How To Clean A Window AC Unit

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Updated February 12, 2023
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Difficulty Easy
Steps 6
Time Required 1 Hour
Things to Know

The search for the best air conditioners can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know how many BTUs you need for a window A/C. And, unless you want to be constantly adjusting the A/C by the panel, you might want to figure out how to control the A/C from a mobile device. It’s worth it when the hottest months come around.


  • Unplug the air conditioner from the power outlet.
  • Remove and clean any reusable filters, and wipe down the exterior with soapy water.
  • Use condensed air to blow dust and debris out of the inside of the unit, and clean the drip tray.
  • Let the air conditioner dry completely before reassembling it.

Window air conditioners are popular cooling options both for their ease of installation and their efficiency. But a window AC unit, like all AC options, needs upkeep. Therefore, it’s important to know how to clean a window air conditioner to keep it at peak performance.

Cleaning a Window Unit the Easy Way

Sometimes, different air conditioner types require specific cleaning methods. For example, owners of ductless units must know how to clean a ductless air conditioner. And any AC owner without a central system should know how to clean air conditioner filters. But window units have their own unique needs tied to the way they cool a room and how they mount into a window.

Insider Tip

Clean your window AC unit every year and avoid letting it sit for an extended period.


Make sure your window air conditioner unit is unplugged. Next, remove the cover with the screwdriver, being careful not to lose the screws or damage the casing and the unit’s fins.


Be careful not to damage the aluminum fins or window fins when installing or removing a window unit.


Check the window air conditioner filter. If your unit has a reusable filter, remove it, and either use a vacuum cleaner to remove the dirt and debris or wash it down the spray nozzle attachment in a kitchen sink. Set it aside to dry. If your unit has a disposable filter, you’ll need to replace it with a new one.


Before replacing the filter, take your cloth and mild soapy water and wipe down the unit’s exterior. Next, carefully clean the unit’s aluminum fins with the brush so as not to bend them.


Take your coil cleaner or can of condensed air and spray it inside the unit, including the evaporator coil, following all safety directions. An air conditioner coil can accumulate dust over time, reducing the machine’s efficacy and overall air quality.


Empty the drip tray and check the machine’s drain. These are likely places to find mold. Light mold can be handled with a mold cleaner, but heavy mold growth may need professional care, particularly if it is black mold. This may also be a sign that a new unit is needed.

STAT: The ductwork and possibly a damper will allow the unit to draw fresh air in or re-circulate 100% of room air. (source)


Let your air conditioner dry completely, then reassemble your unit. Use isopropyl alcohol on all exterior water drip points to prevent new visible mold growth. Let this dry as well since the liquid in the unit can make an air conditioner dangerous. Once you’re sure it’s dry, you can enjoy your clean window AC.


How do you keep a window air conditioner clean?

Give the filters a monthly cleaning and keep the exterior of the unit clean with regular dusting.

Is a dirty window air conditioner bad?

Dirty window air conditioning units can lead to mold and mildew that create adverse health effects. And they are not as efficient as a clean window AC.

How often should you clean a window air conditioner?

Window units should get a thorough annual cleaning, while monthly checks help keep the filter clean.

When should you repair or replace your air conditioner?

If your unit is nearly a decade old, it’s likely time to replace your AC unit. The same is true if it is not rated for energy efficiency with a U.S. Department of Energy official seal. If the compressor or other major parts break down, it’s generally more cost-efficient to replace the unit than repair it.

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