How To Clean Your Air Conditioner Vents

Close up of HVAC fan showing how to clean air conditioner vents

Your air vents collect a lot of dust, dirt, and other particles floating around in the air. They get dirty surprisingly quick, and dirty air vents could be negatively impacting your indoor air quality. You need to clean your air vents on a regular basis, depending on how quick they get dirty. What do you need to do to clean your vents, and how should you do it? Here’s our simple DIY guide on how to clean your vents.

What You Need To Clean Your Air Conditioner Vents

  • Vacuum with a hose
  • Screwdriver (type of screwdriver depends on your vents)
  • Dish soap
  • A scrubbing brush
  • Gloves
  • A bucket or a bathtub

Steps To Clean Your Air Conditioner Vents

Intro To The Guide

This will work for floor vents, wall vents, and ceiling vents. It doesn’t matter where your vent is mounted, this guide will work for any of them. These instructions are general and may not work for all types of vents; however, most residential vents should be relatively simple to clean. Turn off your HVAC system

Before cleaning anything, turn your HVAC system off! That includes your furnace and your air conditioner. You should be able to do this through your thermostat, but you can also turn them off manually

Remove the vents.

Some vents can be easily pulled off, but many require a screwdriver. Take your vents off and put them to the side.

Vacuum the ducts.

Your ducts will likely be dirty, so take your vacuum’s hose and let it run! Get as much dust and dirt as you can out of the ducts. Don’t go too deep into the ducts: there’s no reason to clean out the entire duct at this stage, just the area near the vents.

If you want a full air duct cleaning, you’ll want to get an HVAC professional to do it for you.

Dust off your vents.

Use a duster and get all the extra dust and dirt off of your vents. Take this dust and throw it in the trash: try not to get too much of it in the air! Preferably, dust off your vents inside a garbage bag so that the dust doesn’t fly up into the air and up your nose!

Prepare some soapy water.

Get some warm water and mix in some dish soap. Make sure the water has a good deal of lather in it: this way, you know the water has been sufficiently soaped.

You want to do this in your bathtub, but if you don’t have a bathtub, a wash basin or a bucket will do just fine.

Soak your vents for up to 15 minutes.

This is where the real cleaning happens. You want to soak your vents in the tub or basin for 10 to 15 minutes. It’s not necessary to let them soak for longer than 15 minutes, and if your vents are made of iron or non-stainless steel, it may cause them to rust.

The reason we soak the vents is to get rid of any grease or gunk that allows dust to collect on the vents. This way, when you put them back, you won’t have to clean them again for a while.

Dry your vents with a towel and put them back on.

Putting your vents on should be as simple as taking them off, however ceiling vents might be a little annoying. It’s okay if your vents are still a little wet: it won’t cause any issues with your HVAC system. Try your best to get them as dry as possible though.

Replace your air filter & turn your HVAC system back on.

Go to where your furnace is and replace the air filter. If you’ve been having a problem with dusty vents, you’re likely dealing with a clogged filter.

If you find the filter to be clear, then you don’t have to replace it.

After replacing your air filter, turn your HVAC system back on. Congratulations, you’ve cleaned your vents and you shouldn’t have to do it again for several months!