Dry your home and laundry with the best dehumidifiers tried and tested
If your home suffers from damp patches or mould, a dehumidifier could be the answer to your problems. The root cause of damp is often excess moisture. Sometimes the construction of the building, poor insulation, ineffective drainage or a lack of ventilation are to blame, while cooking or drying clothes inside can have an impact. Either way, once your humidity level gets much above 60%, it’s bad for both you and your home.
It’s bad for you because bugs and mould love high humidity levels. Dust mites and mould spores thrive and can trigger allergies, skin irritation and respiratory problems such as asthma. Moods and general wellness can also be affected.
It’s bad for your home because you will get patches of damp and mould on your walls and ceilings – some superficial, but some creating lasting damage. You might even find your favourite things affected: books, clothing, furniture, printed art and old records can all be wrecked by mould and damp.
While opening windows and fixing up your home can help with damp or mould, the best way to combat excess humidity is often a dehumidifier. It will dry out your rooms, fight back against the damp and protect your walls and precious things from being affected. We’ve tested dozens of dehumidifiers in real-life damp conditions, measuring their impact using humidity meters and air quality monitors, to recommend the best dehumidifiers to banish the damp and mould in your home.
Best dehumidifiers: At a glance
|Best for larger spaces
|Meaco Arete One 20l | £260
|Check price at John Lewis
|Best value option for smaller homes
|VonHaus Dehumidifier 12l | £140
|Check price at Amazon
|Best for colder spaces
|EcoAir DD1 Simple | £230
|Check price at Ecoair
|Best for low noise and drying laundry
|Meaco DD8L Zambezi | £250
|Check price at Amazon
How to choose the best dehumidifier for you
All dehumidifiers do the same basic job of removing excess moisture from the air. However, there are three different technologies that do all the hard work.
- Compressor dehumidifiers work in much the same way as a fridge or freezer. They draw in air and cool it, condensing any moisture as it passes across a refrigerated coil. The water then drips off into a water tank below, while the air is reheated and released into the room. Compressor dehumidifiers can be noisy and may use more energy than other types, although new compressor technology and refrigerants are bringing improvements on both counts. They’re most efficient at warmer temperatures of 20°C and above, and your best bet if you need to remove lots of moisture from a larger space.
- Peltier dehumidifiers also cool the air and condense the moisture content into water, but they do it using a cold heat-sink rather than a compressor. They’re not as effective as compressors, removing smaller amounts of water in a given time, but they’re quieter and more energy-efficient. Peltier dehumidifiers tend to be compact, lightweight units designed for smaller spaces.
- Desiccant dehumidifiers don’t use a heat-sink or refrigerated coil to condense excess moisture, but instead draw the air across a wheel made from a desiccant material, which sucks the moisture out. As the wheel turns, moisture drips into the tank, while the damp patches are heated to dry them out again, warming up the air. Desiccant models tend to be expensive, but they’re generally quieter in operation than compressor dehumidifiers and more effective at lower temperatures. In fact, they will work in temperatures below 10°C, where compressor and Peltier units won’t work at all. If you need to dry out a loft or garage, you really need a dessicant model, but they can also be useful in a cold British winter for drying out your colder, damper rooms.
What size dehumidifier do I need?
It all depends on how much space you need to dehumidify. Dehumidifiers are often rated in terms of their extraction rate: how much water they can remove from the air in a single day. This is separate from their water tank capacity, which covers how much water they can store before you need to empty them out.
An extraction rate of around five to ten litres per day is fine if you’re dehumidifying a small to medium-sized room in an average UK home, but if you want to dry out larger rooms where you spend more time, you might want to go up to ten litres and beyond. Push that further to 15, 18 or 20 litres and you can dehumidify large rooms or even a flat, terraced house or a floor of a detached house or semi.
If you’re only planning to dehumidify occasionally – for a few hours here or there in a kitchen or bathroom, for instance – you can get away with a mini-dehumidifier with an extraction rate of less than one litre. It will be cheap to buy, cheap to run and perfectly effective. The same applies if you’re trying to fight damp or mould in a smaller area, such as a wardrobe, utility room or box bedroom.
If you’re pulling out 15 to 20 litres per day, the dehumidifier needs to have a tank with the capacity to handle it or you will be emptying it out every few hours. Three litres is the absolute minimum, while five or six litres will give you a bit less emptying to do.
Is there anything else worth looking out for?
Dehumidifiers don’t have to be noisy, and there are some good near-silent options. They will work discreetly in your home without interfering with your sleep or work, so a quiet mode or eco mode is well worth any extra, particularly if it will save you some cash in running costs.
Laundry modes are another great feature. Wet laundry drying on a rack or radiator is one of the most common causes of excess moisture in the winter months, and models with a specific laundry setting are designed to suck the water out of your drying clothes at a faster rate and prevent it from adding to the room’s humidity. They might even create airflow across a drying rack. Your clothes should dry quicker, too, making this a more eco-conscious alternative to slinging them into a tumble dryer.
How much do dehumidifiers cost to run?
This varies according to the design, size and extraction rate. Generally speaking, desiccant dehumidifiers use more energy per hour than a compressor model, but can also work more effectively at removing moisture, which means costs tend to even out.
However, it’s worth looking out for newer and more energy-efficient designs. For example, Meaco’s MeacoDry Arete One 20L costs around 6p per hour to run, based on an electricity rate of 28.3p per kWh, while some models will cost significantly more at the same rate. Use your dehumidifier daily for a couple of hours and the difference soon mounts up.
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How we test dehumidifiers
We test dehumidifiers between October and March in real-world conditions in a damp-prone, three-bed detached home. We set up the dehumidifier in the living room and run it for a period of two hours, using the built-in humidity meter and an air quality monitor to take the humidity readings before switching on, following one hour and then again at two hours. We also measure noise levels using a smartphone app sound meter from a distance of one metre. We then retested the humidifiers in other areas of the house, including an upstairs landing and – with desiccant models – a free-standing concrete garage. We also check how easy it is to empty the water tank, and how easy it is to clean and store the unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The best dehumidifiers you can buy in 2024
1. VonHaus Dehumidifier 12l: Best budget compact dehumidifier
Price when reviewed: £140 | Check price at Amazon
If you’re on a budget, this VonHaus dehumidifier has plenty to recommend it. For one, it’s fairly small and unobtrusive, standing just under 45cm high, and at 9.5kg it’s no great weight to lug around the house. It’s also quiet, putting out around 39dB at its highest fan setting and 35.5dB at its lowest. On top of that, it’s easy to use. You can keep it on its automatic setting and just let it work until it reaches your desired humidity level, set it to run continuously or put it on a one to 24-hour timer.
As a handy visual indicator, there’s an illuminated bar at the front that glows red to green depending on the current humidity level, plus a digital display at the top. Both are turned off in sleep mode, which also sets the fan to low.
Given its diminutive size, you might not expect much in terms of performance – and you’ll find the 2l tank needs emptying a few times a day if you’re working in a larger space. Yet the VonHaus surprised us in our test room by reducing the humidity levels from 80% to 70% within an hour and to 65% within two hours. It’s not going to struggle in small to medium-sized rooms, and you can always use the bundled overflow pipe into a handy bucket if you get fed up with emptying the tank.
Buy something bigger for larger areas or if you have serious damp and mould, but if you simply want to clear a lounge or bedroom of excess moisture, this compact champ will do the job.
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Compressor; Tank size: 2l; Extraction rate: 12 litres per day; Dimensions: 44.5 x 25.5 x 22cm (HWD); Weight: 9.5kg; Warranty: 2 years
2. De’Longhi Tascuigo AriaDry Multi 16L: The best dehumidifier for small to mid-sized homes
Price when reviewed: £350 | Check price at Argos The AriaDry Multi is a stylish, compact dehumidifier which comes in a glossy midnight blue. It’s easy to use, with just three humidity settings targeting 40%, 50%, and 60% levels, and a laundry function. It’s easy to look after too – the 2.1l water tank pulls out neatly from one side, and DeLonghi also provides you with an outlet and a 1m plastic hose for continuous draining, if that’s an option.
Don’t get too excited about any claims of silent running – we found that, while actively dehumidifying, it puts out around 50dB on all of its three settings, so you won’t want to sit and watch the TV while it’s on. However, it’s a good performer for its size, reducing humidity in a damp-prone living room by 9% in the first hour and by nearly 22% within two hours. The laundry function’s quite effective too, helping dry your washing indoors without adding a layer of condensation to the windows. And at 9kg it’s light enough to take from room to room, making this a great dehumidifier for the average flat or small to medium-sized home.
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Compressor; Tank size: 2.1l; Extraction rate: 16 litres per day; Dimensions: 50.8 x 33.2 x 22cm (HWD); Weight: 9kg; Warranty: 2 years
3. Princess 368120 Smart Dehumidifier: Best app-enabled dehumidifier
Price when reviewed: £230 | Check price at Argos
Princess has been making a name for itself through its app-enabled smart appliances, and the 368120 Smart Dehumidifier allows you to control its operations through the Princess Home smartphone app. It’s a shame that there’s no way to combine operations with air quality sensors to create routines, but it’s useful to be able to schedule when the dehumidifier turns on and off during the week. And if you’re not too bothered about controlling it remotely or checking your humidity levels while you’re still at work, it’s still easy to operate through the touch controls on the top panel.
With an extraction rate of 20 litres per day, this model can easily handle larger spaces, though the 3.7l tank might need more regular emptying than the five-litre-plus tanks on rival 20-litre models.
In our tests, we found it a little slower to remove moisture than competitors from Meaco and ProBreeze, but it still reduced humidity levels by 12% within two hours. And while it doesn’t have a dedicated laundry function (even though the spec sheet claims it does) we found the combination of dehumidifying at maximum speed and a louvre that swings upwards and downwards does the job within six or seven hours.
With a sound output of 46 to 51dB it’s nobody’s idea of silent, but with its smart features and effective drying, it’s a neat, affordable way to ditch the damp and dry your clothes.
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Compressor; Tank size: 3.7l; Extraction rate: 20 litres per day; Dimensions: 57.2 x 34.4 x 25cm (HWD); Weight: 13kg; Warranty: 2 years
4. MeacoDry Arete One 20L: The best dehumidifier for larger homes
Price when reviewed: £260 | Check price at John Lewis
High-capacity dehumidifiers are usually power-hungry and noisy, but the MeacoDry Arete One is designed to do more with less energy and a lower volume, topping out at 40dB during typical use and keeping consumption to around 200W. In fact, both figures fall dramatically as humidity levels start to drop. It’s an excellent dehumidifier for larger spaces and, unlike most compressor models, will work at temperatures of between 5 and 25°C.
Its talents don’t end there; it has a laundry mode to dry your washing and a night mode for working quietly while you get some kip, although it’s still not really suitable for lighter sleepers. It also has an air purifier mode, complete with a proper HEPA filter. Throw in easy-to-use controls and a five-year warranty, and you’re looking at one of the most feature-packed and effective dehumidifiers out there, and easily the best for medium-sized and larger homes.
Read our MeacoDry Arete One review
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Compressor; Tank size: 4.8l; Extraction rate: 20 litres per day; Dimensions: 56.2 x 37.6 x 23.2cm (HWD); Weight: 15kg; Warranty: 5 years
5. EcoAir DD1 Simple: The best dehumidifier for colder spaces
Price when reviewed: £230 | Check price at EcoAir
This EcoAir model can extract up to seven litres of moisture per day, and as a desiccant-type dehumidifier, it works at lower temperatures than your average refrigerant device.
It’s slightly louder and consumes more power than the equivalent refrigerant, but can also run more effectively over shorter periods. That makes it a good bet for drying clothes or using in an outside office, garage or workshop where damp is becoming a problem, and it’s relatively lightweight and portable to boot.
With a two-litre tank, it might need emptying more regularly than some models, but there’s a 1m hose if you need continuous draining into a sink or drain. And while there’s no timer, you do get a laundry mode and a choice of quiet and turbo functions, and the rotary control is – as advertised – simple and easy to use.
Keep it running all day long and the costs could mount up, but this is an excellent dehumidifier for situations where a refrigerant model just won’t work.
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Desiccant; Tank size: 2l; Extraction rate: 6 litres per day; Dimensions: 48.5 x 29 x 17.5cm; Weight: 6kg; Warranty: 2 years
6. Meaco DD8L Zambezi: The most versatile dehumidifier
Price when reviewed: £250 | Check price at Amazon
Meaco’s superb Arete One dehumidifiers are currently hard to come by, but you can still lay hands on the DD8L Zambezi. There’s a lot to like about this diminutive desiccant dehumidifier, not least the cartoon elephant on the LCD screen who looks happy when the machine’s hard at work and sad when it’s sitting in standby.
However, its biggest strength is that you can use it just about anywhere: at 7.8kg, it’s easier to carry around the house than most compressor models; the 20cm-deep unit tucks out of the way neatly; and as it uses desiccant technology, it works at temperatures as low as 1°C, so you can use it inside the home or in the garage. What’s more, you still get features like a digital humidity display, a daily run timer and a built-in ioniser that you’ll struggle to find on many desiccant models.
The controls take a little getting used to; you need to step through the different options with the left and right cursor keys, then select between them with the up and down keys. It’s not hard to switch to the laundry setting or set a timer, though, and it’s a real plus to be able to set your dehumidifier to turn on and off at the same time each day.
Most importantly, it’s an efficient dehumidifier, taking the humidity levels in our test room from 69% to 48% within an hour and reaching 44% within a second hour.
At 39dB to 44dB it’s not too loud, and the Laundry+ mode did a fantastic job of drying a rack full of washing in six hours, even if a couple of heavier garments were still a little damp in places.
Power consumption can be high, peaking at over 600W when working at full power, but this comes down to around 350W as it nears your required humidity level. Light, easy to empty and versatile, this is a great dehumidifier.
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Desiccant; Tank size: 3l; Extraction rate: 7.5 litres per day; Dimensions: 55 x 36 x 20cm (HWD); Weight: 7.8kg; Warranty: 2 years
7. Swan ActivAir SH16810N: Best dehumidifier for value
Price when reviewed: £220 | Check price at Swan
The Swan ActivAir SH16810N keeps things simple. There are no fancy modes; you just set the desired humidity level, pick one of the two fan speeds and let it go to work. Beyond that you get a one to 24-hour shut down timer and a “swing” function to make the air output oscillate upwards and downwards, but that’s about it. It’s a set and forget kind of appliance.
The design is just as minimal, with a two-tone matt white and gloss black plastic casing, touch controls and a digital display on the top. Standing just over 56cm high, it’s fairly compact for a 20 litre dehumidifier. We would like to see a larger tank – with a capacity of just four litres, it’s going to need emptying at least once or twice a day in the colder, damper seasons – but otherwise it just works.
In terms of noise levels, it’s not going to challenge the likes of Meaco’s Arete or Zambezi models, putting out between 45 and 49dB while in use. To balance that, though, it’s powerful, reducing humidity levels in our test room from 81% to 72% within an hour and reaching 63% in two hours. Plus, while there’s no dedicated laundry function, it does a solid job of drying clothes, with vests and T-shirts hanging on a rack good to go within around six hours, with jeans and sweatshirts dry in roughly eight hours.
Rival dehumidifiers have even more drying power, along with quieter running, but this is a solid, affordable and well-designed option built to tackle larger rooms.
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Compressor; Tank size: 4l; Extraction rate: 20 litres per day; Dimensions: 56.1 x 34.2 x 25.1cm (HWD); Weight: 13.25kg; Warranty: 2 years
8. ProBreeze PB-08: Best value dehumidifier for medium-sized and larger homes
Price when reviewed: £180 | Check price at ProBreeze
This ProBreeze model is a fantastic low-cost option for larger homes, with an extraction rate of 20 litres per day, a big 5.5-litre tank and a dedicated Laundry mode. This runs at full tilt to dehumidify your clothes while blowing out air from the vent up top, and we found it worked wonders on a rack full of just-spun washing. As for dehumidifying, our test room went from 78% to 67% within an hour, falling further to 63% after another sixty minutes. Given this was on a chilly winter’s day, that’s quite an impressive result.
It’s not all good news. At 45 to 47dB with its two fan speeds, the ProBreeze doesn’t rival Meaco’s Arete series dehumidifiers for quiet running. And while we didn’t get near the stated 440W power consumption, peaks of 284W make this model more expensive to run as well.
Still, as long as you’re not planning to run it continuously throughout the colder months, the PB-08 gives exceptional value, giving you plenty of drying power at a surprisingly low price.
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Compressor; Tank size: 5.5l; Extraction rate: 20 litres per day; Dimensions: 58 x 32 x 20cm (HWD); Weight: 13.8kg; Warranty: 2 years