Cleaning the air filters in your air conditioner is fairly easy. By following the steps in this guide you should be able to clean your air filters to help maintain your air conditioner and keep the air flowing through it at peak capacity. If you do not keep you air filters clean, the unit will work harder and have to be replaced sooner.
Be sure that the air conditioning unit is off, and unplugged. If the unit is a large unit that uses a 220 line, make sure the breaker box or fuse box is shut off.
Tools of the Trade
In order to clean the air conditioner filter you will need to have some things ready. If the cover has screws to hold it closed, you will need a screw driver to open the cover. You will also need a vacuum; a small wash basin such as you would use to wash dishes, some rags or an old towel, vinegar, and water. It also would not hurt to have a work space in a well ventilated area since the vinegar smell can be strong.
Taking off the Cover
Take a look at how your cover is removed. Make sure that you know how to take the cover off properly; some covers just slide off or snap off, others need to be unscrewed. Whatever method you use to take off the cover be sure to remember what you did so that you can reverse the movements to put the cover back on.
Vacuum the Filter
Now that the cover is removed, you can remove the filters. Be sure to check the filters before you clean them and as you are cleaning them. You need to look for any damage or tears in the filter. If there are, you need to replace the filter. Do not use a torn filter as the contaminants that it would catch can then get into the air conditioner and ruin the unit. If your filter is good, use a vacuum to remove the dust and other contaminants that the filter has caught. This may sound silly but use the hose on the vacuum to suck up the dust. Filters do not do well on a vacuum beater bar.
Cleaning and Sanitizing the Filter
Most of the dirt and dust should have come out from the vacuuming. There will still be more to remove. Take your wash basin and fill it half and half with water and vinegar. If you put the vinegar in first you can put the whole bottle in the wash basin if it is a small bottle. Then fill the bottle with water and dump the water into the wash basin. Mix to blend the water and vinegar. In order to be sanitized you will need to make sure that the filter is completely submerged under the water. Swirl the filter gently around to get it wet and then make sure it is completely covered with water. Leave the filter soaking to get the gunk out of the filter and kill any germs in it.
Now that you are soaking the filter, sit and watch the residue lift gently off your filter and come to the surface for several hours. Invite others to watch as well, you would not want to have all the fun. Ok, who am I kidding, go watch a couple movies or play some video games. By the time you are done a few hours later the filters should be ready.
Remove Excess Fluids
Here is the technical part. Take the filter carefully out of the cleaning solution and place it on the drying fabric for complete evaporative processing. Ok, so I wanted to sound smart for a minute, put the filter on a towel or absorbent cloth for a little while to absorb the excess moisture. Be sure to let the filter air dry, preferable somewhere where there is sunshine but no dirt. When the filter is dry once again, make sure there are no tears in the filter.
Reassemble the Air Conditioner
Place the filter gently back into the unit the same way it came out. Attach the cover also the same way you removed it making sure that the cover is tight and will not fall off once you walk away. Now that everything is back in place, plug in the Air conditioning unit or turn the power back on. Now turn on the air conditioner and feel the cool air.
Source: Personal experience