How to Clean Window AC’s [W/O Removing It & Removing It]

How to Clean Window AC's WO Removing It & Removing It

Cleaning the window air conditioner at home isn’t just important for extending the service life of the unit, but is also vital for protecting the health of your family members. 

In fact, one of the common issues that can occur with window ACs is the development of mold. And the factors that can essentially lead to it are moisture build-up and lack of airflow.  

Mold spores in the AC can cause damage to the property and, more importantly, harm respiratory health. Therefore, it’s crucial to prevent the growth and spread of mold. So if your window AC starts producing a dank smell when it’s switched on, or you encounter any minor issues because of dirt clogging, it’s undoubtedly time for a clean.

Now, there are two ways you can handle the cleaning session, and for the sake of your convenience, we’ve explained both the procedures through easy steps. 

Read on to find out how to clean window air conditioners with or without removing the unit. 

Cleaning a Window Air Conditioner Without Removing It

You don’t need expert intervention to clean an air conditioner as you can easily follow the following DIY steps at home. And to help you work in the right direction, we’ve simplified the process of cleaning based on how often you want to do it. Furthermore, all of it can be done without displacing the whole unit. So, before you begin the session, here is a list of basic items required, which are mostly always available at home.  

  • Clean, lukewarm water
  • A pair of towels
  • Detergent or soap solution
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Bucket 
  • Spray bottle
  • Brush

After you assemble all the necessary things you now have to follow these straightforward steps:

  1. For daily cleaning 

Obviously, the cleaning procedure of a window AC depends on how often you clean the unit. If you intend on keeping the machine dirt-free every day, follow these steps here:

Step 1

Fill up the spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide, then switch off the air conditioner and spray gently on its intake area. Make sure to protect yourself from inhaling the chemical while spraying as it’s detrimental to health. Also, don’t forget to sanitize your hands after spraying on the device, even if you had protective gloves on.

Step 2

Allow the unit sufficient time to dry before switching it on again. It’ll be better if you undertake the cleaning session at night so that the machine dries properly and is ready to use the next morning. 

Step 3

However, if you notice that spraying was not enough to clean the filters, consider deep cleaning the air conditioner. In that case, you have to remove the filter and spray it further. Also, you may use a wet towel to wipe away the dirt on the filters and the body of the unit. 

Now, put the air conditioner filter back in its position and leave the whole unit to dry. But avoid turning on the machine before it dries up as condensation of the hydrogen peroxide can cause damage to the appliance.  

How to Clean Window ACs WO Removing It Removing It 2

  1. For monthly cleaning

If you decide to clean the window air conditioner monthly, then be prepared for a thorough cleaning session. Since the unit will have accumulated a lot of dust and dirt over the course of a month, proper cleaning is the most effective solution. But before you begin with the below-mentioned procedure, make sure the device is off 

Step 1

Firstly you must take off the front panel of the air conditioner to access the filter. Most air conditioners have the front panel drilled on to the machine and fastened with tabs or screws for secure attachment. Also, you’ll find the filters installed in the slot inside the unit. Nevertheless, refer to the user manual to remove the filters smoothly.

Step 2

Soak the towel with the detergent or soap solution and wipe the filter clean or simply run it through running water. Additionally, you can also use lukewarm water to clean the front panel and the filters. In case you find the filter caked with dirt or grime consider using a vacuum hose to scour the unit. 

Step 3

Finally, allow the filter to dry and later return it to its position. You may shake off the excess water or soak it up with a dry towel. But don’t put the filter back in the machine unless it’s completely dry. Also, make sure not to switch on the AC before reinstalling the filter, as that could risk damaging the whole machine. Also, while cleaning, if the front panel seems damaged, consider replacing it with a new one you since that can interfere with the overall performance of the appliance.  

Step 4

If required, replace the worn-out filter as well to get the desired cooling from your air conditioner. It is important to note that filters are brand specific hence you’d be literally putting a square peg in a round hole if you buy filters from a different brand. Always buy filters from the same manufacturer who makes the air conditioners.

  1. Seasonal cleaning

First of all, sterilizing the air conditioner seasonally is not advisable since you’ll be making the machine more vulnerable to damages. But if that’s the only option you’ve got, resort to the following deep cleaning steps.  

Step 1

Start by removing the unit case, but first ensure that the unit is disconnected from the power supply. Take out all the screws before removing the front panel. Thereafter, begin with cleaning the case first using lukewarm water and then a detergent solution. Follow up with a wet towel to wipe clean all the dirt and grime covering the surfaces. Uninstall the filter as well but refer to the instruction manual if it’s your first time disassembling an air conditioner.

Step 2

Use a soft brush to carefully scrub off the dust covering the aluminum fins, but do it with protective gloves on as the fins can cut you. Continue spraying the fins and coils until all the surfaces are clean. Move on to the filters next and clean them properly with a wet towel or just dunk it in the bucket for easy cleaning. Lastly, wipe the whole unit down to the tray using a damp towel and wait for the surfaces and filters to dry completely. 

Step 3

Alternatively, you can wipe the surfaces with an unsoaked towel and accelerate the drying process. But also consider replacing worn out parts, if you find any. However, do not switch on the appliance with any of the components such as the filters or front panel uninstalled.

How to Clean Window ACs WO Removing It Removing It 4

Cleaning a Window Air Conditioner After Removing It

If you detect a musty or moldy smell whenever you turn the air conditioner on or find leaks from the unit, it may be time to go beyond basic cleaning. Since in these cases, there are high chances of accumulation of dust, debris, and black sludge, that cause odor and block condensation.  

That being said, you may have to remove the entire unit from the window and take it apart to clean the individual parts of the machine. But it’s not a very difficult task once you manage to pull the whole thing out (get help, you may need it) as after that you just have to follow some simple steps. 

To clean the unit, assemble the following:

  • Latex or Plastic gloves
  • Water
  • Laundry detergent
  • Bleach
  • Mild dish soap
  • Cloth
  • Screwdriver
  • Vacuum cleaner with attachments
  • Foaming coil cleaner
  • Electric motor oil

Step 1

Unplug the unit and then begin by removing the plastic trim panel, which will most likely snap off. Thereafter, while sliding out the air conditioner from the window get help as the machine is quite heavy. Set the unit down on a level surface in a well-ventilated area.

Step 2

Remove the air conditioner’s mounting frame and case with the help of a screwdriver. Take note of any odd length screws and their locations as they have to go back to the same spots during reassembly. After you’re done removing them, set the screws in a safe place as you don’t want to lose them.

Step 3

Put on safety gloves and use a specialized fin comb to straighten out the bent cooling fins. Follow up by using a vacuum attached with a soft brush to remove any dust and debris collected on both of the unit’s coils.

Step 4

Spray the two coils with a can of foaming air conditioner coil cleaner. Allow the agent to sit on the coils as recommended by the manufacturer.

Step 5

Thoroughly wipe down the fan blades with a soft cloth soaked in regular household spray cleaner. You may also open any of the fan motor’s rubber or plastic-capped oiling ports and lubricate them with some drops of electric motor oil.

Step 6

Finally, vacuum the air conditioner filter or simply replace it, especially if you discover any mold spores on it or sense mildew in the air. Thereafter, pour a cup of bleach into the access hole of the condensation drain line to exterminate any mold and mildew growing in it. 

Step 7

Now, keep your gloves on while wiping the water drip pan with a cloth dipped in bleach. Lastly, let all disassembled parts dry completely before putting together the air conditioner unit and replacing it into the window.

Final Words

Regular cleaning of your window AC unit is necessary to ensure the proper functioning and desired cooling throughout its course of life. And after going through our comprehensive, step-by-step guide, you already know that’s not a difficult chore to do. Nevertheless, if neglected, the unit will fail to perform at its maximum capacity and its lifespan will be significantly reduced.

Ideally, it’s advisable to perform a full clean of the AC unit once every month. But if that’s not possible, make sure to clean it at least once a year during spring or early summer before you will need to use it full-time.

That being said, DIY maintenance of the window AC is rarely as complicated as it might sound. And we hope you’ve found the most effective solution to clean and maintain this appliance yourself. 

Till next time, keep DIYing!

How to Clean Window ACs WO Removing It Removing It 1

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Anna Vaughn

Anna Vaughn

Immense painting experience recommends Anna. She shaped The Little Painters, a small local painting workshop for children that invites the little ones to explore painting through simple and creative means in a safe, loving and extremely colorful environment. In her home panting studio she plays with all paint mediums but watercolor is her expertise.

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