Air conditioners are an expensive but often necessary appliance to use during the summer months. Dirty air conditioner filters can reduce the efficiency of the unit by wasting 10-60+% of the energy used, cause breathing problems for sensitive conditions such as asthma, and spreads common summer allergens, which can typically be neutralized with a clean filter. Cleaning a standalone air conditioner filter is not a tough process, but does require some work in order to disinfect the filter. This article will detail how to clean an air conditioner filter the right way so that there is no decrease in efficiency and spread of allergens.
• Screwdriver (if the filter is enclosed in a panel that needs to be unscrewed; however, some filters can be removed without the use of tools)
• Filter (washable filter only; disposable filters do not need to be cleaned, but rather replaced)
• Vinegar (disinfectant)
• Dust mask (optional, but recommended for allergy sufferers)
• Tub for rinsing the filter out (I use a bathtub as it is the easiest, but small cleaning tubs can be used)
How to clean an air conditioner filter
1. You can remove the filter from the standalone AC unit by either pulling the filter out of the unit, or by unscrewing the casing, that holds the filter in place. The process of getting the actual filter out will vary based on what type and style of air conditioner you have. If you have trouble, getting the filter out you can refer to the manual for individualized help.
2. Once the filter is removed, you can now place the dirty filter in a tub of warm water, or hand clean the filter. Placing the filter in a tub is the most efficient as it allows all the dirt to be removed with little effort. Submerge the filter in the tub and shake the filter around until the water manages to remove the majority of the buildup.
3. Once the filter seems reasonably clean, you will want to drain out of the water in the tub and fill it back up with a solution of vinegar and warm water. Once the tub is mixed with a half vinegar and water solution you will want to submerge the filter for about 5 minutes, while repeating the same motions as you did previously to clean the filter.
4. After about 5 minutes, you can remove the filter, which should be clean and disinfected. Let the filter air dry until it is completely dry. Once the filter is dry, you can now put it back into your AC unit and you should notice an improvement in air quality and efficiency.
I recommend using a dust mask when attempting this project if you are prone to allergies. Air conditioner units work well to remove allergens in the air, but those allergens are stuck to the filter, which could cause serious problems if you breathe them in.
This article was meant for washable filters not disposable filters. Disposable filters should be replaced as often as the manufacturer recommends; remember, not changing the filter will not save you money because it will make the unit more inefficient.
Although you can rinse and disinfect the filter without refilling the tub, I do not recommend it because the second soaking often helps remove more of the dirty build up.
Personal experience selling air conditioner units and filters at a local hardware store