How to Clean Air Conditioner Filter

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Air conditioner filters are some of the easily-accessible components of an air conditioner. Most air filters can be cleaned at home without the assistance of a professional HVAC technician. Cleaning your filters will also prevent mold and mildew from forming, and will help you avoid common air conditioner problems.

Effects of Unmaintained Air Conditioner Filters

  • Poor indoor air quality;
  • Unfiltered air going into the HVAC system;
  • Overheating HVAC systems;
  • Short-cycling;
  • Frozen AC units;
  • Dirty filter can cause mold growth;
  • Bacteria growth from dirt around the filter;
  • Deteriorating filter mesh.

How to Clean AC Filter: Two Ways

The Dry Method

Not all reusable filters can be washed. Your air conditioner's manual should present options on how to clean your air filter. For the dry method, you can use a vacuum cleaner, a brush, and a bit of baking soda to dry-clean an air conditioner filter.

Step 1: Open the Air Conditioner Panel

Open the front panel of your indoor unit according to your air conditioner's instruction manual. You should immediately see the filter. Read the instruction manual to know whether the filter is a reusable or disposable filter before you proceed with cleaning it. The manual should also show you how to properly remove the filter for cleaning.

Step 2: Vacuum the Air Filter

You will need a vacuum cleaner with a strong suction power to remove the grime from your air conditioner's filter. Use the brush attachment, and vacuum up debris from one side of the filter. Air filters are often made of mesh, so be sure to brush away all the dust from the mesh.

Step 3: Take the Air Filter Out, and Vacuum the Other Side

Take the filter out. Most air conditioners will allow you to remove the filter for cleaning, and the step-by-step process of removing the filter should be included in the user's manual. Vacuum up the other side of the filter.

Step 4: Brush the Remaining Grime Out

Use a soft brush, such as a toothbrush, to scrub out the grime from the fine mesh. This will help get into those hard to reach areas where dust often accumulates. Be careful not to use too much pressure when scrubbing out the mesh, and avoid creating holes in the filter.

Step 5: Use Baking Soda (Optional)

Baking soda can be used to clean an air conditioner filter without needing to wash or rinse it. To clean your air filter with baking soda, simply sprinkle baking soda all over the filter, and use a soft brush to scrub it in. Baking soda should attract dust like a magnet. Vacuum away the excess cleaning powder and dust.

The Wet Method

Step 1: Open the Air Conditioner Panel

Similar to the dry method, open the air conditioner panel to access the filter. Be careful when opening the panel as dust may fall from the filter onto the floor, so we recommend placing a catch basin below the air conditioning unit.

Step 2: Vacuum the Air Conditioner Filter

Vacuum the filter. Vacuuming the filter before you take it out of the air conditioner will prevent loose dust and debris from flying everywhere, and will keep your air conditioner clean as well.

Step 3: Take Out the Filter

Take out the filter, being careful not to let dust fly everywhere. Place the filter in your catch basin, and take it to your sink. Fill the basin - or the sink - with warm water, and add a few drops of dish soap or a mild detergent.

Step 4: Wash the Filter with Soapy Water

Take a soft brush, and use this to clean your air conditioner filter with warm, soapy water. Be careful not to apply too much pressure to the filter mesh to avoid creating holes and weak spots. Drain and replenish the soapy water solution multiple times until the water runs clear, then rinse with plain water.

Step 5: Dry Completely

Pat dry with a clean towel, and leave in a warm, dry location to completely air dry. Once the filter is dry, place it back into the air conditioner according to the user's manual instructions, and close the panel.

How Often Should You Clean Your Air Conditioner Filter?

Ideally, you should be cleaning your air conditioner filter regularly - once every two weeks. The frequency of cleaning will depend on the air pollution levels in your area, and the frequency of usage the air conditioner gets.

Start with cleaning your air conditioner filter once every two weeks. If you notice the air filter accumulates dust quickly, then up the frequency of cleaning to three times a month. This will help maintain the indoor air quality in your home, as well as keep your air conditioning unit in good condition.

Keep a scheduled maintenance of your AC unit with our cleaning and maintenance services at Luce Aircon. We are your trusted partners in all things HVAC, and our licensed technicians will be able to help you upkeep your air conditioner, so you can enjoy a stress-free, cooling comfort with colder air!

Contact us today to schedule your next appointment, and make your AC unit last for decades! 

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