Can Dehumidifiers Get Moldy?

Dehumidifiers do a world of good when it comes to keeping you comfortable indoors, especially if you live in a humid climate. Millions of people enjoy the benefits of dehumidifiers at home, whether it’s to make their houses more comfortable or to stave off moisture build up in the basement.

These machines also relieve allergy and respiratory symptoms because they remove moisture from the air. That serves to halt the growth of fungus and mold. Dehumidifiers pull moisture out of the air and collect it in a reservoir bucket.

So, a practical question people ask is, can dehumidifiers get moldy? If you do not maintain your humidifier correctly, yes, your humidifier can get moldy. It becomes the source of the mold rather than the tool that stops it. That has a negative impact on your home as well as your health.

How a Dehumidifier Gets Moldy

As I stated, a humidifier pulls moisture from the air and deposits it into a reservoir bucket. Just about all models come with an auto-shutoff feature that protects your floor against overflow. While that is designed as a benefit, it also creates an opportunity for you to forget the unit is there.

If you leave a full bucket sitting for days, the water becomes stagnant and begins to grow black mold and mildew. If you leave it long enough, you will detect an odor. At that point, there’s enough mold coming from the bucket to start spreading throughout your home.

It’s not just the buck that can get moldy. The machine itself can get gather moisture and mold when it’s not maintained properly. You should clean your dehumidifier often according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

The moisture the machine collects from the air accumulates inside of it over time. You should check everything from the filter and coils to the exhaust grilles regularly. Be sure they are cleaning and working as they should. Ignoring this maintenance can have negative impacts on the dehumidifier’s performance as well as lead to mold.

Negative Effects of Dehumidifier Mold

Mold creates an array of health problems, from allergic reactions to lung and respiratory issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , exposer to mold can cause nasal congestion, a sore throat, and coughing or wheezing. It can also cause eye and skin irritation.

If you are allergic to mold, then your reaction may be more severe, as it is for those with weaker immune systems or lung disease. In these cases, the result may be a lung infection. While mold exists everywhere, exposure to mold indoors can lead to allergy, upper respiratory tract, and asthma-like symptoms, even for people who don’t have those conditions.

How to Remove Mold From a Dehumidifier

The easiest way to handle mold in a dehumidifier is to prevent it altogether. Change your water bucket daily to avoid stagnant water. Pair this with cleaning the reservoir as recommended by the manufacturer. Finally, be sure to clean and dry your humidifier before storing it away until next season.

Cleaning Water Bucket

To clean, use an antimicrobial solution that will kill any mold spores as it cleans the surface. That way, they won’t become airborne as you clean. Wear latex or rubber gloves to keep your hands from coming into contact with any of this old. If you know you’re sensitive to mold, then don a dust mask as well to keep from breathing in any mold spores.

Next, remove the bucket from the machine. Handle it carefully if it’s full of water. Avoid spilling any onto the unit or the floor. Hopefully, your model has a handle built into the bucket for ease of use. Pour the water down the sink or another drain.

Now, comes the cleaning. Fill the bucket half full of freshwater. Add about a teaspoon of dish soap for every gallon of water in the bucket. Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the inside of the bucket.

Remember, mold doesn’t have to be visible to be present. You may need a bottle brush to get into the tighter spots. When you’re finished, empty the bucket and rinse.

To be sure you’ve disinfected thoroughly, this next step is essential. Mix chlorine bleach and water, about a half cup of bleach for every gallon of water you use. Fill the water bucket again with this solution.

A warning about bleach: Be sure to wear gloves and even goggles when working with chlorine bleach. If your dehumidifier is a larger model, there is a higher chance of splashing as you empty the bucket.

Leave the bleach water to soak for about 15 minutes. That should kill any remaining mold spores. Empty the bucket again and rinse it with clean water. Replace the basket into the dehumidifier.

Connect the Dehumidifier to a Drain

It may be possible to hook your dehumidifier up to a drain of some kind and eliminate the need for a water bucket. Most larger models have a feature that enables you to hook them to a drain using a hose to bypass the water bucket. That way, water can drain continuously, without sitting around becoming stagnant.

Cleaning Other Dehumidifier Components

Wipe down the outside of your dehumidifier. The exterior is the first point of contact for moist air. Wiping it down with an antimicrobial cleaner removes any mold that may be hanging around the outside. Be sure to spray the cleaner onto your cloth rather than spraying the unit itself.

Next, remove and wash the air filter. The air filter in your dehumidifier collects milder, dirt, and mold as its function. To clean, wash it with soapy water and a sponge. Be sure the filter is dry before you place it back inside. Finally, use a brush or a vacuum attachment to clean off any other dirt or debris you can see on your unit.

Wrap Up

If you live in a humid climate, a dehumidifier can do wonders for your indoor environment. Likewise, it can prevent moisture and mildew from building up in your basement. It’s vital to remember, however, that dehumidifiers can get moldy if it’s not cleaned from time to time.

Most importantly, it will create a more serious mold issue in your home if you don’t keep the water bucket cleaned and emptied.