How to Clean a Residential Air Filter

Have you noticed that your allergies seem to kick in when your heating or your air conditioning system goes on? The filter on your air conditioning system, along with some adjustments to the circulation through your rooms, can actually improve the quality of the air in your house. You have to make sure that you clean the filter, and replace it as indicated by the manufacturer.

Finding the Filter

For a wall unit air conditioner, the filter is often behind a front cover. Feel behind the top or bottom of the unit to find where the couplings are located, and slowly thumb them loose to unlatch the cover.

For a central air system, the filter is located near the return duct. Check the mechanical room in your home, which is typically located inside of a closet, or in the attic or basement. There shouldn’t be any tools required to remove the filter, and it will slide in and out of the air duct with ease. You should also check your mechanical room for the furnace, and replace the heater filter while you’re there.

Cleaning the Filter

The filter is supposed to be white, so you can judge the quality of it for yourself when you remove it. Not every residential air filter is reusable, so you may need to order a new one online. You can wash reusable filters in the sink, and run a microfiber cloth over the replaceable filters. It won’t permanently boost the quality of air in your home, but it will let your run your air conditioner until the replacement arrives.

Be sure that you dry the filter completely, and carefully expect it before replacing it. Some filters have a preferred direction for air flow, and installing the filter incorrectly can cause problems with circulation in your home.

Cleaning the System

Running your system without a clean filter can plug the coils up with dust. Most wall units can be cleaned with a vacuum or a fine brush, and the coils will be near the filter after you have removed the front cover. For central air systems, you will need to go outside and inspect the unit outside the building or the home. You can clean these coils with tools you can find around the house, like bleach, a brush, a screwdriver, and a flashlight.

Also inspect the coils when the air conditioner is running. Actually feel them to see if they are cold to the touch. If they are anything less than very cold, your system may have lost some of its Freon charge. Have a certified repair person refill the charge and your system will improve.


This guest post was brought to you by Your Filter Connection, distributor of air filters for homes and businesses. You can order an electrostatic furnace filter to improve the air quality of your home from Your Filter Connection.