How to Clean a Window Air Conditioner without Removing It

Some Must-Have Window Air Conditioner Cleaning Tools and cleansers

Window Air Conditioner Cleaning Tools and cleansers

You should you clean your air conditioner regularly

Window Air Conditioner

Cleaning your air conditioner regularly will help with its longevity and its performance. We know it’s a lot of work to take out your air conditioner at the end of every season. So the goal of this article is to show you how to clean a window air conditioner without removing it.

A window Air Conditioner unit is way easier to install than a whole house central heating and air system. It’s also easier than installing a ceiling fan, though they don’t keep your house as cool.

They are the easy choice when summer hits to keep your house cool. However, they come with some maintenance tasks that can’t be overlooked. The main issue is that they can get very dirty.  Since we know that taking out a window air conditioner is pretty much a pain in the rump, we recommend a process that will help you keep it clean.

Even though the external portion of your ac unit is built tough and meant to deal with all kinds of weather, the inside needs to be kept clean and dust free. The goal of our guide is to show you how to clean a window air conditioner without removing it.

There are several parts that need to be tended to when attempting to upkeep your window air conditioner unit. We will look at each one of the parts that need to be cleaned in this article.

Fear not, it’s not actually as complicated as it seems. Just take it one step at a time and we will get through this together.

Individual Air Conditioner Parts

Let’s start with the filter. All window AC systems will have a filter. It’s likely easy to find on every unit you could possibly find. It’s definitely the most important piece to clean since it is what the fresh air passes through that you are breathing. You can find it behind the grill. This is another part that will need to be cleaned. The grill doesn’t need to be cleaned as often as the filter, and it will be pretty obvious when it needs to be cleaned.

You will want to care for the front of the unit. Each unit will be different but for the most part, you want to keep it looking nice as it will be what you see in your home. The cabinet is going to get hit hard from the seasonal elements like rain, wind, and debris. It could use some seasonal upkeep depending on the specific weather conditions in your area. Drain plugs and pans should really be the only other parts you will need to take care of on the outside.

The blower can also become dirty. Similarly the fan motor and the evaporator coil may need some love. Technically if you want to ensure the longest life of your window air conditioner unit you “would” store it for the winter. That way the most expensive parts like the motor won’t get damaged if you live in an area where the weather and elements are really bad.

Individual Air Conditioner Parts

In fact, it’s not always ideal to clean your window unit without removing it. If it gets really dirty you may have to take it out to clean it. But for the most part, if you keep the following parts clean, you should have less trouble with the other parts of the unit becoming sticky or “gummed up.”

Step By Step guide to cleaning your window air conditioner unit without removing it.

For now here’s a quick recap:

  • Remove and clean the filter
  • Remove the grill and clean the grill and louvers
  • Clean the cabinet
  • Clean the condenser coils and fins
  • Clean the drain plug(s) and pan(s)

How to clean the air conditioner grill and louvers

clean the window ac

If your filter is pretty dirty then there is a good chance that the part that the air passes in and out of your air conditioner through will be dirty as well. It’s probably gathered dust, dirt, lint, pine needles, or other debris.

Remove the grill and clean it with a rag and a mild detergent. You can also soak it in a sink with soapy water if it’s too grimey to get with a rag. Use a toothbrush or queue tips to get between the grill slats. If you get to this in the summer, you can always take the grill outdoors and spray it with the garden hose. Make sure the grill is dry before you put it back on the machine.

If for whatever reason you can’t take off the grill or it is not removable, just do your best to clean between the slats with a rag, toothbrush, or queue tips. You could even use a vacuum with a small attachment to try to pull out some of the dust and dirt that has collected inside.

How to clean a window unit air conditioner filter

How to clean a window unit air conditioner filter

Unplug the unit and take off the grill. If it’s not a grill, simply remove whatever front panel is on your window air conditioner. Do this carefully, you certainly don’t want to break the grill while trying to take it off. Each unit will be a little different, but for the most part the filter will either slide out or lift out from the side.

Make sure you check the owner’s manual in case you need to replace the filter. Being that there are so many different kinds of units you will need to check which filter you need to replace if you should require a new one. Most filters are mesh and they are pretty easy to clean.

Normally you can use a vacuum cleaner with a good attachment and just pull off the dust. But if it’s really caked on you may need to use warm water and a mild to strong detergent. Remember, that there are many different types of filters but if you keep yours clean you shouldn’t have an issue. If you have to clean with water and detergent just be sure that the filter is dry before you put it back into the unit.

Please note that you shouldn’t have to use really hot water to clean your filter. Just use warm water and make extra sure that you have given it enough time to dry before returning it to the unit.

How to clean your air conditioner cabinet

clean window ac cabinet

Your air conditioner cabinet is the housing that keeps the inside safe from the weather. You can clean the cabinet with a damp rag using a mild detergent. If you have a system that literally stays in the window all year round, then you will likely need something like goo gone and a decent amount of scrubbing power “elbow grease” to get it clean.

If you have pine trees you may have some sap that gets hardened on to your cabinet. Use a sap remover treatment for that Grab a bucket and some warm water and scrub the cabinet until it’s clean.

How to clean your air conditioner condenser coils and fins

clean window ac condenser coils and fins

Since calling a professional in to do the job is against all DIY projects, we will not tell you to do that. In most cases the value of the unit isn’t worth the price of the visit. The condenser coils are actually not that hard to clean, but you should still follow some simple steps to get the job done. The coils are outside of the air conditioner unit. They are covered by the “fins.”

Fins on the outside of your home can become damaged, and a set of fin combs can help you straighten them out. Once you have straightened out your fins you can proceed.

Unplug the unit before you proceed with this part if you haven’t done so already.

Soak the fins with a mixture of dish soap and water. You can put it in a spray bottle or use a bucket and a scrub brush. We recommend using a fin cleaning brush for this.  Use a fin cleaning brush to scrub as much of the area as possible. You can then lightly scrub the coils with a rag or toothbrush until you get them clean. Then rinse off the fins and the back of the unit with clean water from the garden hose or from a new bucket.

How to clean the air conditioner drains and pans

clean window ac condenser drains and pans

In order to prevent mold you will want to keep your drains and pans as clean and dry as possible. If you have a drain hole in the back of your unit, you can simply run a rag through it to clean it up. If there is a hose attached to it, remove that hose first and then clean the area around it with soapy water.

So there you have it. Soon we will be working on a video to demonstrate this.

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