra humid such as in the summer.


FAQs

Are Vicks Dehumidifiers Easy To Clean?

Vicks dehumidifiers can be incredibly easy to clean. However, make sure that you have the right tools beforehand and follow the instructions closely to get the best clean possible for your machine.

How Often Do Dehumidifiers Need Maintenance?

You should clean a dehumidifier every 2-3 weeks and inspect the components for damage as you do so.

Empty the tank daily and keep up with the filter-changing schedule that your specific brand recommends.

What Is The Brown Stuff In My Dehumidifier?

The brown stuff in your dehumidifier is usually dirt and mold that have accumulated on the inside. This occurs because the moisture is pulled in from the air. Regular cleaning and maintenance will keep it out of your dehumidifier.

Final Words

Dehumidifiers are excellent appliances to have in your home which improve your quality of life.

The dehumidifiers in my home have been running flawlessly for over 5 years because I keep to a strict cleaning schedule.

This has not only allowed me to maintain the indoor humidity levels effectively but also saved me from having to spend money on repair work on replacements.

Hopefully, this guide will help you do the same and has given you all the information you need to get more long-term value from your appliance. 

References: 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3940030/
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Josh Mitchell

Founder

Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

My Favorite Home Appliance?

Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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