The Complete Guide: How to Clean Your Air Conditioner Properly

How to Clean Your Air Conditioner

In this guide, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step process to how to clean your air conditioner properly, ensuring it runs smoothly and efficiently throughout the season. Keeping your air conditioner clean is more than just about comfort; it’s about efficiency and indoor air quality. Over time, air conditioners accumulate dirt, dust, and debris, which can reduce their efficiency and even lead to respiratory issues if left unchecked. Regular air conditioner maintenance tips and summer HVAC maintenance not only improve performance but also extend the lifespan of your AC unit.

How to Clean Your Air Conditioner

How to Clean Your Air Conditioner and Preparation

Before you begin DIY air conditioner cleaning, gather the necessary tools and supplies. You’ll typically need a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment, a fin comb or brush for coils, mild detergent or coil cleaner, a water hose (if applicable), and safety gear such as gloves and safety glasses.

Ensure the how to clean your air conditioner is turned off before you start and consider turning off the power supply at the breaker for added safety.

Cleaning the Exterior

Cleaning the Exterior

Start by cleaning AC filters and then proceed to cleaning the exterior of the air conditioner. Remove any debris or leaves from the unit and around the vents. Use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to gently clean the outer casing and vents. This helps maintain proper airflow and prevents debris from entering the unit.

Cleaning the Filters

Next, focus on cleaning AC filters. Dirty filters can restrict airflow and reduce the efficiency of your air conditioner. Locate the filters, which are usually found behind the front grille or in the air handler unit. Depending on the type (reusable or disposable), clean reusable filters with mild detergent and water, or replace disposable filters as recommended by the manufacturer.

Cleaning the Evaporator Coils

Cleaning the Evaporator Coils

The evaporator coils are responsible for cooling the air. Over time, these coils can accumulate dirt and dust, reducing their efficiency. To clean air conditioner coils, carefully remove the access panel to reach the coils. Use a soft brush to gently clean the coils and remove any buildup. Avoid using excessive force to prevent damage to the fins.

Cleaning the Condenser Coils

Outdoor units have condenser coils that dissipate heat absorbed from inside. These coils are exposed to outdoor elements and can accumulate dirt, grass clippings, and debris. To clean air conditioner coils, first, turn off the power to the unit. Use a coil cleaner or mild detergent and water to spray the coils from the inside out. Rinse with a water hose gently to remove dirt and buildup, taking care not to bend the delicate fins.

Cleaning the Drainage System

The condensate drain is responsible for removing moisture from the air conditioner. Over time, it can become clogged with algae, mold, or debris, leading to water leaks and humidity problems. Inspect the drain and use a wet/dry vacuum or a pipe cleaner to clear any clogs. You can also pour a mixture of bleach and water through the drain to prevent algae growth.

Checking Refrigerant Levels

Proper refrigerant levels are essential for efficient cooling. Low refrigerant levels can indicate a leak or other issues that require professional attention. Check the refrigerant levels according to the manufacturer’s instructions or consult a professional HVAC technician for accurate measurement and refilling if necessary.

Reassembling and Testing

After cleaning AC filters and all components, carefully reassemble the air conditioner. Double-check that all panels, filters, and access points are securely in place. Restore power to the unit and test its operation. Listen for any unusual noises and ensure that cool air is flowing evenly from the vents.

Maintenance Tips

Maintaining your air conditioner doesn’t end with DIY air conditioner cleaning. Create a regular maintenance schedule that includes air conditioner maintenance tips, such as cleaning or replacing filters every 1-3 months, depending on usage. Trim foliage around outdoor units to ensure proper airflow. Consider scheduling professional maintenance annually to inspect and tune up your air conditioner for peak performance.


Regularly cleaning air conditioner coils and your air conditioner is a simple yet effective way to ensure its efficiency and longevity. By following this complete guide, you can maintain a comfortable indoor environment and reduce energy costs. Remember, a well-maintained air conditioner not only keeps you cool but also improves indoor air quality, making your home a healthier place to live.

Implement these air conditioner maintenance tips today to enjoy a cool and efficient air conditioner throughout the summer months!