Does A Dehumidifier Have Or Need Filters? (Such as HEPA)

A dehumidifier is a great way to keep the air quality in your home high, but it needs all of the right parts in order to work properly.

If it doesn’t have the right filter, or set of filters, then the dehumidifier won’t be able to work to the best of its ability.

Every dehumidifier needs a filter to work properly. The filters will also need to be changed and cleaned frequently. Dehumidifiers will have a standard filter, but other filters such as HEPA and activated carbon may come included or be available as optional extras.

Our own dehumidifier comes with a nano-silver coated filter as standard, but we also bought HEPA and activated carbon filters to go with it as optional extras.

Dehumidifier Air Inlet
The filters behind the grille in our desiccant dehumidifier

The following article is a more detailed explanation of whether dehumidifiers have and need filters, what the different types of filter are and how often they should be changed.

Do Dehumidifiers Have Filters?

All dehumidifiers will have some form of filter inside. This may include a standard air filter or be made up of a number of filters for greater air purification such as HEPA and activated carbon filters, which can be installed in a dehumidifier in a particular order.

Do Dehumidifiers Need Filters?

Dehumidifiers need a form of air filter. Filters in dehumidifiers are required in order to remove the dust and dirt particles in the air before the air passes through the coils or desiccant wheel. The internals are then protected from any harm the particles might cause to them, which helps make a dehumidifier run smoother and last longer.

Dehumidifier HEPA Filter
Our dehumidifier with the filters installed

Can You Run A Dehumidifier Without A Filter?

While it’s not recommended for the long term, you may be able to run a dehumidifier without a filter for a few days, depending on the manufacturer’s guidelines.

For example, if you need to buy new filters but also want to have your dehumidifier still running, you can run it without filters as a temporary solution.

To use a dehumidifier without a filter, just follow these steps:

  • Turn of the dehumidifier and make sure it’s unplugged
  • If the dehumidifier still has the old filter in it, then remove it and throw it away. The filter is usually located underneath the fan where the air is blown, so it might be underneath the top of the dehumidifier or on the side. 
  • Remove the water container, dump the old water
  • Clean the filter container and then replace the empty container back into the dehumidifier
  • Plug the dehumidifier back in and turn it on. You will be able to use it for 3-5 days, or until your new filter arrives.

This is only a temporary solution to having no filter and must only be done if the dehumidifier is absolutely necessary and allowed by the manufacturer of a particular dehumidifier.

Dehumidifier Filters Removed
We don’t personally run our dehumidifier with the filters removed.

Where Is The Filter On A Home Dehumidifier?

The filter(s) on a dehumidifier will typically be located behind the main grille that serves as the air inlet into the appliance. The grille will be removable in order to access the filters for cleaning or replacing.

Are There Different Types Of Dehumidifier Filter?

While all filters serve the same purpose in a dehumidifier, there are a few different types that you should know about.

There are two main different types of dehumidifier filters including replaceable filters and disposable filters.

Some filters may also be washable for a period of time before they need to be replaced.

Replaceable Filters

Replaceable filters do exactly as the name implies. They can be thrown out and replaced every few months to help keep the air quality fresh and clean.

Depending on the environment the dehumidifier is running in, they can even be replaced less often. While they’re usually inexpensive and will last for a while, the money you spend on them can stack up over time.

However, replaceable filters are the best way to keep the air quality as fresh and clean as possible. They’re better at trapping the smaller particles of dust and debris than washable filters. So, if you live in a dusty area or want to keep your air extra clean, then replaceable filters are the best option for you.

An example of a replaceable filter is a HEPA filter, such as the one we have inside our own dehumidifier.

Dehumidifier HEPA Filter

The owner’s manual states that this filter cannot be washed and must be replaced.

Washable Filters

Washable filters are filters that you only need to buy once, but you will have to clean them at least once a month.

Fortunately, they’re pretty easy to clean, you can hose them down with clean water or vacuum them with a handheld vacuum. It’s also recommended that you wipe them down with a disinfecting wipe to prevent any bacteria from growing.

The main downside to these filters is that no matter how well or often you clean them, you might not get every last bit of dust or debris, which can end up getting into your air.

The activated carbon filter in our dehumidifier can be cleaned every couple of weeks using a hoover but will also need to be replaced after 6 months.

Dehumidifier Carbon Filter

How Do I Clean A Dehumidifier’s Washable Filter?

No matter what filter you use, you will have to clean it frequently. The steps are pretty much the same for each filter, but one method might work better than another depending on the type of filter it is.

There are two main methods to cleaning an air filter, which are washing it with water and vacuuming it.

How to Tell When To Clean A Dehumidifier’s Filter

To tell if the filter needs cleaning or not, you can look at the panel and gauge how dirty it is.

  • To do this, find the location of the filter, and there should be a small slot underneath it where you can fit your fingers, or a pull tab.
  • Lift it slightly so you can pull out the filter. If there’s a prominent light brown or gray color to it, then it needs to be cleaned.
  • If you’re unsure, you can give the filter a slight tap. If a lot of dust particles fall out, then it needs to be cleaned.
  • The final way you can tell if the dehumidifier’s filter needs cleaning is to run your finger over the panels. If you pick up a thick layer of dust and dirt build up, then you know it’s time to give the filter a good cleaning.

Vacuuming The Filter

This type of cleaning should only be done with a handheld vacuum and only if the filter isn’t too dirty.

This method is pretty simple, all you have to do is place the filter down onto a clean surface, such as a towel or old blanket, and run the vacuum over the filter slowly. You might have to do it multiple times to get all of the dust and dirt build up.

You can also use the handheld attachment that comes on most household vacuum cleaners. The main thing to be aware of while using this method is to keep the vacuum on low power. If the suction is too powerful, it can suck away some of the fibers that cling to dirt and dust as it passes through.

Washing The Filter

The other method you can use to clean the filter is to wash it with water.

This is the best method to use when there is a lot of dust and dirt build up, as it’s quick and effective. Once you’ve removed the filter, run it under room temperature water until all of the dust and dirt has washed away. You can also use a small washcloth to wipe away some of the dirt.

When you’ve washed away all of the dirt and dust, let it air dry for about an hour. If it’s still damp, let it keep drying until it’s no longer wet to the touch.

How Often Should I Change The Dehumidifier Filter?

When it comes to changing the filter, the amount of time usually varies depending on the type of filter and the brand it comes from.

However, a good rule of thumb to go off of is changing the filter every 6 to 12 months. But if you live in a particularly dusty area, you might have to change it more often. Monitor the filter to gauge what works for you.

It’s recommended that you check the owner’s manual of the dehumidifier to find out how often to change the filter.

For example, the owner’s manual to our dehumidifier states that we should be replacing our HEPA filters every 3 or so months (as it can’t be cleaned).

We’re also asked to hoover our activated carbon filter every 2-3 weeks and replace 3-6 months.

Does A Dehumidifier Need Filters?

Having a dehumidifier with a range of filters will help with trapping dirt and dust that’s in the air, making the air that comes out extra clean and fresh.

A dehumidifier may be able to run without it, but only for a few days at a time. As long as you clean the filter regularly or change the filters when needed, then the dehumidifier will be able to do its job well.

Further Reading

Can A Dehumidifier Eliminate Odors?

Do Dehumidifiers Need To Be Maintained & Serviced?

Can A Dehumidifier Act As An Air Purifier?