Generic illustration of mobile air conditioner

A crucial maintenance procedure for portable air conditioners is cleaning them regularly. Cleaning ensures that the air conditioner operates efficiently and does not transmit contaminants into your immediate environment but you might now know how to clean portable air conditioner so we’re here to make it simple.

Don’t wait until your portable air conditioner shows obvious signs of dirt accumulation. Schedule regular, thorough cleaning sessions that you can do yourself or hire an HVAC specialist to do it.

Here is how to clean portable air conditioner units. A portable air conditioner has various parts that require regular cleaning. These include the outer housing, air filter, coils, hose, joints, and drain line.

Below are the steps for cleaning each part. Make sure you power off the portable AC unit and disconnect it from the power source before beginning any cleaning procedures.

How to Clean Portable Air Conditioner Coils

For most portable air conditioners, you will need to remove the outer housing to access the coils. Some have an easy snap-in and out fit, while others are held in place with screws. In the former case, use the appropriate screwdriver to loosen the screws and remove them.

Store them securely as you will need to screw them back in once done with cleaning the coils. Always refer to your portable air conditioner’s manual for specific steps for opening the outer casing.

If too much grime and dust particles have accumulated on the coils, use a soft brush to gently scrape it off. If there is only dust buildup, you can use a handheld vacuum cleaner to remove it.

Gently, run a soft brush up and down the coils to clean the spaces in between. Occasionally, wipe off the dust that collects on the brush against a piece of cloth. As the coils get cleaner, there will be less dust accumulation on the brush.

If there is mildew or mold manifestation on the coils, clean it out using a gentle bleach solution and baking soda. Dissolve some bleach in water and mix thoroughly. Soak a piece of cloth in the solution, wring off the excess water, and wipe the surface of the coils. Rinse out any dirt that accumulates on the piece of cloth and repeat the wiping process until the coils are clean.

Dip a soft brush in the detergent and bleach solution to clean out mildew or mold between the coils. Allow excess water to drip off and gently run the brush up and down in the spaces between the coils. Rinse the brush and repeat the cleaning process until the coils are completely clean, then allow them to dry.

How to Clean Portable Air Conditioner Filters

Air filters are positioned differently on various portable air conditioners. Some have a single air filter, while others have multiple air filters.

how to clean portable air conditioner
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Start by identifying where the air filters are located in your air conditioner, and then remove the air conditioner filter cover or covers. Carefully remove the filters from the cover. Shake it off inside a dustbin to release the loose dust particles. Then, use a handheld vacuum cleaner or compressed air to remove dust particles trapped between the air filter pores.

If there is mildew or mold, use a soft brush and bleach or a baking soda solution to clean the air filters. Allow them to dry before putting them back into the air conditioner.

If your portable conditioner is fitted with a disposable air filter, ensure to replace it per the stipulated manufacturer’s timeline. If the air filter is clogged up with dirt, it is advisable to replace it instead of cleaning it.

How to Clean Portable Air Conditioner Venting Hose

To clean the venting hose of your portable AC, detach the hose from the AC unit. Clean around the joints and on the outer side using a piece of cloth or handheld vacuum cleaner. Then, run water through the hose.

How to Clean Portable Air Conditioner Drain Line

If your portable air conditioner has an inbuilt tank, it is important to drain it completely every so often. You need to open the drain line and allow all the water to flow out. If you notice that no water is flowing out, chances are, the drain line is clogged.

In this case, insert a pipe cleaner into the drain line of your air conditioning unit to unclog it. Water should begin to flow out immediately. Therefore, keep a bucket below the drain line. Drain lines have a limited lifespan, so you may have to replace yours at least every year.

How to Clean Portable Air Conditioner Housing

Cleaning a portable air conditioner’s housing is quite straightforward. Make a weak detergent solution and dip a piece of cloth. Wring off the excess water and wipe the portable air conditioner’s exterior.

Pay close attention to the joints, corners, louvers, and back intake. Insert the damp cloth along the length of the louvers to clean out any dirt and dust that may have accumulated.

How Do You Know Your Portable Air Conditioner Needs Cleaning?

Some of the most common signs that your portable air conditioner needs cleaning include:

  • Loss of efficiency in air conditioning. For example, the air conditioner may not be as cold as you want it
  • Bad odor from the air conditioner
  • Frequent incidences of respiratory issues such as sore throat, sneezing, coughing
  • If several weeks have elapsed since you last cleaned the portable air conditioner
  • Significant dust accumulation on the A. C’s housing

How Often Should You Clean Your Portable Air Conditioner?

It depends on factors such as the frequency of use, level of contaminants in the surrounding air, and climatic conditions. For example, if you use your air conditioner daily or there is a high level of contaminants in the surroundings, you may need to clean it every other week.

Alternatively, install an air purifier such as the Veva Air Purifier to get rid of the contaminants. Otherwise, cleaning once a month is sufficient for most units.


Accumulated dust, dirt, and grime can compromise the efficiency of your portable air conditioner. Also, there might be mildew, mold, and bacterial manifestation, which could be detrimental to your health.

Therefore, set up a cleaning schedule for your portable AC unit to keep it in tip-top condition. Make sure to clean all the parts thoroughly each time. It helps to occasionally run the portable air conditioner in fan mode for a few minutes after cleaning to eliminate any residual or excess moisture and humidity in the internal components.