Should You Run A Dehumidifier In The Winter?

Dehumidifiers are useful appliances that reduce the amount of moisture in the air, which in turn can help provide a more comfortable living environment, reduce allergens, and prevent mold from growing.

In certain climates, using a dehumidifier in the winter may be just as useful as running one through the summer.

Dehumidifiers can be useful in the winter for preventing window condensation and mold growth, and helping to dry laundry more quickly, as well as keeping overall humidity levels low. Desiccant dehumidifiers can be more useful in winter than refrigerant types.

It’s most common to use a dehumidifier from May through to September but depending on the climate where you live you may need one in the winter.

Dehumidifiers can be useful in the winter for wetter and colder climates (such as where we live) where they can prevent condensation on windows and mold growth.

Window Condensation
Condensation that used to form on our windows during the colder winter months before we bought a dehumidifier

Keep reading to learn more about whether you should be running your dehumidifier in the winter.

Should You Run A Dehumidifier In The Winter?

In addition to preventing moisture buildup in your home, dehumidifiers are valuable for a few other reasons:

  • Dehumidifiers can remove allergens and reduce the number of dust mites in your home.
  • Dehumidifiers can also help prevent mold and eliminate odor.

If you live in a warm climate, it may still be necessary to use one during the winter to prevent and reduce unwanted allergens, mildews, and odors that can negatively impact your health.

Dehumidifiers can also be useful in certain spaces in your home. For example, using a dehumidifier in your laundry room can speed up the drying process and allow smaller rooms to heat up faster, which can be helpful in cooler months.

Dehumidifier Drying Washing
Our dehumidifier is especially useful for drying out our clothes more quickly in winter when they would usually take a long time to dry

Dehumidifiers can also help restore a room after a leak or a flood.

Do Dehumidifiers Work Differently In The Winter?

Dehumidifiers work the same in the winter as they do in the summer.

Firstly, they help to remove dirt, dust, and moisture from the air, preventing moisture from collecting on walls.

The air is drawn in through a panel filter, which removes unwanted particles. The air is then cooled and condensed, and the moisture is collected in a water tank. The now clean and dry air is then passed back into the room.

Once your dehumidifier’s humidistat reaches a certain moisture level in the air, it can automatically turn off, so you shouldn’t have to monitor the humidity level yourself and potentially cause the air to become too dry.

How To Maintain Your Dehumidifier In The Winter

Maintenance of dehumidifiers, like with any electrical appliance, is important for longevity.

Dehumidifiers should last years if properly maintained. Keeping your dehumidifier clean will also help keep the air you breathe cleaner.

Parts to maintain and clean on a dehumidifier can include:

  • Filters
  • Coils and grilles
  • Collection bucket

Pay close attention to the maintenance of these parts of your dehumidifier, especially in the winter.

See our article on dehumidifier maintenance for more information.

Be mindful of the temperature, too, as dehumidifiers shouldn’t ideally be running below 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees C).

If the temperature drops to lower than what the manufacturer recommends, turn your dehumidifier off.

Refrigerant dehumidifiers are more susceptible to the cold (as the coils can freeze) and so using a desiccant dehumidifier may be more suitable.


Cleaning and replacing the filters on a dehumidifier is important. Their cleanliness is also essential to the quality of the air.

You can often clean them by removing them and washing them with soapy water. Rinse and let dry before putting them back in your dehumidifier.

Dirty and clean filters for our dehumidifier

Coils and Grilles

You may be can clean the coils and grilles inside a refrigerant dehumidifier by vacuuming.

Collection Bucket

To clean the collection bucket, remove it from your dehumidifier and empty the water.

Just as you would with the filters, clean the bucket with soap and water, rinse, and dry before putting it back in your dehumidifier.

Also look to clean the inlet to the water tank as we found that this is where mold would thrive on our dehumidifier.

Dehumidifier Drain Channel
A moldy water tank inlet

Which Dehumidifier To Use In The Winter

If running a dehumidifier in very cold temperatures, ensure that you’re running the correct one.

Using a dehumidifier that isn’t designed for lower temperatures can damage the appliance and potentially rendering it unusable.

  • Depending on your needs and your space, you may want to use a desiccant humidifier in the winter.
  • Desiccant dehumidifiers do not condense or cool the air, making them great for winter use.
  • Select a dehumidifier that is designed for residential use, as some are strictly industrial and are not suited for a home.
We use a desiccant dehumidifier and it works well in our colder and wetter climate

You can also use a Low Grain Refrigerant (LGR) dehumidifier. These are also designed for industrial use, though not residential. Look into other options if you are in need of a dehumidifier for your home.

Drawbacks Of Dehumidifiers In The Winter

It’s important to consider the drawbacks of dehumidifiers when deciding whether to run your appliance in the winter months.

Although dehumidifiers are great appliances that serve a necessary purpose, there are drawbacks to their use in the winter. Dehumidifiers can benefit your health in many ways, but they can also be detrimental.

Because dehumidifiers take the humidity out of the air, you need to be mindful of staying hydrated on your own, especially during the winter months when the air is typically dryer than in summer. Be sure to drink plenty of water when using a dehumidifier.

Dehumidifiers can also make diseases like pneumonia or the common cold worse. If you suffer from either condition, it may be helpful to stop running your dehumidifier until you feeling better.

Dehumidifiers can also be detrimental to certain skin conditions, like eczema. You may notice irritation to the skin if your space is too dry.

Ensuring that humidity doesn’t get too low during the winter is important

Alternatives To Dehumidifiers In The Winter

If you need to remove moisture from your space in the winter, but you live in a climate that is not conducive to using a dehumidifier, or it is not within your budget to purchase one, do not worry.

You can still help keep your home at low humidity levels without a dehumidifier.

Consider these options:

  • Opening a window
  • Use your air conditioning
  • Use fans

These options will be easy and cost-effective and great alternatives if temperatures reach below around 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

Open A Window

Opening a window is an easy and affordable way to keep moisture out of your home.

Be mindful however that a dehumidifier typically works more efficiently with windows closed.

Keeping our windows closed when using a dehumidifier

Use Your Air Conditioning

Using your air conditioning is another option to consider if you do not have a dehumidifier. This may be a very expensive option in the winter depending on the temperature outside.

Use Fans

Fans are a low-cost way to remove moisture from the air, and there are many options you can use. For example, a simple oscillating fan in a room can make a difference in the amount of moisture in the air, especially if you are removing water after a leak or flood. Industrial-size fans can be of use, too, as can kitchen vents and bathroom fans.

Another option to try instead of a dehumidifier is a natural product like charcoal briquettes or rock salt. Put either in a bucket and let them absorb moisture from the air. Make sure they are out of reach from children, as ingestion could harm humans.

Also, make sure you are replacing furnace and AC filters at the correct times. These units running at their best will give you fewer amounts of moisture in the air.


A dehumidifier can be just a beneficial to use during the winter as the summer.

While the air can commonly be dryer and less humid during the winter, a dehumidifier can still help with issues such as condensation on windows and mold growth.

Running a dehumidifier can still help to purify the air in your home from allergens and dust mites simply by running it and allowing it to filter the air that’s flowing through.

Desiccant dehumidifiers can be more useful compared to refrigerant dehumidifiers because there are no coils that can freeze up.

Further Reading

Why Use A Dehumidifier?

Why Your Dehumidifier Isn’t Collecting Water

What The Numbers On A Dehumidifier Mean

The Best Time Of Day To Use A Dehumidifier