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Cleaning window AC

How to Clean a Window Air Conditioner without Removing It: 3 Top Tips

Are you noticing something weird going on with your air conditioner?

Is it losing cooling performance?

After setting up your window air conditioner, its performance will eventually degrade over time.

This does not mean you purchased a sub-standard air conditioner, it usually just indicates it is time to clean it.

All air conditioner coils and filters will get clogged, after a while. So you will need to clean them frequently for proper functioning.

Many of us don’t want to do air conditioner cleaning, and cleaning may be needed a couple times a year.

Some people find it difficult to detach an older, heavy window unit and put it back, which can be tedious.

Luckily, though, the need to remove a window air conditioner before cleaning is now a thing of the past; for the vast majority of newer units, you can successfully clean your unit quickly and easily.


How frequently do I have to clean my Window AC?

Clean window AC

The way you treat your other office / home appliances is the way you should treat your air conditioner. Sometimes, that means cleaning after every use – or at least a few times a year.

Your air conditioner may not need daily cleaning, but cleaning it at least twice a month is an excellent idea.

There are many benefits you will enjoy cleaning your window air conditioner regularly - as follows:
  • A clean air conditioner ensures you’re breathing clean air in your office or home, which decreases the chances of asthma or allergic reactions. The air quality you breathe plays a vital role in your well being. Dirty air conditioner filters provide unhealthy indoor air, which is bad for people suffering from respiratory ailments.
  • Cleaning your window AC saves you money on electricity bills. A clean air conditioner works more efficiently and will cool your home within a shorter time; so there will be no requirement to keep it on all day long. If you notice the operation of your air conditioner is going down, then that’s the sign you should clean it soon.
  • Clogged and filthy air conditioner filters force an air conditioning unit to work too hard and may damage the machine over time. Maintaining and servicing the air conditioner will extend its useful life, saving you money. Most damage to modern air conditioners is the result of clogged and dirty filters. By just cleaning the device regularly, you can delay the expense of replacing your unit for many more years.
  • A clean air conditioner keeps your workplace / home clean - and smelling clean. Imagine sitting in a clean office, knowing the air you are breathing is dirty – this can makes you very uneasy. A neat and clean house or office can be spoiled by a dirty window air conditioner. The impacts of the dusty air conditioner on your health are many, and the one includes the unending flu.  Another is smell.  Clean ACs really help keep your environment smelling clean.

Can you clean a window air conditioner without removing it?

Portable Air Conditioner problems

You do not need to hire experts to clean your air conditioner, as you can easily do it at home - unless you want to have someone to service the device.

The methods of cleaning your window air conditioner will depend on how often you clean it.

For example, if you clean the air conditioner two times in a year, then the work involved will be greater.

People who clean their units regularly will not have to spend a lot of time cleaning it.

Before the cleaning procedure, here is everything you need to clean your air conditioner properly.
  • Bucket of water
  • Spray bottle
  • Dry towel
  • Tap water
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Detergent or soap solution

After you assemble what you want to follow the next procedure.

1. If you clean your conditioner regularly

If you clean your air conditioner daily, here is the process:
  • Fill the spray bottle with the hydrogen peroxide, switch off the air conditioner and then spray the intake area lightly. Don’t forget to shield yourself from inhaling hen spraying as the hydrogen peroxide since it is very harmful to your health. Always wash your hands after spraying the system even if you used the protective gloves.
  • Allow the air conditioner to dry before using it again. That if you wake up, the unit is ready to use if you can wash it at night it will be better. Make sure that the air conditioner dries before turning it on after spraying.
  • If you notice spraying did not clean the filters nicely, consider deep cleaning, including removing the filter and spraying on the unit further. It is possible to think about cleaning the filters with a damp towel and the unit as well.
  • Now put the air conditioner filter to its place and let the device dry. Avoid putting on the air conditioner before it dries up because condensation of the hydrogen peroxide may damage the device.

2. Monthly cleaning

If you decide to clean your window air conditioner monthly, be prepared to do a comprehensive cleaning. The air conditioner will have accumulated plenty of dust and dirt, and appropriate cleaning will be the only solution.

First, ensure that the system is off before you start cleaning.

Below is the monthly cleaning process:
  • To get at the filter, remove the front panel of your air conditioner. In the vast majority of air conditioner brands, the front panel includes tabs or screws for proper attachment to the system. Filters are fixed in the slot inside the device, but check the user manual to guide you on how to remove filters.
  • Dip your towel in soap or detergent solution, then wash the filter or run it through running water. You may use hot water to clean the front panel and the filters. Consider using a vacuum hose to extract the dirt cover if the filter is packed with grime or dust.
  • Allow the filter to dry and return it to its position. You can shake off extra water or dry it using a dry towel. Do not put the filter to its position in the air conditioner unless it completely dries. Don’t turn on the system when the filter is wet or before you place the filter to its location, you risk damaging the whole system. If the front panel looks damaged, you probably should replace it with a new one as it can interfere with the air conditioner effectiveness.
  • Replace the worn-out filter also for the proper performance of your unit. The filters are created for specific brands, so do not make a mistake of buying another brand’s filter to put in on your air conditioner. Always make sure you buy the filter from the same manufacturer who sells the air conditioner brand you have. It’s suggested to clean your window air conditioner at least once a month to keep it in good condition.

3. Seasonal cleaning

Cleaning your air conditioner once a season (4 times a year or less) is not desirable since you will be exposing your device to more risks, but if the situation forces you to, don’t fret too much.

Here, you will need to do a deep cleaning to remove all of the dirt and dust that may have clogged the filters and other unit surfaces.

  • Before removing the unit, ensure it is disconnected from the electricity.
  • Remove all the screws smoothly before removing the front panel.
  • Start by cleaning the case first with hot water and detergent solution mix. Use a small moist towel to remove all of the dust and the dirt covering the surfaces.
  • Use a soft brush to scrub the dust accumulated on the cooling fins, make sure to put on protective gloves because the fins can cut you if not careful. Spray the coils, and the fins until the surfaces are clean.
  • Next up is the filters, dip in the bucket for cleaning or clean them with a wet towel.
  • Wipe down the entire unit the tray using a wet towel and wait for the surfaces and filters to dry before placing them back. You may wipe the surfaces with a dry towel, and accelerate the drying process, and consider replacing any worn out parts.
  • Until you return the components such as filters and panels, do not put on the unit. Use the user manual if you are stuck while returning the front case or the filters back to their slot.

A clean window air conditioner equates to clean indoor air and better respiratory health.

The above cleaning regimens will help your window air conditioner stay clean without removing it.

Be sure to follow the steps above in the order given to avoid damaging your unit.

If your air conditioner suffers from cooling problems after cleaning, you should immediately call an expert to help you out.

About the Author Tom Hanson

I’ve worked as an HVAC tech in Phoenix, AZ for the past 10 years. I created CoolAndPortable.com to help home owners select the right portable air conditioner, cooler or air purifier for their needs & budget in just a few minutes.

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