How to Clean Your Dehumidifier – The New York Times

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Good news: Cleaning a dehumidifier is much easier and less urgent than cleaning a humidifier.
Humidifiers add moisture to the air, and if you don’t keep them squeaky-clean, they can fill your air with pathogens at the same time. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air, and they pose little risk of spreading bugs. Keeping them clean is mostly about maintaining their performance.
Depending on your model:
Ten minutes, tops.
Turn off your machine and unplug it. Wipe down the outer surfaces with a soft cloth, paying special attention to the air-intake grille, where dust and lint can build up and impede the airflow into the machine. You can also use a vacuum to clean the grille.
Then it’s time to remove the filter, which sits behind the intake grille. You may need to unclip the grille panel to get to it, or pull out the reservoir and slide the filter down and out. Vacuum the filter clean, or rinse it under running water (if you go that route, let the filter dry before reinstalling).
Remove the bucket and empty it, and then unclip the splash guard that functions as the tank’s lid. Use a soft cloth or non-abrasive sponge and a little dish soap and warm water to clean the bucket. Rinse it thoroughly, reinstall the lid, and put the bucket back into the machine.
This step is necessary only if you manually drain your machine or use the pump to do so, because in both cases the bucket is constantly wet, meaning it can harbor a bit of mold or bacterial growth. If you’ve been passively draining your machine with a hose, you don’t need to clean the reservoir bucket.
If you’ve been using the pump, you’ll need to remove its filter at the same time that you clean the bucket (it will be mounted to one wall of the bucket, possibly by a couple of screws). Give the filter a rinse under the faucet, and reinstall it after you’ve cleaned the bucket.
If you’re using our top pick from Frigidaire, see page 10 of the manual for a helpful diagram. Something similar will be found in any pump-equipped model, no matter the manufacturer. Frigidaire also has a short video that walks you through its recommended cleaning process, and this, too, will be similar for any brand.
If you’re putting your dehumidifier away for the year, follow the above steps, and let the bucket dry completely before putting the machine into storage.
And that’s really all you need to do. Keeping your machine clean this way will help it to continue running efficiently and prolong its lifespan. Though we’re impressed by YouTuber Live Free’s ambitious method for deep-cleaning dehumidifier condenser coils, it involves taking the machine apart and giving the coils a bath, and this surely voids the warranty. And we recommend Handy Hudsonite’s “just rinse the whole damn thing with a garden hose” technique for entertainment purposes only.
This article was edited by Connor Grossman and Alejandra Matos.
Tim Heffernan
Tim Heffernan is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter and a former writer-editor for The Atlantic, Esquire, and others. He has anchored our unequaled coverage of air purifiers and water filters since 2015. In 2018, he established Wirecutter’s ongoing collaboration with The New York Times’s Smarter Living. When he’s not here, he’s on his bike.
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