How To Clean AC Drain Line With Vinegar

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Updated May 18, 2023

If you’re performing routine maintenance on your premium air conditioner, you may wonder where to put vinegar in your air conditioner. First, turn off the AC and find the drain line, a small pipe near the inside unit. Take off the cap and mix vinegar with water. Pour the mixture into the drain line and wait for 30 minutes. Then, rinse the line with water to remove the vinegar and dirt. Put the cap back on, turn on the AC, and it’s done!

You need to keep the AC condensate drain line clean to ensure the optimal performance of your AC unit. Some users choose white vinegar for their regular cleanings instead of grabbing a cleaning product for their AC drain. But before you pour that cup of vinegar, read this guide.


  • You can use white vinegar for preventative maintenance of your AC system’s condensate drain line.
  • Condensation from the evaporator coil travels out of the AC unit through the condensate drain line.
  • The drain line access point is a T-shaped PVC pipe typically located near the air handler closet, garage, or attic.

Cleaning your AC drain lines is just as important as replacing the air filters. Additionally, it would be good to understand how to unclog an AC drain line. In addition, you should find the drain pan and empty it before you notice excess water in the air conditioning unit. If not, your AC may develop a musty odor or smell of vinegar and mold growth.

Cleaning Your AC Unit With Vinegar

If you suspect your AC has a clogged condensate drain line, you can clean the drain with a 1/4 cup of vinegar. You can find the AC drain line near the drain pan in the air handler closet or your attic, but some units hide it behind a removable access panel. If you spot a capped or covered t-shaped vent or PVC pipe, you’ve found where to pour vinegar into your AC.

Insider Tip

An annual AC maintenance plan helps you ensure energy efficiency and exceptional performance from your air conditioner.

How to Clean Your Drain Line With Vinegar

Cleaning your condensate drain is a great starting point for DIY AC maintenance. You can fix a clogged drain with 1/4th cup of vinegar and a few minutes. This may also help if you have wondered, why does my AC smell?

Locate the AC drain line near the air handler utility closet and remove the cap from the t-shaped PVC pipe. Pour the vinegar down the pipe, and replace the lid. If the vinegar does not go down, you’ll either need a drain snake or a professional maintenance checkup to fix the issue.

What is a Condensate Drain Line

While your AC unit cools your home, the evaporator coil produces tiny water droplets called condensation. The water drippings fall into the drip pan, and then the water leaves the unit through the condensate drain pipe.


Do not use diluted bleach to clean your system because the AC unit might expel bleach vapor, which is harmful in high amounts.

Why Cleaning the AC Condensate Drain is Important

Over time, bacteria, mold, and algae can grow inside the drain line, preventing water from leaving the air conditioner. If the line becomes fully clogged, your AC unit’s performance will suffer, and you may suffer water damage to your home.

STAT: According to a 2020 US EIA (Energy Information Agency) survey, nearly 20% of Americans use multiple AC solutions. (source)


What happens if my AC coils are dirty?

If you let your AC coils get dirty, your system will become inefficient at cooling your home, which translates into higher energy costs for your family. In addition, dirty coils do not absorb heat very well, so your indoor temperature may not reach a comfortable level. This is why regular maintenance is critical for your home AC system.

Is bleach or vinegar better for your AC drain line?

Vinegar is the better choice to keep your AC in peak performance. In addition, a bleach solution can harm AC units that use copper tubing for the condenser unit.

How do I clean an ac filter?

Cleaning a reusable air filter is one of the simplest AC maintenance tasks you can do. Remove the dirty air filter from the unit, and wash it with warm water. If the AC filter is particularly filthy, you can use dish soap or vinegar for deeper cleaning.

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