5 Steps to Clean Your Car AC Filter Properly

Last Updated on June 24, 2019 by themechanic

It is easy to take the air conditioner in your car for granted. On a hot day, all you need to do is turn the AC knob and enjoy the cool air that emits from the air vents of your dashboard. But how often do you think about the quality of the air that comes out of these vents?

After all, the air conditioner is taking air from the outside and transferring it to the inside. Normally, the air is fresh and clean because it passes through an AC filter first. The job of the AC filter is to prevent all the germs, bacteria, contaminants and other debris in the air from entering the passenger cabin. As you can imagine, these dirt elements can build up rather quickly on the AC filter. If the filter is not cleaned occasionally, you could have bacteria growth forming on the filter. Then you could potentially breathe in the airborne bacteria and germs as the AC blows air at you inside. You can imagine what would happen in this case. You’ll get sick and feel very uncomfortable.

Therefore, it is important that you clean your car’s AC filter at least every 20,000 miles or so. Sometimes a manufacturer will recommend every 15,000 miles while others might say every 30,000 miles. The air quality of the environments that you normally drive in is a contributing factor as well.

Make sure you clean your car’s AC filter properly too. This goes double for someone who attempts to do their own cleaning without having a professional service person do it for them. Otherwise, you may make your AC filter worse which will cause your indoor air to be worse.

To help you out in this endeavor, below are the top 5 tips for cleaning your AC filter properly.

1) Find the Filter First – This may seem simple, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t even know where their AC filter is located in their vehicle. You can look in your owner’s manual for additional guidance in locating this filter. Usually, it is located somewhere in the back of the dashboard. In most cars, it will be a square-shaped filter with a slotted bar.

2) Air Compressor – Once you’ve located the AC filter, take it out of its holding area and put it either on a work table or some other flat ground surface. Obtain an air compressor or electric blower which can blow pressurized air out. You will use this device to blow air through each slot of the air filter, causing all the dust and debris inside the slots to get blown out. Make sure you blow air in the corners too.

3) Germ Killer Spray – Now that you’ve removed the debris from the slots of the AC filter, you need to spray some kind of germ killer spray or odor remover on it. This will ensure that any existing bacteria or germs are removed completely before you reinstall the filter.

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4) Reinstall the Filter – Gently put the AC filter back into the holding space of the AC system. Turn on your vehicle and test the AC unit to see if you notice a difference in the air quality. You may need to let it run for a few minutes with the windows open just to get the spray smell out of the system.

5) Avoid Cleaning Brushes & Water – You may have noticed that there was no mention of a brush or manually tool for scrubbing away debris from the AC filter. The reason is that the filter is very sensitive and contains sensitive components. If you were to try scrubbing the filter with a brush, then the filter would get damaged. You also don’t want to wash the filter with water because you could risk damaging your AC system once you put the filter back in.

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