How to Clean AC Evaporator Coils Properly with These 6 Steps

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how to clean AC evaporator coils

Inside your air conditioning system are coils that can collect dust and grime that degrades your unit’s capability to cool air. Dirty AC evaporator coils consume more energy, ramping up your electric bill. Therefore, it is necessary to clean air conditioner evaporator coils monthly or annually.

If you do not yet know how to clean AC evaporator coils, do not worry. We have you covered! Below is a detailed guide featuring all the different methods with step-by-step instructions to clean evaporator coils. In short, these are:

  • Switch the AC and air handler unit. Then, gain access to the evaporator coils
  • Identify the evaporator coils that need cleaning
  • Get rid of the light build-ups using a can of compressed air
  • Remove more stubborn dust, dirt, grime, and grease using a brush
  • Deep clean the remaining contaminants using a commercial cleaner or homemade solution
  • Put the HVAC tape or metal foil back and return the access panel

You will learn more about cleaning AC coils as you continue to read. Go on!

What You Will Need to Have


Gather all of the following materials:

  • Eye protective gear
  • A face and nose mask
  • A can of compressed air
  • A screwdriver, socket wrench, and nut driver
  • A handheld and cordless vacuum
  • A soft-bristle brush
  • A commercial cleaner or a mild detergent, warm water, and a spray bottle

Once you have all of the materials mentioned above, you are ready to proceed to the steps.

6 Steps to Clean AC Evaporator Coils Correctly and Easily


Read carefully and follow the steps below word-by-word to quickly and properly clean the dirty evaporator coils in your air conditioner system.

Step 1: Switch the AC and air handler unit. Then, gain access to the evaporator coils

First, switch your air conditioner system off along with any air handler unit in your home. Then, gain access to the coils by removing the panel of the air-handling unit. Where it is will vary depending on models, so check your unit’s handbook if needed.

Typically, there will be screws and fasteners that you have to take off with a screwdriver and other hand tools like a socket wrench and nut driver. Some units will have tape or a reflective metal foil on the edges of the panel—remove it as well. Keep all the parts that you have removed together when putting them aside to avoid losing or separating them.

Step 2: Identify the evaporator coils that need cleaning

Now that you have access to the internal components, look for the evaporator coils. Usually, they are on the air intake by the side of the outlet of the furnace or the fan coil. You can recognize them as U-shaped tubes made of aluminum, copper, or steel. The coils are typically shaped into an upside-down V-frame of two panels, which are lined with aluminum fins.

Step 3: Get rid of the light build-ups using a can of compressed air

In this step, you will begin working out the nasty build-ups inside of the coils. Use a can of compressed air and spray over the coils to blow out dust and dirt. This should get rid of all the lighter particles. For more persistent pieces, bring the air nose of the can closer and apply it from straight 90-degree angles.

Spray consistently to force out all the debris. However, during this process, make sure you are blasting the contaminants through and into the ductwork system. You should also have eye protection and a mask to keep the materials from entering your eyes, nose, and mouth. Then, vacuum away everything on the loose.

Step 4: Remove more stubborn dust, dirt, grime, and grease using a brush

Next, enter the brush. Use it to brush away dirt piles and get into all the hard-to-reach areas. Apply force accordingly; less stubborn build-ups will need to take a lighter beating. However, be very careful when working with the fins.

Try to avoid pressing too hard to cause any damage. Also, do not brush across them; you can accidentally cause them to fold or bend. Currently, you are just brushing dry. Nonetheless, the more you can get rid of at this stage, the less work you will have later. Clean the brush and let it air dry before you move onto the next step.

Step 5: Deep clean the remaining contaminants using a commercial cleaner or homemade solution

Apply a commercial cleaner or mix a mild detergent with water for a homemade solution. If you are opting for the latter, make sure that you keep it in a spray bottle for ease of application. Spritz the solution onto your just-cleaned brush. Give it a minute or two to settle in. Then, use the brush to pick up any gunk that is still left on the coils. Use short and sharp brush strokes to avoid spreading chunks of dirt and debris.

Note: When choosing a commercial cleaner, make sure you do not just grab any from a store’s shelf. Spare time to research. Look at the formula, ingredients, brand, and ease of application before you purchase. It is also incredibly important to get one that is safe to use on your air conditioner. Many products contain substances that are too harsh, which can ruin the components of your system. Then, you will have to spend a lot of money repairing and replacing the unit.

Reliable options for a commercial cleaner for dirty air conditioner evaporator coils are Arm & Hammer Biodegradable Aerosol Air Conditioner Spray, Nu-Calgon 4171-75 Evap Foam No Rinse Evaporator Coil Cleaner, Lundmark Coil Cleen Air Conditioning Fin & Coil Cleaner, and DIVERSITECH PRO-GREEN 880591 Professional Strength Coil Cleaner.

Occasionally rinse the brush under clean water and reapply the cleaning solution. Continue brushing until the coils are completely clean. Let the coils air dry before going over them once more with a fresh but wet rag.

Step 6: Put the HVAC tape or metal foil back and return the access panel

To complete, put the HVAC tape or metal foil pack into its place, and reattach the access panel. Think of this as reversing the first step that you have taken. Turn your air conditioner back on and check its performance. A system with cleaned evaporator coils will have the optimal cooling capacity, reduced energy consumption, minimal operating pressures as well as system failures and other signs of wear.

Another Option

If your air conditioner system is too filthy and heavily soiled, it is a good idea to seek help from professionals. There are plenty of service providers that you can rely on. They are equipped with relevant knowledge and skills to handle severe evaporator coils. Another hand, you can learn this guide on cleaning evaporator coils without it.

Therefore, you can rest assured that they will get the job done correctly and quickly. Even though the money that you have to shell out is higher than cleaning the coils on your own, think of it as an investment. After all, your air conditioner deserves the best.

So, there you have it! Cleaning air conditioning evaporator coils is not as hard as it sounds, right?


With that, you have finished our detailed article on how to clean AC evaporator coils. Hopefully, it was easy to follow and helpful. Bookmark this article so you can refer back to it once you commit to your own HVAC evaporator coil cleaning, and do not forget to share your experience with us in the comments. We always look forward to hearing from our readers. So, do not hesitate!

If you have any other follow-up questions or thoughts on this topic, please also leave a comment. You are welcome to send this article to your family, friends, or anyone you think will appreciate the content as well!

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