Do Dehumidifiers Clean The Air?

Liz Yang

When the air is humid, we can feel much better by running a dehumidifier in the room. What causes this to happen? Does this machine have any other functions besides removing excess moisture? Do dehumidifiers, for example, clean the air?

A dehumidifier can’t purify the air as directly as an air purifier does. However, it can slow down the growth of mold and dust mites, which can contribute to better air quality. 

This is just a short answer. In this post, I will walk you through how a dehumidifier affects the air in the room and explain why it can clean the air indirectly. This will help you understand this question better. 

Common air pollutants

air pollutants

There are a lot of invisible contaminants floating in the air. The higher the concentration of these impurities, the poorer the air quality is. That is to say, if you want to purify the air, you should remove these contaminants.

The common airborne contaminants include Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Ozone, Particulate Matter, Lead, and Sulfur Dioxide. If a machine is able to get rid of any pollutant in this list, it can help with cleaning the air. 

When it comes to indoor air quality, particulate matter plays an important role since other pollutants do not appear frequently at home. The reason that we need to regulate it is that it is so small that it can wreak havoc on our bodies when we inhale it. 

When we look at the components of the particles in the air, we can find many harmful ones that could be allergens to human beings or pets. For example, mold spores and dust mites can cause runny noses, congestion, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. It can even lead to lung infections. 

As a result, most home air purifiers strive to filter out these airborne particles. As such, if a dehumidifier can help with these small particles, it can clean the air accordingly.

Primary effects of a dehumidifier on the air

Since we need to explore whether or not a dehumidifier can clean the airborne particles,  we need to have a basic understanding of its effect on the air. 

The primary function of a dehumidifier, regardless of the type, is to reduce humidity by removing excess moisture from the air. The compressor dehumidifier removes water vapor via condensation, whereas the desiccant dehumidifier reduces moisture via the wheel’s absorbent silica gel.

While most models have a built-in air filter that can remove a certain amount of dust and debris, it is not designed to remove airborne impurities, so the effect on air purification is negligible.

So the dehumidifier will collect water rather than particles, which will not directly clean the air.

Nevertheless, as humid environments can cause adverse effects on many substances. A dehumidifier may affect the air in other ways by controlling the humid environment. (We’ll get to that later.)

Can dehumidifiers help with dust in the air?

do dehumidifiers help with dust

Dusting is regular housework for every homeowner. If it is overdue, you can expect to see poor air quality. 

Although dehumidifiers cannot replace a vacuum, they can help to control airborne dust.

Dust mites, as you may know, are an important component of dust. It thrives when the humidity level rises to 60% to 70%, which can cause allergic reactions in many people.

By drying the air, a dehumidifier can prevent its growth. When there are fewer airborne dust mites, the air we breathe is cleaner.

While using a dehumidifier, you should keep an eye on the humidity level. The dry air will also cause more dust to appear in the air because there is insufficient moisture to make the dust particles adhere to one another, lowering the overall weight and preventing them from settling out.

This also explains why a humidifier can help with dust which seems to be paradoxical at first sight.

In a word, you should keep the room at a comfortable humidity level if you want to control the dust in the air. 

Use a dehumidifier to control mold and bacteria

Mold and bacteria are two other air pollutants that thrive in humid environments. Some mold species will begin to grow when the moisture level rises above 60%.

Mold spores are a common source of respiratory problems. Meanwhile, it may emit some components into the air, causing a musty odor in many rooms.

Like addressing dust mites, a dehumidifier can restrain the proliferation of mold and viruses and take away the musty odors. When the mold spores lack water, they will not be able to grow rapidly. 

Note that the remaining mold spores will convert from active to dormant when the humidity level decrease, meaning that a dehumidifier can’t kill mold

You can use an air purifier and a dehumidifier together. In this way, the airborne mold spores or bacteria can be removed by an air purifier, and the dehumidifier can reduce the new spores coming into the air, making this combination perfect for cleaning the air.

If possible, use vinegar or bleach to remove the mold that has accumulated on the surfaces and to identify and resolve the source of the moisture. Only in this way can keep the mold at bay. 

Does a dehumidifier clean the air? Conclusion 

Air quality is decided by what is contained in the air. You should remove harmful contaminants from the air if you want it to be clean.

These impurities cannot be removed by a dehumidifier. However, because dust mites, mold, bacteria, and viruses like to grow and thrive in wet places, it can clean the air by controlling their growth.

These pollutants will come and go with ventilation. When there are fewer pollutants added to the air, the air will become cleaner gradually. 

However, if you want to effectively clean the air, you should take other measures.

Liz Yang is the founder of Airsmartly. She has been working at home for a few years and realizes that the performance of the HVAC system plays such an important role in our life. She has tested a lot of products in person, like humidifiers, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and ACs, and wants to share tips about using or troubleshooting these products with you. Her uncle is an HVAC expert with over 30 years of experience in the field, and often offers assistance when she is unsure how to handle a situation. He is also in charge of reviewing the articles on this site.

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