How To Clean Portable Air Conditioner? A Detailed Maintenance Guide

How To Clean Portable Air Conditioner featured photo

Did you notice hotter air or a louder sound than usual from your portable air conditioner? Chances are that it’s already full of dirt and dust. Regular cleaning is a must to maintain the efficiency of the appliance.

Cleaning a portable air conditioner is easy. Remove the outer case to access the filters. You can use a vacuum or a soapy water solution to eliminate the debris on the material.

Note that a portable air conditioner contains other parts besides the filters. You must also clean these components to ensure the unit is working efficiently. Below, we will teach you how to clean a portable air conditioner. You’ll also learn how often you must wash the appliance to extend its lifespan. 

How To Clean a Portable Air Conditioner? 9 Easy Steps to Follow

Most homeowners probably know how to clean the air vents of portable air conditioners. However, if you want to enjoy cooler air and extend the lifespan of the unit, you also need to take care of the interior parts.

Below, we’ll tell you more about these components and how to clean them properly.

Prepare the Necessary Items

You need to prepare a couple of supplies to help you clean the portable air conditioner successfully. These include the following items:

  • A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment
  • Soap or dishwashing liquid
  • Soft cloth
  • Old brush
  • An empty water bucket
  • A garden hose
  • Screwdriver
  • The user manual of your portable AC unit

Drain the Water from the Tank

After gathering all the necessary cleaning materials, you want to drain the water collection tank.

But first, turn off the portable air conditioner. Unplug it from the wall to avoid getting electrocuted. 

Then, bring the portable AC unit to the bathroom, or anywhere you can dump water. You can also carry it to an elevated surface, so you can place a bucket under the appliance. 

Pull out the drain spout cap to empty the contents of the tank. 

Return the cap once all the water has been drained out.

Take Out the Filter and Clean It

Consult your product manual on how to take out the filter. Some portable air conditioners have easy-access air filters that allow you to clean them without opening the unit. However, others require you to remove the aircon case before accessing the filters.

After detaching the filters from the portable aircon, you can proceed to clean them.

Note that the cleaning method for each air filter varies depending on the particular model. Several portable AC units have washable filters, while others are disposable and need replacement. It’s best to read the user manual to be sure. 

If the filters are washable, vacuum them first to remove the layer of dust. Then, rinse them with soap and water. Use a brush to scrub off stubborn debris. 

You might also want to check if there are secondary filters that need cleaning. Gently detach them from the first layer and wash them as needed.

Remove the Aircon Housing

Remove the Aircon Housing

Besides the filters, you must also clean other air conditioner parts like the condenser and evaporator coils.

To do this, you need to dismantle the portable aircon housing. Use the appropriately-sized screwdriver to remove the screws and rivets on the appliance. If you’re unsure, you can always consult the user manual regarding the proper removal of the case.

After unscrewing, place the small tools in a secure location, preferably a small tray or bag, to avoid missing them. You must also take note of their proper arrangement so that you can return them to the aircon housing after.  

Vacuum the Condenser and Evaporator Coils

Once you remove the outer aircon case, you can now clean the condenser and evaporator coils.

The condenser coil takes heat to the outside air. Meanwhile, the evaporator coil removes hot air and moisture from your home before passing them to the condenser coil. Both are essential components of your portable air conditioner, so you must take care of them regularly.

Use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment to clean the condenser and evaporator coils. Carefully point the nozzle head to the fins before switching on the vacuum cleaner. Expect the machine to remove months or years of debris build-up. 

If you encounter more stubborn debris, dampen a soft cloth or brush using a soapy water solution. Then, gently wipe the portable air conditioner coils. Don’t forget to dry them before using the portable air conditioner. 

Clean the Drip Tray and Exhaust Hose

After cleaning the condenser and evaporator coils, it’s time to clean the remaining aircon parts. These include the drip tray and exhaust hose.

Remove the water-catching tray from the unit and drain its contents. You can also soak it in warm water and soap to eliminate dirt.

As for the exhaust hose, carefully disconnect it from the window. Grab your garden hose to wash off the debris stuck inside. Allow the exhaust hose to dry completely to prevent damage.

Reassemble the Portable Air Conditioner

Now that you have cleaned the interior and detachable parts of the portable aircon, it’s time to reassemble the unit.

Connect the exhaust hose to the main body.

Then, insert the drip tray into its proper position.

Reinstall the aircon filters to trap airborne pollutants in your home.

Finally, fix the screws back to their correct place. Secure them to attach the outer case to the portable air conditioner. 

Wipe Off Dust on the Exterior

Once the portable air conditioner is whole again, remember to clean the exterior. Use a damp cloth with soap to eliminate debris on the outer case.

You must also wipe off the dust on the vents and other accessible areas of the portable air conditioner.

Clean the exterior regularly, preferably every week. Doing so can minimize the amount of dirt, hair, and debris getting inside the portable aircon.

Store the Portable Air Conditioner Properly

If you decide not to use the portable air conditioner, store it instead of leaving it where dust can build up.

But first, let the portable AC unit run in fan mode for a minimum of 30 minutes. Doing so can remove any excess moisture from the unit. 

After that period, you can put the air conditioner in its original packaging. Place the appliance in a cool, well-ventilated area to prevent mold growth during the winter. It can also extend the lifespan of the aircon.

How Often Should I Clean A Portable Air Conditioner?

You must clean your portable air conditioner regularly at the start and end of the season. Routine cleaning can maintain the efficiency of the appliance. It allows you to enjoy cooler and cleaner airflow. It also extends the lifespan of the unit.

However, consider cleaning the portable air conditioner more often if you have poor indoor air quality. For instance, if you smoke or have a family member who does, expect more toxic fumes trapped in the aircon filter. You are also at increased risk of dirty aircon when you own pets due to their dander.


A loud or overheating portable air conditioner indicates that it already needs cleaning. Regular cleanup is a must to maintain the efficiency and longevity of the appliance.

Clean a portable air conditioner by draining the water from the tank. You also want to wash the filters, condenser coils, and other interior parts for optimal performance. Follow our tips above for specific instructions.

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