Can A Dehumidifier Eliminate Odor?

Dehumidifiers often have filters that help to provide some form of air purification, which may be able to reduce odors caused by poorer air quality.

Even when you know what is causing the odor, it may be hard to eliminate. Can a dehumidifier help to eliminate odors?

Oftentimes, homeowners find unpleasant odors in damp spaces, such as the basement. When that is the case, a dehumidifier is a great tool, as it not only removes humidity from the air it can help reduce mold and mildew, which can cause odors.

Our dehumidifier provides a number of filters that are used even when the dehumidifier is collecting moisture, which can help to reduce odors.

The dehumidifier we own and use

However, it’s when we use the dedicated air purifier mode on our dehumidifier we notice a more significant decrease in smells across the house.

If you’re curious about what’s causing an odor in your house and whether a dehumidifier could help, keep reading. We’ll explore the various common household odors and explain how a dehumidifier could help.

Common Causes Of Household Odors 

If you’ve noticed an unpleasant odor in your home, you’ve probably spent a lot of time trying to find the source of the odor so that you can eliminate. There are numerous reasons for odors, and some are easier to take care of than others.

Mold And Mildew

You’re most likely to encounter mold and mildew odors in your bathroom or basement areas.

These tend to be the dampest areas of a home, and both mold and mildew love dampness. You’ll know if your smell is a result of either of these culprits if it is a musty smell.

Getting rid of the smell requires some hard work to get rid of the underlying problem. Be careful when cleaning a moldy space as it can release toxic spores. The first thing you need to do is address the reason for the dampness.

Window Condensation
Dehumidifiers can help with condensation that can lead to mold and associated odors

After addressing the cause, you can tackle the cleaning. Consult a professional mold remover if you think you need expert help.


If your home has gas-powered appliances or a gas heating system, and you think that you can smell the gas, check to see if your pilot lights are out and relight them. If you cannot determine where the source is, open your windows and call emergency services.

Gas is naturally odorless, but an odor is added to it to make it detectable. Gas leaks are extremely dangerous and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or an accidental explosion. 


Sometimes it doesn’t take long for your trash to start to smell. Rotting food smells are particularly invasive and can creep around your whole house. In the winter, it can seem like the smell happens more frequently, thanks to heating.

Make sure to empty your trashcan regularly to prevent bad smells. If you don’t like the idea of throwing away a half-empty trash bag, consider getting a smaller trashcan. This will allow you to fill your bags faster and take them out before they begin to smell.


We know you love your pets, but boy, can they make the house smell. There are many things your pet has that leave a stink, from litter boxes to chewed-up toys. Empty the litter box and vacuum frequently to keep the smells away and your house smelling fresh.

Stale Sheets And Clothes

Does your bedroom smell a little musty? It could be that your sheets and clothes are a little stale and could use a wash.

Fabrics absorb body oils and sweat, and that results in unpleasant odors. If you keep your closet doors closed, you may be trapping humid air inside, which can also make your clothes smell.

Change your sheets often and keep your closet door open for fresh air.


Washing machines and dishwashers use water to clean, which means they are prone to developing mold and mildew.

Water can be trapped in the door seals, as well as washing machine detergent drawers. Food bits can prevent dishwashers from draining properly.

Make sure your plates are clear from large food debris before putting them in the dishwasher. After you run either a laundry and dish cycle, leave the door open on your machines to let them dry out completely and prevent mold and mildew from growing.

Will A Dehumidifier Help?

We discuss more about how dehumidifiers work in the next section, but since they are used to remove water from the air, they can help in areas that are experiencing mold and mildew related odors.

Window Mold
Dehumidifiers can help prevent mold from establishing

How A Dehumidifier Works

Most people are familiar with humidifiers, which add humidity to dry air.

Dehumidifiers perform the opposite role, to remove humidity from damp areas. Particularly useful in hot and humid locations, they can help keep your home at a comfortable level.

Dehumidifiers work by drawing warm, humid air into their coils with the help of a fan. The coils are filled with refrigerant, and when the warm air meets the coil, the water in the air condenses.

This condensation is collected in a storage tank, and the now dry air is blown back into the room. Eventually, the tank becomes full of water and needs to be emptied.

Other types of dehumidifier include desiccant, which use chemicals such as silica gel within a desiccant wheel to absorb the excess moisture within the air.

A desiccant dehumidifier is the type we use.

Desiccant Dehumidifier
Our desiccant dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers Can Eliminate Some Odors

Since dehumidifiers remove humidity from the air, they are particularly useful in damp areas like basements and bathrooms.

However, if you have a larger problem like a leak, you will need to get that fixed to stop mold and mildew.

It is best to keep the humidity under 60%. Mold thrives in high humidity levels and won’t like it when it’s below 60%.

The manual to our own model of dehumidifier states that the ‘ideal humidity level’ is between 50 and 60% relative humidity.

Regularly running a dehumidifier will help prevent mold and mildew from growing, which will also prevent any odors.

The manual to our dehumidifier also states that:

Desiccant dehumidifiers tend to absorb odors from the surrounding environment like cigarettes, cooking, cosmetics, new furniture etc.’


Dehumidifiers Have Other Benefits

In addition to removing odors and making your home more comfortable, dehumidifiers have other benefits:

  • Reduce allergies: Your home is full of environmental allergens, such as dust mites.Like mold, dust mites prefer high humidity. Drying out the air can also reduce other allergy triggers like pollen and animal dander, making your allergies much more manageable.
  • Improve breathing and asthma: Cooler, less humid air is easier to breathe and, as a result, may help people living with asthma.
  • Lowers energy costs: Humid air can feel warmer than it actually is, leading homeowners to run their air conditioning more than necessary. Removing the humidity from the air will make the temperature more comfortable, and you won’t need to run the A/C as much, saving money on energy bills.
Dehumidifier Mode Control
Our dehumidifier has an air purifying mode that can help reduce odors more than simply using the dehumidifier mode

Be careful about making the air too dry, however. Dry air can make conditions like pneumonia worse. If you have a cough or stuffy nose, dry air can make them worse. Remember to stay hydrated when running a dehumidifier to compensate for the dry air

Which Dehumidifiers Work Best For Odor Control?

Dehumidifiers come in all sizes, so when you are shopping for one, look at the specifications.

For larger rooms and basements, make sure to choose a high-capacity dehumidifier for the best results. For a closet, laundry room, or bathroom, pick a smaller one that doesn’t take up too much space.

Dehumidifier Drying Washing
Our dehumidifier is the right size for helping us dry our washing

Depending on the size of the space, you should start to notice a difference within a couple of days or a week. If the smell you are trying to remove lingers, combine using a dehumidifier with cleaning products to get to the source of the smell.

If it is mold or mildew, you will need to kill it completely to get rid of the smell, but the dehumidifier will help prevent new growth.

You may also want to look for a dehumidifier that also has a dedicated air purifying function (like ours does).

This, along with Ionizer and UV functions, and can help to remove odors much more quickly that simply removing moisture from the air, although the dehumidification process can help with the root cause of smells.

Dehumidifier Controls
Looking for features such as UV light and Ionizer on a dehumidifier can help with removing odors more effectively

See our other article on whether a dehumidifier can also work as an air purifier for more information.

A Dehumidifier Is Good For Musty Odors

Although a dehumidifier won’t help with trash odors or reduce how often you need to change your sheets, it will work just fine for most household odors. 

If you’re unsure if you have mold or mildew, get an inspection done. You may require more help than just a dehumidifier.

However, under most circumstances, it they can do a great job, especially if you go for a dehumidifier that has a dedicated air purifier mode and other features such as a UV light and Ionizer.

Further Reading

Can A Dehumidifier Also Be A Humidifier?