How to Use a Dehumidifier Effectively

Using a dehumidifier effectively is important in ensuring it gives you the best results. After buying your dehumidifier you might feel anxious when setting it up, especially if you have not used a similar model before or have never used a dehumidifier.

To ensure that you use your dehumidifier properly it is important to understand factors such as moisture levels, the role of a humidistat, temperature differences and their effect on the functionality of a dehumidifier, among other issues that determine the humidity levels in your home.

Aside from that, you should understand the settings of your dehumidifier and how they work to remove humidity from your home.

Different dehumidifiers use varying approaches to regulate humidity levels. This article will give you insights that will help you understand how to use a dehumidifier in your home.

In this post we will address the following:

How to Use a Dehumidifier Effectively

To use a dehumidifier effectively you need to understand the purpose of a dehumidifier, its settings, maintenance, and other important factors such as the placement of the dehumidifier in your home.

While this article provides overall guidelines on how to use a dehumidifier effectively, it is important to read the manufacturer’s instructions that come with your dehumidifier because they are usually based on the specific model of dehumidifier that you are using. Check out the list below for more insights.

17 Things You Need to Know to Use a Dehumidifier Effectively

1. Functionality

Assess the functionality of your dehumidifier to understand exactly how it works. Generally, most dehumidifiers work by sucking moisture from the air and then condensing the moisture to form water within the device.

Some dehumidifiers use crystallized silica gel technology while others use different approaches to remove water from the air.

Those that use silica gel technology require recharging to dry the silica gels and promote their ability to reabsorb more water from the environment.

Most dehumidifiers that require continuous charging or electricity flow while operating use different mechanisms to draw out the water from your environment.

2. Emptying Your Water Tank

The water droplets condensed are stored in an in-built water tank. It is important to know that different dehumidifiers have varying water tank capacities. You should check the capacity of your water tank and assess how many hours or days the dehumidifier takes to fill the water tank.

Understanding the number of hours that your dehumidifier takes to fill the tank will help you determine how often you need to empty the tank. It will also help you avoid over-flowing accidents that could affect the functionality of your dehumidifier.

3. Low-Temperature Settings

Some dehumidifiers do not work well in low temperatures. You should check your dehumidifier’s manual to determine whether it can work effectively in low temperatures. This will help you determine whether you should use your dehumidifier during colder temperatures.

If you operate your dehumidifier in low temperatures, you might notice ice build-up on the condenser coils, which could affect the effectiveness of your dehumidifier.

Although most dehumidifiers have a low-temperature setting, it is important to check your dehumidifier to determine if it can work in low temperatures.

Dehumidifiers that have an auto-defrost setting can be used in rooms or areas that are below 65 degrees as the defrosting feature ensure that the condenser coils get defrosted intermittently.

If your dehumidifier cannot operate below certain temperatures, the compressor will shut down automatically if you attempt to use it during cold seasons. Such dehumidifiers can malfunction. To avoid these issues, ensure that you run your dehumidifier at the right temperatures.

4. Placement

To ensure that you use your dehumidifier effectively you should consider where you are placing your dehumidifier in relation to the size of your room or space.

Proper placement will ensure that you get the most out of your dehumidifier. An important rule to remember is that you should place your dehumidifier in an open space.

That essentially means that you should avoid placing your dehumidifier next to furniture or walls because the proximity to these things could affect the effectiveness of your dehumidifier because of poor air circulation.

If you want to place your dehumidifier near furniture or a wall, ensure that you place the dehumidifier on a raised platform or surface to promote air circulation.

If you have a small dehumidifier and you are wondering where to place it, you should assess the rooms in your home that generate the most moisture. In most cases, your kitchen, basement, and your bathroom will have the highest level of moisture.

You could place your dehumidifier in your basement, kitchen, or bathroom for several hours a day, buy a larger dehumidifier to cater to your entire home or buy two dehumidifiers to ensure that the relative humidity in these rooms remains within the recommended levels.

In terms of placement, you should also consider placing your dehumidifier towards the center of your room to promote effective air circulation around the unit.

Always remember that the more air you have circulating in your dehumidifier the more effective your dehumidifier will be in eliminating moisture from the room.

5. Connecting the Dehumidifier Pipes Well

Some dehumidifiers, especially those meant for large homes or spaces come with draining pipes. When setting up your dehumidifier, you should ensure that you connect the dehumidifier pipes well to promote effective water flow and reduce the risks of reverse flows.

Connecting the dehumidifier pipes well will also ensure that the hose pipe will not fall off or leak all over your home. You should also ensure that the hose has been placed directly on the floor underneath the machine for proper drainage.

6. Setting

Understanding the setting of your dehumidifier is also important. Most basic dehumidifiers have an on and off button, which you could easily figure out. The challenge could be understanding the different speed levels for eliminating moisture from your home.

Generally, if your home has a lot of humidity, you could set your dehumidifier at a higher speed level to ensure that it removes a lot of humidity from your home within a few hours then reduce the speed or turn off the dehumidifier after a certain percentage of the humidity has been sucked from the atmosphere. This will ensure that you get faster results.

If you plan to leave your dehumidifier running while you perform other errands outside your home, you could run your dehumidifier at a slower speed.

7. Humidistat and Hygrometers

A humidistat will help you determine the level of humidity in your home. Learning how to read your humidistat is important. If your dehumidifier does not have a humidistat, you can invest in a hygrometer that will help you monitor the humidity levels in your home.

Generally, the recommended relative humidity for your home should be between 30 and 50%. Anything above these levels is likely to contribute to the growth of mold and be a breeding place for bacteria.

If it is your first time using your dehumidifier, we recommend checking your humidistat before you start running your dehumidifier to determine the level of humidity in your home.

This will help you determine how long you should run your dehumidifier. A humidistat will ensure that you do not remove excess humidity from your home.

Excessively dry air can be harmful to your skin and respiratory health especially if you have any pre-existing health issues. Longer operation hours could also damage your dehumidifier over time by reducing its lifespan and skyrocketing your electricity bills.

You should also know that if the humidity levels are higher than the recommended levels, you would be placing yourself and your family at risk of allergies and other diseases caused by mildew and mold.

8. Consider Buying a Hygrometer

If your dehumidifier does not have an in-built humidistat, we recommend buying a hygrometer. A hygrometer will help you measure the level of humidity in your home. You could hang the hygrometer in the same room as the dehumidifier to assess the changing levels of relative humidity throughout the day.

Having a hygrometer will also help you to determine what time you should run your dehumidifier because of its ability to monitor the humidity levels in the room.

After you have been using your dehumidifier for a few hours, you will notice a reduction in humidity levels, which will show you that your dehumidifier is working.

If you want to know exactly how long it takes for the dehumidifier to work note down the time you turned the dehumidifier on and the time you noticed a change in the humidity levels in your room.

Generally, a moderately humid room will have a relative humidity of 50 to 60%, a very damp room will have a relative humidity level of 60 to 70%, a wet room will most likely have an RH level of 70 to 85%, and an extremely wet or flooded room will have a humidity level of 85 to 100%.

Understanding the correlation between the size of the room and the humidity level is also important in determining how long you will need to run your dehumidifier for effective performance.

9. Size of Your Room

If you want your dehumidifier to operate effectively, you should ensure that you match your dehumidifier with the exact size of your room. It is nearly impossible for a mini dehumidifier to effectively remove humidity from a large room.

Similarly, using an industry-grade dehumidifier in your home would not make any sense unless you live in a castle or a large mansion that cannot benefit from the dehumidification properties of a normal household dehumidifier.

Ensure you check the cubic meter limits of your dehumidifier to determine whether it would be suitable for your room or home.

For instance, if a dehumidifier should be used in a 450 square feet room, using it in a room that is thrice as large would mean that the dehumidifier would either need more time to remove the humidity in the room or would your would need to be set the dehumidifier at a higher speed to ensure that it effectively eliminates humidity from the room.

If you live in a small house or plan to use the dehumidifier in a small-sized space like your bathroom or bedroom, you can opt for a dehumidifier that collects less than 15 liters of water in 24 hours and can cover about 2000 square feet.

For mid-range spaces like basements, you should consider dehumidifiers that collect about 20 liters or more per day especially if your basement is very damp.

On the other hand, if you plan to use the dehumidifier in a large space, you should consider a dehumidifier that collects between 25 to 35 liters of water per day. These dehumidifiers will also have larger tanks that will ensure that you do not have to keep emptying your dehumidifier after every few hours.

10. Pre-Existing Conditions of the Space

Assessing the pre-existing nature of the space that you wish to dehumidify will help you determine how long you should run your dehumidifier for maximum results.

For instance, if the pre-existing relative humidity of the room were 70% then you might have to run your dehumidifier for a longer period compared to a case where the pre-existing relative humidity of the room was 55%. Always ensure that you assess the pre-existing condition of the room before dehumidifying it.

11. Cleaning the Reservoir

Cleaning your dehumidifier’s water reservoir is important in promoting its functionality. Even if you occasionally employ the water tank, leaving it for prolonged periods without cleaning it could contribute to the accumulation of dirt, bacteria, mold, and other micro-organisms that have been drawn from the air.

To ensure that you avoid dealing with these buildup problems, it is important to clean your water tank regularly with soap and water or other mild cleaning detergents. If you notice any buildup, scrub it off and rinse the water reservoir well.

You should also consider disinfecting the water reservoir especially if a member of the family is sick. Taking these measures will reduce the risks of airborne disease transmission in your home.

You should also clean the out part of the dehumidifier regularly. You can achieve this by using a damp clean cloth to wipe any dirt or dust that might have accumulated on the outer part of your dehumidifier.

Doing this will ensure that your dehumidifier operates well and will prolong the lifespan of your device.

12. Cleaning the Removable Filter

The removable filter on your dehumidifier should be cleaned at least once a month. The removable filter is responsible for trapping dust particles, mold, and other tiny substances in the air. You could clean the filter gently with a small brush to loosen the dirt and dust before returning it to the dehumidifier.

If you are planning to do a more in-depth cleaning routine, clean the ventilation grill or coil with a piece of cloth to ensure that you remove any debris that might affect airflow.

It is important to note that these cleaning procedures should be performed when the dehumidifier has been unplugged from the socket.

13. Timing

Use your dehumidifier at the right time. Aside from summer, when the humidity levels are generally high, you do not need to run your dehumidifier continuously during colder temperatures.

Check the relative humidity in your home to determine whether or not you should run your dehumidifier. If your humidity levels are above 55%, you could run your dehumidifier for a few hours until you attain the recommended relative humidity levels.

If you were showering with hot water, the humidity levels in your bathroom are likely to be higher than in other rooms. Similarly, if you were cooking up a feast, the humidity levels in your kitchen are likely to skyrocket.

Understanding the factors that determine the humidity levels in your home will help you understand what time or when you need to run your dehumidifier. Other factors that could also increase the humidity in your home include drying your clothes indoors or leaving your doors and windows open.

14. Timer

A dehumidifier timer can be a useful tool in helping you use your dehumidifier effectively. A timer will help you set the exact number of hours that you want to run your dehumidifier.

For instance, if it is the first time using your dehumidifier, you could set it to anywhere between four to twelve hours depending on the level of humidity in the room or space.

If you are using the dehumidifier in your basement, it is recommended to run your dehumidifier for 10 to 12 hours for effective moisture removal. Afterwards, you could set your dehumidifier for shorter durations to ensure that you keep away mold and moisture.

15. Heater

If you have a heater in your home, it could help in eliminating the excess humidity in the home. Having a heater will also mean that you do not need to use your dehumidifier for long hours.

Unless you have switched off the heater, the run time for your dehumidifier will be relatively short if you are using both a dehumidifier and a heater in your home.

16. Automatic Shut-off Button

An automatic off switch will also help you automate your dehumidifier’s functionality. If you plan to run your dehumidifier for ten hours and you will not be in your home after the end of the ten-hour period, you could use the automatic off switch to ensure that your dehumidifier will not continue running after clocking ten hours.

In most dehumidifiers, an automatic shut-off switch also turns off the dehumidifier after the water tank is filled with water. This eliminates the risks of water overflow. Check if your dehumidifier has this feature.

17. Keep your Windows Closed

Your dehumidifier functions by removing moisture from your surroundings. Keeping your windows and doors open could contribute to increased humidity levels within your home because of the continuous inflow and outflow of air. If you keep your windows and doors closed, the dehumidifier will only focus on removing the moisture inside the room.

You should also note that keeping your windows and doors open especially when it is windy and humid would mean that your dehumidifier would have to work extra hard to attain the recommended relative humidity.

Is It Better to Run Dehumidifier on High or Low?

High Setting

You can run your dehumidifier on a high or low setting depending on the condition of your room or home. The settings on your humidifier are meant to offer you the flexibility that you need to run your dehumidifier at different speed rates based on the humidity levels in a room.

For instance, if the humidity level in your home is extremely high, such as in the case of a flood or an overflown bath that might have left the bathroom wet, you should run the dehumidifier on the highest setting to help your room or home dry faster.

Similarly, if you want to dry your laundry, you can run the dehumidifier on the highest setting or on the laundry mode, if your dehumidifier has a specified setting for drying laundry indoors.

In such cases, you would want the dehumidifier to eliminate as much excess moisture from the air as possible and within the shortest time possible.

Low Setting

The low setting on your dehumidifier is suitable for daily use. If you simply want to eliminate excess humidity in your home without worrying about removing too much humidity from the room, you should use the low dehumidifier setting.

This setting is also a great option for cases where the humidity, in the room or space that you wish to dehumidifier, is only slightly higher than the recommended humidity levels.

Additionally, you can also use this setting if you plan to leave your dehumidifier running throughout the day. The dehumidifier will eliminate excess humidity from the room at a slower rate than it would if you use the high dehumidification setting.

Should A Dehumidifier Run Constantly?

If you are using a whole-house humidifier, you can let it run constantly as long as the humidity in your home is above the recommended levels. The whole-house humidifier will be effective in reducing the overall humidity levels in all the rooms in your home.

If you are using a portable dehumidifier, running the dehumidifier constantly will mean that you will either need to empty the water tank of the dehumidifier constantly or you will need to rely on manual drainage.

If the dehumidifier has a hose pipe, you can run the dehumidifier constantly without worrying about water spills when the water tank is full.

Regardless of which type of humidifier you are using, you should ensure that you check the humidity level in the room at least once a day to determine whether or not you should turn off your dehumidifier.

Remember that running your dehumidifier even when the humidity level in your home is below the recommended level could over-dry the air in your home.

When Should You Not Use A Dehumidifier?

Low to Normal Humidity Levels: If the humidity level in your home is between low and normal levels, you should not use a dehumidifier as it will only remove more humidity in your home or room.

Low Humidity Season: During seasons characterized by low humidity, you should avoid using a dehumidifier as the humidity in your home might not be high. If you wish to use a dehumidifier, ensure that you check the humidity levels first before switching on your dehumidifier.

Dry Indoor Air: extremely low humidity levels in a home can make the air dry. Dry air can increase your risk of respiratory illnesses and damage your electronics. To avoid these issues, you should not use your dehumidifier if your home has extremely low humidity levels.


This article provides a brief describes how to use a dehumidifier effectively. Understanding the factors that affect the functionality of your dehumidifier will help you use your dehumidifier properly.

Ensure that you read your manual to learn the different settings on your dehumidifier and their purposes and that you learn how to clean your dehumidifier.

If you are unsure about how to use a dehumidifier effectively or have any questions regarding the use of a dehumidifier, please post them below.

Meet the Author

The author is a blogger, interior design and home improvement enthusiast, and researcher, with a passion for helping people improve their homes by creating a calming and beautiful environment. Check out the about author page to learn more about her work