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How to Clean a Window Air Conditioner Without Removing it

by Nick Evans | Last Updated: October 15, 2021

Are you looking to clean your window air conditioner without removing it? We have you covered!

Installing a window air conditioning unit is a chore. They’re heavy, and you don’t want to remove them unless you have to.

In this article, we’ll discuss and answer:

How to Clean a Window Air Conditioner Without Removing it 12 Step Guide

You’ll Need:

Step 1: Unplug Your Air Conditioner

Before doing maintenance on any appliance, you need to unplug it. This is especially important when taking the appliance apart, as I’ll walk you through below, and when using liquids to clean.

You risk electrocution if you skip this step, so it’s crucial!

Step 2: Remove the Front Panel

Sometimes you can pull the front panel off of the machine without tools, but some are attached with screws.

Check for screws and use a screwdriver to remove them if needed. Set them aside somewhere that they can’t roll from—screws are easy to lose!

Once the panel has been removed, you should have access to the filter inside of your unit.

Step 3: Clean or Replace the Filter

Cleaning or changing your filter regularly will improve the air quality in your home. This should be done at least once every 3 months.

If your filter is disposable, you can simply buy a replacement. Refer to your manual for the size and model number of the filter so that you don’t buy the wrong one by mistake.

If you don’t have your manual, you can find it online or check for a model number on the old filter.

Once you’ve bought the new filter, remove the old filter and replace it with the new filter.

For reusable filters, remove them from the unit and clean them using dish soap and water. Scrub with a soft cleaning brush or sponge as needed.

Running water will work best for this, such as your laundry room sink or the hose outside. If you can’t use running water, soaking the filter in a tub of soapy water is the next best thing.

Step 4: Clean the Inside of the Machine

First, use a vacuum hose and pet attachment (the one with the brush bristles at the end) to pick up the majority of the dust and debris inside of the unit.

If you see any other removable parts, such as a drain pan, remove these and clean them separately using soap and water.

Then, use a wet cloth to wipe down the inside of the machine. Use bleach if there is mold build-up. This will kill mold and also helps to tackle hard stains.

Always follow safety precautions when using bleach. Dilute bleach with water, ventilate the area, and make sure you’re still removing all mold from the surface. Wear gloves and eye protection when cleaning with bleach.

Lastly, don’t use any products that include ammonia on your air conditioner, as this will create toxic fumes when mixed with bleach.

If your cloth becomes too dirty at any point you can run it under running water, dunk it in a tub of water to clean it, or use a new cloth if needed.

Remember to clean and sanitize your vacuum attachment once you’re finished cleaning with it as well.

Step 5: Wipe the Unit Dry and Air Dry Your Filter

Use a cloth to wipe your air conditioner dry, and set the filter upright so that it can air dry. Don’t reassemble the unit until all parts have dried completely, or mold may grow inside of the A.C.

Step 6: Replace the Filter and Panel

Once everything is completely dry, replace the filter and any other removable parts. Then, reattach the front panel.

You’re halfway there!

Step 7: Remove the Back Covering

Next, remove the covering on the back of your air conditioner. Like the front, this may have screws that you’ll need to unscrew and set aside.

Step 8: Clean the Condenser Coils

This should allow you to clean the condenser coils and any other part that was unreachable from the front.

Use soap and water for a light clean, or detergent and water for something a bit heavier. Bleach can be used to kill and remove mold if needed.

Step 9: Let the Coils Dry

Allow the coils and anything else you’ve wiped down to dry completely before reassembling.

Step 10: Replace the Back Cover

Once it’s all clean and dry, put the unit back together by replacing the back cover.

Step 11: Clean the Outside of the Appliance

Lastly, clean the outside of your air conditioner. You don’t have to worry about the part that’s outside the house unless you want to.

Wipe the entire outside of the appliance with a wet cloth, using soapy water as needed to remove any built-up dust or debris.

Don’t forget to clean between the slats where the air blows out, as lots of dust tends to accumulate there.

Disinfect the control panel using your bleach mix or your preferred disinfectant.

Step 12: Plug in and Run the Air Conditioning

Now you’re finished! Plug your air conditioner back in, turn it on, and breathe in that fresh, clean air.

What is the Easiest Way to Clean a Window Air Conditioner?

The easiest way to clean an air conditioner is using a wet rag and vacuum to remove all dust, lint, and debris from the machine.

We’ve outlined how to do so above. This will keep your window air conditioner clean and mold free, which improves the air quality in your home.

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Is it okay to Spray Water on your Window Air Conditioner?

You can spray water on your window air conditioner so long as it is unplugged. Air conditioners create precipitation as they run, so water won’t damage the appliance.

Always ensure your air conditioner dries completely, and never spray into the machine without taking it apart—moisture may become trapped, promoting mold growth.

Can you Clean a Window Air Conditioner with a Hose?

It’s possible to clean your window air conditioner with a hose, but here are some things to keep in mind first:

How do I Clean the Sludge out of my Window Air Conditioner?

Sludge in your window air conditioner can have three culprits:

Mold is best cleaned with bleach, which kills it and stops it from spreading. You can create your own mixture of bleach and water, or purchase a cleaner that contains bleach from the store.

Soot can come from candles or fireplaces. Clean it off using soap and water.

Dust, dirt, and debris is typically the easiest to clean and can be wiped away with a wet cloth. Use soapy water for more stubborn spots.

Can I Spray Lysol in my Window Air Conditioner?

You can spray Lysol on your window air conditioner, and you might prefer to do so over soap and water due to its disinfecting properties.

Lysol also makes a mold and mildew remover that’s great for cleaning air conditioners!

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