How to clean your air conditioner so it works like new

Many households turn on their air conditioners right now to escape the heat and keep cool this summer. But, like most things in the house, even air conditioning would not hurt. Knowing how to clean your air conditioner ensures that it works efficiently and also improves air quality.

This often happens when the air filters inside the unit become clogged with dust or moisture builds up in the unit over time. If you don’t learn how to properly clean your air conditioner, it will make it work harder to move air around as well as effectively cool the room.

What’s more, regular cleaning means lower operating costs, saves money on energy bills, and can also extend the lifespan. So, if you want to stay cool during these hot months, here’s how to clean your air conditioner and beat the heat.

If you’re looking for a new unit, be sure to check out our guide to the best smart air conditioners, what to look for when buying an air conditioner, and the best air conditioner deals.

How to clean the air conditioner

1. Remove the dust filters of the indoor unit.

Woman opening air conditioner

Woman opening air conditioner (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Before cleaning the air conditioner, always turn off the power and disconnect it from the power supply for safety. It is also important to read the instruction manual that came with the device. It explains in detail how to access and clean filters and any other user-serviceable parts. Next, open the plastic cover of the indoor unit and remove the filter (or filters if there are more than one). Usually the filter is located on the front of the device, but if in doubt, consult the manual.

2. Clean the filter

Removing the air conditioner filter

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Take the filters outside to shake them off before removing dust with a brush or microfiber cloth. You can also use the vacuum cleaner using the dust attachment. To remove stubborn dirt, wash the filter with warm water and dish soap and allow the filter to dry completely before inserting it back into the device.

3. Clean coils and seal

Man cleaning the air conditioner

Man cleaning the air conditioner (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Most air conditioners have evaporator coils on the inside of the unit and condenser coils on the back that are on the outside. Use a screwdriver to remove the top and side panels to access the condenser coils. Then take a soft brush or a special spiral brush to gently remove the dirt. Be sure to inspect all heat exchanger fins for damage, and carefully straighten any bent fins with a finned comb such as this air conditioner condenser fin comb ($8, Amazon). (will open in a new tab)). After the outside of the coil is done, you can use one of the best vacuum cleaners for the inside.

4. Make sure all parts are dry before replacing.

Turning on the air conditioner

Turning on the air conditioner (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Then wipe the outside of the device using dish soap and warm water. Make sure all removable parts are completely dry before replacing the cover. You can then turn the power back on and set your preferred cooling mode.

If done right, you should notice better performance and cooling.

How often should the air conditioner be cleaned?

Vacuuming the air conditioner unit

Vacuuming the air conditioner unit (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Most manufacturers recommend cleaning your dust filters every few weeks, but it really depends on how often you use your air conditioner. It is also recommended to clean or replace the filters once a month during use. However, if you turn on the air conditioner only occasionally, once every two months will be enough.

However, if in doubt, you can call in a professional for your air conditioner service and maintenance.

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