Informational Guide

How to Clean a Window AC Unit (Without Removing It)

You have to regularly clean your window air conditioner to keep it working efficiently. Read our guide on how to clean a window AC unit without removing it.

by Josh M

It is that time of year again when we start using our window AC units to keep us cool. You have to regularly clean and maintain your window air conditioner to keep it working efficiently. Check out our guide on how to clean a window AC unit without removing it.

  • Clean Air to Breathe In
    Once your window unit AC filter gets dirty, the cold air coming out of it becomes contaminated. It can carry dust, allergens, and pollutants.
  • Fresher Smell
    Mold and mildew can grow inside a dirty AC unit. The air will start to smell damp, which can give off a bad odor.
  • Quieter AC
    If your window unit is dirty, it has to work twice as hard to push air through the coils and filter. The increased workload can create a lot of noise inside the unit. Fortunately, there are AC units with low noise levels on the market.
  • Save on Electricity Bill
    The harder your AC window unit has to work, the more electricity it will use. A clean unit will reduce your electricity costs over time.
  • Extend AC Life
    By cleaning your window AC, you can increase its life. The interior parts will not wear out as quickly.

How to Tell if Your AC Unit Needs Cleaning

Dust and Dirt Build-Up

You should be able to tell when your window AC unit needs to be cleaned by removing the filter and checking the internal parts. When it is time for a cleaning, the filter will become clogged with dirt and dust. The exterior intake will also gather dust.

Mold and Mildew Build-Up

You will often see mold and mildew build-up on your window AC unit’s interior components. This is a tell-tale sign that it needs to be cleaned. Mold can be hazardous to your health, so it is important to take care of it right away.

Not Blowing Cold Air

If you notice your window AC is not producing cold air or it is not as cold as it used to be, you should clean the filter and internal coils. You should also check the coolant levels.

Noisy

Window air conditioners are relatively quiet. If you hear any unusual noises coming from your AC, then it might be time to clean it. Some of the internal parts might come loose if the AC is overworking.

Bad Smell

You might be able to smell that your AC unit needs to be cleaned before you can see it. Mildew and water can lead to a damp and bad smell coming from the AC.

How to Clean a Window AC Unit Without Removing It

Cleaning your central AC unit is different from cleaning a window AC is by cleaning each part. This will ensure you get rid of all the dust in the AC unit. We recommend getting most of the tools and supplies on our list.

Supplies
  • Plastic sheet to put under the AC unit
  • Bucket filled with soapy water
  • Vacuum with a soft brush attachment
  • Cleaning brush
  • Screwdriver
  • Rags
Step By Step Guide
1. Taking it Apart
  • Remove the grill from the outside of the window AC unit. You might have to use a screwdriver to remove screws, or it might be a clip-on grill that you can pull off.
  • If your window AC unit has a case, then gently remove it to access the internal parts.
  • Vacuum or wipe the interior plastic components of the window AC unit.
Taking It Apart
2. Cleaning the Air Filter
  • Remove the air filter.
  • You can clean the air filter by running it under warm water and scrubbing the mesh with a scrub brush and soap.
  • You can also vacuum the filter to remove large pieces of dust.
  • Once you clean the filter, set it aside so it can dry before you put it back into the window AC unit.
Cleaning Air Filter
3. Cleaning the AC Condenser Coils
  • Remove the exterior back cover from the window AC unit to expose the condenser coils.
  • You can use a bucket with warm, soapy water to clean the condenser coils. We recommend using a lot of water and a scrub brush to wipe off all the grime.
  • You can also use a water hose to spray down the condenser coils.
  • Let this area dry completely before turning on the AC unit.
Cleaning the AC Condenser Coils
4. Cleaning the Evaporator Coils
  • You can buy a special commercial cleaner for evaporator coils. You simply spray the cleaner on the evaporator coils and let it sit. You don’t even have to rinse it off.
  • If you do not have a commercial cleaner, you can use warm water, soap, and a soft scrub brush.
  • Wet the scrub brush and scrub in circular motions on the evaporator coils.
  • Rinse with water and repeat the process until the coils are clean.
Cleaning the Evaporator Coils
5. Cleaning the Drains and Pans
  • Remove the drip pan and clean it with soap, water, and a sponge. Replace it if you see any rust spots or damage.
  • Clean the drain line by running a small wire brush through it to remove any clogs. You can use a pipe cleaner brush to clean the drain line.

Once you finish cleaning your AC window unit, let it dry completely before you reassemble it and turn it on. We recommend waiting at least 3 hours before plugging the AC unit back in.

Removing Mold From AC: Mold Safety Removal Tips

Musty and damp smells coming from your AC unit are a sign that you may have mold or mildew build-up. Black mold exposure can cause coughing, itchy eyes, and a sore throat. It can be harmful if you run a window AC unit that contains black mold. Follow our guide to safely remove mold.

Before you begin, you should have protective eyewear, gloves, a face mask, bleach, water, soap, and a scrub brush.

  1. .Carefully remove all the exterior components of your AC window unit.
  2. .Find the source of the mold and isolate it within the unit.
  3. .Scrub all the mold and dust from the AC unit using a scrub brush and soapy water.
  4. .Fill a bucket with warm water and half a cup of household bleach, which will kill any remaining mold spores. ist
  5. .Let the air conditioner dry and replace all the parts.

Tips on How to Clean the Window AC Unit’s Top Brands

These window units are easy to clean and maintain. According to the owner’s manual for Haier units, you should only use soft bristles to clean the condenser coils. It will help eliminate dirt and grime without risking any damage to the coils.

Kenmore Window AC

Kenmore recommends checking the air filter once every 30 days to see if cleaning is necessary. They recommend using a bucket of warm, soapy water to wash the inside of the window AC unit. You should use a soft cloth to clean the front grill.

For these window units, you should replace or clean the filters needed. If you use your window AC often, LG suggests checking the filter every 2 weeks to 30 days. You should remember to let your air filter dry completely before putting it back in the machine.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Can you deep clean your window AC without removing it?

If you follow our guide above, you will be able to deep clean your window AC unit easily. Most window unit parts are easily accessible without removing them from the window.

Can I hose down my window air conditioner?

You can use a water hose to spray the exterior condenser coils. A hose will not cause any damage to the AC, but you need to let it dry completely before using it again.

How often should you clean your AC unit?

You should replace or wash most air filters every 30 to 90 days. Depending on how often you use the window AC, we recommend doing a deep clean every 6 months.

Is it okay to spray water on your window air conditioner?

You can spray water on the exterior components of your window AC unit. It will not cause any damage to the condenser or evaporator coils.

How many hours per day should a window AC run?

You can run your window unit as often as you like. However, the more you run it, the more you will have to clean it.

Conclusion

In this guide, we taught you how to clean your window AC unit without removing it. We put our heads together to give you the most accurate information, so you can easily clean your window AC and cool off on those hot summer days.

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.

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