Unlike humidifiers, which pump moisture into a room, dehumidifiers dry it out. Dehumidifiers not only help make a space less damp, they can also help prevent the growth of mold and mildew. “Dehumidifiers, by drying the air, will decrease the amount of mold spores and the amount of dust mites in an area,” says Dr. Chet Tharpe, an allergist and the medical director at Curex, who recommends dehumidification more often than its opposite to his patients. “I often tell my patients with dust allergies to definitely get a humidity meter, check the humidity in your bedroom, and absolutely, if it’s anything greater than 50 percent, consider getting a dehumidifier.”
Even if you don’t have allergies, a dehumidifier can be helpful. They’re good to have on hand if you live somewhere that floods easily, and any basement-apartment dwellers can benefit from a humidifier. “We find dehumidification is used in townhouses that have basements because the basements are below ground level, and that ends up being a humid environment,” says James Mansfield, the CEO and founder of West Village GC. He recommends “literally running it all summer in a steamy basement. It’ll sort your humidification problem right out.” We spoke to Tharpe and Mansfield and read countless reviews to make our top dehumidifier recommendations.
Best overall dehumidifier | Best dehumidifier for a bathroom | Best dehumidifier for large spaces
What we’re looking for
Size: The size of your dehumidifier should be commensurate with the square footage of your space. Most models come with a recommendation for what size room to use them in, but “we’ll generally double the space recommendation,” says Mansfield. “If you’ve got a 1,000-foot basement, we’ll buy a 2,000-square-foot one. Why not just have the space dried out as quick as you can and keep the mold at bay and the other moisture issues that arise from it?”
Hose: Most dehumidifiers have internal tanks that collect the water the machines pull from the air, but Mansfield recommends getting one that comes with a hose or has the ability to attach one. “Get one that connects to a garden hose and then the garden hose you put into a drain,” he says. “Rather than having an individual tank which fills up remarkably quickly — on a humid New York summer day, if that space isn’t air-conditioned, it’ll fill up in two or three, four hours — whereas if you get one that’s got a hose that goes on to a drain, then you can run it 24/7 with no issue.”
Best overall dehumidifier
Up to 1,500 square feet | Hose optional
This Midea dehumidifier is suitable for spaces up to 1,500 square feet, but if you’re following Mansfield’s advice, get this for a space that’s 750-square-feet or smaller. It got five stars from more than 7,000 reviewers, many of whom were impressed by how much moisture it can pull out of the air. “1.6 freaking gallons of water … in only 12 hours!” one reviewer writes. When the tank is full, the dehumidifier automatically shuts off and restarts when the tank is emptied. If you’d rather not have to empty the tank multiple times a day, you could attach a hose for continuous draining. Having a machine that runs constantly sounds expensive, but the Midea is Energy Star certified, and one reviewer says it “doesn’t run up the bills as far as we can tell.”
One regular piece of maintenance that’s required is cleaning the filter, but reviewers appreciate that the filter is washable and that there’s an indicator that turns on when it needs to be cleaned. Cleaning the basin that collects the water is also important. “Any sort of moisture in the device is going to cause mold growth and stimulate dust mite growth, and what happens is those spores could potentially cycle back into the air,” says Tharpe. “Dehumidifiers are essentially going to pull air in and dry it over cold contractions and circulate things, and we don’t want mold to grow.”
Best dehumidifier for a bathroom
Up to 480 square feet | Hose included
“If you’ve got a little bathroom space that just gets a bit funky, buy a little tiny dehumidifier and stick it in the shower and just let it run,” says Mansfield. He recommends them in bathrooms with no venting. “It just gets rid of the mildew and makes it smell lovely and fresh all the time.” He doesn’t recommend a specific model or brand, noting, “They’re all kind of the same, really, to be honest with you.” He recommends finding a well-rated one with a hose like this Gocheer model. The physical dimensions (7.8 by 5.3 by 13.9 inches) would be perfect in a tiny bathroom next to a sink, and the 59-inch-long included hose can drain right into it. “It has kept the musty smell out of the bathroom, and things are drier in the small bathroom,” writes one reviewer. “We were able to install it on top of a small shelf and takes up minimal space.”
Best dehumidifier for large spaces
Up to 4,500 square feet | Hose included
This unit could dry out an entire basement. It also has nearly 17,000 five-star reviews, and reviewers are impressed by how well this unit works. “Bought this dehumidifier for our approximately 1,000 square foot basement because the other one I purchased just wasn’t cutting it,” one writes. “This thing has absolutely demolished any and all moisture down there, cutting the room humidity from the low 70s down to a probably dangerously low 25 over the span of a few weeks.” According to one user, “The only downside is that it works SO well that (on the default continuous mode) you have to empty the tank about every 8 hours.” The unit comes with a hose for draining and can also be attached to a standard garden hose for the same purpose. If you do use the tank, the dehumidifier will shut off when full. It also turns off when “it reaches the desired humidity level but will turn on briefly every now and then to check the levels,” says one reviewer. You can keep track of the humidity levels on the device’s screen, but Mansfield recommends getting a separate hygrometer for a more accurate reading.
James Mansfield, CEO and founder of West Village GC
Dr. Chet Tharpe, allergist and medical director at Curex
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