If you are living in a warm environment, you may find that humidity can pose as a real and daily threat to your health, or, at the very least, bring you discomfort.
With humidity, your home is prone to allergens such as dust and mold, both of which can cause risks like skin irritation or respiratory illnesses. Humidity can even damage furnishings like wallpaper and floorboards, and can leave behind odor.
A quick and simple solution to reducing humidity levels in your home is to purchase a dehumidifier. As an added bonus, most, if not all, of these devices are not only able to keep your home at a regular humidity level, but they do so without any disruption or change to your daily routine.
While people can feel the most comfortable between the humidity levels of 20% and 60%, a majority of health problems will be prevented if the levels were below 50% (3). If not under these conditions, your home could develop mold on numerous surfaces and areas, making it difficult to clean and easy to become ill. Dehumidifiers can eliminate this threat and many others.
1. Dehumidifiers Keep Your Home Inhospitable for Allergens
Allergens can include dust mites, mold, and mildew, all of which will not be able to survive in a dry environment (1). In fact, anything above a 50% humidity level is an ideal environment for these allergens to thrive in (14).
Dehumidifiers can keep your home between a 45 to 50% range, which will keep allergens from growing and spreading.
In addition to using a dehumidifier, you should also wash your bedding in hot water and vacuum your mattress and upholstery to eliminate the most of dust mites and other allergens.
It is recommended that you focus more on your crawl space than you usually do when ridding your home of allergens.
The crawl space can have a higher humidity than the rest of the rooms in your house, which poses it as a hot spot for mold spores and dust mites. It may be irritating to thoroughly clean your crawl space, so it is best to get a dehumidifier that will purify the air and keep this area clean and clear of allergens.
Bottom Line: Dehumidifiers keep your home between the humidity levels of 45 to 50%, which are inhospitable for mold and dust mites, both of which are allergens. If your reason in having a best dehumidifier is to reduce allergens in your home, put one in your crawl space, which tends to produce the most mold and dust.
2. Dehumidifiers Prevent Asthma Attacks
It has been proven that people who have been troubled with asthma as a child were exposed to mold during the time of their childhood (11). This exposure resulted in respiratory problems in their teenage or adult years and triggers asthma attacks later on.
Asthma attacks can also be triggered by dust mites, central heating, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in carpets and furniture, cleaning products, and residue from house remodeling and repairs (13).
Dehumidifiers are beneficial in preventing asthma attacks because they do eliminate common asthma triggers such as mold, dust mites, VOCs, and residue from house remodeling. However, even the best dehumidifier is more effective in eliminating these triggers when used alongside air purifiers, humidifiers, or a ventilation system.
Bottom Line: Mold, dust mites, volatile organic compounds, and the remains of construction or remodeling projects can all trigger asthma attacks, but they can also be eliminated by dehumidifiers so long as they work alongside air purifiers, humidifiers, or some sort of ventilation system.
3. Dehumidifiers Remove Dampness from the Air in Your Home
There may be times when you are in your home and, though the windows are not open and the air conditioning is not on, you suddenly feel cold. The reason why it may feel so cold in your home is because the air within it is damp (10).
When the air inside your home is damp, everything inside it will become damp as well, and they will receive the consequences that come with dampness such as mold and rust development. This should not be underestimated because damp or moist air can affect anything, from books to ceiling fans. Everything can react to high humidity levels.
Dehumidifiers can remove the dampness from the air and keep your home appropriately dry, which will keep all of the objects within it safe.
Bottom Line: As dehumidifiers remove the dampness or moisture from the air within your home, you will not feel so cold inside of it, which would make your living space more comfortable. Dehumidifiers can also keep all objects inside your home dry, which will prevent them from damage due to humidity.
4. Dehumidifiers Minimize Condensation
One of the leading causes of mold is condensation on windows, walls, and other surfaces (16).
Condensation develops when air hits a surface that is cold and is hardly affected by how much moisture there is in the air (15). The main solution to condensation is ventilation. By eliminating warm damp air, replacing it with cold damp air, and heating it to warm dry air, condensation will disappear.
You can do this by turning the heat on in your home and then opening the window, which works, but is wasteful because you are paying for your heating that is escaping through the windows. This may prevent condensation, but the insides of your home is now cold, which defeats the purpose of turning on your heating system.
Using a dehumidifier is much simpler and costs very little by comparison. It removes the dampness from your home, which will make it warmer and dryer, thus reducing condensation.
Bottom Line: Condensation can produce mold, which can be hazardous to one’s health. This can be prevented by turning the heat on and opening a window, a wasteful act, or by using a dehumidifier, which will keep the air warm and dry.
5. Dehumidifiers Reduce Odors Accumulated from Mold
Inhaling mold spores can be dangerous as it can infect the lungs and intestines, but it can be particularly uncomfortable when you are smelling the odor that comes along with it. On the other hand, it may be a good thing to smell the odor because then you will be certain that you have mold and will be more motivated to eliminate it.
Mildew can feed on natural material like wool, cotton, and silk, as well as wood, paper, and leather (21). You can also find the source of these odors in carpeting, furniture, publications, under baseboards, behind walls, under sinks, and in laundry hampers.
With a dehumidifier, musty or rotting smells can be reduced (1). Dehumidifiers remove the moisture that causes the buildup of mildew in your home, thus preventing the growth and the odor. Having a dehumidifier for this purpose is specifically helpful in moister climates.
Bottom Line: A strong odor can come with mold and mildew. This odor can come from carpeting, furniture, walls, and sinks, amongst other places in your home. You can use a dehumidifier to remove the moisture from the air, which would otherwise linger around mildew hot spots and spread the fungus.
6. Dehumidifiers Purify Your Air
Generally speaking, not all dehumidifiers are capable of purifying your air, though they make a living space more comfortable and can add other health benefits. However, there are certain dehumidifiers that are combined with air purifiers. These products remove the mold and moisture as a dehumidifier would, but also cleans the air like a purifier (18).
Dehumidifier air purifier combo units are good financially as they perform the work of two products in one convenient machine. Those who have respiratory conditions will not have to purchase multiple devices to clean their air.
Some examples of dehumidifier air purifier combos units include the Sharp KC-850U Plasmacluster Air Purifier with Humidifying Function and the Keystone KSTAD50B Energy Star Dehumidifier.
The Sharp Air Purifier traps airborne allergens and is able to detect the quality of your air and adjust it so that your home is at a healthy humidity level. Meanwhile the Keystone Dehumidifier can remove moisture in a space of 3000 square feet and can reduce dust and allergens in the air.
Bottom Line: Though most dehumidifiers do not have a direct air purifying feature, you can purchase dehumidifier air purifier combo units which have the features of both a dehumidifier and an air purifier, which is ideal for those with respiratory conditions.
7. Dehumidifiers Soothes Skin
The development of eczema has increased by 20% over the last few years (26). The triggers of this skin condition include fierce itching, inflammation, and infection in the skin. The reason these breakouts occur is because the skin is constantly exposed to irritants such as soap, detergents, dust mites, and much more.
When eczema occurs the fat that generally maintains the water or moisture in the skin leak out and leaves the skin dry and cracked. This leads the skin to become more penetrable for allergens and irritants.
There is no known exact cause for eczema, but heredity, stress, and constant exposure to chemicals have been factors. There is also no known cure, however, there is a way to soothe the skin under these conditions.
It has been recommended that you keep your home below the humidity level of 70% through the use of a dehumidifier. With those humidity levels, irritants such as mold and dust mites will be reduced, which will help protect your skin from further agitation and may even soothe it.
Bottom Line: Eczema, or intense itching and inflammation of the skin, can be triggered or agitated by frequent exposure to chemicals like soap and detergent as well as allergens like mold and dust mites. Dehumidifiers can help to calm eczema by removing allergens from your living space, thus preventing them from being in contact with your skin.
8. Dehumidifiers Make Breathing Easier for Those with Respiratory Diseases
You may have some sort of respiratory illness if you are coughing frequently or have difficulty breathing, airway constriction, or a heavy feeling in your chest (25). Other symptoms include fevers, weakness, or heart rhythm problems or palpitations.
There are many different forms of respiratory diseases including lung cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and tuberculosis. Treatments for the diseases also vary depending on the type. For example, there are radiation treatments, chemotherapy, and surgical procedures for those with lung cancer.
However, regardless of your lung ailment and treatment technique, you may find breathing difficult in the comfort of your own home, which can be unsettling.
Dehumidifiers can be placed both in your home or in hospitals and can make breathing easier as it removes any triggers that may stifle or deter the activity and can make the air more soothing for your throat and lungs.
Bottom Line: Respiratory diseases can come in many forms as do the treatments for them, but for each ailment, there is always a struggle to breathe, especially indoor air. Dehumidifiers can fix this problem by reducing triggers for hyperventilation attacks and keeping the air at a soothing temperature.
9. Dehumidifiers Improve Immune Systems
A human’s immune system can protect the body from microorganisms responsible for developing diseases (20).
It is hard to decipher one simple way to fully boost your immune system because it is made up of several parts, but some factors include habits of diet and exercise, age, and stress.
When these elements in your lifestyle or daily routine are off, they may negatively affect your immune system, thus making you more susceptible to getting sick. However, your immune system will get back on track once you eat everything in moderation, exercise regularly, and keep your tension under control.
Other irritants of the immune system are airborne allergens, which can be reduced using a dehumidifier. These devices can also allow you to be more comfortable in your home, which relieves your stress and improves your immune system.
Bottom Line: The immune system is responsible for protecting the body from disease causing bacteria, but it is weakened when someone has an unhealthy lifestyle and an exposure to allergens. Dehumidifiers are able to eliminate most allergens, thus improving your immune system, but changing your lifestyle is up to you.
10. Dehumidifiers Prevent Mold from Growing on your Clothes and Linens
Moisture can be found in the air, walls, and floorings of both old and new homes (22). This can be destructive to your clothes and linens as moisture can be particularly destructive in the closet. Clothes and linens that have been exposed to moisture or humidity for too long can develop mold, which is hazardous to your health when inhaled or consumed.
To prevent your clothes and linens from getting moldy due to moisture in the air, it is important that you thoroughly clean and allow your linens to dry before locking them away. Make sure that your clothes are not packed too close together so that the air can circulate properly between them.
For closets next to or in bathrooms or kitchens, it is best to keep the doors closed as often as possible. This way, moisture from the rooms will be locked out and the linens inside are kept safe. Meanwhile, other closet doors throughout your home should be kept open for even more air circulation.
If you have found that your closet has been having constant issues with developing mold, it may be worth it to purchase a dehumidifier for this particular space.
Bottom Line: Closets, in both new and old homes, have a tendency to develop mold due to the lack of air circulation. This can be problematic as the mold can travel to your clothes and linens, which can damage them and your health should you touch it. A dehumidifier can prevent mold from spreading and developing in your closet by circulating the air and removing the moisture from it.
11. Dehumidifiers Keep Dry Foods like Breads and Cereals Fresh
When dry foods, such as breads, cereals, grains, cake mix, and powder, become too moist, they start to mold or go bad, making them inedible or even poisonous (23). These foods can even develop mottling, crystallization, and stickiness. When these foods eventually dry out, they become cracked, split, or crumbly, all of which also make it inedible.
Some have discovered that dry foods can be kept fresher for longer when there is a dehumidifier in the pantry, or wherever you keep you dry goods (24). Excessive moisture will be removed from the air and will properly regulate the humidity levels, preventing mold to develop on any surface or food.
Bottom Line: Dry foods like breads and cereals can develop mold in closets or pantries where the closet can lock in moisture. When moldy foods are consumed, they can become poisonous to the body. A good way to prevent dry foods from going bad is to stick a dehumidifier in your pantry or kitchen. This will remove excess moisture and reduce mold buildup.
12. Dehumidifiers Prevent Gastrointestinal Issues
It is a natural reaction to avoid foods that are moldy because they look disgusting, consuming them can make you ill, and the mold can give your digestive problems. However, mold may not always be apparent to the naked eye (19).
Likewise, you may be putting mold spores into your system without eating any food that has mold on it. This can happen if you have mold in your home. You may be touching mold without realizing it and it can enter your system when you bite your fingernails, eat without washing your hands, or touching your mouth.
The gastrointestinal issues that follow after ingesting mold include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, bleeding in the stomach, and fungal infection in the intestines like candidiasis.
To avoid these issues, you should throw away food that is not fresh, wash your hands frequently, and use a dehumidifier to get rid of the mold.
Bottom Line: If you consume or ingest mold spores, you may get gastrointestinal problems like nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and candidiasis. To prevent ingesting mold, you need to keep your home or breathing space free of it. You can minimize mold development and growth by using a dehumidifier in these spaces.
13. Dehumidifiers Prevent Rust
Your computer equipment, electronics, and tools can rust if the air is too humid (1). When this happens, certain objects may not be able to work properly.
Electronics aside, everyday objects that you hardly think about, but always use can be affected by rust. Such objects include door frames and hinges, which can prevent doors from closing if the metal is rusted and the wood is warped (9). Vehicles can be severely damaged if rusted as well.
Using a dehumidifier in areas where these objects are kept can remove the potentially harmful moisture from the air, preventing the buildup of rust.
Bottom Line: In humid conditions, equipment such as electronics, tools, hinges, and vehicles can rust. Objects with too much rust on them may not be able to work as well as they should. Dehumidifiers will remove the moisture from the air, which will keep objects from developing rust.
14. Dehumidifiers Keep Insects Out
Small insects enjoy locations that are damp (9). Therefore, they may be found in homes that have high humidity levels, particularly in basements, crawl spaces, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Basement or mini dehumidifiers are best suited to keep out insects in such areas.
When an environment is dry, insects, such as box elders and ants, are not able to cross carpets (17). Many of these bugs have exoskeletons, or skeletons outside of their body, which causes them to dry out and die very easily.
Your home should be kept clean in order to keep the most bugs out. This means clearing out crumbs and grease, but of which can keep a cockroach alive for 6 months. It is also recommended that you keep your clothes and furniture clean as well. Insects can crawl onto clothes and the fabric or wood of certain furnitures and camp out there.
It may be a hassle to clean every little thing in your home, especially if you are squeamish of bugs. However, having a dehumidifier is a much more convenient method of terminating insects and keeping them away. They are able to dry the environment, which not only makes for an inhospitable space for bugs, but also prevents the growth of dust and other dirts, which bugs tend to enjoy.
In addition, dry air can protect clothes, furniture, and wood from being damaged by any source.
Bottom Line: Small insects like basements and crawl spaces because these areas are damp, which are their ideal living conditions due to their increased ability to move around. Dehumidifiers, particularly basement dehumidifiers, can warm up and dry these spaces, making it impossible for insects to live in. Dehumidifiers can also reduces dust and dirt from your floors, clothes, and furniture, which prevents more bugs from moving in.
15. Dehumidifiers Keep Industrial Spaces Safe
Industrial spaces can be negatively impacted by high humidity levels. The interior structure, machinery, and inventory inside manufacturing plants and working environments can accumulate rust and rot during humid conditions (12).
Such conditions are safety compliance issues that can cost companies a lot of money and can put the employees at risk of health issues.
Industrial dehumidifiers can dramatically change this effect for the better. They are particularly beneficial at night when dew materializes due to the cooling of warm air.
In addition, having an industrial dehumidifier can be helpful in keeping factories and warehouses clean, which can prove difficult due to an overwhelming amount of machinery and inventory. Using a dehumidifier can also lessen the work an AC system will have to do, the overworking of which can be damaging later on if not careful.
Bottom Line: Industrial dehumidifiers are highly useful in manufacturing plants, factories, and warehouses because they keep the air and the space clean, and prevent the AC systems from overworking themselves. This is beneficial for companies because it averts disaster to their employes and to their finances.
Considerations When Choosing the Right Dehumidifier
There are a lot of details to consider when purchasing a dehumidifier for your home or business. It is not enough to know the basic types of dehumidifiers available, you should also research and think about the size and convenience of the product as well as the functions it may offer.
1. Types of Dehumidifiers
There are at least 4 types of dehumidifiers: home, crawl space and basement, industrial, and pump dehumidifiers (2).
Home dehumidifiers are meant for large spaces and can gather up to 70 pints of moisture per day. For smaller areas, like bathrooms, boats and RVs, mini dehumidifiers are available.
You are more likely to grow mold in areas like the crawl space or basement because they are often damp. When this happens odors may develop, wood can rot, and walls can be damaged with water stains. This can be prevented using a basement dehumidifier, which can gather 168 pints of moisture per day and can function in 40 degrees and higher.
Industrial dehumidifiers are meant for businesses, mainly those in the construction industry. They are large enough to fit in warehouses, factories and restoration projects. Extremely efficient, they are able to gather 562 pints of water per day and can handle intense temperatures, from -4 to 104 degrees (F).
Lastly, pump dehumidifiers draw moisture from one area, such as the basement or the second floor of your house, and dispenses the water into a sink or drain. Pump dehumidifiers are best suited for establishments that have multiple levels.
Bottom Line: Home dehumidifiers are the most popular as they are able to dehumidify large rooms in a household. Crawl space or basement dehumidifiers can be placed in either places. Industrial dehumidifiers are created for large construction projects and pump dehumidifiers can drain water from dehumidifiers on other levels of your house.
2. Sizes of Dehumidifiers
The type of dehumidifier that you purchase will depend on where you plan on putting it. If you wish to place your dehumidifier in a small room, consider purchasing a small capacity model (1). For larger rooms such as a basement or an entire apartment, large capacity models are also available.
You can also decide on a whole-house model, which would be wise to those living in humid areas or those who have severe allergies.
Home dehumidifiers, which are small and portable, generally have a capacity of 70 pints or less. Larger dehumidifiers, like those for industrial businesses, should have a much larger capacity.
Bottom Line: For small rooms, small capacity dehumidifiers are available which have a capacity of 70 pints or less. Large capacity models generally handle more than 70 pints and are ideal for dehumidifying an entire home or for industrial businesses.
3. Permanent Location or Portable
You can choose to have your dehumidifier to be installed in a specific location within your home and business (3). Though this may be more convenient for businesses who have more important things to do than constantly check up on a dehumidifying device, dehumidifiers can also be installed in a home for the same reason.
On the other hand, portable dehumidifiers may be cheaper, though they generally focus on a single room at a time. However, you are able to move these humidifiers around due to their small weight and size.
If you wish to purchase a portable dehumidifier in which you could move around as you see fit, you should consider one that has a handle on it or caster wheels. This way, there is at least one convenient way to transport your dehumidifier.
Bottom Line: Having a dehumidifier installed in a particular location is more popular for industrial companies than for homes, but it can still be done either way. However, portable dehumidifiers are more convenient in a home as you can move them to other rooms, sometimes with caster wheels or a handle.
4. Placement of Dehumidifier
If you wish to place your dehumidifier against a wall, aim for devices that have top mounted air discharge (4). Dehumidifiers that do not have this feature will not be able to circulate the air properly when hindered by a wall.
It is best to keep dehumidifiers away from sources of dust and dirt because they can clog areas on or within the machine.
Avoid placing dehumidifiers as well as its water drainage and disposal near electrical circuits or devices in case of spillage. To plug in your dehumidifier, use a grounded outlet.
For pump dehumidifiers or hoses that drain dehumidifiers, keep the devices relatively close to a floor drain or sump to prevent tripping hazards.
Finally, make sure that the ground beneath the dehumidifier is not likely to cause fires under slight heat. Dehumidifiers tend to get a little warm when working, though not warm enough to ignite flames in most conditions.
Bottom Line: Dehumidifiers can be placed against a wall if they have top mounted air discharge. Those that do not have this feature will not be able to circulate the air properly. Keep dehumidifiers away from dust and dirt as well as electrical circuits and devices, which prevents fires and damage to the machine. It is best to keep pump dehumidifiers near floor drains or sumps in case of tripping.
5. Dehumidifiers for Low Temperatures
You may need a specific kind of dehumidifier for colder areas like the basement or construction projects. When searching for a dehumidifier for low temperatures, which is considered below 65 degrees (F), it is best to start looking for those with an auto-defrost feature (3).
With this feature, cold air will be dehumidified, something that cannot be done with other dehumidifiers which generally only handle air that is 30 degrees (F) and higher.
You should also aim for dehumidifiers that are desiccant models. These types of dehumidifiers use a drying agent to remove moisture from the area, which makes them more than compatible to work in low temperatures.
Bottom Line: To dehumidify a cold space, search for a dehumidifier with an auto-defrost function. These dehumidifiers can handle air that is 30 degrees (F) and higher. Desiccant models are particularly ideal for low temperatures because they use a drying agent to dehumidify an area.
6. Auto-Restart and Shut Off Functions
During power disruptions, some dehumidifiers may not be able to start up again unless you manually recover it. In some cases, it may stop working completely and you would have to purchase another one.
To prevent this problem, consider buying a dehumidifier with an auto-start function. With this mechanism, dehumidifiers will restart itself at its previous settings as long as the power is restored (3). This feature is useful is you want a dehumidifier that requires little maintenance.
Another helpful function is the auto-shutoff. A dehumidifier with this feature will automatically turn off when the collection tank is full, which is good for preventing spillage when the tank overflows. Should the tank spill, water will spread and the development of mold along with it, which counteracts the purpose of purchasing a dehumidifier in the first place.
Bottom Line: Dehumidifiers with auto-restart and shut off functions require little maintenance as they are able to restart itself during power disruptions and turn off when the tank is full all by themselves. The auto-shutoff feature prevents full tanks from overflowing and spreading water and mold.
7. Get a Dehumidifier that is Energy Star Certified
Dehumidifiers that are Energy Star certified have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy (2). This means that they are both energy-efficient and safe for the environment.
The Environmental Protection Agency does not just approve products like dehumidifiers. They are also responsible for detecting the safeness of indoor air quality (3). In fact, they claim that low-quality indoor air can be extremely hazardous to one’s health.
Establishments that have a low air quality have been found to have mold, mildew, bacteria, dust mites, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), all of which can lead to serious medical issues if not careful.
It is for this reason that the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Star encourage people to use dehumidifiers in their homes or businesses.
Bottom Line: When a dehumidifier is Energy Star certified, there are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy. Devices that are Energy Star approved serve their purposes well and are good for the environment. It is encouraged to use dehumidifiers to keep homes free of toxic substances like mold or mildew.
8. The Best Brands at the Best Prices
The least expensive of dehumidifiers are mini dehumidifiers which can cost from $40 to $70 (8). Prices of home dehumidifiers vary from $100 to $400 (6). Crawl space and basement dehumidifiers can range from $800 to $1,200. Whole house dehumidifiers cost $1,600 to $1,900, but with installation can cost up to $2,700 (7).
Industrial dehumidifiers are the most expensive, topping it off at $5,500 to $6,500 or more depending on installation and other features.
Bottom Line: Depending on the type of dehumidifier, prices can vary from a low $40 to a striking $6,000 (for industrial dehumidifiers). The average price range is around $200.
The key purpose of owning and using a dehumidifier is to remove a bulk of the moisture from your home, which will keep the humidity levels of your living space in a healthy and comfortable range.
As with any device that is meant to ease the conditions of one’s environment, it is preferred by most to find a dehumidifier that maintains the safety of the air without causing too much disruptions.
Due to this common preference, it is best to find a dehumidifier that fits all of your needs. Factors can include types of dehumidifiers, sizes and capacities, and special features that prevent you from constantly monitoring and maintaining the device.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.