How to Clean Air Conditioner Filters: Our Practical Guide

The best ways to perform this important task with or without water

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By Alex

Let’s see how to clean air conditioner filters and take care of the most frequent problems. In fact, cleaning the filters and a correct maintenance are essential to prevent problems. This is a very simple operation to do, without the need for technicians. Since not all filters are the same, it is important to carefully read the instruction manual for your machine.

How to clean air conditioner filters: preliminary steps

Cleaning the filters is important to have an efficient air conditioner, ensure good energy savings and have better air quality, and is a maintenance that should be performed at least once a year.

Each model of split, but also the pipe-less mobile air conditioners, has its own characteristics and to proceed with cleaning you need to read the instruction booklet related to the machine installed in your home. In any case, before proceeding, you should always perform some preliminary operations.

  • Disconnect the air conditioner from electricity to work safely
  • Open the split panel or disassemble it, to easily reach the filters
  • Dismantle the filters which are usually 2, one anti-dust and one activated carbon, to purify the air of bacteria. During this operation, it is advisable to protect yourself with latex gloves and by wearing a mask, especially if you are allergic to dust mites
  • Observe the filters and assess their condition. If they are very worn or damaged, replacement is recommended
  • Clean the filters, but first read the instruction booklet of your air conditioner to check the material and whether or not the filters can be immersed in water.

How to clean air conditioner filters according to the type of filters

This is an easy operation. Just follow the instructions in the user manual of your air conditioning machine. Thus you will be able to:

  • find the compartment where the filters are installed which is usually above the air grille
  • open the compartment by unhooking hooks or unscrewing screws

This is the most important moment, because all filters are not the same. Proper cleaning requires knowing how to recognize the material of which the filter is made. This detail is also certainly specified in the instructions.

How to clean air conditioner filters

Let’s look at the material they are made of and the type of cleaning they need.

  • Plastic or titanium dioxide: Rinse with plain water (or clean with mild soap and water in case of stubborn dirt). Use a soft sponge, or a soft microfiber cloth. Reassemble when they are thoroughly dry
  • Perishable material: Limit yourself to using an air jet, such as a vacuum cleaner, preferably one that has the attachment for small surfaces. Alternatively, a soft brush or scrubbing brush is useful. At most, you can also wipe with a soft cloth slightly dampened with water, as long as it is very well wrung out
  • Zeolites or photocatalytic titanium dioxide: Clean them with plain water and then, before reinstalling them, expose them to the sun so that the UV rays regenerate the components
  • Activated carbon or electrostatic passive filters: Being exhaustible filters, they should be directly replaced with new ones

They must be thoroughly dried (in the case of washing with water) before they are reassembled in their housing. If they are mounted while still damp, dust and dirt will stick to them very easily, causing damage to the air conditioner itself and giving off unhealthy air, and promote the proliferation of mold and fungus.

Drying should be done naturally by exposing the filters to the sun outdoors, not in direct contact with the sun’s rays.

Once well dried, they should be placed back inside the air conditioner. Then close the compartment or refit the device panel.

After cleaning, plug in the power and turn the air conditioner on ventilation mode. If, after about fifteen minutes, any strange smells or noises are noticed, turn it off and check that the filters have been reassembled properly.

What to use to clean air conditioner filters

The most appropriate products to use are indicated in the instruction booklet of the unit. In general, you can use:

  • a mild, neutral detergent
  • a sanitizing spray
  • an antibacterial productalways in the form of a spray
  • a dedicated deodorant

Why it is important to clean air conditioner filters

This operation is of paramount importance: it is in the filters that most of the dirt (dust, pollen, pollutants…) lurks and can become a vehicle for even dangerous bacteria.

It is important because:

  • improves air quality, ensuring a clean flow of air
  • improves their effectiveness in cooling
  • guarantees greater energy efficiency
  • prolongs the life of the air conditioning system because it is properly maintained

Regular cleaning is essential to ensure maximum system efficiency, protects health, and reduces energy consumption in addition to lowering system maintenance costs.

How to clean air conditioner filters

What happens if I don’t clean the air conditioner filters?

In the long run, continuing to use the air conditioner without cleaning the filters leads to damage to the system. It will no longer operate at full capacity, resulting in higher electricity bills.

In addition, not cleaning the filters also has serious repercussions for our health. In fact, dirty air conditioning filters can give us colds and sore throats. But this is the lesser evil.

For those who suffer from allergy to dust or dust mites, not cleaning filters can be detrimental.

Remember also that, in the filters of the air conditioning system, in addition to dirt and dust, bacteria accumulate and mold can also form. As a result, dirty filters can become a dangerous vehicle for infections, such as legionella.

When air conditioner filters should be cleaned

The frequency of cleaning varies depending on your use and the type of environment in which you live.

In general:

  • If you use your air conditioner only in the summer to cool your rooms on the hottest days of the year, you only need to clean it a couple of times a year: around April, before the summer season officially opens, and in September/October, at the end of the season.
  • If you also use it in winter, as a heat pump, taking advantage of the heating function, you need to clean the filters more often, at least at each season change, and then every 3-6 months.
  • If the outdoor unit of the air conditioner is installed in a humid and very dusty environment, the filters should be washed every month.
  • If there are activated carbon filters in the system, cleaning is not necessary as the filters should be changed about every 6 months.

How to clean air conditioner filters

How much does it cost to have air conditioner filters cleaned

You can perform the cleaning of air conditioner filters yourself at a very small expense.

In case, however, you want to proceed with a deeper treatment or you have a ducted system and not equipped with a split, it is necessary that the sanitization is done by a professional technician.

In this case, the cost may vary depending on the type of air conditioner (one split or multiple splits). It ranges from a minimum of 100 dollars euros to a maximum of 250 dollars. Costs may vary depending on your location and the complexity of these operations.

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