How to Clean a Window Air Conditioner?

Cleaning your window air conditioner has a number of surprising benefits. When you keep your device clean, it lasts longer, which means fewer repairs and lower energy bills for you. It also prevents mold from entering and ensures cleaner air in your room.

But many people forget to perform this important maintenance, which puts them at risk of their unit failing too soon or not working properly. The good news? Cleaning your window air conditioner is a breeze and doesn’t require many tools or materials.

How to Clean a Window Air Conditioner?

Ever wondered why your AC is blowing warm air? It’s not always because it’s low on refrigerant. A lot of times, those window or through-the-wall air conditioners just can’t cool things down because their coils or cooling fins are all gunked up.

Getting a professional to clean them can cost you a pretty penny. But hey, you can tackle the whole cleaning job yourself in about an hour and with just a few bucks for supplies. And if cleaning doesn’t do the trick, you can always call in the experts (or consider getting a newer, more efficient unit).

But hold on, before you take that step, check out our easy-to-follow guide below on cleaning your air conditioner step-by-step.”

Tools Required:

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Fin comb
  • Leather gloves
  • Rags
  • Shop vacuum

Materials Required:

  • A/C coil cleaner
  • Electric motor oil
  • Household cleaner
How to Clean a Window Air Conditioner

1. Remove and clean the Front Panel

The front panel, also known as the grille cover, is that plastic or metal grate in the front of your air conditioner. It might be attached with screws, clips, or tabs, or maybe both.

Check your user manual for the specific steps to remove it. Sometimes, the filter is inside the face panel, so make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to take out the filter before you clean the panel.

Once you’ve taken off the face panel—and maybe the filter too—give the panel a spray with your cleaning solution and wipe it clean with a cloth. Alternatively, you can take it outside and give it a good hose down. Put the face panel aside to dry while you clean the rest of the parts.

2. Remove and Clean the Filter

  • Look for the filter at the front of the unit. It’s usually right there, easy to spot. If you’re having trouble finding it, check the manual for some guidance.
  • Give the filter a good dusting with a cloth. Get rid of all that nasty dirt and debris that’s been collecting on it.
  • Rinse the filter with lukewarm water and a little bit of mild soap. Nothing fancy, just enough to get it nice and clean.
  • Make sure you let the filter dry completely before you pop it back into the unit. You don’t want any moisture hanging around causing problems.

3. Vacuum Out the Interior

Get your vacuum cleaner ready to go. You’ll be cleaning the whole interior (or cabinet), and also pay attention to the drain pan at the bottom, the fan and blower in the middle, the front evaporator, and the back condenser.

Take extra care when dealing with the thin, delicate aluminum fins on the evaporator and condenser. They’re important, so give them some special attention. If you can, use a soft brush attachment on your vacuum hose, and make sure to vacuum in the same direction as the fins (up and down) to avoid bending or messing them up.

Bonus tip: Those aluminum fins on the compressor and evaporator can be sharp, so it’s a smart move to protect your hands with some gloves while you handle them.

4. Spray it Down.

Grab some hydrogen peroxide and give the inside and outside of the AC cabinet a good spray. Use a cloth or rag to wipe down everything you can get to.

Now, the coils. You can either use the same spray cleaner or get yourself an AC coil spray cleaner. Spray that stuff on the evaporator and condenser coils. Let it air dry or rinse it off with water. If you choose to rinse, give it about 10 to 20 minutes to loosen up any gunk.

A quick tip: Before you go spraying the coils, why not give the fins a blast with some compressed air? It’ll help clear out any leftover dirt that the vacuum missed and make things even cleaner.

5. Straighten the Fins

If your air conditioner’s fins are bent, it can mess up its performance or even cause it to break down sooner. So, here’s what you can do:

  • Get some gloves on for protection.
  • Grab a knife or a fin comb.
  • Find the space between the fins, right above or below the bent parts.
  • Slowly and gently run the knife or comb in the same direction as the other fins, making sure it’s parallel to them.
  • Keep going until the bent fins straighten out.

Remember to be careful and take it easy so you don’t make things worse.

6. Dry thoroughly

Make sure that all parts of the device are dry. Then reattach the front cover. Turn the device back on.

How Often to Clean a Window Air Conditioner?

Cleaning a window air conditioner is important to keep it functioning properly and to improve its energy efficiency. Here are some tips for you:

  • Clean the air filter at least once a month and replace it every three months.
  • Wash the removable filter once a month.
  • Swap or clean reusable filters every four to six weeks to keep your AC in top condition.
  • Clean window air conditioner filters every two weeks and replace them every three to four months, depending on the frequency of your AC usage.
  • Dust the exterior of the unit weekly and wash it with a damp cloth.
  • Clean the coils, fins, and interior of the unit thoroughly at least once a year.
  • Dust the fins and coils quarterly or as recommended by the manufacturer.

It is important to note that the frequency of cleaning may vary depending on the usage and environment of the air conditioner. If you need to get some help with the air conditioner, you can call on the Washington AC installation and maintenance company of Blue Flame Comfort to help you out! 

How To Clean an Air Conditioner?


What is the best solution to clean an air conditioner?

While there are a number of commercially available coil cleaning solutions on the market, air conditioner coils can be cleaned with a solution of mild household detergent and water. The detergent and water mix is applied to the coil using a low-pressure sprayer.

Is it OK to wash the air conditioner?

It’s perfectly fine to hose down an air conditioner unit, and it’s recommended on a regular basis. A condenser’s main function is to draw in air from outside. It also brings in pollen, dirt, leaves, dust, and grass. You can just rinse the unit with running water, rinsing the machine from top to bottom, and it’ll work.

How long should Air conditioner dry after cleaning?

Make sure the air conditioner is completely dry before attempting to use it. Wait about 30 to 60 minutes before turning on the AC after cleaning the coils.

Can you use dish soap to clean AC?

Any standard dish soap, mixed with warm water should do the trick on really grimy coils. We recommend mixing the water and detergent in a spray bottle and then applying it to the coils. Before using a soft brush to scrub away the grime, give the solution a few seconds to settle in and break up the debris.

What happens if I don’t clean my AC?

Dirty filters restrict the flow of cold air which can cause it to build up inside the air conditioner. The final result could be the formation of ice on the coils. Does anyone in your home suffer from allergies or asthma? A dirty filter can make their symptoms much worse.