19 May 2023

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Clean Your Air Conditioner

Learn how to clean your air conditioner with our handy guide. From cleaning the filters to the drain line, we will show you how to keep your air conditioner running smoothly.

An air conditioner is an essential appliance that keeps our homes cool during those warmer or hotter days of the year. Air conditioner cleaning is vital to maintain its efficiency and longevity. Regular air filter cleaning and AC maintenance can help prevent common AC problems and keep your indoor environment comfortable and healthy.


In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to clean your air conditioner, including its filter, tips on keeping your outdoor unit in good health, and other tasks that are best left to a trained service technician, like coil cleaning. 

A clean air conditioner ensures that the unit functions properly, reduces energy consumption, and prolongs its lifespan. This guide will provide air conditioner maintenance tips, and common mistakes to avoid during the cleaning process.


Overview of the air conditioner cleaning process:


The cleaning process for air conditioners involves several steps. This air conditioner maintenance checklist includes cleaning the air filters and the best way to maintain fan coils, blower motor, and fan blades.


Make sure to turn off the unit's power before starting the cleaning process to avoid any electrical accidents.

It's important to note that while you can perform many of these tasks, getting a trained service technician to perform regular maintenance on your air conditioning unit; can save you money in the long run. A qualified technician can identify and fix any potential problems before they become major issues. So, while cleaning and maintenance yourself can help keep your unit in good condition, it's always a good idea to rely on a professional for more complex tasks and regular upkeep. It’s worth noting that in some countries, and depending on the type of air conditioner, regular checks by a professional are mandatory.


Signs of a Dirty Air Conditioner

A dirty air conditioner can cause several issues that affect its performance and air quality in your home. The air conditioner operates by circulating the air within your room, and contaminants in your environment can easily become dispersed and affect your health.


Physical signs of a dirty air conditioner

Physical signs of a dirty air conditioner include dirty air filters, dust buildup on the fins and coils, debris in the drain pan, or even mould growth. These issues can lead to reduced efficiency, increased energy consumption, and potential damage to your HVAC system.


Performance signs of a dirty air conditioner

Performance signs include reduced cooling efficiency, unusual noises, unpleasant odours, and increased energy bills. These issues indicate that your air conditioner may require cleaning or AC repair.



Tools and Materials Needed for Air Conditioner Cleaning and How to use them 


There are a variety of AC maintenance tasks that you can do. However, we always recommend getting an official service technician to complete this process. If you are going to be tackling some of the tasks yourself, here are some of the tools and materials needed for air conditioner cleaning:

  • Cleaning solution for air conditioner maintenance - A mild detergent mixed with water is suitable for cleaning most air conditioner components. You can also purchase specialised cleaning solutions for AC cleaning from your local home improvement or hardware store.

    If you prefer a more natural solution, you can also make a DIY cleaning solution using water, vinegar, and baking soda. Mix one cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda in a gallon of water. This solution can be used to clean the air filters, coils, and drain pan.

  • Vacuum cleaner - A vacuum cleaner is great for removing dirt and debris from the unit. Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove dirt and debris from the air filters, coils and fan blades.

  • Soft brush - An additional hand-held brush is useful for hard-to-reach and sensitive areas, such as coils. By using a soft-bristled brush, you can avoid damaging the delicate parts of the unit.



Now that we have an idea of the tools you’ll need, let’s take a look at the different components that require cleaning and how to do it:


Family Enjoys Clean Air from Air Conditioner

How to Clean Filters in Your Air Conditioner

Filters (also known as pre-filters) are an important component of air conditioners that trap dust, dirt, and debris to prevent big particles from entering and damaging the indoor unit. Some air conditioners, such as airHome and many Hitachi air conditioners, also include air purifying filters.

These extra filters are dedicated to improving the indoor air quality of the room, as they can trap finer particles and/or inhibit pollutants thanks to their coating. Cleaning air filters is a vital step in AC maintenance because when these air filters are clogged, the cooling capacity of the AC decreases, and it might consume more energy to provide the same cooling output as before.


We recommend cleaning filters before the cooling or heating season starts and then inspecting and cleaning the filters every 2 weeks during these seasons. However, it’s always best to consult your air conditioner's user manual for individual recommendations.


For air purifying filters, it is recommended to clean them every month and, even better, change them yearly for consistent efficiency. Not all air purifying filters are washable. If that is the case, gently remove any dirt with a vacuum cleaner.


To clean your clogged air conditioner filters, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the power to the unit.
  2. Locate and remove the air filter, which is typically behind a grille or cover.
  3. Use a soft-bristled brush or vacuum cleaner to remove dirt and debris from the air filter.
  4. If the filters are washable, gently clean and rinse the air filter using a gentle cleaning solution. Water should not be above 40˚C to avoid filter shrinking.
  5. Allow the air filter to dry completely in a shaded spot from the sun to avoid damage before reinserting them into the unit.
  6. On the other hand, If the filters are not washable or damaged, replace them with new filters.

Many Hitachi air conditioners, including our latest generation airHome series, inform the users when it’s time to clean the filter by a symbol appearing on the remote controllers. Other series, like Takeshi, a model available in India, has a small LED light lighting up on the surface of the indoor unit as a filter cleaning reminder.


Coils and Air Conditioning Cleaning

Coils are crucial components of air conditioners responsible for transferring heat. An air conditioner has two types of coils: evaporator coils and condenser coils.


What are coils in air conditioners?

Coils are the heat-exchanging component of air conditioners that transfer heat between the air and the refrigerant gas (refrigerant gas circulates between indoor and outdoor units). During cooling operation, the evaporator coils (inside the indoor unit) transfer heat from the indoor air to the refrigerant gas, while the condenser coils (inside the outdoor unit) release the heat to the outside. Over time, these coils can become clogged, reducing their efficiency, and causing the unit to work harder, ultimately affecting your energy costs.


How to clean the evaporator coils

To help keep the evaporator coils clean, the exclusive FrostWash technology, available with many models of Hitachi Residential Air Conditioners, can do it for you automatically. Learn more about FrostWash here2. However, if your air conditioner does not have FrostWash, it is best to consult a professional as this is a delicate job. These are the general steps that are taken to clean a unit’s coils:

  1. Turn off the power to your air conditioner.
  2. Locate the evaporator coils, which are typically found inside the indoor unit or air handler.
  3. Carefully remove the access panel or cover to expose the coils.
  4. Use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to gently remove dust and debris from the coils.
  5. Apply a no-rinse coil cleaner or a mild detergent and water solution to the coils, allowing it to sit for a few minutes.
  6. If necessary, use a soft brush to gently scrub any stubborn dirt.
  7. Wipe the area with a clean cloth and replace the access panel or cover.


How to clean and maintain the outdoor unit


Depending on the location of the outdoor unit, this is a task best done by a professional. However, if you have clear access to the unit, here are the tasks that are safe to do:

  • Clean the outer casing of the unit to remove any buildup of dirt
  • Make sure plants, dirt, or debris do not obstruct the air outlet to clear the way for the unit to operate effectively

If the fan or coils require cleaning, again, this is best left to a professional to do to avoid any potential damage to the unit.



How to Clean Other Air Conditioner Parts 

Other components on your air conditioner that will require cleaning are the blower motor and fan blades, both of which will require a trained service technician to check and perform any tasks for you.


Clean your Air Conditioner Remote Control

Finally, studies have shown that remote controllers are the ideal breeding ground for bacteria to build up on. If you operate your air conditioner with a remote control, perhaps it’s time you clean it, too. Like with most electronic devices, you’ll want to remove the batteries before beginning any cleaning.

The best way to clean your remote is to use a sanitising solution or household alcohol and wipe the remote down with a slightly moist cloth.


Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Your Air Conditioner

While cleaning your air conditioner, there are several common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not turning off the power - Always turn off the power to your air conditioner before performing any cleaning or maintenance tasks. This will help prevent electrical shocks and potential damage to the unit.

  • Not cleaning the blower motor and fan blades - Neglecting to clean the blower motor and fan blades can lead to reduced airflow and inefficient cooling. Regularly cleaning these components can help maintain optimal performance and prolong the life of your air conditioner but it is always best that these parts are checked and serviced by a professional only.

  • Using the wrong type of cleaning solution - Using harsh chemicals or the wrong type of cleaning solution can damage your air conditioner components. Stick to a mild detergent mixed with water or a specialized cleaning solution designed for air conditioners.

  • Using a pressure washer - Using a pressure washer to clean your air conditioner can cause damage to the delicate fins and other components. 

  • DIY vs professional air conditioner cleaning - While DIY air conditioner cleaning can potentially save money and be a suitable option for simple tasks, some tasks may require professional AC service and, if performed incorrectly, could prove more costly in the long run. It is best to consult a professional if you are unsure about your abilities or have a complex issue.

Air Conditioning Maintenance Professional


How Often Should You Clean Your Air Conditioner?

Generally, we recommend you check your air conditioner’s filter regularly and thoroughly clean coils and other components at least once a year. Also, check the regulations in place in your country. However, households on the ground floor of a building, or those that include smokers, pets, or people susceptible to allergies, might need to clean the filter more often or even change the filter completely.


Factors that affect how often to clean your air conditioner

The frequency of air conditioner cleaning depends on several factors, including:


⌛ The frequency of use
Using your air conditioner frequently or living in a hot climate may require more frequent cleaning to maintain optimal performance.

🐶 Presence of pets
Pet hair and dander can quickly clog AC filters and reduce the efficiency of your air conditioner. As previously mentioned, If you have pets, you may need to clean your air conditioner more often. 

Woman and Pet Enjoy Clean Air from AC Unit at Home


📑 Checking the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning your air conditioner

Hitachi’s recommendations for cleaning your air conditioner can provide valuable information on how often it needs to be cleaned. Refer to your air conditioner's user manual for specific cleaning guidelines and recommended maintenance schedules.


📅 Setting a schedule for cleaning your AC

As mentioned earlier, we recommend that you schedule regular maintenance with a professional, but it's also wise to do the same for general checks. You can set a cleaning schedule based on your AC unit's maintenance recommendations or the frequency of use. By sticking to a regular cleaning schedule, you can ensure that your air conditioner is working at optimal efficiency.



Saving Money by Keeping Your Air Conditioner Filters Clean

Regularly cleaning your air conditioner filters and keeping your AC unit clean as a whole can save you money on energy bills and potential repair costs.

Clean filters improve airflow and reduce the strain on your AC unit, resulting in increased efficiency and a longer lifespan for your cooling system. By following the detailed instructions and air conditioner maintenance tips in this guide, you can keep your air conditioner in optimal condition, save money on energy bills, and create a comfortable and healthy living environment for you and your family.


Hitachi air conditioners are built with advanced technology for reliable performance and long-lasting durability, like the aforementioned FrostWash, and also Mold Guard, a function that helps prevent mould formation on the indoor unit’s components. However, even the best air conditioner requires regular maintenance to function optimally and provide optimal cooling efficiency. By combining a high-quality Hitachi air conditioner with proper maintenance, you can ensure longevity and savings on energy bills.


Visit the Hitachi air conditioner product range page to learn more about our range of air conditioners and make an informed decision for your home’s air conditioning needs.

ꟷ Hitachi Cooling & Heating Australia ꟷ
19 May 2023