If you're trying to recycle excess water, then you may be wondering 'Is dehumidifier water safe to drink?' These gadgets have large tanks that fill up with water and it feels wasteful to chuck it straight down the drain.
But while you might be tempted to fill your glass with this waste product, you should know that it's probably not safe to drink—largely because of how the water is stored. There are some other uses for it though, which we explore below, so you can still find clever ways to recycle it.
Haven't splashed out one of these gadgets yet? Have a look through our round-up of the best dehumidifiers you can buy. And if you need some tips on how to maintain your model, read up on how to clean a dehumidifier.
- Related: What is relative humidity?
Is dehumidifier water safe to drink?
Dehumidifiers use a fan to extract warm air from the room, remove the moisture from this air, then push the now cooler, drier air back out into the room. When a dehumidifier draws in warm air to remove moisture molecules, it collects and stores this moisture in a container. Eventually, the machine will store up quite a sizable amount of water.
It may seem like a waste to dump a full bucket of water down the drain after your dehumidifier has filled itself up. After all, the water that a dehumidifier collects comes straight from the air—so, it must be as pure as rain water, right? Unfortunately, it's not quite so simple.
As Joe Schwarcz explained to McGill University in 2018, a dehumidifier typically uses "cooling coils" much like a refrigerator, to cause the water vapor to condense into water. This process does leave behind "pure" water. As Schwarcz wrote, "The condensed water is pure because when the water originally evaporated into the air, it left its impurities and minerals behind."
However, it's likely that the water doesn't stay pure for long, because the elements of the dehumidifier are covered in contaminants. As soon as the water comes in contact with the coils or the tank where it is collected, it will be exposed to any dirt or bacteria that has built up. Plus, the tank itself provides what Schwarcz called "a hospitable medium for the growth of bacteria and molds." In other words, there's a good chance that the water in your dehumidifier tank has a few unpleasant impurities in it.
Is dehumidifier water safe for plants?
While dehumidifier water may not be exactly safe for human consumption, there are some other potential uses for your collected water. One useful option is to use the water to water your plants. As Schwarcz pointed out, there may be traces of dangerous elements and toxins lurking in your dehumidifier tank, so avoid using the water on plants that you are growing to eat.
Water Management Specialist Janet Manning told Live Science that dehumidifier water is fine for plants if the air inside your home is clean. However, if you have mold issues in your house, or plants that are suffering with fungal disease, it is best to avoid using the water on your greenery. Manning said: "It's possible that some of the fungal spores could be floating around in the air and as the air is drawn through the dehumidifier, there's a chance you may well be collecting those concentrated spores in the water."
- Read more: Is dehumidifier water good for plants?
How to dispose of dehumidifier water?
If you're looking for another way to get rid of your dehumidifier water that isn't simply dumping it down the drain, there are a few other safe options.
Dehumidifier water probably isn't safe to drink, but it's perfectly safe to use as part of your cleaning routine. Use your dehumidifier water in your mop bucket or with soap for your walls, countertops or even your car. Just be sure to avoid using this water to wash your dishes or cooking tools, as contaminants in the water may find their way into your next meal.
Another great use for your dehumidifier water is your steam iron. These irons require a small amount of water to create steam and your dehumidifier water is a wonderful alternative to your regular tap water.
When you flush your toilet, you are using fresh tap water. Instead, keep your dehumidifier water close at hand in your bathroom, and pour this water into your toilet bowl before you flush -- this way, you'll save a large amount of fresh water from your taps.
Pour it down the drain
If none of these methods suit you, your last option is to simply pour your dehumidifier water down the drain when your tank is full. While the water isn't usually safe to drink, it won't damage your pipes, so it's perfectly safe to pour it straight down the sink.
It can be hard to observe what looks like perfectly clean water going down the drain. While your dehumidifier tank may look like the ideal extra store of fresh drinking water, it's usually best to avoid consuming this water. Nevertheless, this water can always be used around the house in other ways, so, even if it can't be consumed, it doesn't have to go to waste.
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Meg Walters is a freelance journalist and features writer. Raised in Canada and based in South East London, Meg covers culture, entertainment, lifestyle, and health. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, i-D, Refinery29, Stylist, GQ, Shondaland, Healthline, HelloGiggles and other publications.
When she's not writing, Meg is probably daydreaming about traveling the world, re-watching an old rom-com with a glass of wine, or wasting time on Twitter, where you can follow her @wordsbymeg.