The Best Way To Clean A Portable Air Conditioner

clean portable air conditioner

If you want to keep your home or office cool during the hot summer days, portable air conditioners are essential and cost-efficient. Since these portable air conditioners do not need permanent installation, you can move them from room to room. This portability feature saves your money that you would spend buying an individual air conditioner for each room, as well as you can stay in a cool environment wherever you want. You can use a portable air conditioner in your bedroom, living room, home office, kitchen, office, garage and so on.

Another great reason to get a portable air conditioner instead of a permanent air conditioner is that portable ACs are very simple and need low maintenance. You should regularly clean the unit if you want it to run efficiently and effectively during hot days. To ensure the work efficiency of your portable air conditioner and maintain good air quality, you need to learn to clean and maintain it. Don’t worry; cleaning portable ACs is an easy and simple job.

When should you clean your AC?

You should clean the air filters of your AC at least once a month if you use it regularly and want the best possible cooling. If the air filters get dirty, wait, they are designed to catch dust and microbes. If they are not cleaned regularly, they can clog up which can disturb the airflow and increase the possibility of your AC getting damaged. Also, the AC with dirty filters uses more electricity to cool the air, which will spike your monthly electricity bill up. You should clean your portable AC thoroughly at the end of the season and if you have used the unit previous year, it’s recommendable to clean the unit at the beginning of the summer. This way your AC will work in an efficient mode.

Now you know how important it is to clean the portable AC. Here are step-by-step methods of cleaning the unit so that it lasts for many years:

1. Disconnect the unit and empty the water tank

The first thing you should do before starting to clean the unit is to disconnect it. Since there is water collected, not unplugging the unit can get you electrocuted. The portable AC acts as a dehumidifier during the cooling process as it removes water from the air. That water is collected in a bucket, which must be removed every now and then. You can clean the water tank using a mild solution of soap and water, and rinse it with clean lukewarm water.

2. Run the portable AC on fan mode

Since the unit contains water, running it on fan mode for some time will dry out the inside of the AC completely. It can take up to 2 hours to completely dry the unit. After the unit is completely dry, it is ready for a thorough cleaning.

3. Remove the filter from the frame and clean loose dirt and dust particles

You can tap lightly on the filter with your hands or on the side of a garbage can to collect the loose particles. In case your portable AC uses a carbon or HEPA purifier, remove it too. Normally these purifiers are supposed to be replaced rather than cleaned but you can follow the manufacturer’s directions for their maintenance.

4. Clean the air filter meticulously

Clean the filter with water to completely remove all dust and dirt. To ensure thorough cleaning, immerse the filter in warm water and a mild detergent. After some time Leave the filter to dry while you clean the rest of the part. Air filters need to be cleaned at least once or twice a month depending on use.

5. Clean the air intake vents using a vacuum

It is just making things easier using a vacuum. You can use either a handheld vacuum or a regular one with a hose attachment.

6. Clean the cooling coils with an acidic solution

You can clean the cooling coils with an acidic solution for squeaky cleanliness. You can use any acidic cleaning solution available at your local grocery store or you can make your own solution. Mix lemon/lime juice or vinegar with water, let it settle for about 15 minutes. Rinse the coils with clean water and run the cooler on fan mode for 10-15 minutes to remove the smell of vinegar. Now, it is ready for use. After cleaning the cooling coils, replace the air filter.

7. Clean the exterior

After cleaning all the interior parts of the unit, make sure to clean the exterior as well to ensure your portable AC is well maintained. To clean the exterior housing of your portable AC, you can simply wipe it down with a soft and damp cloth occasionally. Avoid using any strong chemicals or coarse cleaners to clean the outside of the portable AC. You can clean the exterior every few weeks.

8. You can deodorize the unit

If you are not satisfied with the fact that regular cleaning of the unit removes the bad smells, you can deodorize it. You can use a disinfectant like Dettol or a few drops of essential oils in vinegar-water solution while cleaning. This will help remove moldy odor from your portable air conditioner and leave your house smelling fresh and good.

9. Storing the unit in the off-season

If winter is coming and your portable unit lacks a built-in heater feature, it’s for the best that you pack the unit up in the original packaging and store it. Before packing it up, make sure to drain the collected water condensation. Run the unit in fan mode for about 30 minutes to dry the excess moisture. Clean the air filters as mentioned above. Disconnect the Window Installation Kit and remove the plastic hose, window bracket, window bracket panel adapter, and hose connector. Make sure to store the unit in a dry and cool place away from direct sunlight and any major source of heat.

Cleaning Routine


If your portable air conditioner features a ‘dry out’ program, run it every day to evaporate the moisture that’s condensed on the heat exchanger and avoid mold and foul smells.


Clean the air filters and interior as mentioned above or as per the instructions that came with your AC. If you run your AC almost every day or the performance of your AC is degrading, clean it more often.


Clean the exterior of your portable air conditioner. If your unit has HEPA or carbon filters, replace it as per instructions.

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