Every season I deal with the same issues. I have to clean a window air conditioner otherwise it doesn’t work properly and consumes a lot of energy. Furthermore, proper maintenance saves our money and is environmentally friendly because I don’t need to buy a new machine – even if I would love to have one of the smart window air conditioners with wifi and Alexa.
However, it’s annoying for many of us you can prolong the life of the AC unit if you do regular and post-season cleaning. You don’t need any special tools only things that are available in every household such as kitchen soap, brush, rag or water.
In this article, I give you the best tips to clean your window air conditioner. You don’t need to hire experts and pay for it. Do it yourself and don’t waste money!
Get Rid Of Mildew
Very often you can face an unpleasant problem of weird smell dwelling from the AC unit. The odor is usually dwelling when the machine is turned on. But of course, if your situation is very bad you smell the odor although the appliance is switched off.
The odor is a sign of growing mildew, mold, bacterias, and accumulating allergens. You have to get rid of this problem immediately as you find it out. It’s dangerous especially for small kids and it could worsen your breathing or asthma.
What Do You Need: A bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide, empty spray bottle, face mask, protection glasses (optional)
PRO TIP: Hydrogen peroxide can’t damage your AC unit as other toxic liquids could. But should always keep it out of kids.
While we are cleaning the unit has to be switched off. Turn it off and unplug from the outlet.
- Put the face mask over your mouth and nose. Take the protection glasses. We want to protect you against inhalation and harming your eyes.
- Go to the bathroom and open the window. We need to do preparation in a well-ventilated room. Fill the spray bottle by using hydrogen peroxide.
- Move to a room where your AC unit is installed. Let’s get started the best way how to clean your window air conditioner unit when you can smell a bad odor.
- Hold the spray bottle in front of the unit and spray all the front louvers. It means spray the input and output area. Once, you’re finished there is no problem regarding the fumes. You can take off the glasses and the mask. Do not forget to rinse your hands.
- Now, we need to wait until it’s completely dry. We recommend to do it in the evening and wait until morning. If your window air conditioner is installed in your bedroom don’t spray the machine before going to bed. More sensitive people can have some light issues with breathing. If the appliance is in your bedroom do it before going to work.
PRO TIP: Do not use alcohol instead of hydrogen peroxide. The alcohol is flammable and it could cause a fire. Also, do not use bleach because it could badly damage the unit.
What to do when the cleaning process didn’t help
Sometimes it can happen your unit is very dirty inside and spraying over the louvers doesn’t help at all. Keep the unit switched off and unplug from the outlet and follow the steps below.
- Repeat the same tips about your safety by using protection glasses and face mask. As a protection of your window and carpet, we would need to place the drip tray underneath your AC unit. It helps us not to bleach the carpet or wood or any other part of a home.
- Remove the filter and stray the inside space of your machine.
- Wait until it’s completely dry. And don’t forget to rinse your hands.
How to prevent having mildew in my window air conditioner?
In general, the mildew, mold, and bacteria grow when they have ideal conditions. The best condition for them usually is a wet place where they can grow.
Lots of people switch on and off their window AC unit in order to save money for operating. But it’s a problem actually. Since the unit is designed so that the condensate evaporates, you have to let the unit works at least 30 minutes. The water drips on the metal water pan and flows out of the unit.
If you want to prevent having mildew in your window air conditioner you have to avoid switching on and off very often. Let the machine work for 30 or more minutes.
Regular Cleaning of A Filter
People tend to overlook the regular cleaning of a filter however it could help you a lot. First of all, you can prevent the growth of bacterias and mildew. The second thing is the clogged filter is a cause of accumulating heat inside a window air conditioner which leads to higher consumption of energy.
A clean filter helps to prolong the life of your appliance and avoid accumulating of allergens and pollen. According to instructions given in a manual of every machine, you should focus on cleaning every three weeks. Many new units have a filter control that gives you a sign of having the filter ready for a cleaning.
What Do You Need: kitchen soap or natural detergent, warm water, rag or small brush (optional), screwdriver
Disconnect the unit from the outlet and switch it off while cleaning.
- Remove a front panel to get better access to the filter. Follow instructions from a manufacturer. The front panel is fastened by screws or tabs. So be careful.
- Take the filter off the slot.
- Transport the filter to a bathroom and put it into a sink. Apply a small amount of kitchen soap or natural detergent and spread it on a filter by using your hands, rag, or a small brush. Do it very gently.
- Rinse the filter under running warm water very precisely.
- Use a dry towel to softly squeeze the water off. Then, let the filter dry on a well-ventilated place.
- If you find out the filter has lots of holes or it’s completely worn, it’s a sign to replace it. Order a new one according to your model.
PRO TIP: Do not operate the appliance without a filter or with a wet filter. The filter is one of the most important parts of a window air conditioner. The purpose of using a filter is to remove dirt and dust particles from the air that is sucked inside the machine. If you run the unit and the air isn’t filtered it could damage the device. The wet filter doesn’t alow the air to flow properly.
Post-season cleaning is crucial. We need to clean the unit and prepare it for winter storage. Nobody wants to store dirt and mess. Even if you are going to let the unit spend the cold months on a window you should focus on cleaning. It helps you to prolong the life of your appliance along with saving money.
The best way how to clean your window air conditioner unit when the summer season is over needs time but you will be surprised by the results.
What Do You Need: spray bottle, kitchen soap, warm water, bigger brush, screwdriver, another pair of hands (optional)
When you start cleaning the unit is disconnected from the outlet and of course, turned off.
- Reinstall the unit very carefully and disconnect the side panels as well. We are going to clean them as well.
- Now, your unit is on a floor together with side panels. You have to reinstall the front panel of the unit and the metal cover of the back. Once the front panel and the metal cover are ready, take them to a bathroom and do the same with the side panels. Put them into a bathtub or in a shower.
- Take the spray bottle and fill it with 5 or 6 bigger drops of kitchen soap and warm water. Close the bottle and shake it at least six times.
- Spray the liquid over the side panels, metal cover, and plastic front panel. Let it soak for 20 minutes. If the parts are very dirty you have to spray them twice and let it soak again.
- After 20 minutes you can use a brush and very carefully scrub the dirt from all of the parts. Then, rinse it by using warm water in your bathroom.
PRO TIP: If you have a chance to clean the unit on a garden do it! You can use a hose and rinse everything by using a low pressure to avoid any damage especially the aluminum fins.
- When these parts are clean put them on an old towel and let them dry for at least two hours.
- It’s time for the body of the window air conditioner and the filter, now. Remove the filter. Take them and put them into a bathtub. Ask a friend for help if the unit is too heavy. Spray the filter along with aluminum fins, bottom part, fan, and all of the inner parts very precisely. Usually, the bottom part is the place where the worst dirt is accumulating. Be prepared for a big mess.
While the unit is a bathtub make sure the cord is far away from the source of water.
- Let is soak for 30 minutes and repeat the spraying process again. Wait for another 20 minutes.
- Take a bigger brush and use it very gently to remove dirt from the aluminum fins. Then, brush the fan and other parts. Sometimes it’s not easy to remove all the dirt. You can spray it again and immediately after use the brush it.
- Rinse all the parts under warm water very carefully. Let it dry at least 3 or 4 hours. Then, you can assemble it together.
Your unit is ready for the winter season and when the hot days come it will be easy to run it again. If you did this all this for lowering the noise level of your window air conditioner and it didn’t help. Well, then you may check my guide of the quiet window air conditioner.
The Bottom Line
However, the cleaning process isn’t anything we love it can significantly help you to protect your home against bacterias, allergens, and mold that cause lots of breathing troubles not only to sensitive people. You can also protect the window AC unit against a higher consumption of energy when the filter is clogged.
The regular maintenance helps with a smooth operating. And if you really want to prolong the life of your appliance you should maintain it after every summer season before it’s stored.
Every kind of air conditioner maintenance takes some time and you will have dirty hands. But it’s worth it when you take into consideration all the benefits.
The best thing is you don’t need any special tools or detergents. You can use only things that are in every home and do it yourself. Make your machine clean again and you both will be looking forward to next summer.