How to Clean an Air Conditioner like a Pro

Women wearing yellow gloves cleaning air conditioner with surface cleaner and cloth

Have you ever considered how much you could save by properly maintaining your air conditioner? Regular maintenance not only extends the life of your Air Conditioner but also improves its efficiency, leading to lower energy bills. This blog is your comprehensive guide to effectively cleaning your air conditioner unit. From simple maintenance tips to professional air con cleaning advice, we’ve covered everything you need to know to keep your AC running smoothly. 

Does your air conditioner unit need cleaning?

Perhaps you’ve noticed your home isn’t as cool as it used to be or has an unpleasant odour. These could be signs that your AC needs cleaning. Other signs include increased energy bills, reduced airflow, and strange noises coming from the unit.

As dust and debris build up in your air conditioner, its performance is compromised. This can lead to a less comfortable home, especially during the hot summer. By keeping your AC clean, you’re maintaining its efficiency and ensuring a more pleasant living environment.

types of air conditioners

Understanding how your air conditioner works is essential for keeping your home cool and comfortable. Each type operates differently, whether you have a portable unit, a window AC, a split system ducted air conditioning or a central air system. 


Portable air conditioners are mobile units on wheels offer flexibility, allowing you to cool different rooms as needed. They vent warm air outside through a window or wall, making them perfect for spaces where permanent installation isn’t feasible.


Compact and easy to install, these window ACs fit directly into your window or a designated wall space. They’re great for cooling individual rooms or small areas of your home, providing efficient cooling without requiring extensive setup.


With a quiet outdoor unit containing the compressor and condenser and indoor units with evaporator coils and fans, split system air conditioners offer balanced cooling throughout your home.


Ideal for homes with multiple rooms or larger spaces, ducted air con systems use hidden ductwork to distribute cooled air evenly. They offer customisable zone control options, ensuring consistent comfort across your living space while maintaining a neat, uncluttered indoor environment.


Central air conditioning systems utilise ducts to circulate cooled air throughout your home using vents or registers. They include outdoor units for efficient cooling and indoor units for effective air distribution, typically installed inconspicuously in utility areas to ensure consistent air conditioning throughout your home or building.

types of air conditioning units

Components of an air conditioning unit

Understanding how your air conditioner works is essential for keeping your home cool and comfortable. Each type operates differently, whether you have a portable unit, a window AC, a split system ducted air conditioning or a central air system. 

Compressor: This crucial component pumps refrigerant gas to cool your home in outdoor units.

Condenser coil: Converts hot refrigerant gas into a liquid for efficient cooling in outdoor units.

Expansion valve: Controls refrigerant flow to the evaporator coil in indoor units, where air is cooled.

Evaporator coil: Absorbs heat from indoor air to cool it down.

Fan: Essential in indoor and outdoor units, it blows air over coils for cooling.

Air filters: These indoor units filter clean air before it enters, removing dust and dirt.

Thermostat: Monitors room temperature and controls AC operation.

Essential Tools for Air Con Cleaning

The right cleaning supplies and tools are essential to keeping your unit in optimal condition. Let’s explore these necessary AC cleaning tools: 

  • Gloves – to protect hands from sharp edges and cleaning chemicals
  • Goggles or face shield – To shield eyes from debris and splashes
  • Mask – to protect yourself from dust and airborne particles
  • Mild multipurpose cleaner – used for cleaning exterior surfaces and removable parts
  • Soft brush – Used to clean dust and debris from coils and other components gently
  • Screwdriver – to remove panels so you can access the AC components

Step by step air conditioning cleaning guide

1. Prepare for AC cleaning.

Before cleaning your air conditioner, gather essential tools such as a screwdriver, soft brush, mild soap, water-vinegar solution, or commercial cleaner. Turn off the air conditioner’s power to prevent electrical accidents. Additionally, wear protective gloves, goggles, and a mask to shield yourself from potential hazards and airborne particles.

2. Clean the exterior of the air conditioner.

Start by removing debris around the unit using gloves or a soft brush. Next, gently wipe down the unit’s exterior surface with a damp cloth to remove dust and grime, taking care of sensitive electrical components.

3. Cleaning the air conditioning filters

Consult your unit’s manual to locate and remove the air filters. Depending on the model, you may need to slide them out or use a screwdriver to remove the AC cover. For reusable filters, wash them with mild soap and water, ensuring thorough rinsing, and allow them to air dry completely. Replace disposable filters as needed for optimal performance.

4. Clean air conditioner coils

Remove the protective covers to access the coils. Use a soft brush or vacuum with a brush attachment to gently remove dirt and debris. If buildup is significant, consider using a commercial coil cleaner to maintain efficiency.

5. How to clean air cons fins

Inspect and straighten bent fins using a fin comb if necessary. Gently clean the AC fins with a soft brush to remove dirt, ensuring careful handling to avoid damage.

6. Cleaning the condensate drain 

Find the condensate drain line, usually a PVC pipe connected to the unit. Cleanse the drain line by running a solution of water and vinegar or a commercial AC cleaner through it to avoid blockages from algae and mould accumulation.

cool air coming out of air con unit

AC maintenance tips to increase longevity

Maintaining your air conditioner is essential for peak performance and longevity. Follow these key tips:

  • Regular Cleaning Routine: Clean your AC seasonally or biannually to prevent dirt buildup.
  • Annual Professional Maintenance: Schedule a yearly inspection and cleaning by a professional.
  • Use a Cover: Protect your AC from dirt and weather when not in use.
  • Replace Filters Regularly: Check and replace filters monthly to maintain airflow efficiency.
  • Inspect Ductwork: Look for and seal any leaks to optimise airflow and efficiency.

Following these tips ensures efficient operation, extends the life of your AC, and reduces energy costs over time. Refer to your AC’s manual or consult an HVAC technician for detailed guidance.

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