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How To Clean a Window Air Conditioner Without Removing It

Window Air Conditioner

While the window air conditioner is a lifesaver during the hottest month, cleaning it often will keep it working optimally.

Keeping the window AC clean prevents mildew and mold from growing on and inside, which is ideal for its long-term value. In addition, if you have never cleaned a window AC before, you can easily do so without removing the unit.

So, how do you clean a window AC without removing it?


You’ll need a few items around the house to clean an AC unit, such as a soft brush, spray bottle, reusable cloth, cleaning agent, and vacuum cleaner.

With these items, follow the steps below to clean your window AC.

  • Remove and clean the face panel.
  • Clean the filter.
  • Wipe down the grill and exterior.
  • Dust off the fins and coils.
  • Vacuum the interior.
  • Spray it down.
  • Clean out the tray and drain.
  • Let it dry before reassembling.

The environment of most window ACs is often moist due to condensation, making it an ideal breeding ground for mold.

To prevent the health risk mold poses to you and your household, clean the AC unit with a cleaning agent that has potent anti-fungal properties.

This article will teach you how to clean a window AC without removing it. We will share tips in each step to help you navigate the cleaning process easily.

Steps on How To Clean a Window Air Conditioner Without Removing It

According to the Department of Energy, you should clean your AC unit at least once a year. Or better still, you should clean the AC unit at the start of every new season.

Cleaning the filter every month or replacing it once every three months is ideal.

Before you begin cleaning, ensure you select a suitable cleaning agent to use. Beware not to use any cleaning agent as some are corrosive to metal.

Also, you should ensure the unit is turned off and disconnected from the power source before cleaning it to prevent any risk of electrocution.

Step #1: Remove and Clean the Face Panel

Cleaning Ac Panel

Remove the grille cover or face panel at the front of the window AC. It is often made of plastic or metal grate and secured to the AC unit with screws, clips, or both.

Once the face panel is out, you can access the AC’s filter and other interior components. But first, clean the face panel by spraying it with a cleaning solution, allowing it to sit for a while, then clean it off with the cloth, then set it aside to dry.

Step #2: Clean the Filter

Cleaning Ac Filter

While the face panel is drying, remove your AC’s air filter. Depending on your AC unit, some may have the air filter directly behind the face panel, while others have it inside the unit.

But once you remove the air filter, wipe it down with a wet cloth. Then, spray the air filter with a garden hose flipping it as you spray it to ensure you get the dust particles out of it.

If the filter has holes, know it’s time to replace it.

Step #3: Wipe Down the Grille on the Exterior

Wiping The Grille On The Exterior Of Ac

As you set the air filter aside to dry, wipe the grill of the AC with a brush to remove dust. The grille is the vent cover at the back of the AC. Air is sucked from outside into the unit and then to the room through the grille.

The grille doesn’t have a damper to control or filter air flow, so it is notorious for getting dusty. Ensure you clean it thoroughly, getting between gaps and tight spaces where the air goes in.

Step #4: Dust Off the Fins and Coils

Ac Coils

Now that the air filter is out of the way, you should be able to get more access to the interior of the window AC. Next, dust off the fins and coils using a soft brush to comb them gently.

The fins are often made of aluminum which is sharp, fragile and bends easily. So, be careful when cleaning the fin, note any bent fin, and use a knife or flat object to straighten them back.

Step #5: Vacuum the Interior

Vacuum Cleaning Ac

After dusting the entire interior of the window AC, use a vacuum cleaner to suck out the dust and debris. Vacuuming is particularly useful because it sucks out the dirt and debris from tight-to-reach corners.

It would be best if you emphasized the vacuuming on the aluminum fins on the evaporator and around the condenser. Use a soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to increase its efficiency.

Step #6: Spray It Down

Spraying Ac

After getting the dirt and debris out of the way, you can proceed to the wet cleaning process. First, get a cleaning solution and apply it to the AC unit.

Hydrogen peroxide in low concentration is an oxidizer that will help treat the AC unit for fungal yet not corrode the AC unit.

So, prepare a solution of 3% concentration hydrogen peroxide, pour it into a spray bottle, and spray the AC unit. Allow it to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then use a clean cloth to wipe it clean.

Step #7: Clean Out the Drip Pan and Drain

Cleaning Drip Pan

Remember to take out the drip pan for the AC unit. The drip pan located at the unit’s base helps collect condensed moisture.

Some AC units may allow you to pull out the drip pan to clean. But if your unit doesn’t allow you to remove it, then use a vacuum cleaner to pull out all the debris and dirty water from the pan.

After that, check the AC unit drain to see if anything is blocking it. Then, use a clean cloth to wipe around the opening and ensure the pathway for water to exit the unit is clear.

Step #8: Let It Dry Before Reassembling

Reassembling Ac

Allow everything to dry, including the filter, before reassembling the unit.

Reassembling the unit while it is still wet will promote fungi and mold growth. And even after waiting for the unit to dry before assembling it, you should spray it with hydrogen peroxide to protect against mold and fungi.


In summary, cleaning your windows AC unit doesn’t mean you must remove the unit from the window. Instead, you can thoroughly clean the unit while the unit is still on using the steps described in this guide.

But if the work seems like more than what you can handle, you can always hire a professional to help you service the unit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Health Risk Does the Mold in a Window AC Pose?

Molds proliferate through spores, and these spores are airborne. So, when your window AC is infested with mold, its spores can end up in your lungs, which can cause symptoms like dry cough, wheezing, rashes, running nose, and so on.

How Do You Clean Mold From AC Ducts?

Getting rid of mold from the AC duct is more tricky than cleaning it from the AC unit.

The duct needs good scrubbing with a potent anti-fungal cleaning agent. But it’s best to call a professional if the mold infestation is severe, spreading more than 10 square feet.

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