How to clean your portable AC unit: a step-by-step guide

Don't worry, it's easier than it sounds!

AC unit
(Image credit: Freepik)

When it comes to air conditioners and smart thermostats, it’s always a good idea to do your research on how to maintain it and ensure its smooth running. As we’re in a midst of summer, warmer weather is becoming the norm. This means that your fans and AC units will be working overtime, especially if they’ve been shut away all winter. If you want your unit to keep performing at its best, then you should learn how to keep it clean. 

Before we begin, have a look at the 7 mistakes everyone makes with their portable air conditioners!

1. Turn off the unit

With every electrical appliance, it’s always a good idea to turn it off and unplug it from the wall before working on it. Hopefully you know this already but it’s always good to be reminded, just in case!

2. Remove and clean the cover

Depending on what unit you may have, there will be a front cover fastened on with either screws or tabs. You can always check your AC’s manual and it will tell you if you need a screwdriver or not. Take the cover and give it a wipe down with a dry cloth and slightly soapy water. You can then set it aside. 

3. Remove and clean the filter

Find the filter, usually located in the front of the unit. Some portable AC’s have accessible air filters that you can clean without opening the unit up. If you suspect yours may be like this, check in the manual to be sure. Once found, take out the filter and wash it with warm water and soap, or vacuum away the dust on the mesh. Let the filter dry completely before placing it back in the unit.

4. Clean the coils

Most portable AC units will have two sets of coils: the evaporator coils at the front and the condenser coils at the back. Clean your condenser coil by attaching a brush attachment to your vacuum cleaner, removing all the dust deep into the fins. With the evaporator coils, use a smaller brush attachment to vacuum up the dust. Follow by cleaning it with warm soapy water and a soft cloth. Let the excess moisture dry.

5. Dry thoroughly and piece your unit back together

Make sure all parts of the unit are dry, then replace the front cover and secure it with screws. Turn the unit back on and you’re good to go!

Interested in more? Read this step-by-step guide on how to clean your fan

Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.