Tips for Choosing and Using a Dehumidifier

small dehumidifier on white background

Pick up the ins and outs of these machines to get a sense of which type would work best for your home.

What is a Dehumidifier?

Dehumidifiers are basically what they sound like—machines that reduce the level of humidity in the air. They can be used to minimize allergens, fight mold, and improve respiratory function. They're also helpful in reducing musty odors in cramped, humid spaces. Dehumidifiers can be small or large, depending on the volume of the area you'll be using them.

Their basic function mimics the mechanical operation of a vacuum cleaner. One end sucks the air in from the room, and the inner workings of the machine removes the moisture, depositing it in a collection tank inside the device. The air is then blown back out of the other end into the room again.

Tips for Choosing a Dehumidifier

dehumidifier control panel

Size and Capacity

The most important factor to consider is the size and capacity of the dehumidifier. First, calculate the size of the area your unit will be treating. If your dehumidifier just needs to dry a basement, it won’t need to be quite as large as it would need to be for an entire house. The tanks of the larger models can carry up to 75 pints of water, which is quite a bit. If you’re shopping for a device that will run continuously in an area with frequent humidity issues, you’ll want a larger model. If you're just looking for an intermittent application, you can go with something smaller.

Maintenance Requirements

Consider how much work you’re willing to put in. Models with smaller tanks will need to be emptied more frequently than those with a larger capacity. You can also consider whether you’re looking for a dehumidifier that can be hooked up to a hose in order to automatically drain water once it gets so full.

Energy Usage

You don’t want to buy a dehumidifier that’s going to cause your energy bills to skyrocket, so that’s something to consider. The more modern, portable dehumidifiers are designed to be energy efficient, so that is the upside. Stay tuned to the size you actually need for the space, as going larger than necessary will result in unnecessary energy usage.


Some dehumidifiers are noisier than others. Consider the room it will be in and how often you’ll be there, and whether a noisy machine will be an imposition. Test the model you’re looking at to get a sense of how noisy it is before committing.

Tips on Using a Dehumidifier

Use your dehumidifier wisely to get the most out of it.

woman opening dehumidifier tray

Choose the Right Spot

Choose a spot for your machine that allows enough room for air to freely flow into and out of it. Not allowing enough space—by placing it in a cramped corner, for example—will prohibit your dehumidifier from working to the best of its ability.

Close Windows and Doors

Keep windows and doors in the room closed when your dehumidifier is on in order for it to work as efficiently as possible.

Keep the Machine Clean

There’s a filter inside of every dehumidifier that cleans the air flowing through it. When this filter gets dirty, efficiency goes down the tubes. There's usually a light that will notify you when it's time to clean the filter on each machine. When that light is on, don’t delay on cleaning the filter. Wash and dry the filter according to the manual.

Empty the Tank Regularly

The tank of your dehumidifier will fill up over time with water from the air. An indication light will tell you when it’s time to empty the tank—do so promptly to ensure your dehumidifier works efficiently.

This water can be used for indoor or outdoor gardening or cleaning, but it should be considered grey water unless it's passed through a filter, which means it shouldn't be used for drinking, bathing, or washing cooking and eating items.