How To Clean A Split System Air Conditioner

Sadly, not too many people clean their air conditioner frequently enough. It’s just not something that people think about when they clean their home. They might dust it a little bit, but apart from that most of the dirt stays out of sight and out of mind. It might not be the most fun job, but it’s something that you really should do more frequently. This guide has all of the information you need to know on why and how to clean your air conditioner. Put on your gloves and apron and get ready!

Why Should I Clean My Air Conditioner?

You might notice that over time your air conditioner feels like it’s not working as well. Maybe it’s not pushing out as much air out, or perhaps it’s not making your house as cool. Don’t worry, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is – often times, it can simply be that it’s dirty. Either way, cleaning it should be your first port of call when diagnosing a problem and is also something that you should do regularly for the health of your air conditioner. You will be surprised at how often a good cleaning can get a seemingly worn-out air conditioner working like new again.

What Are Some Items I Can Use To Clean My Air Conditioner?

Air Conditioner Wash Bag

You can get these online at reasonable prices. They are custom made bags that will catch the waste water that will come out during cleaning. These protect your house from getting months of accumulated dirt all over it. It also means that you may avoid having to take the split system air conditioner down to clean it.

Cleaning Solution

A coil cleaner can make it easier to get all of the dirt out of your air conditioner. Generally, liquid ones are preferred, because the foam options can make a mess and get foam everywhere. They also might not be able to get as deep into the fan blades or the coils.

If your air conditioner is a recent model, be careful with the harsher chemical cleaners. Newer units often have a protective hydrophilic layer on their coils which can be stripped away by some chemicals.

It’s best to get a cleaning solution with some kind of nozzle. This will help you to get deep into all of those crevices and make sure that it is cleaned properly.

A Toothbrush

It’s not necessary, but it’s good if you have any stubborn dirt that needs to be scrubbed off.


You will use water to rinse off the dirt and cleaning solution, and it’s best to have some way to spray it into the air conditioner.

What Are Some Steps That Are Important When Cleaning My Split System Air Conditioner?

It’s important to abide by the terms of your warranty when cleaning, to ensure you do not void your coverage. Units vary from system to system, so also make sure you reference your manuals/user guides. And if you have any questions concerning your health and safety, we recommend talking to your air conditioning installer directly.

Some things you can do to clean your air conditioner include:

Turn Off the Power

Before you get anywhere near cleaning, you will want to turn off the power. Make sure you turn off the compressor too. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when you are dealing with electricity.

Remove the Casing If Possible

You may be able to can take the front casing completely off the air conditioning unit, which can allow you to clean things more thoroughly. If you don’t know what you are doing, it might be best to skip this step or get a professional to help.

Take Out the Plug For the Drip Tray

This will make all of the dirty water flow into the wash bag instead of the drain pipe.

Clean the Filters

This is easy, all that you have to do is carefully take them outside, making sure that you don’t spill any of the dirt or dust. Then, bang them clean against a solid object and put them back in when you are done.

Get the Wash Bag Ready

If using a wash bag, make sure you put it around the unit as per its instructions to ensure it is installed correctly. Once you have finished using it, carefully take the bag off and remove the waste. Be sure to be considerate of where you put this waste, as it can contain potentially harmful chemicals.

Spray Your Cleaning Solution on the Coils

Make sure that you get in there as deeply as possible. Some spray on cleaners include an extra nozzle that you can attach to make sure that you get into all of the crevices. If any of the dirt looks really stubborn, you might want to take the time to scrub them softly with your toothbrush. You can also let the cleaning solution soak in for a bit first and then scrub them. Make sure that you are gentle when brushing down your unit. Also be careful that you don’t get any of the cleaning solution on the electronics, as this can damage them. After leaving the solution on your system for the recommended time (often twenty minutes or so) you can then clean them off by spraying water. Make sure you let your air conditioner dry before turning it back on.

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