How To Clean Window Air Conditioner Without Removing It?

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When was the last time you cleaned your window air conditioner? If you can’t remember the specific moment, it’s probably been months or years since you had clean aircon. Dust and debris build-up in the AC unit leads to several problems, so it’s essential to clean it.

You can clean your window air conditioner without removing it. You’ll need to take out the case and other external parts before vacuuming the interior.

However, using a vacuum is just one way to clean a window AC unit. As we’ll explore below, there are other ways to remove debris stuck inside the filter and other aircon parts. But first, let’s look over the tools needed for the task.

What Materials Do I Need to Clean a Window Air Conditioner Without Removing It?

You’ll need several supplies for successful window air conditioner cleaning. Prepare the following items before you start to clean the AC unit.

  • A bucket of water
  • Soap or dishwashing liquid
  • A spray bottle
  • A vacuum cleaner
  • A brush (an old toothbrush is fine)
  • A soft cloth
  • Gloves to protect your hands from debris and sharp aircon parts
  • Screwdriver
  • A small tray, bag, or any secure surface to place the screws on
  • The user manual of your AC unit

How To Clean Window Air Conditioner Without Removing It?

After preparing the necessary materials, follow the steps below to clean the window air conditioner without removing it.

Unplug the Air Conditioner Unit

Before cleaning window air conditioners, make sure to turn them off. You must also unplug their cord from the wall outlet for safety.

Cleaning a window air conditioner while it’s still plugged in will get you electrocuted. You’ll be touching different aircon parts, so it’s best to disconnect the appliance from the electric supply.

Remove the Air Conditioner Case

Next, remove the air conditioner case to access the drain pan and other removable parts.

Find the screw bolt hole at the bottom of the window air conditioner. Then, use a screwdriver to loosen the screws. Turn the tool slowly to prevent the screws from damaging the unit.

After all the screws are loose, place them on a small tray so they won’t get lost. Carefully detach the case from the window AC unit.

Now, you can soak the dirty air conditioner case in a bucket filled with warm soapy water. Let it sit in the cleaning solution for several minutes.

Take this time to empty the excess dirty water on the drain pan. Brush off any stubborn debris to clean it.

Finally, set the drain pan and outer case aside to dry. Leave them in a secure place for a while. We’ll return to them later once we clean the other aircon parts. 

Take Out the Filter and Wash It

You also want to clean the air filter since it traps airborne pollutants and keeps the air clean in your house.

But first, you’ll need to take the filter out of the window air conditioner. Read the product manual of your window unit for specific instructions on filter removal. If you’ve already lost it, search the make and model unit online to find the user manual.

After removing the filter from its housing, you can proceed to wash it. Spray it with a regular garden hose to eliminate most debris.

You can also mix soap and water in a bucket for deep cleaning. Then, submerge the aircon filter in the cleaning solution for at least an hour.

After an hour, drain the warm soapy water. Remove any stubborn dirt and debris on the aircon filter with a brush. 

If the window aircon filter is still dirty after these steps, it might be time for a replacement. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends replacing the filter of window air conditioners regularly. It is essential to ensure optimal air conditioning performance of window units.

Use a Vacuum to Clean Window Air Conditioner Without Removing It

Once you clean or replace the dirty filters, it’s time to clean inside the window air conditioner.

Grab a vacuum cleaner and replace its head with a soft brush attachment. Carefully place the nozzle head inside the aircon unit.

Turn on the vacuum to remove the dirt and dust in the window AC unit. You can also point the nozzle to any areas with debris build-up.

After using the vacuum, use a spray bottle to spritz the cleaning mixture onto the window air conditioner. Wipe down the entire window unit with a damp cloth. 

Clean the Condenser Coils

Clean the Condenser Coils

Condenser coils remove heat and moisture from indoor air to cool your room. They eventually get dirty, which affects their performance.

To clean the condenser coils, remove the aircon cover on the backside of the window AC unit. You’ll want to remove the dust by hand to prevent damaging the coils.

Wear thick gloves because the sharp fin comb can cut your skin. Soak a soft bristle brush in water and detergent. Then, brush off debris from the dirty fins and other parts of the condenser coil.  

Allow The Air Conditioner to Dry

After cleaning most parts of the window air conditioning unit, allow everything to dry. You don’t want to put back wet filters because they can cause mold to grow.

You also want to avoid putting the filters in a dryer, no matter how tempting. Doing so can reduce their effectiveness.

Instead, place the filter and other aircon parts in a cool, well-ventilated place away from direct sun. Leave them to dry for at least 24 hours. The exact drying period depends on the current weather.

Reassemble the Air Conditioner Unit

Once everything is completely dry, you can return the parts to the aircon unit. Again, consult the product manual if you’re unsure of how the parts go together. 

First, put the clean air filter back in its housing. Make sure it is secure.

Then, insert the drain pan into its proper place.

Finally, take the dry case to the window AC. Use a screwdriver to fasten the screws back to their position. 

Now that you have reassembled the aircon unit, plug it in and turn it on to enjoy cooler, cleaner air.

What Are the Benefits of Cleaning the Window Air Conditioner Unit?

After reading through the steps above, you may think they are tiring. You might also wonder why cleaning the window air conditioning unit is important.

Well, it’s true that cleaning a dirty aircon takes some effort. However, it can be done in less than an hour (excluding the drying period).

Besides requiring less time, cleaning the window AC unit also offers several benefits, which we will explore below.

Enjoy Efficient Air Conditioning Performance

When left to accumulate, dirt and dust can clog the window air conditioner. They can prevent the unit from delivering the proper airflow. 

A dirty AC unit can also affect your health, leading to several respiratory problems. These include asthma, allergies, and more.

Fortunately, regular aircon cleaning ensures efficient performance. The machine can provide cool and healthy air, ultimately preventing health problems from arising. 

Get Lower Electric Bills

Dust build-up can also cause the air conditioner to work harder than usual to deliver cold air. When the machine performs more rigorously than before, it can lead to higher electricity bills. 

So, believe it or not, a clean window aircon can save you money in the long run. Since the window AC unit is working efficiently, it can help reduce the cost of electricity.

Extend the Lifespan of the Aircon Unit

A clean air conditioner can last longer than a dirty unit. The interior parts will remain in tip-top condition, allowing the whole aircon to function for several years. In contrast, an unkempt appliance is more prone to overheating or developing ice build-up.

Perform regular cleaning to get more long-term value from your appliance. You’ll even avoid expensive future air conditioner repairs with a dirt-free AC unit.

Eliminate Mold and Other Microorganisms

Finally, a clean window air conditioner prevents microorganisms from growing in your house. These include mold, bacteria, fungi, and other germs. You don’t have to worry about damaging your furniture and having unsightly spots in your room anymore. Learn more about cleaning mold from air conditioner vents.

How Often Should I Clean A Window Air Conditioner?

You must clean your window air conditioner every 12 months to ensure it works efficiently. However, depending on your indoor air quality, you’ll want to clean the appliance more often.

For instance, if you own a pet, expect dander around your house. These dead skin flakes usually contain microorganisms, which can seep into the air and pollute it.

Having a smoker in the house also increases the level of indoor airborne pollutants.

So if you want to maintain healthy air quality, you must clean the aircon more often. 


It’s easy to forget to clean your window air conditioner if you’ve continuously enjoyed the cool air. However, regular cleanup is essential to maintain the efficiency of the appliance.

To clean a window air conditioner without removing it, detach the case and filter. Use a vacuum to remove most types of debris, or soak the filter in soapy water to target stubborn dirt. You’ll also want to wash the other aircon parts, as mentioned above. 

Do you have other questions about cleaning a window aircon? Drop a message on our website, and we’ll answer you shortly.