Sometimes enclosed spaces can become quite damp, leading to an unpleasant odor and damage to items stored there. This could be your closet, desk drawers, or storage shed, but the result of excess moisture is the same – an unhealthy atmosphere. A great solution is a mini dehumidifier. There are many different kinds of dehumidifier available for smaller, enclosed areas, from little electric models to those that use silica gel beads for desiccant action. We’ll break down all the details on the best mini dehumidifier in each category so that you’re sure to find one that works for your needs.
But first, why is excess humidity a problem at all, especially if you don’t spend much time in the damp space? In a word, mold.
- The Problem with Mold
- Different Types of Dehumidifier
- Choosing Your Best Mini Dehumidifier
- Bonus Features in a Mini Dehumidifier
- Product Comparison
- 1 Davis Instruments Air-Dryr 1000 Dryer
- 2 BARSKA 150G Dehumidifier, Blue, Small
- 3 hOme Small Dehumidifier for 1200 cu ft (150 sq ft) Bathroom or Closet - 16 oz Capacity Mini Quiet Safe Compact Thermoelectric Energy Efficient Dehumidifier - Auto Shut Off
- 4 KAIKING Mini Dehumidifier, Auto Shut-off Portable Electric Dehumidifier for Damp Air Mold Moisture in Small Closet Wardrobe Kitchen (Safe Compact Thermo-electric)https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074T89Z22/
- 5 Pro Breeze Renewable Cordless Mini Dehumidifier - For small spaces - Gun Safe, Wardrobe, Cabinet
- Cleaning Your Dehumidifier
- Recharging a Desiccant Dehumidifier
The Problem with Mold
Mold in the home can be the cause of many health problems, including respiratory infections, asthma, and allergic reactions. Some of the troubles can even stick around long after you are no longer exposed. Your first clue that mold exists in a space can be an increase in discomfort when you’re around it, but a close second will be the dank moldy smell.
Mold anywhere in the home is unattractive and smelly. It can hide in the tiniest cracks and easily regain a foothold, even after scrubbing, if the moisture level is not reduced. In general, a humidity level above 60% creates the perfect environment for mold to spread.
Mold can also damage the materials that make up your home. It will eat away at wood, drywall, ceilings, and floors, eventually causing instability of your home’s structure. Mold also grows very quickly, and easily makes its way throughout a home, no matter where it started.
It can be quite costly to fully eradiate mold, so if you are able to stop it from getting started in your space, you can better protect your family’s health, your investment in the home, and the size of your bank account. A small dehumidifier is an affordable and easy step to help keep humidity below 60% in the problem area, and some models cost nothing to operate.
Different Types of Dehumidifier
You may think of a large, noisy box when you think about a dehumidifier, but in reality, there are several types that all have a different mechanism by which they pull moisture from the air. Since you are looking for a mini dehumidifier to handle a small enclosed space, you’ll be able to choose from any of these types to find the best one for you. Note that these units do not represent the best dehumidifier for bedroom use because the space there is too open.
Electric, Refrigerated Coils
Some dehumidifiers feature chilled metal coils and use a fan to direct humid air over them. As damp air meets the cold coils, moisture is extracted and then dripped into a container. The water stays in the bucket until emptied, or in some cases, drained through a hose placed into sink, floor drain, or out a window. In smaller models with a continuous drain feature, the water must usually flow under the pressure of gravity from a higher point to a lower drain. It is relatively rare to find a mini dehumidifier with hose attachment, however.
Chilled coil models are electric and need to be plugged in to an outlet. Some of the larger ones use a compressor, which can be noisy, but the mini dehumidifiers use something called peltier technology instead, and are much quieter when running.
If you don’t have electricity in the space or don’t want to use it, consider a desiccant model. These dehumidifiers use absorbent silica gel beads to pull water from the air. They don’t consume electricity, but will need to be recharged every so often, a process in which the trapped moisture gets released back into the air so the beads can begin to absorb again. Often you can plug desiccant dehumidifiers into the wall to warm them enough to speed up this process. However, that does get you into the territory of using electricity, and needs to be done in a drier space so you don’t dump all that moisture right back into the area you were treating.
Desiccant dehumidifiers don’t have the same capacity as electric models, meaning they can’t pull as much water from the air per day. For this reason, they are best used in smaller, enclosed spaces.
Another option for a small space is an air dryer. It doesn’t use desiccant material or coils but rather takes advantage of the natural process of convection. This type simply heats the nearby air past the dew point to dry it out. The warm, dry air naturally rises, and denser air (colder and more humid) sinks down to take its place and be heated. Air dryers are simple machines that seldom break because they use only a heating element, no moving parts. However, they are not ideal during the hottest days when the last thing you want to do is warm up your space. It’s important to know that all electric dehumidifiers generate some heat as a byproduct of operation.
The type of dehumidifier you ultimately choose should be based on the size of the space you plan to treat, your access to electricity, and your need to control the temperature within the space. For example, if you are concerned about rust in your gun safe or papers in a filing cabinet, it doesn’t matter too much if the space is warm because you don’t physically go in there. But if you are trying to keep clothes in your closet from getting moldy, you may want a model that won’t make you sweat when you enter.
Choosing Your Best Mini Dehumidifier
There are a couple of factors beyond the mode of operation that are important in choosing a mini dehumidifier. You want it to be powerful enough to handle the conditions in its intended space, but small enough to fit in there easily.
Before making your purchase, take a look around the area and decide where a dehumidifier might fit. There are various sizes and shapes available. The desiccant models are quite compact and can be placed basically anywhere, any which way. Electric models are still compact in size, but need to remain upright since they store water in a collection tank. Depending on the size of your space, you may want to place your dehumidifier on a shelf or the floor. The top rated dehumidifiers that make up our list assume that you don’t have a ton of extra space; just make sure you have assessed the area and the availability of an outlet if you choose an electric model.
Capacity refers to the amount of water that the dehumidifier can draw from the surrounding air per day, not the size of the tank. When determining capacity, pay attention to the AHAM rating, which describes the unit’s capacity at average humidity levels. If the unit displays a “saturation” capacity, that refers to the dehumidifier’s performance when the air is fully saturated with moisture. Any dehumidifier pulls more moisture when the air is saturated, but this is not a condition that ever happens outside of a natural disaster like a hurricane.
The downside of a mini dehumidifier is that it can’t hold as much water as a larger model. This is not a major issue in spaces that get used frequently as you’re likely to notice right away when it needs to be emptied, and the best dehumidifiers shut off automatically when they get full. A mini dehumidifier typically holds between 500 – 1000 ml of water, but once full, it does you no good until emptied. You’ll need to remember to check on it frequently.
Bonus Features in a Mini Dehumidifier
The main criteria for the best mini dehumidifier are a water capacity sufficient for your needs and compact size. But there are additional features that may help you make your decision.
Additional features of electric models
•Automatic shut off
•Clear viewing window to determine water level
Additional features of desiccant models
•Color changing beads to indicate fullness
•Plug in recharging
•Manual recharging in microwave or oven
•Low power consumption
Now let’s take a look at a variety of the best dehumidifiers.
8.3 x 6.3 x 11.8 inches
1000 cubic feet
5 x 3.5 x 1.2 inches
10 cubic feet
6.5 x 5.3 x 8.5 in;
150 sq ft
5.1 x 4.3 x 8.3 in;
200 sq ft
11.1 x 7.7 x 17.3 in;
333 cubic feet
1 Davis Instruments Air-Dryr 1000 Dryer
We wanted to include an Air Dryr 1000 review because it works a little differently than most dehumidifiers. This is a small circular disk that warms the damp air around it to above the dew point (where moisture is held in suspension). Warm air rises and the cooler, damp air replaces it. It works much like any heater in your home, which keeps the air quite dry as a byproduct of its warming action. An air drying dehumidifier uses heat but its primary goal is to dry the air. This type of unit is also good for eliminating cold drafts.
Though the air dryer does become warm, it is never too hot to touch and is compact enough to place in relatively small spaces. The Davis Instruments model is made to conserve electricity (it uses about as much as a light bulb) and can be run 24 hours a day. It operates silently as it has no fan. Natural convection creates the necessary air circulation. If air flow to the unit ever becomes blocked, the device shuts off automatically so you don’t waste electricity for no reason.
Built with neutral beige polycarbonate housing, this dehumidifier is a long-lasting solution for humidity in enclosed spaces such as closets, safes, and RVs. There is no water containment process so you don’t have to empty a tank or recharge silica gel beads. That makes it ideal for places you may not visit very often – you can just set it and forget it.
- 14 x 14 x 5 inches
- 2.2 pounds
- One year warranty
- Low energy use
- Never needs emptied
- Silent operation
- Depending on humidity, may not be a standalone solution
- Will warm up the space slightly
- Does best in enclosed spaces
2 BARSKA 150G Dehumidifier, Blue, Small
This desiccant model is the only product on our list that can actually function as décor as well as a dehumidifier. It is a cute blue pillow filled with silica gel beads that you can toss into closets, drawers, or anywhere. It protects stored items that can be damaged by excess moisture, such as photos, electronics, ammunition, or clothing. Because of its small size, the Barska pillow is not made to pull moisture from an entire room. It is ideal for pantries where food goes stale in a day, or a closet where the clothes smell of mildew. Other helpful uses include suitcases, camping tents, and RVs, as all of these areas will be subject to varying levels of humidity while traveling.
The Barska mini dehumidifying pillows can be tossed in place and left for months. The silica gel beads inside the pillow change from blue to pink when they’ve reached their absorption capacity. Recharging is fast and easy. It only needs four minutes in your microwave to be ready to go again, and higher wattage microwaves can do it in even less time. How is that for an energy-saving choice?
The desiccant used can be filled with moisture and recharged again and again for many years, but will gradually hold less moisture each time. You will know it is time to replace it when the beads don’t stay blue for more than a day or two. We recommend buying several pillows to place within your belongings in strategic locations.
- 5 x 3.5 x 1.2 inches
- 7 ounces
- One year warranty
- Uses almost no energy (only to recharge in microwave)
- Small and attractive
- Long useful lifespan
- Only meant for small enclosed spaces
- Will melt in microwave if cooked too long
- Color changing indicator less reliable as product ages
3 hOme Small Dehumidifier for 1200 cu ft (150 sq ft) Bathroom or Closet - 16 oz Capacity Mini Quiet Safe Compact Thermoelectric Energy Efficient Dehumidifier - Auto Shut Off
This hOme mini dehumidifier is a great electric model because of its compact size and simple controls. It works quietly via a thermoelectric peltier module and covers rooms up to 150 sq feet. At just 6.5 x 5.3 x 8.5 inches, it should be easy to find room for it, as long as you have an outlet available. But though the machine itself is quite compact, its power cord is 6 ft long so you have some flexibility in where to put it.
The dehumidifier can pull 250 ml of moisture from the air each day, and the collection tank holds twice that, up to 500 ml of water. Once filled, the auto shut-off feature triggers and an LED indicator light shows visually that it’s time to empty the tank. This model works in spaces with temperatures from 15-40C (59-104F) and humidity levels between 40-80%.
The company offers 30 days from the date of purchase to return this product with no questions asked, plus a two year warranty on repairs.
- 6.5 x 5.3 x 8.5 inches
- 2.6 pounds
- Two year warranty
- Perfect for tight spaces
- Important safety features
- Auto shut-off
- Not be strong enough to replace bathroom exhaust fan
- Should only run for 12 hours at a time
- AC adapter can get warm upon extended use
4 KAIKING Mini Dehumidifier, Auto Shut-off Portable Electric Dehumidifier for Damp Air Mold Moisture in Small Closet Wardrobe Kitchen (Safe Compact Thermo-electric)
The Kaiking Mini Dehumidifier is a solid workhorse with a capacity of 250 ml of water per day. It works in rooms up to 200 square feet, and has a larger collection tank that stores 500 ml of water before it needs to be emptied. Like other models, it shuts off automatically when the tank is full as well as triggers an LED indicator light.
You may especially like the Kaiking if you need to place your dehumidifier on a surface that might also get damp from time to time. The unit has anti-slip rubber feet to give it stability even in rough conditions, or tight spaces where it might be kicked or bumped. It works well in relative humidity up to 80% and temperatures up to 86F.
If sound bothers you, you will love the “whisper technology” that allows this unit to work at a low 35 dB. It also purifies the air as it works. A one year warranty is included with purchase.
- 5.1 x 4.3 x 8.3 inches
- 2.63 pounds
- One year warranty
- Anti-slip rubber feet
- High capacity for small dehumidifier
- Whisper technology for quiet operation
- Ambient temp affects how much moisture is collected
- May struggle in rooms without ventilation
- Only appropriate for spaces up to 200 sq ft
5 Pro Breeze Renewable Cordless Mini Dehumidifier - For small spaces - Gun Safe, Wardrobe, Cabinet
The Pro Breeze non-toxic desiccant dehumidifier is a compact device that covers a relatively large 333 cubic feet. Advertised as ideal for wardrobes, cabinets, jewelry boxes, and gym bags, it uses orange silica gel beads that gradually turn green when they’re full. There is a small viewing window on the front that lets you know when it is time to recharge the unit.
You can recharge simply by plugging into an outlet to warm up. The manufacturer says that recharging takes 8-10 hours, but some users have indicated that it takes closer to two days to fully dry the beads. The unit may also be quite warm to the touch while plugged in.
On average, the dehumidifier can go for 20-30 days before getting full, depending of course on the relative humidity in the space. Total moisture capacity of the internal silica gel beads is 5 ounces. If you use your ProBreeze in a gym bag or closet within a larger space that is generally quite humid, running another small dehumidifier in the larger space can help support the desiccant model and provide a longer time between recharging sessions. Given that your ProBreeze will be out of commission for up to two days while recharging, you’ll want to have a backup product during that time anyway.
- 7.3 x 6 x 2 inches
- 15.2 ounces
- No warranty
- Compact design; requires no power cord to operate
- Covers a large area
- Easy viewing window
- Beads may leak when moved
- Takes a long time to recharge
- No warranty
Cleaning Your Dehumidifier
The work required to keep your dehumidifier in great shape depends a lot on the type you choose and the features it offers. The mini dehumidifiers on our list don’t require much more than regular cleaning to keep them in top shape. The simplest models, such as the Barska pillow desiccant dehumidifier, needs no regular maintenance at all beyond recharging for a few minutes in the microwave. Following are some tips to maintain your dehumidifier in good working order. It starts with basic cleaning.
All electric dehumidifiers use a fan to pull moist air in and vent the drier air. Dust and floating debris is pulled in along with the air and builds up on vents. When these critical pathways become clogged, the motor doesn’t get enough airflow, and therefore can’t do its job efficiently. Clogged vents also lead to burnout, completely destroying your dehumidifier. Dusting out the vents frequently will extend its lifespan.
Water Collection Tank
We’ve talked about how humid conditions make it easy for mold to grow, and your dehumidifier’s collection tank is pretty much always wet. It needs to be cleaned out regularly in order to prevent mold growth in there – this can get back into your air via the circulating fan, negating the positive effects of running the dehumidifier in the first place. Use dish soap and water or a disinfectant wipe to clean out your collection tank every few times it gets emptied.
Some of the more basic electric dehumidifiers don’t have air filters, but if yours does, pay attention to when it gets dirty and needs cleaned or replaced. A dirty filter keeps the dehumidifier from working well, just like a clogged vent. But air filters are also used to purify your air at the same time as dehumidifying it, and that is a very nice feature for anyone, especially allergy sufferers.
Desiccant style dehumidifiers with seams, either fabric, plastic, or metal, can sometimes split under pressure. Take it from us, you do not want thousands of gel beads spread over your floor! Whenever you recharge your unit, take a moment to examine all seams carefully. Secure any spots that look like they may separate with a couple of stitches or a type of glue appropriate to the construction material.
Recharging a Desiccant Dehumidifier
There are two ways to recharge a desiccant dehumidifier, but both require heating up the unit enough to cause the collected moisture to evaporate back into the air. One method is simpler, but the other takes less time. Desiccant dehumidifiers contain silica gel that can be recharged over and over again indefinitely, but the gel loses a little bit of its absorption ability the each time it fills to capacity and dries again.
1. Plug it in
Many desiccant dehumidifiers come with the ability to plug them in for recharging. The unit pulls power from the outlet to warm up the device, which causes the trapped moisture to evaporate. Desiccant models don’t use power to dehumidify, but they do take power when plugged in. This method is very simple, but it can take a long time during which the device is quite warm to the touch. It may not be preferred if you have young children in the house. There is also an electricity cost associated with keeping the unit plugged in for many hours.
2. Bake it
Other desiccant dehumidifiers need to be recharged in the oven or microwave. Recommended temperatures and times for this will vary, so be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions. As a broad guide, simply pre-heat your oven to 250-300 degrees F. If the dehumidifier is a canister style one, remove the lid before placing it into the oven for two to three hours. Be sure to use an oven mitt to remove it and let it cool fully before replacing it. This method works quite a bit faster than the plug-in models. In fact, some models can be recharged in just minutes in the microwave. But again, they can be destroyed if you cook them too long, so it’s best to start with less time and slowly work up until you discover how much time is best in your particular microwave.
With the information in this article and the wide range of available mini dehumidifiers, you should be well prepared to handle the humidity in the dampest of small spaces. Say goodbye to smelly mold and mildewed clothing! Just be sure to make any necessary repairs if the source of moisture is not strictly environmental – even the best mini dehumidifier can’t compete against a water leak. But that concern aside, any of the products on our list should be just what you need for cleaner, drier air and a healthier home environment that protects your cherished possessions inside.