How to Clean a Window Air Conditioner? (Removing & Without Removing)

As all house appliances, the window air conditioner needs proper care, as well. If not cleaned regularly and adequately, its efficiency can be decreased. That means it will use more electricity and it will be less efficient over time, which may seem like you haven’t got an AC worth of the money you have paid.

To avoid such a situation, you should clean your device regularly. Unfortunately, the way to clean a window air conditioner is not a quick job for most of us. However, if you follow instructions, you can finish that task successfully.

Why Do You Need to Clean a Window Air Conditioner?

Why Do You Need to Clean a Window Air Conditioner

Like the majority of devices, the window air conditioner requires maintenance. Therefore, you should be ready to clean it regularly for several reasons.

Clean Air

You and the members of your household breathe the air that comes out of your window air conditioner, which means that you need to make sure that it is not harmful. Not cleaned and maintained correctly, the air conditioner can be the source of different diseases.

If someone living in your house suffers from allergies or asthma, you should put an extra effort to clean a window air conditioner. Always keep in mind that a dirty device can increase allergic and asthma attacks.

Moreover, not only people with such problems are in danger. Even healthy people can be at risk of getting sick from respiratory diseases caused by filthy air. Therefore, you need to take care of your health and welfare.

Budgeting and damage

As you probably know, every device works better and in full capacity if it has regular maintenance. So, you should clean a window air conditioner regularly.

Keep in mind that a dirty device will use more energy and be less efficient. Moreover, in such a case, you will need more money for repairs and replacement parts. Therefore, you will want to clean a window air conditioner to save money and avoid expensive repair costs.

Material You Need to Clean a Window Air Conditioner

Luckily, you probably have all you need for cleaning in your household, and there will be no extra costs to clean a window air conditioner.


  • Bucket of water or garden hose
  • Water
  • Dish soap
  • Philips screwdriver
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide or bleach
  • Spray bottle
  • Old cloth or paper towels
  • Soft brush

You can use bleach as an excellent choice to clean a window air conditioner since it destroys mold. Unfortunately, it will also destroy metal and some parts of your AC. My advice is to look carefully at the instruction on how to clean your device. If they don’t mention bleach as a possible cleaning option, you should avoid it.

In most cases, 3% hydrogen peroxide is good enough to clean all filthy parts of your AC. Always try to be careful to protect yourself since this agent can be pretty harmful in contact with your skin or eyes.

Protective equipment

  • Rubber gloves
  • Mask
  • Protective goggles or glasses
  • Old cloth or paper towels

Different Types of Cleaning

There is a difference between weekly, monthly, and seasonally cleaning. The process is different, as well as the material and equipment needed.

Weekly and monthly cleaning

When you clean a window air conditioner weekly or monthly, you primarily need to clean the filter since it gets dirty more often. Therefore, the process of cleaning is less complicated. How frequently you will perform filter cleaning will depend on many factors.

There is an instruction for cleaning every AC, and you should read where to look for the air filter before starting the job. You can also see if the filter is washable or you need to change it.

If your filter is washable, you will need to turn off a window air conditioner first. Then, take out the filter, spray it with water and dish soap, and rinse it thoroughly. Leave it to dry and avoid turning on the AC until the filter becomes completely dry.

Seasonal cleaning

Like you have already known, you should take off your window air conditioner before the cold weather, pack it, and store it in the safe and dry place. That way, you will ensure your device is safe and not exposed to adverse weather conditions during the winter.

In such a case, it is advisable to do a seasonal cleaning before using the window air conditioner after a cold period. Even if you put window awnings over the device, the dirt and filth can get inside the outside unit.

There are two primary approaches to clean a window air conditioner, and you can choose the way that suits you better.

1. Cleaning with removing a window air conditioner

Cleaning with removing a window air conditioner

Start with turning off the cord from the electricity. Afterward, you should dismantle the unit from a single-hung window or double-hung window. Place it somewhere where you can spill water and make some mess. The ideal places are your garden, yard, and bathroom.

Once you have found the perfect place take the needed equipment. Firstly, you need to remove the filter from the AC. Then, you need to spray it with water and dish soap and leave to soak for 10 to15 minutes, so you could easily wash away the dirt.

The next step is to remove the fins and all the screws by using a Philips screwdriver. You should be careful with screws and take care not to lose any of them. Spray the fins and leave to soak, as well.

Afterward, you need to take off the front mask. The principle is the same as previously. Remove all the screws and put them away carefully. Check one more time if all screws are out before taking the mask from the AC.

Some models of window air conditioners have a very fragile cover made of two parts, so you should be careful while pulling them off the AC. Once the cover is off, you should spray it and leave it to soak. Pay attention to filth in hidden places, and make sure to spray it thoroughly.

Once you have done spraying the cover elements, it is time to do the same with the inside part of your window air conditioner. You should be patient and take your time as it has a lot of unapproachable places where you can see the dirt.

If you worry about the soaking of electrical parts, you should remember that AC is wet inside anyway. Therefore, you can freely spray everything, a fan, wheel, aluminum back panel, as well as all other accessible parts.

After 10 to 15 minutes, it is time to take the garden hose or bucket with water and rinse all the dirt out. You should use a soft brush so that you can brush out dirty and clogged parts more thoroughly.

It is of high importance to rinse all parts entirely, especially bubbles or bleach. Once the cover, the filter, and the inside of the window air conditioner are clean and shiny, you should leave them to dry for 2 to 4 hours. Then, put all parts back together and install the device back to the window.

2. Cleaning without removing a window air conditioner

Cleaning without removing a window air conditioner

It can be hard to clean a window air conditioner without disconnecting it from the wall as you need a considerable amount of water. However, it is possible with a little more effort.

Before starting the job, you should put some buckets under your AC. Then, take off the screws of the frontal case or mask and take out the filter.

Afterward, you need to spray the device and wipe it with the dry cloth at the same time. Repeat the process until you see the frontal and inner parts are entirely clean. Don’t forget to spray the filter and rinse it, as well. It is an excellent idea to do so in your bath or sink.

The next step is to go outside and spray the AC without removing the cover. Do it wherever you see the hole. Leave the agent and water to soak all the parts of the device for approximately 15 minutes.

Then rinse the device with water from the hose or bucket. Make sure not to pour a large amount of water immediately. It is better to use less water over a more extended period. While doing so, you will see the dirt comes from the bottom holes of the outside unit.

You will know a window air conditioner is clean once the water coming out becomes clean. If needed, you can repeat the soaking part, but always rinse the detergent or bleach afterward.

Once you have finished with the cleaning, you should leave all the parts to dry for at least 2 to 4 hours. After putting back all the pieces together, your seasonal cleaning is finished.


A dirty air conditioner can be the source of different lung and respiratory infections. Adequate and regular cleaning will bring you peace of mind and a lot of benefits to your health. Plus, it is the way to prolong the life of your AC and save money. Such a win-win situation!

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