What Humidity Should I Set My Dehumidifier To?

Humidity can be a huge factor that really impacts your home’s comfort. It can also contribute to a lot of problems if not dealt with.

The good news is that a dehumidifier can help tremendously.

But what setting should you use? If you’re wondering, “What humidity should I set my dehumidifier to?” you’ll find what you need to know here.

Home air quality is very important to me and I believe everyone deserves to enjoy great comfort at home. I’d love to help you so I put together this useful guide which explains humidity and much more.

Infographic – Dehumidifier facts and settings

Infographic - what humidity should I set my dehumidifier to

Humidity levels in your home

Image of a woman sweating and cooling with a fan due to high humidity
High humidity can make you very uncomfortable and sweat much more than normal, even in relatively normal temperatures. One reason for this is because your body can’t cool itself the same way as when in a lower humidity environment. A dehumidifier can help a lot by bringing the moisture level down to a far more comfortable level.

The truth is that there is no “perfect” humidity level – there is, however, a good range of humidity settings you can use as a guideline. Also, don’t worry too much about getting the settings exactly right. That’s not critical. We’re aiming to get it in the right approximate range, basically.

What we’re looking to do is bring down the humidity where you live or in your basement to a level where:

  1. Problems like mold, moisture-related odors, and dust mites are controlled
  2. You feel comfortable

With these 2 goals in mind, let’s continue.

What is humidity?

Relative humidity comfort scale image diagram

Relative humidity, as shown in the scale above, directly affects the comfort you feel when exposed to the air both at home or outside. Most people feel their best when the humidity around them falls within a certain range: generally 30%-60%. If the humidity level is too low, we feel the symptoms of dry air. If it’s too high, we may feel very hot and become subject to overheating and excessive perspiration. (Note: there are secondary problems caused by the humidity being too high – see below)

The term humidity is used to describe the amount of moisture, expressed as a percentage, in the air around us.

There are actually a number of different scientific terms used to describe it depending on different criteria, but let’s not make it more complicated than it has to be. When it comes to most situations and especially your home, we’re concerned with relative humidity.

You may have noticed that some time after it rains your windows fog up from moisture and you feel a bit warmer. That’s exactly the same effect – if the humidity rises a lot you feel much less comfortable and even though it’s not really warmer, it feels warmer.

Additionally, high humidity levels bring a number of secondary problems that homeowners sometimes experience like mold and dust mites.

Respiratory infections and sinus issues, as well as diseases associated with viruses and bacteria, are increased when the level falls below 30%. Also, if you have a cold or other illness, it’s more difficult to recover without a healthy humidity level in your home. I’ve experienced this firsthand!

Relative humidity

Bottle of water with condensation in humidity example image

Condensation is the collection of nearby water vapor on objects that cool the air around them. You may have observed this on a cold drink bottle, for example. In especially humid areas the amount of condensation is even higher. Likewise, when the area around you is excessively humid the moisture can react with and affect nearby materials, promote unhealthy air, encourage dust mite growth, and affect your body.

Relative humidity is a way of expressing how much water vapor (moisture) is in the air depending upon the current temperature. This is because as temperature increases, the amount of moisture the air can hold increases. And likewise – when the temperature decreases, the amount of moisture it can hold decreases.

Ideally the comfort range – the range in which most people feel pretty good – is about 30% to 60% approximately. The truth is, what feels best to you depends on you and varies from person to person.

A great rule of thumb is to think of about 50% as a good upper limit for both in your home and basement. Under 60% is necessary to control or prevent mold growth. In order to reduce or prevent dust mite problems, you’ll want to keep it under 50%.

So, for several practical reasons, around 45% is a good setting for your dehumidifier.

Note that you should always check the minimum operating temperature of your humidifier. Be sure you don’t attempt to operate it at a lower temperature than it’s rated for.

Basement dehumidifier settings

hOmelabs dehumidifier in basement image
Basement humidifiers like this popular hOmeLabs dehumidifier model can prevent mold, keep “musty” odors under control, and make your additional basement space safe for breathing. Many dehumidifiers have attachment points for drain hoses which can be routed to a drain or sump pit to avoid having to the water collection container.

Basements are quite a bit different from the rest of your home. This is primarily due to being surrounded in most cases by soil that’s high in moisture. Because of this, humidity levels down there are a source of odors and mold if you don’t take action.

Windows that aren’t sealed properly are also a source of additional humidity from the outdoors. Don’t overlook this. If your basement is exposed to a constant source of moisture from outside your humidifier will have to work constantly.

That’s definitely a problem! This means your electric bill will be high and your dehumidifier’s life span will shorten. Not to mention how much water you’ll have to dump from the container if not using a water removal drain setup!

Set it right to protect your basement & air quality

Mold tends to be a problem at humidity levels above 60%. You’ll want to be sure to keep your basement dehumidifier at 60% or less at a minimum.

Ideally, however, the best setting is around 50% or so. Set yours to that and observe how long it runs before making an adjustment. If it runs continuously (never shuts off) or never seems able to reach the desired setting, it’s time to look further. There’s a good chance you have sources of additional air leakage which allow more moisture to enter your basement.

If additional outside air is allowed to enter your basement the dehumidifier will have to work much longer and much harder than it otherwise should. This also means your electric bill will rise, too!

Also, be aware of what’s happening with your dehumidifier during colder temperatures, as if the temperature drops below 65°F (18.3°C) it could potentially freeze up.

The good news is that once your dehumidifier has had some time to operate and the humidity level has come down, you’ll notice an improvement in the typical “musty” odor found in basements. Mold growth will also halt, although that’s not always visible readily.

You’ll notice that the air is better for breathing and you can put your basement space to better use afterward.

Home dehumidifier settings

Dehumidifier in living room example
Much like a dehumidifier you can use in your basement, they’re very helpful in your home’s living areas as well. They are extremely effective in high humidity areas and during humid seasons or environments. A dehumidifier can bring comfort back to your living spaces. They’re also especially great if you don’t have air conditioning but suffer from warm air with high humidity. Shown here is a great choice, No products found.

For your home’s living spaces, it’s not so much different from what you’d set a basement dehumidifier to, but there is a little bit more to consider.

It’s not just about comfort!

Unlike basements, bedrooms, living rooms, or any other area where humans and pets reside are prone to dust mite problems. Dust mites reproduce and thrive at humidity levels above 50% or so. They’re a major source of allergies and are an extremely common issue as they feed off of human & pet skin cells.

They’re found most commonly in fabrics & materials where humans and pets reside, like beds and couches.

Dust mites – sometimes called bed mites – are the most common cause of allergy from house dust. Dust mites live and multiply easily in warm, humid places. They prefer temperatures at or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity of 75 to 80 percent. They die when the humidity falls below 50 percent.American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Knowing this, I recommend you keep your home’s dehumidifier at no higher than 50%.

Feel free to adjust it lower if needed. After all, your comfort is a personal preference. Just bear the guidelines in mind if you’re suffering from allergies or other respiratory problems.

Use a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity in your home below 50%, making it a less suitable environment for dust mites.

The optimal range for a home dehumidifier is to use a setting between 30%-50%, based on your comfort. 45% is reported by many people as ideal.

Note: You can also use an air purifier alongside a dehumidifier to deal with dust mites, pet dander, or other air quality problems. There’s no problem using them both together for healthy and fresh air.

Dehumidifier settings table

Here’s a simplified table containing the dehumidifier settings you should use:

Type/Location Dehum. Settings Notes
Basement Set to 60% or below. 45-50% are good settings to use. To control mold, keep below 60% humidity. Be sure to observe dehumidifier. If running continuously, check for air leakage allowing outside humidity to enter basement. Don’t use dehumidifier at low temperatures (ex.: winter)
Home/Living areas Set to 30-60% for desired comfort range. 45% is a great target for most people. Set dehumidifier to 50% and below to keep dust mites from thriving. Adjust to below 50% based on comfort level. use 45% as a general guide, as is suitable for many people. Reduce use in winter as humidity will drop with cold or when heat is in use.

Additional information

Are you interested in learning more about what humidifiers do? They’re a great help when the humidity is too low like during the cold winter months. Here’s my excellent post about what humidifiers do and how they can help you. You’ll find some suggested models there, too.

If you’re also in need of better air quality, you can find some of the best-rated yet affordable air purifiers here as well.  I own and personally recommend the best-selling GermGuardian AC4825 and I’ve written an extensive review here.

Have any questions or suggestions? Feel free to contact me or leave a comment!

Your comments are welcome!

  1. Hi. I’ve just purchased a dehumidifier as we dry washing in our home daily on airers and both my husband and son usually shower for at least 30 minutes each time, resulting in dripping walls. My bathroom ceiling is covered in black mould and I’d like to redo it. Would it be advisable to use the dehumidifier after each shower and when drying clothes or would I need to put it on more often? Once I’ve redone the bathroom ceiling I’m hoping I won’t have to do it again for a long time. Thank you.

    • Good morning, Jenne. Sounds like you have a lot of moisture trapped!

      It would be ideal to use the dehumidifier not just after showering but also before and during it. The best way to know what’s going on is to get an inexpensive humidity gauge, as they’re often under $10 and work well. As a bonus they usually have the temperature displayed too.

      That way you can see when you need to use the dehumidifier (when the humidity level is high, ~60% and above). A shower will put out moisture faster than a lot of dehumidifiers can remove it so you may need to leave it running for some time.

      Hopefully you’ve just got a buildup of mildew and not mold, like in this article about mold vs. mildew.

  2. Hi, I use my Tatung dehumidifier in a wooden garden shed where I store a lot of office paper records. The Tatung has settings of Lo or Hi, I guess you are saying I should set it about midway but slightly nearer the Lo than the Hi? Simon

    • Hi Simon. I tried but didn’t have any luck finding an owner’s manual for the Tatung online before I replied.

      Basically, it depends if Lo or Hi mean for low humidity & higher humidity, or lo mode (lower humidity reduction) or higher humidity reduction. It’s hard to say without more information.

      If low is under 60% humidity, then yes I would use that.

  3. Hi Grant i have a timer on my humidifier and what ever i have it set at, it doesn’t seem to want to come back on. I would prefer for it to run longer at a time, it only runs for about 5 minutes and shuts of again! Can you please tell me what i might be doing wrong with the timer?

    It is a Frigidaire. I would really appreciate some help trying to get some humidity out of the family room Thank you

    • Hello, Rosemarie. I can’t comment in more detail since I don’t know the model number, but I think it may be a problem with what you’re setting it to. If not, then it’s possible it could be a problem with the unit (although that would be less likely I think).

      If you have the owner’s manual (or can find it online) you can check what your timing options are. Usually there’s a time adjustment button or in some cases you push the timer button repeatedly to select the time-off period.

      Hopefully it’s just that you’re not setting the timer to a higher setting.

  4. Hi Grant, I’ve a dehumidifer in my unfinished basement. This dehumidifer has a ‘Continuous Dehumidifying Operation’ mode, to run it 24/7. Is this recommeded for an unfinished basement which is about 3 years old. the humdifier model is Comfort Aire BHD-301-H.


    • Good morning, Dana. That should be fine, but you could also try the timer-based on/off function I see that model (digital display version) has. You might set it to the 4 hour on/off mode and check to see how the humidity is doing. If it’s rising too high over time I would run it in continuous mode instead.

      The humidity sensors in dehumidifiers and other appliances tend to not be all that accurate so you may find an inexpensive digital humidity gauge to be more helpful for checking it.

  5. Curious–just plugged in my first dehumidifier. Seems to run fine.
    Looking at my pet’s water dishes. Does the dehumidifier effect it?

    • Hi there Brady. No, it won’t really affect standing (liquid) water already there unless the air gets REALLY dry. In severely dry air water evaporates a bit more. But you’ll know when the air is at that point – you can definitely feel it.

      Thanks for visiting!

  6. If i live in a very humid area that usually in the fall time is about 69% to 73% during the day, what would be the best level on the dehumidifier to set it at? I ask because i set mine up last night to help my daughters asthma since we are facing a black mold crisis in our rented mobile home and we got the machine to help her breathe better, we set it up just like directed and by morning the bucket was half full of water? that seems like it was to much i would think but then all of a sudden my daughter had a asthma attack so i took her to the ambulance department and they looked at her and said that its possible that the sudden change in humidity could have set her off. if that is the case then what would be the ideal level to set the dehumidifier to in my trailer and do i put it closer to her room or further away?

    • Hi Melinda. Gosh, that’s pretty high humidity where you live.

      You normally would still want to set a dehumidifier to 50% or so (under 60%) for both comfort and preventing mold and mildew. The problem is that if you’ve got a source of moisture getting into your home etc it will be a continuous problem. A dehumidifier can help but if there are things like leaks, water/moisture entering, outside air getting in contuously, etc, it may not be able to keep up.

      If you have mold growing that’s often a sign of moisture being present and it will need to be dealt with properly. Mold can be a serious health problem so only using a dehumidifier won’t be enough in some cases.

      My best wishes to you and your daughter!

  7. Grant,
    We have been using a Frigidaire 50-pint Dehumidifier Model #FFAD5033W1 since October. We ran it continuous for 10 days and were surprised on how much water it collected (50 pints). Over the next 10 days it collected another 50 pints. As of November 1st we set the humidity level to 45% on automatic to run on and off and it did that all month. We have this unit in our basement under our stairwell and it does get cold in there from possible outside temperatures. It is winter in MN and the temperature outside are dipping below freezing. December 1st we checked the dehumidifier water level and it was dry. Would this space be too cold for it in winter? Should we leave it at 45 or turn it off for the winter months?

    • Hi Diane. If it’s very cold where you have the dehumidifier now, generally you can just leave it turned off until the weather/the temperature goes back up again. When the cold weather hits the humidity usually goes down significantly. In wintertime like you mentioned it’s often below 25%.

      One reason I recommend using an inexpensive humidity gauge indoors is exactly for this reason – to see the humidity and know for sure.

      • OK, your recommendation is to turn it off until weather/temperature goes back up again. I will acquire a humidity gauge for indoors and set it the space to determine when to turn it back on. Thanks.

  8. I have just bought a dehumidifier solely for drying in my conservatory.

    It gets very cold at night, should i put it somewhere else when finished drying?

    • Hi there. Well, I’d say on how cold it gets. For example, if it’s relatively normal (say the 50s, 60s, or maybe even down to the 40 degrees) it’s probably fine. However if it gets gown to freezing temperatures, yes I’d try to store it somewhere a bit warmer if possible. I hope that helps!

    • Hi there. I replied but my response seems to have “disappeared” so I’ll post it again, sorry. It depends on how cold it gets. If it gets down to near freezing temperatures, yes I would try to store it somewhere at least moderately warmer if you can. I wouldn’t run it at that temperature if it’s stored in extreme cold (I’d allow it to warm up a little bit in room temperature first).

  9. Hi we just purchased a Noma 50pts dehumifer for our home,approx.1000sg.feet.no basement.Humidity is about 60 in the house,need to know what setting on the dehumifer should I use.Auto dry with Auto fan,or Continous with low fan,or Manual setting.I don’t understand all those setting.Could you e-mail me with some help please.My e-mail is [edited to avoid spam]. Thank you soon much for your time.

  10. Hi there,

    I have purchased two dehumidifiers for both my medium sized bedroom & my children’s small bedroom. The manual for this isn’t that helpful at all I have now had them for over two weeks and it has been working fine however, now that it is spring where I am, it is a lot colder than when I first purchased the two. Mainly during the night is when it gets very cold. My question is, can a dehumidifier also work as a heater? It always seems as if whatever setting I put it on the air still blows cold air out therefore, it makes the air circulation even more colder than it already is. I am needing to switch it off half way through the night because it is so cold. Please help. Thank you

    • Hi there Ray. A dehumidifier can’t work as a heater as there’s nothing to generate heat like a heater does. It sounds like perhaps it’s not in auto mode which shuts the dehumidifier off when it reaches the set humidity level. To me it sounds like that’s the issue (which also will use more electricity if it’s running the compressor a lot, too).

      There should (usually) be a mode for that you can put it in; and yes, it stinks but so many of these dehumidifiers have poor owners manuals. Frustrating!

      I hope this helps a bit! :)

  11. Hi Grant,

    I have a Forest Air Dehumidifier, model #13-06034, and cannot find the user’s manual anywhere on the internet. Could you tell me where to look? I lent the dehumidifier to friends for 6 years, and in the meantime, have forgotten a few things! For example, in the Humidistat % window, P1 appears sometimes. What does that mean? Thanks for any help you can give me.

    • Hi there did you reach out to the company? Unfortunately I can’t help with that particular model. My first thought is that “P1” is related to a humidity level preset, but I’m not 100% sure.

    • Hello Bob. You can use the same settings shown in the article (say 55-60% for example). If your dehumidifier has a high-speed setting mode you can run that to get the humidity down then set it for auto mode.

  12. I have a humidifier in my basement set at 60, now that the outside temperature is dropping I am getting a lot of condensation on my windows upstairs. The furnace is in the basement so could it be bringing moist air up from the basement? if so should I lower the humidifier setting? to what?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Phillip. The heat will actually (normally) dry out the air a bit. Were you feeling as if the humidity went up in rooms above the basement?

      Ideally you should be able to leave the dehumidifier what it’s set to or even turn it off during the cold weather (depending on how cold your basement gets). I definitely recommend getting an inexpensive humidity/temperature gauge as they’ll take a lot of the guesswork out of this.


  14. I live in a condo with centralized heating and air conditioning. Typical room temperature when the heat is on is around 25 Celsius.

    I have a condensation problem in the solarium area of my living room. It builds up inside, mostly on window frames and very little on the glass.

    Temperature and humidity in that area during this time of the year are 19-20 degrees Celsius and 50%-60%, when it is windy and cold outside.

    I am thinking of buying either a dehumidifier or a portable heater. Which one would work better?


    • Hi Michael. Have you checked the humidity inside the solarium? It would be worth it to spend the less than $10 on a digital humidity/temp gauge to find out for sure before spending money on a dehumidifier. If it’s over 60% etc. I would get one of those.

      I think you should do that before moving forward in order to know what you’re dealing with. If it’s excess humidity you’ll easily see a pattern pretty quickly with a humidity/temp. gauge. Otherwise, if a heater is used a lot the air dries out and humidity is reduced anyway.

      • Hi Grant,

        I already use a digital temperature/humidity gauge in the solarium, the temperature is between 19-20 degrees Celsius and humidity 50%-60%.

        Bottom corners are worst affected because the solarium protrudes outside like a balcony. On the sides the windows extend all the way from the ceiling to the floor. At the front the window is top half and the wall is bottom half.


  15. Hello Grant,
    Hopefully you can help me. I had an LG dehumidifier for 10 years. I had it set to 55, on high with 4hrs on/off. Seemed to work fine until it finally died. I bought a Toshiba TDDP5013ES2 and I am confused with some of the settings. The manual is not very good. I work from home in a finished basement so I hear it running. I set it at 50, and it will run for 5, 10 minutes, shut off for 5 minutes and turn back on. I’ve tried the Comfort mode, and it does the same thing (on/off). I just do not like it turning on and off so much. Is this normal? I tried lowering the setting to 45, and set the turbo on, and that seems to run longer. I would like to know what the best way to use. I miss my LG. LOL Thanks for the help.


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