How to Clean a Dehumidifier: A Step-by-Step Guide

By: Evan Scoboria, Last updated: June 27, 2023

Regular dehumidifier maintenance ensures optimal performance, prolongs lifespan, and maintains a healthy indoor environment. One of the essential maintenance tasks is cleaning your dehumidifier, which helps prevent the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria. This article will provide a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to clean your dehumidifier, ensuring it runs efficiently and effectively.

Cleaning Supplies

Step 1: Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Before cleaning your dehumidifier, having all the necessary supplies is essential. This preparation will make the process easier and ensure you can clean all device parts effectively. Here are the items you will need:

  1. A soft brush or cloth: A soft brush or cloth is ideal for cleaning dust and debris off the coils, grille, and exterior of your dehumidifier. It's gentle enough not to damage these components while effectively removing dirt.
  2. A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment: The brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner is a powerful tool for cleaning your dehumidifier. It can reach into nooks and crannies and remove dust and debris that a cloth or brush might miss. It's particularly useful for cleaning the condenser coils, air intake, and output vents.
  3. Warm soapy water: A solution of warm water and mild dish soap is perfect for cleaning the water collection bucket and the exterior of your dehumidifier. It removes grime and residue effectively and is gentle on your dehumidifier's components.
  4. White vinegar: White vinegar is a natural disinfectant that can be used to clean the water collection bucket. It helps prevent mold and mildew growth, ensuring your dehumidifier functions effectively.
  5. A clean, dry towel: After cleaning your dehumidifier, you'll need a clean towel to dry off the components before reassembling the unit. This helps to prevent water stains and ensures the unit is completely dry before you plug it back in.

Collecting all these cleaning supplies beforehand ensures a smooth and effective cleaning process. It's always better to be prepared and have everything you need.

Step 2: Unplug and Disassemble Your Dehumidifier

Safety should always be your priority when cleaning any electrical appliance. Here are the steps to safely unplug and disassemble your dehumidifier:

  1. Unplug the Unit: Start by turning off and unplugging your dehumidifier from the electrical outlet. Doing so prevents any risk of electrical shock during the cleaning process.

  2. Remove the Water Collection Bucket: The water collection bucket is where the dehumidifier collects the moisture it pulls from the air. Carefully remove this component and empty the residual water into a sink or drain. Set the bucket aside for cleaning.

  3. Disassemble the Unit: Depending on your dehumidifier's model, you may need to remove additional parts to access and clean the internal components. This can include the air filter, grille, or cover. Consult your user manual to understand how to disassemble your dehumidifier properly. Handle these components gently to prevent any damage.

  4. Set Aside Safely: As you disassemble the dehumidifier, place the parts safely so they won't be accidentally damaged. This will also make it easier when you're ready to reassemble the unit after cleaning.

Remember to be gentle during this process to avoid damaging any parts of the dehumidifier. If you encounter a problematic component to remove, refer to your user manual for guidance, or consider contacting the manufacturer's customer service for assistance.

Step 3: Clean the Water Collection Bucket

The water collection bucket, also known as the reservoir, is a crucial component of the dehumidifier as it collects the moisture drawn from the air. Over time, it can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew if not cleaned regularly. Here's how to clean it:

  1. Empty the Bucket: Start by emptying any remaining water in the bucket. Doing this in a sink or outside is best to avoid accidental spills.

  2. Prepare Your Cleaning Solution: Fill a sink or large basin with warm water and mild detergent or dish soap. You can also add a small amount of white vinegar, a natural disinfectant, to help remove mildew or mold.

  3. Scrub the Bucket: Using a soft cloth or sponge, scrub the inside and outside of the bucket. Pay close attention to the corners and crevices where mold and mildew may hide.

  4. Rinse and Dry: Once thoroughly cleaned, rinse the bucket under warm water to remove any soap residue. After rinsing, use a towel to dry off the bucket or allow it to air dry completely before reassembling the unit. Leaving the bucket damp could encourage the growth of mold and mildew.

By maintaining a clean water collection bucket, you're not only ensuring that your dehumidifier works effectively, but you're also promoting a healthier indoor environment by preventing the growth and spread of mold and mildew.

Step 4: Clean the Air Filter

A dehumidifier's air filter helps trap dust, allergens, and other particles, ensuring that the air circulated back into your room is clean. Over time, this filter can become clogged, decreasing your dehumidifier's efficiency and causing it to overheat. Here's how to clean it:

  1. Remove the Filter: Carefully remove the air filter from the dehumidifier. It will vary depending on your model, so please refer to your user manual if necessary.

  2. Inspect the Filter: Look at the filter under a light to check for any visible dust or debris. It may need replacing rather than cleaning if it appears heavily soiled or damaged.

  3. Vacuum the Filter: Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to gently clean the filter. This should remove most of the dust and dirt. Be careful not to damage the filter in the process.

  4. Wash the Filter (if applicable): If your filter is washable (check your user manual to confirm), you can further clean it by running it under lukewarm water. Avoid harsh cleaning chemicals that could damage the filter or leave a residue. If the filter is filthy, you can use a mild detergent.

  5. Dry the Filter: Allow the filter to air dry completely before reinstalling it. Putting a damp filter back into the dehumidifier could cause mold and mildew to grow.

  6. Replace the Filter: Once the filter is clean and dry, put it back into the dehumidifier. Make sure it's properly seated and secure.

Cleaning the filter regularly will ensure that your dehumidifier continues to operate efficiently, and it can also help to improve your indoor air quality by removing potential allergens and dust.

Step 5: Clean the Grille and Coils

The grille and coils of your dehumidifier are crucial components that contribute to its ability to reduce humidity levels. The grille acts as a cover protecting the coils while the coils condense the moisture in the air. Over time, they can collect dust, reducing the unit's efficiency. Here's how you can clean them:

  1. Access the Grille and Coils: Depending on your dehumidifier model, you may need to remove additional components to gain access to the grille and coils. Always refer to your user manual to avoid damaging your unit.

  2. Vacuum the Grille: Start by using a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove the dust from the grille. Be gentle to avoid damaging the grille.

  3. Clean the Coils: Once the grille is clean, you can move on to the coils. Again, you can use the vacuum cleaner with the brush attachment to remove dust and debris from the coils. Be extremely careful; these coils contain delicate fins that can be easily bent or damaged.

  4. Brush off Stubborn Dirt: If there's stubborn dirt that the vacuum can't remove, you can use a soft bristle brush to scrub it off gently. Avoid using anything too abrasive, as it could damage the coils.

  5. Inspect the Coils: After cleaning, inspect the coils for any signs of damage, such as bent fins or dark spots that could indicate a refrigerant leak. If you notice anything unusual, contact a professional to review your dehumidifier.

Keeping the grille and coils clean ensures that your dehumidifier operates at maximum efficiency, thus keeping your home's humidity levels in check.

Step 6: Wipe Down the Exterior

While not directly involved in the dehumidifier, the exterior of your dehumidifier can collect dust and grime over time. Cleaning the exterior keeps your device looking new and prevents dust accumulation that could eventually affect the unit's efficiency. Here's how to go about it:

  1. Prepare Your Cleaning Solution: Mix mild dish soap with warm water in a bowl or bucket. You'll want to use enough soap to make the water sudsy but not so much that it leaves a residue.

  2. Dampen a Soft Cloth: Dip a soft, clean cloth into the soapy water and wring it out so it's damp but not dripping wet.

  3. Wipe Down the Exterior: Using the damp cloth, gently wipe the entire exterior of the dehumidifier. Inspect any vents, buttons, or openings where dust and dirt accumulate.

  4. Clean the Vents: If your dehumidifier has vents, you might find it helpful to use a cotton swab or a small, soft brush to remove dust from these areas. Be gentle to avoid causing any damage.

  5. Dry the Unit: After thoroughly cleaning the exterior, use a dry towel to wipe down the unit and remove any excess water or soap.

  6. Inspect for Damage: As you clean, it's an excellent opportunity to inspect the unit for any signs of wear or damage. If you notice any problems, refer to your owner's manual or contact the manufacturer for advice.

Remember to handle your dehumidifier gently during this process to avoid causing any damage. Regularly cleaning the exterior of your dehumidifier will help ensure it continues to work efficiently and effectively.

Step 7: Reassemble Your Dehumidifier

Once all dehumidifier components are clean and thoroughly dry, it's time to put everything back together. Reassembling your dehumidifier correctly is crucial to ensure its optimal performance and safety. Here's how to do it:

  1. Replace the Air Filter: Begin by replacing the air filter. Ensure it's completely dry before placing it back into its housing. If you're using a replaceable filter, insert a new one per the manufacturer's instructions.

  2. Attach the Grille or Cover: If your dehumidifier has a removable grille or cover, please attach it back into place. Make sure it fits securely and correctly.

  3. Reinstall the Water Collection Bucket: Carefully slide the bucket back into its position. Make sure it's correctly aligned and fits snugly. Most dehumidifiers have a safety feature that prevents the unit from operating if the bucket is not ideally placed.

  4. Check All Components: Double-check all the components before you plug in and start the dehumidifier. Ensure everything is correctly positioned and securely fastened.

  5. Plug In the Dehumidifier: Now, it's time to plug in the dehumidifier. However, before you turn it on, give it a few minutes. This will allow the refrigerant in the dehumidifier to settle if it has been moved or jostled during cleaning.

You ensure optimal functionality and extend lifespan by reassembling your dehumidifier correctly. Regular cleaning and maintenance will keep your dehumidifier running efficiently, creating a comfortable and healthy living environment.

Regular Maintenance

To keep your dehumidifier running efficiently, it's essential to clean it regularly. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning the air filter every 30 days and inspecting the coils and water collection bucket for mold and mildew growth. However, always refer to your dehumidifier's user manual for specific maintenance instructions and recommendations.


By following this step-by-step guide on how to clean your dehumidifier, you'll ensure it operates efficiently and effectively, prolonging its lifespan and maintaining a healthy indoor environment. Regular cleaning and maintenance will prevent mold, mildew, and bacteria growth and keep your home comfortable and humidity-free.