How to Clean Your Air Conditioner Vent Covers
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Keeping an air conditioning unit in the best possible condition for as long as possible is much easier when you understand proper upkeep. Although there are some maintenance tasks, such as thorough inspections, that require the help of professionals, there are also plenty of tasks you can handle on your own.

Cleaning your air conditioner vent covers is one of them. If you’re not familiar with this process, the following points will help you better understand how to go about it, and why it’s essential.

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How to Clean Air Vent Covers

Cleaning vent covers is important for several reasons. Quite simply, the dust that collects on and around them can get pulled into the system over time. This may result in dust and other contaminants getting distributed throughout your home. As a result, your indoor air quality will suffer, and anyone with allergies will be very uncomfortable.

The dust and debris surrounding your air vents can also work its way deeper into the AC system, causing it to run inefficiently. This may lead to high energy bills. If you don’t address the problem, the constant wear-and-tear on the system will also cause it to break down earlier than expected. That means you’ll also incur extra repair bills.

Luckily, these are easy to avoid. The process of cleaning air vent covers is fairly simple. Just follow these steps:

Determine the Age & Condition of Your Vent Covers

Your first step should be to determine how old your vent covers are. The process for cleaning them may vary depending on their age. As is to be expected, older vent covers that are no longer in prime condition need to be handled a little more gently and thoroughly than covers that are relatively new.

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Prep the Area

Before performing any work, turn off the system and the thermostat. This prevents the system from blowing more dust into your home. That said, because some dust will likely settle on the floor (this is particularly true if you’re reading this in order to learn how to clean ceiling vents), you should also cover the floor and nearby furniture with a tarp or similar barrier.


Once you’ve prepped the area, turned off the system, and donned proper gear, start by vacuuming the vent covers with the brush attachment. After you’ve collected as much dust and debris as you can with a vacuum, switch to a damp microfiber cloth and wipe down both the outside of the vent and the surrounding area of the wall or ceiling.

(Again, if you’re cleaning ceiling vents, you should expect some dust to fall down during this process. Keep a broom nearby to sweep it up.)

Don’t make the mistake of using a cleaning product at this stage. You’re better off sticking with water. Contrary to what you may believe, a cleaning product will often simply spread the dust around, boosting the odds of it getting into your home or system.

Sometimes these two steps are enough to restore your air and heat vent covers to your preferred state of cleanliness. However, if your covers are older, you may need to take a few additional steps, outlined below.

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Remove the Vent Covers

Remove the vent cover from the wall or ceiling by first removing the screws holding it in place with a screwdriver. Set these aside so you can reinstall the vent cover after you’re done cleaning it.

Keep in mind that older vent covers sometimes stick to the wall. Resist the urge to yank on the cover when this happens. Using too much force could damage the cover or paint. Instead, you may carefully loosen it by cutting around the edge of the vent with a box cutter, taking care not to damage it or the wall.

You may notice your vent cover is also held to the wall with clips. This is the case in some models. Although you should check the manufacturer’s instructions to confirm the details of the process, usually you can press the top clip and pull the vent cover out.

Wash the Vent Covers

After safely removing your vent covers, fill up a tub with a combination of hot water and dish soap. You may also take them outside and clean them in a bucket if you don’t like the idea of rinsing dust and debris into your tub.

Leave the covers immersed in soapy water for at least half an hour. This will loosen accumulated grime, making it easier to remove. Once a half-hour has elapsed, remove the covers from their tubs or buckets and wipe them down with a damp washcloth. To clean the small areas between the slats, use a foam paintbrush.

Some older vent covers may also have accumulated rust that can’t be removed simply from rinsing them. If this is the case, you might need to gently sand down those areas if you want to restore the finish of the cover before reinstalling it. Use rust-inhibiting spray paint if this is your plan.

Otherwise, before reinstalling the wall vent covers, set a hairdryer to the cool setting, and use it to dry them thoroughly. You want to remove moisture before reinstalling them. Wait for all covers to dry completely before placing them back in the wall.


Cleaning dirty vent covers is key to guarding against poor indoor air quality and keeping your HVAC system in good working order. That said, if you make a point of replacing the filters regularly, this task may not be necessary very often, as much of the dust that accumulates on vent covers comes from the filter.

Again, this is the kind of upkeep task you can handle on your own. However, when you need professional service, our team at Easy A/C is here to help. Serving homeowners throughout the Tampa Bay area, our experts are always on hand to address your AC repair, maintenance, and replacement needs! Give us a call at 813-COLD-AIR (813-296-3247) or contact us online today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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