How To Clean a Window AC Filter (Easy 3 Step Guide)

A clean air filter ensures your home’s air is free of harmful contaminants. It will also keep your AC working as it should.

So, if you want to learn how to clean window air conditioner filter, read on. We’ll cover all the ins and outs of this simple home maintenance project.

Window AC Air Filters Explained

Before we discuss how to clean an AC filter in a window unit, it’s helpful to understand what a window AC filter is and what it does.

AC filters remove solid particles like pollen, dust, grease, and other contaminants from the air. This protects the internal components of the machine and keeps the air in your home clean.

Many HVAC systems have disposable filters, but most window units have permanent filters located in the front of the machine. They’re usually composed of a hard plastic frame filled with aluminum mesh. The filling can also be foam, woven polypropylene, or non-woven polyester.

Different Types Of Window Air Conditioner Filters

Air conditioner filters come in different forms, and window AC filter cleaning will depend in part on the type of filter you have. So, let’s go over the most common filter types.

Dust Filter

Dust filters are the most common type of window unit filters. They’re typically mesh filters that block out large particles like pollen and dust but won’t catch smaller microorganisms like bacteria or viruses.

Dust filters are easy to remove and clean, making them simple to maintain, but they may not be the best choice if you suffer from asthma or allergies because they still let smaller particles in.

Anti-Bacterial Filter

An anti-bacterial filter will filter out pollen and dust along with smaller microorganisms, like bacteria and mold spores. These filters may not come standard with your AC unit, but you can often purchase them separately.

They’re slightly harder to clean without damage because of the tightly woven filter, which often contains silver ions. You have to be careful when washing or brushing off excess dust.

HEPA Filter

HEPA filters trap 99.7% of particles, and studies suggest they may be the best option if you suffer from allergies or live in a highly polluted area. However, their tightly woven screens are difficult to clean without damaging, so they’re usually disposable. They may also severely restrict airflow in window units.

Catechin Filter

Catechin is an organic element found in cocoa, berries, and green tea. When placed in a filter, it blocks viruses, bacteria, and odors. This all-natural air filter option is easy to maintain, making it popular for window AC units.

Why Is A Clean Air Filter Important For Window Units?

You might think a clean air filter isn’t that big of a deal. As long as your AC unit is pumping out cold air, does it really matter? But the truth is a clean air filter is crucial in many ways.

  • Ensure Machine Efficiency – Dirt and dust can clog coils in your AC, reducing airflow and lowering efficiency. A clean filter will keep your window AC running as good as it should.
  • Better The Air Quality In Your Home – A dirty filter can push contaminants like pollen, dust, and bacteria into your home from outside, leading to poor air quality.
  • Lower Your Energy Bill – A dust-clogged filter will force your machine to work harder to cool your home. It may lead to longer running times which will significantly increase your energy bill.
Why Clean Air Filter Is Important

How To Clean The Window Air Conditioner Filter (Step By Step Guide)

Now that you know what an AC filter is, what it does, and why a clean one is crucial, let’s discuss how to clean an air conditioner filter for a window unit.

This differs from cleaning or changing a filter for a regular HVAC system, as those filters are usually disposable. So, only use the steps below for a window unit and consult your owner’s manual, if possible, before you begin.

  • screwdriver (for some units)
  • vacuum with attachment
  • mild dish detergent
  • hose or large sink

Step One

First, ensure your AC unit is turned off and unplugged. Then, remove the front cover. Many units allow you to simply pop the cover off, but others may require a screwdriver to remove.

Once the cover is off, the filter should be front and center. There may be a tab to assist with removing the filter, or you may need to grab the filter itself and pull it towards you.

Step Two

Now that the filter is out of the unit, you can clean it. The best way to clean window air conditioner filter is with a vacuum attachment, followed by a rinse in warm, soapy water.

Use the vacuum attachment to remove any dust. If your filter is only mildly dirty, this may be enough, but usually, there will still be evidence of contaminants after vacuuming.

So, next, you should move the filter to a large sink or outdoor area with a hose. Use warm water (no hotter than 104 degrees Fahrenheit) and a mild detergent to gently wash the filter. Don’t scrub, or you’ll risk damaging the filter fibers, rendering it ineffective.

Step Three

Leave the cleaned filter out somewhere it can air dry. Make sure it’s completely dry before you put it back in your AC unit, or else you risk damaging your machine.

How To Clean The Air Filters Of Popular Window AC Units

Learning how to clean a window air conditioner filter isn’t difficult, and the steps above work for most units. Still, each manufacturer offers specific instructions for their machine. So, below we’ll discuss the most popular window AC units and how their manufacturers suggest you clean them.

Cleaning Hitachi Window AC Filter

If you’re wondering how to clean a Hitachi window AC filter, the answer is simple. You can use the steps we list above with a few minor adjustments.

You won’t need a screwdriver to access the filter; Hitachi units have an easy-to-open front grille. Hitachi doesn’t recommend vacuuming their products but instead suggests you skip straight to using warm, soapy water on their air filters.

Cleaning Haier Window AC Filter

Instructions on how to clean a Haier window air conditioner filter are readily available on Haier’s website. There, they suggest using warm water with a mild detergent. They don’t recommend vacuuming their products. See more on Haier AC units here.

Cleaning LG Window AC Filters
Clean LG AC Filter

LG AC filters are easy to remove; simply pull the grille towards you and then pull up and out to remove the filter.

LG suggests you skip vacuuming and soap with it comes to their filters; warm water should be enough to keep them clean.

For further instructions on how to clean an LG window air conditioner filter, you can view this help page on their website.

Check out our LG window AC reviews for more advice.

Cleaning Frigidaire Window AC Filter

To clean the filter on a Frigidaire window air conditioner, you can use our instructions above. Frigidaire recommends using a vacuum as well as soapy water to keep their filters clean. For exact instructions, you can also view their website.

Cleaning GE Window AC Filter

To clean the filter on your GE window air conditioner, you can use the generic instructions we provide above. GE goes a step further, though, and suggests a rinse with baking soda and water to rid the filter of unwanted odors.

Cleaning Kenmore Window AC Filter

If you’re wondering how to clean the filter on a Kenmore window air conditioner, the answer is straightforward. You can use the generic instructions we provided above.

However, you should note that the front panel is on a hinge. So, open it like you would a door; don’t pull it straight out, or you may break it.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

How often should I clean my window air conditioner filter?

Figuring out how often to clean a window air conditioner filter may take some experimentation. It depends greatly on your environment.

If your home is in a high-traffic area, near lots of pollinating trees, or next to a construction site, you may need to clean the filter as often as once per week. Most manufacturers, though, recommend cleaning every other week or once per month.

How long do window air conditioner filters last?

Window air conditioner filters are considered permanent and may last from five to ten years or more as long as you maintain them with regular cleanings.

Does cleaning the filter make the AC colder?

Cleaning the filter can make your AC more efficient, allowing it to cool your home faster than it did before. So, your AC won’t be colder, per se, but it might feel that way.

Clean Filter Makes AC Colder


Learning how to clean your window AC filter is a vital part of maintaining your living space. It will ensure the air in your home is healthy and clean. It also ensures your AC unit is efficient and lives up to the promise of its warranty.

Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with DIY and improving my family home. HVAC topics can be tricky for homeowners so I decided to share my knowledge on the subject. When I am not working on DIY projects, you can find me at the beach or my local coffee shop.