The summer is almost here, meaning many consumers are already prepping their air conditioning systems to protect themselves and their families from the dangers of sweltering-hot indoor air conditions.
Those in highly humid areas are also likely shopping for dehumidifiers or cleaning their old dehumidifiers. Dehumidifiers help remove excess moisture from home, making them invaluable during hot weather. Otherwise, you risk exposing your family to unhealthy, damp conditions that may cause mold infestation and, ultimately, respiratory illnesses.
As you do so, you should also start thinking about maintaining the dehumidifier. Although dehumidifier maintenance is a straightforward process, delayed or poor cleaning can cause mold and dirt buildup, among many other issues – potentially exposing your family to health issues.
Let’s find out why and how to clean the dehumidifier with vinegar and how often you should clean your dehumidifier.
Why Clean the Dehumidifier?
The main reason you should clean your dehumidifier is that it’s hygienic. Remember that the dehumidifier directly impacts the air quality in your home. Just like you regularly clean the home to keep everything clean and fresh, you should clean the dehumidifier too. Otherwise, it reverses all the gains made in keeping the house clean.
Additionally, cleaning the dehumidifier is critical for the following reasons;
Prevent dirt buildup
The dehumidifier has a filter or set that traps dirt as return air enters the unit from your home. Over time, the dirt can build up. When dirt builds up in the filter, it can cause the dehumidifier to malfunction. Dirt buildup, for instance, is the leading cause of dehumidifier freezing, a condition that can ultimately damage the dehumidifier.
Prevent mold buildup
Mold occurs naturally as long as the conditions are conducive. This can happen without notice when using a dehumidifier, especially if the dehumidifier is not appropriately maintained. The unit can accumulate water where mold can grow. An ill-maintained dehumidifier may also have mold growing on the outer surfaces following water spills.
Improve indoor air quality
When you combine the dangers of dirt buildup and mold, you risk having compromised indoor air quality. A dirty, ill-maintained filter can let dirt particles enter the house. Mold spores can also begin to fly around the house, building new colonies everywhere they land.
Prevent respiratory and other illnesses
If the poor indoor quality issue isn’t addressed promptly, rest assured of several respiratory issues in your home. It usually starts with mild headaches and dizziness that gradually transforms into poor sleep quality and other symptoms. Bacteria and viruses also thrive in damp, warm conditions. So, expect allergic reactions and worsened asthma too.
Finally, accumulated dirt can also cause dehumidifier inefficiency and ultimately damage the unit. As we’ve seen, blocked filters can cause condenser coils inside the dehumidifier to ice up. Iced-up dehumidifiers are very inefficient as moisture flows into and out of the dehumidifier is highly restricted. Ultimately, this can cause freezing that may damage the compressor unit and the entire dehumidifier.
Advantages of Cleaning with Vinegar
Vinegar is an aqueous solution of acetic acid and trace compounds that may include flavorings. It contains about 5-8% acetic acid. It’s typically made by fermenting ethanol using acetic acid bacteria.
There are different types of vinegar, including;
- Apple cider vinegar
- White distilled vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Red or white wine vinegar
The main reason vinegar makes an excellent cleaning agent is its acidic nature. The acetic acid in vinegar is so powerful it easily dissolves mineral deposits. A vinegar solution can also remove dirt and grime with ease.
Additionally, vinegar has a powerful characteristic smell that gives items a fresh smell. Since dirt accumulation and mold growth in the dehumidifier can combine to produce foul odors, it makes sense to use a cleaning agent to counter the foul smells.
Above all, many people love vinegar because it’s wholly natural. In addition, unlike processed chemicals, vinegar is 100% environment-friendly.
How To Clean A Dehumidifier With Vinegar – A Step-By-Step Guide
Now that you know why you need to clean your dehumidifier regularly and why vinegar is the best cleaning agent for this purpose, let’s discuss how to clean your dehumidifier step-by-step.
What You Need
You need a few tools and materials for the job, including;
- A pair of rubber gloves: To protect your hands from dust and grime as well as from the chemicals in vinegar, you need rubber gloves.
- Dust mask: A dust mask is essential if you’re sensitive to allergens. The dehumidifier will most likely have mold and dust mites.
- Essential cleaning tools: Specifically, you need at least a towel, rag, wire brush, and a small toothbrush.
- Vacuum cleaner: You’ll be doing a bit of vacuuming. So, make sure you have a vacuum cleaner ready.
- Cleaning agents: Ideally, you need dishwashing soap, bleach, and vinegar. Of course, you also need plenty of water.
To prevent any harm during the cleaning process;
- Put on your safety gear: This is the time to put on the safety gear and rubber gloves we mentioned earlier. You can also put on safety goggles for further protection.
- Switch OFF and unplug the dehumidifier: Never clean the dehumidifier when it’s switched ON. Ensure to unplug it from the power outlet before you begin cleaning.
Now, you’re ready to clean the dehumidifier. Proceed as follows;
1. Disassemble the dehumidifier
At the very least, you want to remove the water bucket and filter. You’ll need to clean these two parts separately. Refer to the user manual to find where the filter is located. In most cases, it’s located at the back and slides out with ease. Don’t tamper with the sealed components, though, especially the compressor unit.
2. Clean the exterior
Dehumidifiers accumulate a lot of dirt through the vents. The housing is also likely to be dusty. Use a dry cloth to wipe the dust off. You can also dampen the cloth to remove more stubborn grime. For greasy areas, use vinegar. Try to reach every inch of the exterior, including the hard-to-reach parts. Then, leave the unit to dry.
3. Clean the tank
Begin by emptying the reservoir. Then, fill it a quarter way with clean, warm water, one or two squirts of dishwashing soap, and scrub gently with a rag or sponge. Use the toothbrush to scrub stubborn stains.
After scrubbing for at least a full minute, pour out the contents, spray the entire tank with vinegar, and wait for 10 minutes to remove any traces of mold and odors. Then, using a dry cloth, wipe it clean.
4. Clean the filter
Always begin by inspecting the filter. If it’s too worn, consider replacing it. However, if it’s still in good condition, you can clean and reuse it. Start by vacuuming it to remove any loose dirt and dust. Then, using warm water and a mild detergent, make a cleaning solution in a large basin. Dip the filter in the basin, allow it to soak for 10 minutes, then remove and dry it off completely.
5. Reassemble the dehumidifier
Put back the filter and return the tank and all the other parts you removed. You’re now ready to start using the dehumidifier.
How Often should you Clean the Dehumidifier?
Experts recommend that you rinse the dehumidifier with fresh, running water every time you empty it. However, thorough cleaning with vinegar is only needed once every two weeks or once a week if you live in a very dusty area.