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How To Clean Lint from an Air Conditioner

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Air conditioners are essential for maintaining comfort in our homes and workplaces, especially during the hot summer months. However, like any appliance, they require regular maintenance to function optimally. One common issue is the accumulation of lint, which can reduce airflow, decrease efficiency, and even lead to system failure. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps on how to clean lint from an air conditioner effectively and safely.


To clean lint from an air conditioner, first turn off the power to the unit. Remove the outer casing with a screwdriver and vacuum the air filters and fins using a hose attachment. Clean the evaporator and condenser coils with a coil cleaner and a soft brush. Clean the drain pan and ensure the drain hole is clear. Finally, reassemble the unit and turn it on to make sure it’s working properly. Regular maintenance can help prevent lint build-up.

Recognizing the Signs of Lint Build-Up

Before you start cleaning, it’s important to recognize the signs of lint build-up in your air conditioner. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Reduced airflow and loss of efficiency
  • Overheating of the unit
  • Visible lint or debris around the outdoor vent
  • Longer drying time for clothes (if your air conditioner is near a dryer vent)
  • Musty smell from the air conditioner
  • The room housing the unit feels hotter than usual
  • The exterior of the air conditioner feels too hot
  • A burning smell when the air conditioner is running

If you notice any of these signs, it’s likely that your air conditioner has a lint build-up problem.

Tools and Materials Needed

To clean lint from your air conditioner, you will need the following tools and materials:

  • Vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment
  • Air conditioner filter cleaning solution
  • A/C coil cleaner
  • Fin comb
  • Soft-bristled brush or damp cloth
  • Electric motor oil (if necessary)
  • Screwdriver

Steps to Clean Lint from Your Air Conditioner

1. Turn Off the Power

Before you start cleaning, it’s crucial to ensure your safety by turning off the power to the air conditioner unit. This can be done by unplugging the unit or turning off the circuit breaker.

2. Remove the Outer Casing

Use a screwdriver to remove the screws securing the outer casing of the air conditioner. Make sure to keep the screws in a safe place so you can easily find them when it’s time to reassemble the unit.

3. Clean the Air Filters

One of the most important parts of an air conditioner to clean is the filter. Filters trap dust, pollen, and other airborne particles, and if they become clogged with lint, they can significantly reduce the air conditioner’s efficiency.

4. Vacuum the Fins

The fins are delicate and can easily be bent or damaged, so it’s important to clean them gently. Use a soft-bristled brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to remove any lint or debris.

5. Clean the Evaporator and Condenser Coils

The evaporator and condenser coils are crucial components of your air conditioner. They can accumulate dust and lint over time, which can reduce their efficiency. Use a coil cleaner and a soft brush or cloth to clean these parts.

6. Clean the Drain Pan

The drain pan collects condensation from the air conditioner. Over time, it can become clogged with lint and other debris, leading to water leaks and other issues. Clean the drain pan thoroughly and make sure the drain hole is clear.

7. Reassemble the Unit

After cleaning all the parts, reassemble the air conditioner and restore power. Make sure to replace any filters or parts that were too dirty or damaged to clean.

8. Test the Air Conditioner

After reassembling the unit, turn it on to make sure it’s working properly. If you notice any strange noises or if the unit isn’t cooling properly, there may be a problem that requires professional attention.

Preventative Measures

Regular maintenance is the key to preventing lint build-up in your air conditioner. Clean or change your air filters regularly, clean the area around your outdoor unit, and schedule professional maintenance at least once a year.


Cleaning lint from your air conditioner can improve its efficiency, extend its lifespan, and even prevent health problems caused by poor air quality. With the right tools and a little time, you can keep your air conditioner running smoothly all summer long.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean the air conditioner filters?

The air conditioner filters should ideally be cleaned every 30 to 60 days. However, if you live in a dusty area or have pets, you may need to clean them more frequently, possibly every 2 weeks.

Can I use any vacuum cleaner to clean the fins?

It’s recommended to use a vacuum cleaner with a soft-bristled brush attachment to clean the fins, as they are delicate and can easily be bent or damaged.

What can I do if the fins are bent or damaged?

If the fins on your air conditioner are bent or damaged, you can use a fin comb to gently straighten them. It’s important to do this carefully to avoid causing further damage.

What should I do if my air conditioner is still not working properly after cleaning?

If your air conditioner is still not working properly after cleaning, it’s advisable to seek professional help. There might be a more serious issue that needs to be addressed.

How often should I schedule professional maintenance for my air conditioner?

It’s recommended to schedule professional maintenance for your air conditioner at least once a year, preferably before the hot summer season begins.

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