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How to Clean Window Air Conditioner Without Removing It

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Is the date of maintenance nearby? And you don’t know where to start from? Well, guess what? We have compiled a detailed guide on how to clean a window air conditioner without removing it for our readers that will help them attain the best results from scratch.

How to Clean Window Air Conditioner Without Removing It

Cleaning and maintenance of air conditioners are one of its challenging tasks. Most of us rely on service that takes place every quarter of the year. But, we would like to break it to you that it isn’t enough! 

To make your air conditioner work well, you have to focus on its maintenance tidiness every month. 

Don’t worry; you don’t have to pull off the entire unit and then clean it. All you have to do is to grab your supplies and follow the steps discussed below.

Step #1: Disconnect the Electricity to the Air Conditioner

You should turn off the electric supply at the breaker box for safety because air conditioners contain many moving parts. For that, no lights are required; hence, you can do it in daylight. However, if your indoor unit is installed in a dark space, you may need additional lightings like a lamp or torch.

Man doing air conditioner repair

Step #2: Uncover the Air Conditioner

A door on the blower unit will allow you to access the evaporator coil. To access the inner parts of the AC unit, you will have to remove the duct tape of the foil. To do so, you may have to unscrew a few nuts and bolts that hold the door or lid together to the unit.

Step #3: Clean Your Air Conditioner’s Evaporator Coils

If you have one, use a soft brush to clean the dust from the coil. This dust is categorized as saw-dust and is made up of the dirt in your surroundings. If you’re allergic to pollen or skin cells, we highly advise you to wear a mask or protective gear.

The best cleaning solution you can get is a no-wash coil cleaning solution readily available at any electronic parts store or place that sells maintenance products.

This spray froths up before falling into the unit’s drain pan, collecting up dirt and dust on the way. Spray the foaming mixture evenly and adequately as possible, make sure it gets into all of the hard-to-reach corners of the unit.

The ideal time to do this is on a hot day so that the AC condensation rinses out the coils when you switch the unit back on.

Step #4: Ensure That the AC Drainage Pan Is Tidy

It’s time to clean the drainage pan. To clean the drainage pan, take a clean cloth or wipe and gently wipe the surface of the drainage pan. For better cleaning, use detergent along with hot water.

This mixture will help get rid of tough, sticky stains, if any. You can also employ bleach in parts with water for sanitization.

Use a 50/50 solution of diluted bleach. Make sure the solution clears the drain when poured down the line. For long-term maintenance and full-proof cleaning, you can use AC drain pan pills available in the market as the final step.

These pills are pretty resistant against algae and prevent mildew accumulation in the drain pan.

Step #5: Unclog the Outlet

If the bleach sanitization works well for you in the above step, you can jump to the next step.

If your drain is slow, dirt and debris can plug it. If the drain is not clean and maintained from time to time, mold and fungus can breed on the surfaces. The pipes are not comprehensive and just a few inches thick. Hence, they are more prone to clog.

You can stop air from leaking by wrapping a cloth around the area. For a tighter seal, duct tape the hose and drain together. Turn on the vacuum and run it for two or three minutes to get rid of any accumulated material.

Step #6: Close the Air Conditioning Control Panel

Reinstall the access panel with the same bolts you removed at the start of the procedure. Use HVAC metal foil tape to cover the upper part of the access panel if you have any.

If a professional needs to perform maintenance or repairs on the item, don’t cover up the manufacturer’s label.

For routine cleaning, this is all you need to do. However, you may face obstacles you can’t handle on your own. Because the coils are encased on both ends, you may encounter sections you can’t access if you have A-frame evaporator coils.

If you haven’t dusted your A-frame coils yet this year, you’ll likely need expert assistance to get them totally clean.

Step #7: Clean the Outside Part

Air conditioner hanging outside

Cleaning the outer unit and its condenser coils takes more time and effort than cleaning the inside unit. This component of your system gets incredibly dirty very quickly because it is continually exposed to the outdoors. To clean it, you’ll also need extra specialist equipment. 

Step #8: Unplug and Remove the Air Conditioning Grille

Please ensure the power is turned off once again. Before you begin, you can turn off the electricity at the exterior disconnect box.

Remove the sheet metal bolts from the unit’s top. Raise the fan unit and grille once they’ve been removed. Without needing to unhook any cables, several units have enough gaps in the wires to place the top-down and rest it against the wall.

Step #9: Clean the Debris From the Air Conditioner

The junk at the bottom of your air conditioner depends on the condition of your AC unit. Big chunks and bits like dried leaves, feathers, saw-dust, etc., are entry-level dirt accumulated at the bottom pan rather than entering the fan unit from the top.

You remove them. You can simply scoop these materials with the help of a dry wipe and dustpan to prevent littering. Also, vacuuming (wet or dry) is also a good option.

Step #10: Ensure That the AC coils and Fins Are Clean

Cleaning the air conditioner coils is a no-brainer, and anyone can do that easily. To clean the coils properly, you will need a coil cleaning solution which is available at any supermarket or home improvement store. 


The coils are not safe to touch with bare hands. They are caustic in nature and can burn your skin. Also, be careful while spraying the cleaning solution, don’t spray on the interior coils, or else dangerous fumes can emit from the unit.

Remember! Don’t use excess water to clean the coils. The fins are very sensitive and can get damaged or strained easily.

Step #11: Straighten the Fins Of the Air Conditioner

After cleaning the coils, it is essential to straighten the fins. Straightening the fins is crucial for the air conditioner’s efficiency as bent fins reduce the fan’s airflow. To do so, it’s best to get a fin tool.

These are inexpensive and come with teeth and align a particular number of fins per inch. 

For the final check, make sure your unit has the correct number of fins per inch. If not, then re-comb the fins again gently till they get back to their place.

Step #12:  Make Sure the Air Conditioner Is at a Comfortable Temperature

Dirt may collect beneath your unit, causing it to begin to topple. If a condenser unit is out of level over an extended period, it may fail prematurely, resulting in costly repairs. If the condenser isn’t level, adjust it with shims until it is.

Step #13: Vacuum the Air Conditioning Filter

Use a brush-free attachment (or a normal wipe) to avoid damaging the filter. Vacuum the entire length of the filter with the vacuum nozzle. Vacuuming will most likely remove a lot of dust.

If you have pets, you may need to go over the filter a couple of times more to remove all hair. When vacuuming, avoid squeezing the filter too hard since this may cause it to tear or dent.

A clean air conditioner fins

Step #14:  Infuse the AC Filter With Water

Fill a bathtub or large container halfway with room-temperature water. Mix with a small amount of ordinary liquid detergent until the water lathers up. Allow 10 to 15 minutes for the filter to soak up all the soapy fluid by moving it back and forth.

You should not use brushes and other abrasive equipment on the filter since they may pose a danger. Using a hose to clean dirt and debris is an excellent idea until the water runs clear, hose off one side at a time.

Step #15: Spray the Air Conditioning Filter

Make a one-to-one vinegar-to-water solution and put it in a spray bottle. Allow 10 minutes for the mixture to kill bacteria on both surfaces of the filter. Before continuing, wash the filter under running water.

Step #16: Ensure That the AC Filter Is Completely Dry

Air filters must be allowed to dry naturally, and this process can take several hours. Newspapers can be placed on the ground beneath the filter to help in the process.

Place the filter on top of the newspapers and lean it against the wall. You can reinstall the filter in your air conditioning machine after at least three hours have passed.


As the air conditioners have become a crucial part of everyone’s life, it has to make a direct impact on one’s health directly by controlling the air quality. That’s why one should look after the filters and pans once in a while.

Cleaning the AC unit not only extends its longevity but also avoids disastrous scenarios. Servicing the unit from time to time is another best way to keep the AC unit working longer.

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.