How to Clean an Air Conditioner FilterYour air conditioner filter must be cleaned from time to time. This helps to keep your air conditioner in proper running condition. Before the temperature reaches its highest point you should perform this housecleaning task. There’s nothing worse than needing air conditioning and learning it isn’t working properly because the air conditioner filter did not get cleaned.

In addition to helping your air conditioner run smoothly, cleaning the filter also serves another very important role. It ensures that the air you and your family breathe from your air conditioner is as clean as it can be.

Clean the Air Conditioner Filter

To clean your air conditioner filter you will need a few tools. You likely have everything you’ll need in your home already.

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Screwdriver
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Clean towels

Removing the Air Filter

You might need a screwdriver to remove the air conditioner filter or filters from the unit itself. Make sure the unit is turned off—and if possible unplug it as well before starting.

Unscrew any necessary screws and remove the filters. Before proceeding, inspect the filter or filters for rips or snags. If you find either, it’s best to replace the filters rather than cleaning them.

How to Clean an Air Conditioner Filter and removing dust

Vacuum the Filter

Use your best judgment when choose a vacuum cleaner attachment for cleaning the filter. A soft brush is a good choice.

Vacuuming away as much dirt and debris as possible will make the next step even easier. Do be gentle, however, as rough handling of air conditioner filters can result in that aforementioned ripping or tearing.

Vinegar and Water

One of the very best cleaning agents for your air conditioner filter is a combination of vinegar and water. Professional maid services swear by it for dozens of housecleaning jobs. It should be part of everyone’s cleaning repertoire.

Fill your bathtub with equal parts white vinegar and water. Make sure it’s enough to submerge the filter. You may use a basin if you prefer, but it needs to be large enough to soak the filter.

The vinegar kills harmful bacteria. That bacteria, when allowed to grow on your filter, permeates your home and the air that you and your family breathe. Leaving the filter in this solution for several hours is best.

Remove any debris that became lodged in the filter by gentle scrubbing with a very soft scrub brush. This will get any remaining debris in case your vacuum missed any. By the time the filter has soaked for at least an hour, any such debris will be easy to clean off.

Those who strongly believe that nothing is cleaned properly without contact with soap may use a few drops of dishwashing liquid instead. Do note that not all dishwashing liquids have the antimicrobial properties of vinegar, however.

How to Clean an Air Conditioner Filter and rinse it with water

To Rinse or Not?

A big mistake that is frequently made when cleaning an air conditioner filter is rinsing the filter following the vinegar and water sanitation process. Instead, allowing the filter to drip onto clean towels laid out on your floor or in your yard will start the drying process but won’t impede the sanitation.

If you opted for dishwashing liquid instead of vinegar, you will need to rinse the filter in cool water. Simply drain the tub or basin and run the water over the entire filter.

Sunshine is another of nature’s best cleaning tools.  The freshest way to ensure continued cleanliness is allowing the filter to dry in the sun.


Putting the pieces of your air conditioner back together are the last steps in cleaning your air filter.  After you put the air conditioner filter back inside, replace the cover, and screwing everything together, you can consider your job done.

You and your family can breathe easier once your air conditioner filter is complete, knowing the nice, cool air flowing from your air conditioner is as clean as it can be. Adding this job to your yearly or bi-yearly housecleaning list of chores means everyone can breathe deeply—all year long.