How to clean your air conditioner

Air Conditioning FAQs

It’s important to keep your air conditioner well maintained to keep it running smoothly. This includes cleaning the unit so it is not using extra electricity; labouring under dust, leaves or other obstructions. Cleaning your unit regularly will maintain air quality by flushing out pollutants and reducing wear & tear on the machinery.

Below is a guide on how to safely clean your split system air conditioning system yourself and when to do so. These tips are aimed at the most popular systems in Australian households; the split-system, but you can also apply some of this advice it to other models such as ducted or mobile units.

How do I clean my indoor unit?

What to do:

  • Turn your air conditioning system off at the plug.
  • Wipe down the outside of your inside unit to remove dust. Do this for each unit in your house. You can also choose to do the outside of each unit last if you prefer.
  • Check around the outside unit for leaves, cobwebs, balls and other debris that may be in the way of it and remove them. Vacuum over the air intake filters to pick up dust from the inside.

Your inside unit will have filters and parts that can be easily accessed and cleaned. To access these you will need your instruction / user manual. If you can’t find your copy check our product pages or download a copy of the manual from the manufacturer’s website.

The instructions will show you how to access user-maintainable parts and what filters your model has.

Cleaning the indoor unit’s filters

Dust filters help remove pollutants from the air and need regular cleaning. If a filter becomes clogged it will have work harder, leading to higher running costs. Accessing dust filters is generally a matter of opening the unit’s cover and removing the filter or filters.

Once the filter is removed:

  • Take the filter out and check what kind of state it is in. If a filter is damaged it will need replacing. Ioniser air purification filters should be replaced every 1 to 2 years. If you are unsure refer back to your user manual or ask your air conditioning installer.
  • If the dust filter is in good condition vacuum it, using a brush head for dust if you have access to one.
  • Take the filter outside and shake it or run a broom over it.
  • If the filters are particularly grotty, put some mild detergent and warm water in the sink and wash them by hand.
  • Once the filters are washed, hang them out to dry and only put them back in when they are completely dry to avoid mould or spores forming.

Clean your air conditioner’s louvres

Your air conditioner’s louvres are the blades that move up and down to direct the flow of air.

Once again, refer back to your instruction manual to see if your indoor unit has removable louvres installed. If the instruction manual advises that the louvres can be removed safely, take them out, making sure the unit is still turned off and use a dry cloth or vacuum cleaner to thoroughly clean the louvres and the space between them. Then place them back carefully.

If you are not confident about putting the parts back properly keep your manual nearby or take a picture of the part of the unit you are working on before removing any filters or louvres.

Lastly, when looking at cleaning your indoor units also consider moving any large pieces of furniture that may be disrupting airflow. This can help improve performance and comfort.

How often should I clean my air conditioning unit?

As well as physically cleaning a unit, you can keep it in fair condition daily by utilising modes of operation in every day use. A humidity or ‘dry’ program can help prevent mould and bad smells by evaporating moisture collecting on the heat exchange.

How often you do a big clean will depend on how often the unit is in use. Spring is generally a good time to clean up and get your system ready for peak season. If you are allergy or asthma prone dust filters can be cleaned every few weeks, with a thorough clean scheduled for twice a year in dusty or damp environments.

We would recommend checking the outdoor unit and tidying it up annually or immediately after severe weather, just in case tree branches or leaves are blocking air intake.

If your unit’s performance begins to drop, it is always a good idea to first check your filters and clean out any dust or other debris. This may help save on expensive call out fees, particularly if the system starts to falter during peak times.

When in doubt, always consult a professional; wether it be through reading the manufacturer’s guidelines or having a technician come and do the cleaning for you. It’s best to ensure your own safety and not cause any damage.


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