How Do You Clean an Air Conditioner?

To clean a window air conditioner, slide the unit out of its case, move it outside to work, and straighten any bent fins. Vacuum the coils, spray with air conditioner cleaner, and rinse with a hose. Once the unit is clean, reinstall it in the case, and change the air filter.

  1. Remove the unit

    Pop off the plastic front of the unit, remove any retaining screws and slide the unit out of its case. For larger and heavier units, work with a partner to prevent hurting yourself or damaging the unit.

  2. Take the unit outside for cleaning

    Cleaning the unit is messy and requires spraying with a garden hose. Move it to an area that is safe for these operations.

  3. Straighten bent fins

    The aluminum fins on the condenser and evaporator of the unit are easy to bend. Bent coils interfere with airflow. Use an air conditioner fin comb to gently straighten the fins to their normal position.

  4. Vacuum the coils

    Remove any loose dust using a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment. Avoid bending the coils.

  5. Spray with air conditioner cleaner

    Most home improvement stores carry air-conditioner cleaners in a spray can. Apply a liberal coating to both sets of coils. Allow the cleaner to work per the manufacturer's directions.

  6. Rinse the unit

    Use a garden hose to rinse the cleaner from the coils. Allow it to dry, and reinstall it in the case. Keep the unit clean by changing the filter.