You came here because you are looking for ways to prevent mold. Or maybe you are dealing with high humidity due to the area you live in, a recent water leak, or possibly a flood caused by mother nature. Whatever the case, you want to know everything possible about dehumidifiers as well as which dehumidifiers are the best.
Feel free to use the table of contents to skip to my recommendations on the top 7 dehumidifiers that can be used pretty much anywhere in your home. But hopefully you stick around and check out this entire article because it is PACKED with all the information you will ever need about dehumidifiers.
Choosing the right dehumidifier is a bit of a fine art. It depends on the humidity in your area and how much moisture is released in your home. It’s generally a good idea to have one installed in the basement, bathroom or kitchen where humidity levels are higher.
There are dehumidifiers made for small rooms, but models that cover a whole house also exist. The smallest dehumidifiers absorb 30 pints per day and the largest, 90 pints per day. But we will get to how to choose the right size dehumidifier in just a bit. Let’s start with some basics shall we?
- What Is A Dehumidifier?
- Signs You Need A Dehumidifier
- How Does A Dehumidifier Prevent Mold?
- What Is The Best Dehumidifier Setting To Prevent Mold?
- Will A Dehumidifier Kill Mold?
- What Size Dehumidifier Do I Need and How Do I Choose One?
- What Are The Other Benefits Of A Dehumidifier?
- Are There Disadvantages Of Using A Dehumidifier?
- How Long Do Dehumidifiers Last?
- How To Prevent Mold In A Dehumidifier
- How To Clean A Dehumidifier
- How To Remove Mold From A Dehumidifier
- Maintaining Your Dehumidifier
- Top 7 Dehumidifiers
What Is A Dehumidifier?
A dehumidifier is a portable device (typically) which pulls moisture from the air, reducing the dampness inside a room.
There are two main types of portable dehumidifiers – a refrigerant dehumidifier and a desiccant dehumidifier.
Most home dehumidifiers use a refrigeration system to lower humidity levels and condense excess moisture from the air over a metal plate. Moisture is drawn into the dehumidifier through the force of an internal fan and compressor, then stored in its reservoir. The collected moisture will remain in the reservoir until you empty it unless the unit has been installed direct-to-drain.
If a refrigerant dehumidifier operates at low temperatures, the coils can freeze. However, some of these dehumidifiers are equipped with a defrost feature to prevent damage to the dehumidifier.
With a desiccant dehumidifier, air is pulled into the dehumidifier where it passes through an adsorbent material known as a desiccant. Then, the water is released into the reservoir and drained manually or through a hose. Unlike refrigerant dehumidifiers, desiccant humidifiers can run at lower temperatures without freezing.
Dehumidifiers can run the gamut from a very basic model to models with all kinds of extras. Most mid-high end dehumidifiers come with the following:
- Adjustable thermostat
- Automatic shut-off
- An auto reset button
- Electronic control pads
- Comfort options that self-regulate humidity based on room temperature
- A mode for defrost
- Water-level windows to monitor the bucket
- Direct-to-drain installation compatibility
- Handles for easy transport
Ideally, you will choose a dehumidifier that has a hygrometer that is built in. Not all models have this but it takes the guess work out of things.
Signs You Need A Dehumidifier
- You are suffering from constant allergy symptoms
- The air in your home feels sticky
- There are water stains on the walls or ceilings of your home
- There is high humidity in rooms with poor ventilation or no ventilation
- You have frequent condensation on the windows in certain areas of your home
- You can see actual mold growth
- There are musty smells or other odd odors (remember, mold can smell like anything)
- You have rotting wood in and around the outside of your home
How Does A Dehumidifier Prevent Mold?
Dehumidifiers are just one of the many ways to prevent mold. But honestly, they can prove to be one of the most important ones.
Mold needs moisture to grow and thrive. Some types of mold need more moisture than others, but a few types grow well without much moisture.
Dehumidifiers prevent mold by reducing the level of relative humidity in the home. Relative humidity is a measure of how much moisture, or water vapor, is in the air compared to how much water vapor the air could hold at the current temperature. Warm air can hold more water vapor than cool air.
The EPA recommends keeping indoor humidity between 30 and 60 percent. The toxicologist I worked with suggested that lower is even better especially in humid climates or during more humid times a year.
What Is The Best Dehumidifier Setting To Prevent Mold?
To make sure the dehumidifier is keeping the relative humidity at a healthy level, you should place a hygrometer in the same room to measure the percentage of moisture in the air. The only instance when this isn’t necessary is if you have a dehumidifier with a built-in humidistat, which not only measures the relative humidity but also controls it automatically.
If you do have a built-in humidistat, set it at the proper humidity level, usually around 30-35% RH. It’s extremely important that your unit’s humidistat is set to the proper humidity level. If you set the humidistat at a humidity level too low, the dehumidifier may run continuously. This wastes energy, resulting in higher electric bills and may have a detrimental impact on your air quality.
Most homes and businesses need some humidity to prevent drying-out damage to wood and paint as well as to control static electricity. Extreme dryness can also cause health issues.
Will A Dehumidifier Kill Mold?
Nope. Dehumidifiers do not have any magical powers that allow them to kill mold. They simply help prevent it.
What Size Dehumidifier Do I Need and How Do I Choose One?
Grab a cup of coffee… this takes a little math. 😉
The dehumidifier you choose is going to depend on the humidity levels in your home or room and the amount of moisture released inside that area.
A dehumidifier’s size is measured by its overall capacity to remove moisture. You need to consider the size of the space where you plan to use the dehumidifier. For instance, if you have a 30-pint dehumidifier, it’s going to be able to remove at least 30 pints of liquid daily. If you plan on moving it from room to room, you will want to do your calculations based on the largest room.
To determine what size dehumidifier you need, multiply the room’s length by its width. This will give you the square footage of the room. Now you can choose a dehumidifier that has the right capacity for the square footage you calculated.
Here is a super handy printable dehumidifier capacity chart to help you decide what size dehumidifier you need.
What Are The Other Benefits Of A Dehumidifier?
Aside from preventing mold, there are 6 benefits of using a dehumidifier in your home.
- Excess moisture can lead to the risk of structural damage. Failing to maintain a drier environment might lead to major problems such as buckling floorboards and rotting support beams.
- Dehumidifiers help reduce odors.
- Mold, dust, pet dander, as well as other allergens, can easily overtake your house if it has excessively high indoor humidity. Much like an air purifier, a dehumidifier can help reduce the indoor pollutants which can cause several allergy triggers like itchy eyes, stuffy nose, skin rashes, or sneezing.
- A less humid environment in your home means clothing will dry faster, breads and cereals will remain fresh longer without getting stale, and you won’t find signs of rust or corrosion on things like computer equipment, electronics, and tools.
- Running a dehumidifier helps reduce dust in your home.
- A dehumidifier lowers energy costs because it helps your air conditioner run more efficiently. When the air in your home is more humid, the A/C must do the function of cooling the air and removing moisture, which means it has to work harder.
Are There Disadvantages Of Using A Dehumidifier?
Yes, there are a few. Nothing HUGE and the benefits outweigh the negatives but they are still something to be aware of.
- Dehumidifiers can be warm and noisy.
- They can increase energy usage and drive your bill up. Make sure you choose a dehumidifier with the Energy Star seal of approval.
- There is lots of ongoing maintenance. Most dehumidifiers are not set it and forget it appliances.
How Long Do Dehumidifiers Last?
The expected life of your dehumidifier will depend on usage and maintenance. In general, they last about six to nine years if properly maintained.
How To Prevent Mold In A Dehumidifier
There are a few steps you can take to prevent mold in a dehumidifier. Because dehumidifiers can be the cause of mold growth and can actually spread mold spores throughout homes, you really want to do everything you can to prevent this from happening.
1. Don’t forget to empty the water collection basket when you are not using your dehumidifier. I know this seems silly to mention but let me share why this is #1.
People unplug dehumidifiers. Sometimes the noise gets to them or other times conditions seem dry and the dehumidifier isn’t necessary. But guess what? They often forget about the water collection basket. When you unplug the dehumidifier always empty the basket. Every single time even if you THINK you will plug it right back in. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mold. Don’t chance it.
2. Do NOT guess the humidity level in your home or room. Human perception should never govern dehumidifier settings. Use the built-in humidity gauge or purchase one like this one. An incorrect setting can actually lead to mold growth in the dehumidifier.
3. Clean your entire dehumidifier regularly. As in AT LEAST monthly. I have outlined how to properly clean your dehumidifier below.
4. Change or clean your dehumidifier’s air filter. Did you know your dehumidifier even had an air filter? A lot of people don’t. This filter is catching those airborne mold spores so it should not be neglected. An air filter with mold spores + water in the collection bucket = mold growth in the dehumidifier. So clean your filter weekly and change it according to the manufacturer’s directions.
5. Consider bypassing the water collection tank all together. Stagnant water anywhere is a bad idea. You’re much better off using a hose connected directly to the dehumidifier condensation coil and have it empty into a floor drain. If a floor drain is not available, you can elevate the unit and have it empty into a sink or tub.
How To Clean A Dehumidifier
Be sure to refer to your model’s user manual. While these instructions should work for most dehumidifiers, there might be a couple of tricky ones out there. 😉
It is important to note that it is not just the dehumidifier water bucket that needs to be cleaned and emptied. This is the part most people focus on but a dehumidifier is built up of a lot of parts, all of which should be cleaned regularly. This is because the moisture from the air will start to accumulate inside of them.
The exhaust grilles, filter and coils should be checked routinely to ensure that they are clean and working properly. Failure to do so may result in mold growing inside the dehumidifier.
A clean dehumidifier works more efficiently which means a lower electricity bill.
Here are the steps to clean a dehumidifier to prevent mold. There is a different process if you have mold in your dehumidifier which I outline below.
- Remove the water collection bucket from the unit and empty it if there is water in it.
- Rinse the water collection bucket out with mild soap (I use this one) and water.
- Wipe it with a soft, damp cloth and then spray it with this EC3 Mold Solution to kill any mold spores that might happen to have found their way in the water collection bucket. Allow to air dry.
- Remove the air filter and wash it with warm water and a mild soap. Allow it to dry completely and check for holes or damage.
- With the power disconnected, remove the outer cover to access the coils and fan blade.
- Using a small brush like this one, gently brush the dirt from the coils.
- Wipe the fan blades clean with a damp rag sprayed with the EC3 solution to remove dirt or any mold spores that are hiding. Allow to air dry.
- Check the inside cabinet area for any dirt and wipe it down as needed.
How To Remove Mold From A Dehumidifier
First and foremost I DO NOT recommend you continue to use a dehumidifier that has had mold growing in it. You are welcome to disagree but I cannot in good faith tell you to go ahead and clean it and reuse it. Mold is a tricky, sneaky, stealthy beast and I assure you, just because you *think* you removed it all doesn’t mean you really did.
Dehumidifiers are the perfect environment for mold to grow and the last thing you want is to invite mold into your home via your dehumidifier.
If you do decide to keep a dehumidifier that has had mold growth, the process to remove mold from a dehumidifier is a little more involved than the basic cleaning steps outlined above. You need to take some extra precautions.
What you will need
- Rubber Gloves
- Dust Mask
- Soft-Bristle Scrub Brush
- Bottle Brush
- EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate (you can learn why I recommend the EC3 product line in this post.)
Steps to Remove Mold From A Dehumidifier Water Collection Basket
- Put on the gloves to protect your hands from touching the mold directly. Also put on a dust mask to prevent yourself from inhaling the mold spores.
- Bring the dehumidifier outside.
- Remove the water from the collection basket of your dehumidifier.
- Empty the liquid from the dehumidifier water collection basket into a wastewater drain or another safe outdoor area. Immediately spray that area with the EC3 mold concentrate.
- Fill the water collection basket half full with clean water. Add 2 cups of vinegar for every gallon of water used.
- Stir the water around inside the water collection basket to loosen the mold and other debris.
- Use a soft-bristle scrub brush to clean away any visible mold inside the basket. A bottle brush can get into tight corners in the basket.
- Empty and rinse out the soap from the basket with clean water.
- Mix 1 cup of EC3 mold concentrate to every gallon of water and use it to fill the water collection basket and cover the areas affected by mold.
- Let the solution sit in the basket for 60 minutes to kill any remaining mold spores.
- Empty the water collection basket and rinse it with clean water. Make sure to rinse several times, ensuring it is rinsed thoroughly.
- Spray it again with the EC3 solution and allow it to air dry.
- Finally, place the empty water collection basket back into the dehumidifier and resume normal operation.
- Throw away any of the scrub brushes you used.
Steps to Remove Mold From A Dehumidifier Filter
You don’t. You order a replacement. Period. End of story. Do NOT try to salvage a moldy filter.
Steps to Remove Mold From Dehumidifier Coils and Fan Blades
- With the power disconnected, remove the outer cover to access the coils and fan blade.
- Spray the coils and the fan blades with the EC3 solution.
- Hold a damp towel under the coils. Using a small brush like this one, gently brush the mold from the coils.
- With a damp cloth, wipe the coils to remove any lingering debris.
- Wipe the fan blades clean with a damp rag sprayed with the EC3 solution to remove the mold. Allow to air dry.
- Spray everything again with the EC3 solution and allow to air dry.
- Throw away any of the scrub brushes and towels you used.
Steps to Remove Mold From The Inside Cabinet Of A Dehumidifier
Again, you don’t. There is no way to reach every nook and cranny. This is the time to replace your dehumidifier.
Maintaining Your Dehumidifier
The proper use of the dehumidifier and replacement of older parts can keep it running smoothly for 6-9 years in most cases. Here are the 6 steps to properly maintain your dehumidifier.
- Proper placement is key! Your dehumidifier should not be placed closer than 6 inches to any wall so that the air intake and exhaust are not blocked.
- Proper room temperature. The temperature of the room or area being dehumidified should be at least 65° so that it does not freeze up or burn up the motor. The only exception would be if the dehumidifier is specifically designed for lower temperatures.
- Adjust the humidistat to the ideal humidity setting. As I mentioned before, the humidistat is the device that controls the humidity level in the room. The ideal humidity is typically between 40-50% for optimal comfort and efficiency but in really humid climates or water prone rooms (like a basement or bathroom), 30-35% is better.
- You must protect the compressor. When a dehumidifier is turned off and then back on too quickly, the compressor may overheat. Wait at least 15 minutes after it is turned off to allow pressure in the system to be equalized.
- Replace your filters! The dehumidifier’s air filter is designed to clear dust and allergens from the air to protect the appliance’s insides as well as to improve quality of the air in the room. The owner’s manual of your dehumidifier will tell you how frequently to replace the air filter in order to ensure the appliance’s best performance. Make sure you set a reminder to do this!
- Clean it monthly as outlined above.
Top 7 Dehumidifiers
There are a LOT of dehumidifiers available. Since a lot of people prefer portable models that can move from room to room I thought I would share the top 7 dehumidifiers that can be used anywhere.
#7 Danby 70-Pint Dehumidifier
The Danby DDR070BDWDB is one of the most energy efficient dehumidifiers on the market. The dehumidifier is rated for 4500 square feet, making it perfect for your unfinished basement or attic spaces.
Danby offers a generous two-year warranty, which covers both parts and labor. However, you don’t get special coverage for the sealed system beyond the basic parts warranty.
Pros of the Danby 70-Pint Dehumidifier
- Control panel on top of the unit
- Easy to move around with some of the best castor wheels of all dehumidifiers
- Automatic defrost
- 24 hour timer
- 2 fan speeds
- Full water tank indicator light
- Direct drain feature allows you to hook up your standard garden hose to the dehumidifier and guide the moisture to your nearest drain
- Very low decibel level making it super quiet
Cons of the Danby 70-Pint Dehumidifier
- You shouldn’t use this dehumidifier in temperatures going below 41 degrees F.
- If you put it in a crawl space that has a dirt floor, make sure you keep the unit level. It does not work well if it isn’t level.
- It doesn’t have a drain pump
- Need to empty the water tank more frequently
#6 Keystone KSTAD50B Dehumidifier
The Keystone Dehumidifier is a great choice for any home. It is efficient with many smart features.
The Keystone is a compressor-style dehumidifier with a 50 pints per day system. It is ideal for a medium-sized 3,000 square foot space and 41 to 98° Fahrenheit temperatures. This is one of the best dehumidifiers for the basement.
If you like smart features, the Keystone Dehumidifier has it all including an auto-defrost light, a filter button, and a continuous drain button, a transparent water level indicator and full bucket light that has an automatic shut off system.
Keystone offers 1-year parts and labor warranty and a limited 5-years sealed system warranty on the dehumidifier.
Pros of the Keystone Dehumidifier
- Good value for money
- Large 50-pint capacity
- Effective moisture removal
- Energy Star certified
- Simple electronic LED control panel and display
- Two fan settings that you can switch from normal 165 CFM to turbo 188 CFM
- Automatic defrost light
- 24-hour timer
- Up and down buttons to control humidity levels
- Continuous drain button
- Easy to read transparent water level indicator
- Full bucket alert with automatic shut-off
- A clean-filter alert light illuminates when it is time to change the washable dust filter
- If there is a power outage, the auto-restart function saves your settings
- Have the option to use the continuous draining mode button by attaching a standard garden hose
- Low noise 55 dBA rating
- Four durable and smooth running casters
- Extra long 7.22-foot power cord
Cons of The Keystone Dehumidifier
- Continuous drain hose is not included
- Gravity drainage hose requires an adapter with screws
- Reinstalling the water tank can be tricky
- Hard to read instruction manual
- Can be loud if you use it in a smaller room
#5 AlorAir Dehumdifier
The AlorAir dehumidifier quickly and efficiently reduces and controls humidity levels by removing up to 55 pints of water per day.
You can use it for space up to 1,300 square foot. This makes the AlorAir dehumidifier ideal for places like a crawl space, basement, or storage space, as well as an apartment or large room.
The dehumidifier is covered by a 1-year part and labor warranty, and a 5-year warranty on the compressor, evaporator, and condenser.
AlorAir also offers the dehumidifier in a 90-pint size that comes with or without a pump.
Pros of the AlorAir Dehumidifier
- Automatic humidistat control
- Easy to use
- Continuous 24-hour cycle
- No water tank – uses a drainage pipe
- Automatic shut-off
- Automatic drain system
- Available with a remote control
- Allows for space-saving ducting options
- Has an effective and energy-efficient Hot Gas Valve Defrosting System (HGV) and an environmental R410A refrigerant
- Energy Star certified dehumidifier
- Offers great versatility for spaces that experience cool or hot temperatures from 33.8 to 104° Fahrenheit
- Has a wide humidity range from 35~95%
- Epoxy-coated coils which protect the unit against corrosive environments.
- Pretty quiet with a good 52 dBA sound rating
- A washable large-particle G3 filter provides maximum moisture removal and odor reduction and it is very easy to clean
- Two 130 CFM or 230 CMH fan settings.
- Uses a remove control
Cons of the AlorAir Dehumidifier
- The remote control needs to be purchased separately
- No drainage hose
- Uses a lot of electricity
#4 Eva-Dry Dehumidifier
The Eva-Dry is one of the best dehumidifiers for bathrooms, RVs, and other small spaces. It is only listed here as #4 because of it’s small size. This is the model I used in my condo and it worked extremely well.
Pros of the Eva-Dry Dehumidifier
- Very affordable
- High quality product for a great price
- Extremely easy to use
- Durable and long lasting exterior
- Removes moisture from the air quickly
- Features an auto shut-off mechanism
- Water tank indicator light
- It’s silent and uses little power
- Small enough to fit on a table or workbench
- Ideal for small campers up to 1,100 cu. ft large
- Thousands of 5 star reviews
Cons of the Eva-Dry Dehumidifier
- Only ideal for really small spaces
- Needs to be drained frequently in high humidity.
- It lacks a continuous drain option
- Can get gunky inside the water tank. Needs to be cleaned often.
#3 Pro Breeze Electric Air Dehumidifier
This is the top rated small dehumidifier on Amazon and other websites. It is very similar to the Eva-Dry dehumidifier. The only reason is ranks higher is because of it’s water tank capacity.
Pros of the Pro Breeze Dehumidifier
- This ultra-quiet unit is based on Peltier Whisper Technology
- Runs for a long time without overheating
- Auto shutoff when tank is full
- LED indicator light for alerting you when the tank is full
- Holds up to 52 oz. of water. This is incredible due to the small size of the device.
- Durable and long lasting exterior
Cons of the Pro Breeze Dehumidifier
- No other controls besides the on and off switch so you have to monitor humidity levels in the room, tank capacity, etc…
- More expensive than other small dehumidifiers
#2 hOmeLabs 30, 50, or 70 pint Dehumidifier
No matter what size dehumidifier you need, hOmeLabs most likely has you covered. Their 30, 50, and 70 pint dehumidifiers are all basically the same so we will look at them together.
The hOmeLabs dehumidifiers all have a powerful compressor which effectively removes 30 – 70 pints of moisture per day from medium to large sized rooms that measure from 1,500 to 4,000 square feet. You can use it in the living room, basement, garage or storage shed. Highly versatile, the dehumidifier has a very good 35% to 85% custom humidity range and is designed to reduce humidity in 41 to 95° Fahrenheit temperatures.
hOmeLabs offers a 2 year warranty.
Pros of the hOmeLabs Dehumidifier
- Highly effective and efficient device
- Quieter than most other humidifiers
- User friendly design with great built in handles
- Easy to move around
- Easy to use electronic display
- Has an auto restart, an auto shutoff and an auto defrost function
- A level indicator that will help you manage the water tank without a problem
- The water tank is very easy to operate
- Very affordable price
- Fast and effective at reducing moisture, allergens, and odors
- Energy Star certified
- Easy to use electronic control panel
- Accurate humidity levels are displayed on the digital display
- 24-hour timer
- Automatic re-start and shut-off
- Change filter alert light
- Continuous drain button
- Gravity-fed drain hose outlet for continuous draining
- Washable filter
- Very good customer service
Cons of the hOmeLabs Dehumidifier
- Drain hose is not included
- Compressor buzzing noise makes it a bit loud in smaller spaces
- Plastic components are not very durable
- The water tank can get quite heavy when filled with water
- Doesn’t have a built-in pump
- Relies on a gravity drain
- It’s a little heavy
#1 Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 Dehumidifier – The Best All Around Dehumidifier
Frigidaire has historically been one of the best dehumidifier brands with consistently strong sales and product reviews. They truly make some of the best dehumidifiers you will come across.
The Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 dehumidifier is available in three different capacities, of 30, 50, and 70 pints. This means that it can over just about any room and closed spaces that are sized between 300 and 4,500 square feet, providing buyers with a lot of options, regardless of how big the space that need dehumidifying is. It is the top pick for the best basement dehumidifier as well as the best whole house dehumidifier.
Frigidaire offers a 1-year parts and labor warranty and a 5-year limited sealed system warranty
Pros Of The Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 Dehumidifier
- Removable water bucket with a splash guard which makes it easier to pour carefully
- An adjustable percent humidity range that goes from 30% to 90% of relative humidity
- Built in humidistat.
- Auto shutoff function that stops the dehumidifier when the water container is full
- An auto reset function in case of a power outage
- Auto defrost function to protect against ice build-up on the inside
- 24 hour on/off timer
- While this model has a gravity-fed hose outlet that will work great with a floor drain, the version of this model that has a built-in pump would be our pick for catching the water in a toilet tank.
- Two additional drainage options – manual or continuous drain
- Drain hose is included
- This is the only dehumidifier to include a middle-speed option between low and turbo, which might be the best compromise between noise and performance.
- Whisper quiet operation
- Very well built
- Low-temperature optimized
- Handles for easy carrying
- Audio alert on full tank
- Energy-star certified
- 20% more energy-efficient than similar models
- Filter change light
- Highly effective antibacterial washable filter
- Easy slide-out bottom access for the filter
- SpaceWise compact design
- Long 6-foot power cord
Cons of the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 Dehumidifier
- Cannot be used with an extension cord
- Automatic shutoff can be a little temperamental
- The unit can vibrate when the tank is full
Click Here To Read Reviews and Get Current Pricing On The Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 Dehumidifier