How To Clean A Window Air Conditioner Without Removing It

How To Clean A Window Air Conditioner Without Removing It – Yes It Can Be Done

There is no surprise that window air conditioners are not enjoyable to set up and take back out again.

The air cons are bulky and need to be sitting on a window frame.

Now the thing with window air conditioners is the fact they need to be cleaned.

A dirty air-con can lead to high energy bills, dust problems, and air quality issues.

Can a window air conditioner actually be cleaned without needing to remove the whole thing from the window? It sure can, and we explain how!

How To Clean A Window Air Conditioner Without Removing It?

First, you need to turn the aircon off at the switch and disconnect the power from the wall. Now remove the filters and wash in clean soapy water. You can now remove the case and wipe all that down with detergent and a soft cloth. Vacuum out the air-con system and mist the fins and interior with distilled water, and using a soft cloth, wipe it all over gently. Leave the parts to dry out and then reassemble.

Cleaning Your AC System

First of all, you need to start by turning off the power switch to the air-con system and pulling the plug out from the wall, which will avoid getting electrocuted due to the fact you are using water inside the air con and touching all the different pieces.

Take Off The Grill And Remove The Filter

Your filters need to be changed every few months, especially if you have a smoker that smokes inside the home. Suppose you have a small aircon unit; you need to check it once a month that the filter is not clogged full of muck.

You can soak the filter once or twice, but after that, you need to replace them. If you buy a second-hand system, don’t worry about cleaning the filters just replace them and then clean often after installation.

If you need parts, ensure you refer to the model number of your system or the owner’s manual as each system has different parts, and you don’t want to go getting the wrong one.

The air filter is what helps to keep your air-con air clean, so it makes sense to keep it free of dirt as much as possible.

The more modern units come with a feature that will let you know when the filter needs to be replaced.

Taking The Case Off

Depending on the model, you might need a screwdriver to get the case off. This will allow you to see the removable parts like the drain pan and the condensation pan.

All these can be soaked in a bucket of warm soapy water. You need to make sure you clean the system’s drain pan to stop mold from growing, as this is where water will sit.

Get Your Vacuum And Sprayer

You can use your vacuum with a brush attachment and vacuum out any dust and debris that you can see.

After that, you want to mix together a squirt of mild detergent and some warm water.

Now is a good time to spray inside the air conditioner, and then with a soft cloth, wipe the areas down. Take note of the fins and make sure they are super clean as well.

Now For The Coils

The exterior part of the air con has a cover that can be taken off. The cover protects the unit from the different weather conditioners, and like the rest, it will need to be cleaned.

Underneath the covering, you can see some coils. You can spray the mild cleaning solution onto the condenser coils, which will allow the dirt and dust to run off.

You can just use water if you prefer but using detergent allows for a better clean. After cleaning, let everything dry naturally.

Reassemble The Air Conditioner Parts

Once you are sure everything is dry, you can start to assemble the parts if you are unsure what goes where you can check the owner’s manual or research on the internet.

Any moist parts that are put on can start mold growth. Ensure everything is fully dry.

Do You Have Bent Fins?

Don’t worry, bent fins can be fixed. The delicate, slim fins can handle the heat, but they need to remain in place.

If you have fins that are touching together or parts that are bent, the operating cost of the unit will rise, and it won’t run as efficiently.

Out-of-shape fins are common, especially on the back. Even just brushing against them can put them all out of shape.

Straighten Your Bent Fins

Thin, delicate fins efficiently handle the heat so long as they stay in place. You can purchase a tool that will easily straighten the fins, which is called a fin comb.

It works by having teeth that are the size of the spacing between the fins of your air conditioner.

This way, it can separate the fins and straighten them with each pass. You can do this manually, but it is a lot more time-consuming and hard work.

Are There Any Benefits To Cleaning The Air Conditioner Unit?

There sure is.  Anything that is clean would run better and be better for your health, wouldn’t it? When the air conditioner filter is clean, it does the job properly.

If you have a dirty one, then the household is going to suffer breathing problems, and the air con will suffer a lack of airflow and clogs, which you don’t want to have to deal with.

This can cause the coils to freeze. If your filter is clean, the unit will last you longer and offer cleaner air into your home, and the fact the poor machine is not working as hard nor increasing your energy bills.

Ensure the fins are clean and straight as they direct where the cool air is going and ensures the air is evenly distributed around the room.

Cleaning your system often can help you to detect any mold problems early before they grow into a big problem.

If you have a clogged-up air-con, it can cause the machine to leak, which can cause mold inside the machine and wherever the machine is dripping.

The more the mold grows, the more of a health concern it becomes. Unfortunately, the problem with mold is the fact it is so unhealthy and can spread very fast.

Other Things To Take Into Consideration

If you can, try and install the window unit in the shade, which will reduce how fast rust grows. If you don’t plan on using the air conditioner for a while, give it a good clean-out, so there isn’t any grime or mold left growing in the machine.

It is important to know that even as tempting as it might be, don’t tumble dry the filters or other parts of the air conditioner; using excess heat can damage the system and pull the filters out of place.

Make sure all the parts are well rung out and let the filters dry naturally. If the filter is still wet, don’t use the aircon without the filter, even just for a little while.

When Should I Call In A Professional?

You can call in a professional air conditioner serviceman who can take a look at your air-con and give it a deep clean and also check it over for any mold or mildew growing.

Check out the aircon model before you call so they can give you the best advice and a quote on how much the cleaning will cost.

If you service your air con often, you won’t have the problem of big build-ups and mold.

Using A Proper Air Conditioner Cleaning Brush

The air conditioner cleaning brush is made of polyethylene and is very durable. This is a great tool to clean the air conditioner with to ensure you get into the spaces between the fins.

If you are having trouble getting residues off the fins, you can use a little diluted vinegar on the brush to help loosen stubborn grime.

You can get this type of tool with a sprayer function, so you can just spray and wipe. The arm sleeves are made with microfiber, so the dust and dirt stick to it for easy removal.

Mold In Your Window Air Conditioner

Having mold growing in your window ac unit is a big problem. It can be hard to clean the unit properly, and if mold is detected, it is better to buy a new unit.

If you have mold growing in the aircon vent and you turn it on, the mold spores can be blown out of the unit and into the room, ready to settle on the surfaces where it can then start to grow.

Mold is harmful to both humans and pets, and if you suspect mold ensure you are wearing a mask, gloves, and eye protection.

Can I See The Mold In An Air Conditioner?

Not always. Sometimes a musty smell can mean there is mold growth. If you find yourself sneezing, coughing, and struggling with sudden respiratory problems after running the aircon or when it is on, you might have a mold-related health problem.

Sometimes the mold isn’t actually in the unit itself but inside the walls around the unit, especially if there has been a leak.

It is a good idea to get a professional out to check over the unit and surrounding area for any mold growth.

If you suspect you have mold in your aircon, it is important that you don’t use the aircon. Leave it switched off and unplugged until it is replaced or been cleared for mold.

The mold spores that can be transferred into the room cannot be seen with the naked eye, so you never know where you have mold spores floating around.

Once the aircon is switched off and there is no more air circulation, the mold spores will settle and begin to grow wherever they land if the conditions are suitable

You can take the front cover off your aircon vent and inspect it to see if you can see mold. Grab yourself a strong, bright light to help, and be sure to remove the filters, etc., Mold can hide anywhere.

If your aircon smells musty inside, most likely, you have mold that you cannot see. Sometimes it only grows in one spot you cannot see, and other times it can spread throughout the whole system and become very visible.

What To Do If You Locate Mold

The only thing you want to do is to throw the unit away. You can clean the unit, but you cannot get to all the places where mold could be hiding, and it simply isn’t worth the health risks.

When you go to remove the aircon unit, wrap it in plastic so when you carry it through the house, you are not dragging the mold spores throughout the home with you.

Check all the surrounding areas like cupboards, the walls, heating ducts, on the carpet, etc, to ensure there has been no mold spreading.

If there is a lot of visible molds, you might want to consider seeking advice from a professional about getting the experts in to check over the areas nearby to ensure it hasn’t spread.

Won’t Wetting My Aircon Cause Mold?

While we connect mold and moisture together, you can very well spray water on the ac unit and give it a good clean without causing mold as long as you dry it afterward.

Don’t spray water in the areas of the unit you cannot easily get to because you won’t’ be able to dry the area.

Did you know that the air-con condenser actually likes to be sprayed with water? It helps it to run better and more efficiently.

All you need to remember is dry everything well afterward and certainly don’t spray water when the unit is still plugged in.

How The Water Spraying Helps

When you spray your ac unit with water, it can be beneficial for the machine. There are several reasons to do this.

Improves Efficiency Within The Unit

When you spray the condenser, it will work to evaporate the water, which actually helps the machine cool off faster.

This means it isn’t working as hard and isn’t using as much energy that you are paying for.

Longer Lifespan

By helping the machine to run more efficiently, you are lengthening the lifespan. The more you take care of it, and the less it has to work will pay off in the end.

Cleaning your filters often and replacing them when needed can help your machine work better and last longer.

Better Cleaning

When you spray your air conditioner with water it works to loosen the particles of dust and dirt that would end up clogging the vents of your air conditioner.

The more gunk that you allow to build up means a dirtier filter as a result. If the filter doesn’t manage to attract them all they are then going to travel elsewhere and end up blocking the whole machine which will cost, you dearly in maintenance and repairs.

Using Hydrogen Peroxide For Cleaning

Hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning and helps to keep mold away.

You can grab a clean spray bottle as add some hydrogen peroxide into the bottle, and while your aircon is off, you can spray the solution into the intake area and also the outflow part of the unit.

You want to make sure the solution has had time to dry before you turn the air conditioner back on.

If you fail to do this, you can risk breathing in and spreading the unwanted fumes around the area, so always be careful.

It pays to wear gloves when dealing with hydrogen peroxide as it can burn your fingers and irritate the skin quite quickly upon contact.

If this occurs, run under cool water for a minute, then wash with mild soap.

Use A Cover For The Unit When You Are Not Using It

It is important for the lifespan of your air conditioner that you give it a good clean over once you are no longer using it and then buy a cover to put over it.

The cover will keep everything like dust, dirt, and bugs from getting inside. Even mice have been found nesting into a window air conditioner unit.

The cover has one long zip, so it is easy to put on and remove.

The cover is waterproof and weatherproof, so there is no need to worry about its deterioration in harsh conditions.

Looking after your air-con will ensure it looks after you for the long run, keeping you cool and comfortable during the hot months.

There are different colors to choose from, so you can always find one that will match the color scheme of your house so it won’t stick out as much and be easily noticed.


Window air conditioners are a great addition to homes that may not have other cooling methods and for those who just want to cool one room.

Like other working units and machines, maintenance is needed and often. Don’t worry, you don’t have to remove a window ac unit in order to clean it as the cleaning done above can all be done with the unit still in place.

While frequently carrying out regular cleaning, you can also carry out other steps to ensure the air conditioner is kept in working order.

While it may be annoying, it can prolong the life of your air conditioner if you remove it after summer or when you are not using it for long periods of time.

If you don’t feel comfortable cleaning your air conditioner unit, then you can always call in a professional to do the job for you.

They can also show you how to clean your aircon and offer some friendly cleaning and maintenace tips.

Whether you clean the unit yourself or hire a professional, it is important that you carry out maintenance often and try to stick to a schedule.

It is a good idea to clean the filter often and before using it after it hasn’t been turned on for a while.

You can give the machine a spray out with hydrogen peroxide, which can be helpful in warding off mildew.

Your air conditioner is a lifesaver when it is hot, and sometimes we have them running all day and night, which can, of course, take its toll on the system.

With proper care and some TLC, the air-con will thank you by lasting longer to provide you will cool fresh air.

Frequently Asked Question About How To Clean A Window Air Conditioner Without Removing It

How Often Do I Clean My AC Unit?

Once it has had a deep clean, you want to aim to maintain it every month or two, more if you are using it all the time.

Can I Use Bicarb Soda For air-con Filter Cleaning?

If you have dirty, smelly filters, it is a good idea to wash well with soapy water and run a little baking soda over the filter when you are rinsing it can help to remove odors and stubborn grime.

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