How to Clean an Air Conditioner

Air conditioners are what defines modern comfort. Nothing feels better during the dog days of summer than a cool blast from a passing storefront. Though, turn the thermostat too low and you will be shivering in the hallways. In order for your A/C unit to run efficiently, you must maintain it regularly when using it and protect it properly when not in use.

Every now and then dirt, hair, and other debris may get caked on to your A/C unit’s filter. You may even notice that it is not blowing as cool as before or it blows an odor through the room. Both are signs to clean your A/C immediately.

How to Clean an Air Conditioner

If you are curious how to go about cleaning your ac unit, we got you covered. Though you could hire a professional maintenance man or buy a newer model, you can maintain your current A/C unit by yourself with only a few supplies.

For the most part, you will need the following items. You should be able to find them all either online or at your local hardware store, like Home Depot.

  • multi-headed screwdrivers
  • fin com
  • leather gloves
  • a clean cloth
  • vacuum with attachment
  • Air conditioner coil cleaner
  • Electric motor oil
  • Nylon-bristle brush

Window A/C Units

Before starting, prepare your space for the A/C to sit. Gather all the tools you will need near your work station. Unplug the A/C from the power socket. Check if the A/C is screwed into any braces or holsters. Unscrew it first, making sure to remember specifically where the screws belong. Take the A/C unit out of the window if you can carry it, or do it with some help.

When you have it somewhere stable, remove the front filter cover. The cooling fins should be exposed. Take your fin comb, find a ridge to nudge in, and straighten out the fins by combing along the grooves. Make sure to wear leather gloves to avoid getting cut by the sharp metal.

With the fins straightened out, it is time for a deeper cleanse. First vacuum the dirt built up around the fins and coils. Next take your commercial A/C coil cleaner and apply the foam on the cooling fins. Scrub the cleaner into the coils with your nylon brush, going in the direction of the fins. The foam needs to do its work, so set it aside for now.

Next we should clean the motor fan. For this, take a clean rag with some mild household cleaner and wipe down the fan blades. Fans with plastic- or rubber-capped ports can use a squeeze of electric motor oil to keep it functioning.

How to Clean Your A/C Unit without Removing It

Sometimes removing your A/C unit can be a real pain. Fortunately you can still maintain your A/C often without having to remove it from the window. For this method you will need:

  • hydrogen peroxide
  • spray bottle
  • face mask
  • water
  • mild detergent soap
  • clean cloth
  • towels or a drip pan

First, unplug your A/C and prep the floor around it because things will get wet. Pour some hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle and don your face mask. Remove the filter from the ac unit and then spray it down with the peroxide. If the filter is very dirty, keep spraying the peroxide until it drips through into your drip pan.

When the filter is clean to your liking, let the hydrogen peroxide dry completely before reinstalling the filter back into the A/C.

For a deeper clean, vacuum as much dirt as you can off the filter. Take a clean cloth, some mild soap and wash the filter under some water. You can even soak it in soapy water if that helps to remove dirt. Once again make sure the filter is dry before placing it back in your ac unit.

Keeping Your A/C Unit Clean

  • Cleaning your A/C can be made easier through regular maintenance. The method described above using hydrogen peroxide is one method to keep your A/C blowing cool air.
  • Cover the A/C unit when you are not using it, mainly during cooler seasons.
  • A clean A/C is an efficient A/C. You will end up saving energy costs in the end for your effort.
  • If you have cleaned your A/C’s filter and it still performs poorly, you may need to replace a component, or the ac unit entirely.
  • An A/C professional can help. Look on the manufacturer’s manual for more information about customer service.