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How to Clean a Central Air Conditioner for Summer

Cleaning and maintaining your central air conditioner is one of the most important things you can do in order to keep it operating smoothly and efficiently. Cleaning central air conditioning units is not as daunting as it may sound.

While it is important to have your unit serviced once or twice a year, there are some things you can do on your own for central air conditioner cleaning. Keep in mind that the better care you take of your unit, the better it is going to work for your home. Cleaning central air conditioning units also help make them last longer.

In this guide, we are going to walk you through how to clean central air units as well as how to clean central AC filters so that you can feel confident doing these minor things at home. Trust us, your unit will thank you!
Let’s get started.

How to Clean Central Air Conditioner Units by Yourself

Central air conditioner cleaning is really pretty simple. You don’t have to take it apart or spend hours upon hours fooling with the unit. You don’t have to be worried that you’re going to mess up your air conditioning unit.

With these tips, you can effectively learn how to clean central air conditioner units safely using tools you most likely have at home already.

You can keep your central air conditioning cleaning process to the basics and it just might save you some money for your summer cooling bill.

Start by Cleaning or Replacing the Filters

Experts recommend that you clean your air filter for your unit every 30 days. You could also just change the filter at these intervals, particularly if you are using the cheap filters that just don’t hold up as long. The key is to take some sort of action here to care for your filter.

Your filter has a challenging enough job without trying to work through a dirt-packed screen. After all, that is the job of the filter and it can do its job more effectively if it is nice and clean. Even if you clean your air filter, you should plan to replace it no less than once every 6 months.

This is one of those steps that tend to be forgotten. Try setting up a routine schedule so that you remember to both clean and replace your filters on a regular schedule.

Here are some simple steps for you to clean central ac filters.

  • Remove the filter from its location.
  • Start by vacuuming it clean with a brush attachment.
  • Wash the filter gently using warm water. You can add a mild dish detergent if needed.
  • You can also mix up some baking soda water and run it over the filter as well to reduce odors.
  • Let the filter dry completely and then reinstall it.

When you’re cleaning the filter, the air conditioner should not be running. You should never put the filter back into place while it’s still damp. You also cannot wash these filters in the dishwasher or washing machine.

Clean Condensation Lines

Condensation lines are the places that are most likely going to get clogged or form leaks. The last thing you want is to deal with a clog in the condensation line because it could cause you major issues and costly repairs.

While cleaning central air conditioning units, this is an important step that is often forgotten.

  • Locate the lines
  • If the line is clogged, you can use a rag or a shop vac to remove the clog.
  • Remove the cover of the T-shaped vent.
  • Flush the line with distilled vinegar at this location.
  • Let sit for 30 minutes
  • Flush the pipe with water

Check the Coolant Lines

While you’re working through your central air conditioner cleaning, check out your coolant lines. Check for leaks and look for any insulation that is fraying or missing. The insulation is easy to replace.

If you suspect you have a line leak, there are some things you can do about that as well. Click here for some tips on fixing air conditioner lines on your own.

Clean the Outside Unit

In terms of how to clean a central air unit, cleaning the outdoor unit, specifically the coils and fins, is the next big step. If you want your home to be a comfortable temperature in the summer, don’t neglect the unit.

Here are some steps for this part of the process.

  • Turn the unit off
  • Remove any panels that protect and cover coils and fins
  • If there are wires attached to the fan, leave those alone
  • You can use a coil brush or a soft vacuum brush to work around the coils and fins and remove dirt and debris. Be very gentle so you don’t damage these pieces
  • You can use a water hose and a spray nozzle to rinse the inside. Be very careful not to spray any electrical parts or the fan.
  • Again, be gentle and don’t flood the unit.

Clean Around the Unit

Finally, as you’re learning how to clean a central air conditioner, consider the area around the unit. This is an essential part of keeping the unit clean. Keep plants and weeds trimmed back so they don’t interfere with the unit.

Clean and sweep leaves, grass, and debris away from the unit and out from any surrounding areas around the unit. Keeping the surrounding areas clean will help keep the unit clean as well.


If you are unsure how to clean a central air unit, these simple tips and processes will help you out tremendously. Cleaning central air conditioner units is about more than just making it look nice. The cleaning process keeps your unit running smoothly and it will prolong the overall lifespan of your unit as well.

Don’t wait until your unit isn’t working properly to act. Set up cleaning routines and keep your unit in tip-top shape so you won’t have to do without air when you need it!