How to Clean an Air Conditioning Filter

  • 1-2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 25-50
What You'll Need
Air conditioner filter
Vacuum cleaner
Large bucket
Lukewarm water
Liquid detergent
Spray bottle

Cleaning the filter of your air conditioner is essential for it to run effectively. A dirty air conditioner filter that is covered with dust and grime restricts airflow, preventing the unit to cool as it should. Ideally, you should clean your air filter once before the summer approaches, and then at least once, if not twice every month when it is in use. Running water alone is not enough to get the dirt out of the air conditioner filter. Follow these cleaning tips to clean your filter and get your unit running as good as new.

Step 1: Remove Filter

Turn the supply of electricity to the air conditioner unit off and remove the cover. Depending on the type of air conditioner, some covers are screwed into place while others have push tabs that are pressed to release them. Set the cover aside and slide the filter out or remove the clips that hold it in place.

Make sure your filter is washable and not disposable. Disposable filters do not require any washing but need to be replaced after a certain period of time. Check the manual to determine which type of filter you have before proceeding.

Step 2: Vacuum the Filter

Take the filter out to prevent dust from spreading inside the room. Use a vacuum at low or medium setting and run it up and down the filter to remove visible dust and grime. Avoid pressing too hard on the delicate filter because you may cause a dent or tear. Hold it carefully in one hand as you vacuum with the other.

Step 3: Submerge the Filter in Water

Fill a tub or large container with lukewarm water and add some liquid detergent to it. Mix it well to create a rich lather and submerge the filter in it. Move the filter around so it is completely covered with the soapy solution. Never use abrasive tools such as brushes or wires to scrub the filter because you may damage it. Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes before taking it out.

An alternative to this is to hose one side of the filter completely until dirty water falls out of it. Flip it over to the other side and do the same until clean water drips out of the air conditioner filter. Repeat the process to thoroughly clean it.

Step 4: Spray the Filter

Mix a solution of equal parts vinegar with water and put in a spray bottle. Spray it over one side of the filter and then flip to cover the other side with the solution. Set it aside for 10 minutes to kill harmful bacteria before placing it under running water.

Step 5: Allow Filter to Air Dry

Place a few dry newspapers on a clean ground and put the filter over them against a wall. Let it air dry for several hours before you install it back on the air conditioner and close the cover. Turn the supply of electricity back on to enjoy an uninterrupted and bacteria-free airflow.