×

How to Clean an Air Conditioner Filter so Your Home Is Always Cool

Getty Images

If you've had your air conditioner running all summer to combat the blistering heat, you need to know how to clean an air conditioner filter. You're not alone if you often forget to change or clean the air conditioning filter, but this little guy shouldn't be ignored. An air conditioner filter performs a few vital tasks: removing dirt and dust from the air, and preventing that buildup from affecting your air conditioner's performance. To ensure that your machine is in tip-top shape, you'll want to clean your air conditioner often — so we've broken down how to clean air conditioner filters using different natural cleaners to help. 

How to Clean an Air Conditioner Filter With Vinegar

Before you get out your vacuum or your bucket of water, make sure you know what kind of air conditioner filter you have. Some models should be tossed and replaced instead of cleaned; others need a bubble bath before they're ready to reuse. If your version can be recycled, here's how to clean an air conditioner filter with vinegar in four easy steps.

  1. Vacuum your filter to remove as much dirt and dust as possible. If you don't have a hose attachment for your vacuum, you can remove the filter and then vacuum. This method, however, may be a bit messier, as soot and grime is dislodged during removal of the filter. For regular cleanings, you can stop after this step.
  2. Soak your filter in a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar for an hour, or two if it's especially dirty. If you don't have vinegar, a dash of dish detergent will do the trick.
  3. Remove and let dry. Do not rinse the filters with water, as this will reverse the sanitizing benefits of using vinegar. You can place your filter on top of old towels to catch any excess solution.
  4. Replace the filter and enjoy cool, clean air.

How to Clean an Air Conditioner Filter With Baking Soda

Baking soda is a wonderful natural cleaning agent that will clean your air conditioning filter with ease and remove any nasty lingering odors. Here's how to clean your air conditioner filter with baking soda in five easy steps.

  1. Vacuum your filter to remove excess dirt and dust.
  2. Wet the filter and clean gently with a bit of dish detergent. You can also take your filters outside and clean them with a hose. 
  3. Sprinkle baking soda on the filter before rinsing to remove odors.
  4. Rinse the filter and let dry.
  5. Replace the filter and enjoy cool, clean air.

Is it safe to put dryer sheets in air conditioner filters?

While it sounds like a good idea to put a dryer sheet in the air conditioner filter, don't do it! As nice as it would be for your home to smell like Island Breeze, you'll end up restricting air flow, which is no bueno when it's 90 degrees outside. You also run the risk of creating a mold problem, which may force you to shell out for a new filter. 

Now that you know how to clean an air conditioner by yourself, we'll let you in on a little secret: You just saved yourself some big bucks on your electricity bill. When an air conditioning filter is clogged, the machine has to work harder to cool the air. But now that the filter is nice and porous again, you may find that your electricity bill goes down because your AC doesn't have to expend as much energy to cool your home — nice!

More From FIRST

5 Low-Cost Ways to Pep Up Your Car so It Looks New Again

15 Surprising Foods You Should Never Refrigerate

3 Keto Meal Plans to Keep Your Diet Delicious and Doable