The Right Way to Clean a Window Air Conditioner (and How Often You Need to Do It)
Cleaning your window air conditioner consistently will keep it humming year after year.
Window air conditioning units are affordable tools that keep you cool during warmer weather. These units are often smaller, easier to maintain, and significantly less expensive than full-home central air conditioning systems—but that doesn't mean they are completely maintenance-free. In order to ensure your window unit functions properly and doesn't build up with mold and mildew, it must be cleaned regularly. Additionally, your air conditioner will keep you cooler (and your electricity bill lower) when it's properly maintained.
Related: How to Clean Your Air Vents, an Essential Chore for Preventing Dust in Your Home
You should deep clean the entire window air conditioner once a year, says Gary McCoy, store manager at Lowe's. In addition to annual cleanings, you should also clean or change the air filter of your air conditioner every one to two months.
When cleaning your window air conditioner, there are a few precautions you should take to keep yourself safe.
Wear rubber gloves and safety goggles to prevent dirty water or dust from splashing back into your eyes when cleaning, says Steve Truett, president of Aire Serv, a Neighborly company.
Disconnect the unit from all power sources before cleaning, says McCoy.
Make sure to handle all cleaning products with caution, reading directions in advance.
The condenser and evaporator coils of your unit are equipped with thin fins that can be sharp, so be especially careful when handling, says McCoy.
Cleaning your window air conditioner is a necessary process that ensures the appliance continues to run properly. Luckily, all it takes is a little soap and water to restore the piece to its former glory.
Make sure you have these materials on hand before getting started.
Follow these steps from McCoy to properly deep clean your window air conditioner.
Unplug the window air conditioner unit.
Remove the front cover, consulting the owner's manual on how best to remove it.
Fill a spray bottle with water and a few drops of dish soap.
Spray the front cover with the cleaning solution and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. Set aside to dry.
Remove the filter from the unit. Most filters are in the front of the unit behind the front cover.
Wipe down the filter with a microfiber cloth to remove loose dirt.
Spray the filter with the cleaning solution and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. Set aside to dry.
Use a microfiber cloth to brush away any loose dirt from the coils. (Most units have two sets of coils: evaporators coils inside the front of the unit and condenser coils usually outside on the back of the unit)
Spray the coils with the cleaning solution and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. Set aside to dry.
Once all of the pieces are dry, reattach the filter and front cover according to the unit's manual best practices.
Follow these tips to ensure your air conditioner unit runs properly in between deep cleans.
Always check vents and ensure there are no obstructions to airflow, which can impact the unit’s efficiency to keep a home cool, says McCoy.
If possible, placing the unit in a window that receives more shade is preferred as it will run more efficiently.
Ensure no foliage, bushes, or furniture are obstructing the unit, as this will impact its performance, says McCoy.