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How Do You Clean an Air Conditioner Filter?


Posted by Spencer | August 10, 2023 | Reading Time:

Living without a working air conditioner in the Arizona heat is unsafe these days. You want to do everything you can to keep your air conditioner working efficiently as temperatures skyrocket. Along with scheduling preventive maintenance, cleaning your air filter is the best way to extend the life of your unit.

How do you clean an air conditioner filter? This post will walk you through the process of cleaning dirty air filters and point out some reasons why you should stay on top of keeping your air filter clean.

Rainforest Plumbing & Air is the AC tune-up specialist in Phoenix, AZ. Regular maintenance can extend the life of your air conditioner by up to 50 percent.

Reasons to Clean Your Air Filter

The filter inside your air conditioner plays a bigger part in your home comfort than you might realize. As your air conditioner operates, the filter removes dust particles and other pollutants from the air, increasing the air quality throughout your home. For family members with seasonal allergies, keeping the air filter clean can greatly reduce their allergy symptoms.

An air conditioner that struggles with the burden of a filthy air filter uses more electricity than normal. You may notice that your home doesn’t stay as cool as it used to, and your monthly energy bills will increase. When the filter can no longer capture dust particles, they end up in the ductwork, the vents, and all over your home.

Types of Air Filters

Air filters vary depending on the type of air conditioner installed in your home. 

Disposable filters are a one-use product. The edges are made of cardboard and cannot withstand cleaning. Simply changing a disposable filter a few times a year and throwing away the old one is all you need to do.

Electrostatic filters remain with the unit throughout its lifespan. They get their name from their filtration process; they use static to trap small particles and filter them out of the air. For allergy sufferers, a reusable filter with a high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) will remove the most contaminants from the air to help with symptoms.

The Cleaning Process

So, how do you clean an air conditioner filter? As mentioned above, if you have a disposable filter, simply replace it and throw away the old filter. For air conditioning units with reusable filters, such as ductless mini-splits, cleaning the filter takes a few simple steps.

First, turn off your air conditioner. Turning the unit off will ensure dust and other contaminants don’t blow into your home while you’re cleaning the filter. Cleaning your filter early in the day or after the sun goes down will help keep your home cool.

Next, locate and remove the filter. Your air conditioner may have more than one filter, so make sure you know where they are and remove them all. 

If you are sensitive to dust, take your filters outside to clean them. Using a soft cloth, wipe away visible dust and dirt. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove anything the cloth leaves behind.

To really get rid of all the grime, soak the filter in white vinegar and warm water. Gently rinse it in the sink or with a garden hose. Air filters are too delicate to handle a pressurized water stream, so take care not to get too enthusiastic and cause damage.

Give your filter plenty of time to dry completely. Reinserting it while it's wet could invite mold to grow, and the last thing you want is a mold colony spreading throughout your home. Check the manual for your air conditioner to determine how often the manufacturer recommends cleaning the filter.

Taking Cleaning a Step Further

Once you clean your filter, you can check other areas of your unit for dirt buildup. Inspect your AC unit and air vents for signs of mold or excess dust. Wipe them away with a soft cloth, just like with your air filter. 

Air Conditioner Repair and Maintenance in Phoenix

Now you know the answer to the question, “How do you clean an air conditioner filter?” If you clean your filter and your air conditioner still doesn’t work efficiently, call Rainforest Plumbing & Air in Phoenix, AC. We can help you determine why your air conditioner can't keep up on hot days and provide tips for cleaning your air conditioner in between scheduled maintenance calls.

For service in the Phoenix metro area, fill out our online contact form or call 480-360-5278

Author Bio:
Ike Tippetts

He founded the company and soon found himself answering phones and dispatching team members around the clock! Rainforest Plumbing & Air has come a long way since they started in 1999 as a two-truck operation.

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