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How To Clean RV Air Conditioner Filter in Just Five Steps

Written by Philip Lopez / Fact checked by Paul Lemaire

how to clean rv air conditioner filter

Nothing is really more comfortable than sitting in your RV with the air conditioner (AC) on. Besides cooling the room, an air conditioner can help block dust and other allergens from going inside your RV. This is all thanks to the filter, which helps ensure better air quality.

When the filter gets dirty, that’s when your air conditioner starts to work poorly. Clogged filters may prevent any air from going through them and might allow the entrance of unwanted elements inside your RV. To keep your air conditioner working efficiently, here’s how to clean RV air conditioner filter, specifically the permanent and semi-permanent ones.

Table of Contents

What You’ll Need


Vacuum Cleaner

The vacuum cleaner is an effective device to remove the dust collected in your AC filter. You can use any type of vacuum cleaner, whether it’s upright or canister.

Upright models have integrated extension hoses to make them versatile to clean the filter, and they tend to be less expensive. Meanwhile, canister vacuums tend to be quieter and offer better suction.

For more portability, look for a handheld model. A handheld vacuum does an excellent job for quick cleanups. Just make sure that your preferred vacuum is designed to work on both wet and dry messes and not only for pet hair.

For Deep Cleaning

  • Water

You’ll need water to mix with your mild detergent to wash the AC filter. As much as possible, use warm water because the heat can remove heavy soil and germs effectively. Also, warm water is excellent in cleaning without consequential shrinking and fading.

Water also comes in handy when you try to make a vinegar solution for killing bacteria growth. Use the same amount of water as with your vinegar to make a potent vinegar solution.

  • Mild Detergent

Prepare mild detergent to make soapy water for soaking heavily soiled AC filters. This is normally a hand dishwashing soap that only consists of surfactants that disintegrate and wash away dirt more easily. Compared to ordinary detergents, the mild variants don’t contain abrasives that might damage the filter’s membrane.

Baby shampoos, like Johnson & Johnson, are an example of mild detergents because of their gentle formulas. Liquid dishwashing soaps and detergents are also considered mild detergents, as well as liquid laundry detergents.

  • Bucket

The bucket is where you’ll soak your AC filter in mild detergent and water. Make sure that the bucket is large enough to fit your filter. Also, ensure that the bucket’s depth can submerge the filter in the soapy water fully.

You can find many cheap buckets in your local store. If you don’t have a bucket in your RV, you can use the kitchen sink. Just make sure to cover the sink plug hole to make a nice basin of soapy water.

  • Brush

A brush will remove any loosened dirt and grime accumulated in the filter after soaking. To protect the filter’s membrane, use a toothbrush. I like to use an old toothbrush because it’s small enough to get into the nooks and crooks of the filter.

When choosing a toothbrush, pick the softest you can find because you don’t want to damage the filter’s fibers. End-rounded bristles are typically designed to be gentle for brushing. Make sure that the handle is easy to grip so you can control the intensity while cleaning.

  • Hose

A hose will be used to rinse your filter after soaking and scrubbing. Most hoses come with a nozzle to control the water flow. They’re also easy to maneuver because they’re flexible to go around the corners.

If you don’t have a hose at home, you can use your detachable shower head to remove any soap residue. Showerheads usually have high-pressure water to rinse off any loose dust and grime. Between the rainfall and round showerheads, the latter offers a higher water pressure.

  • White Vinegar

Soap isn’t enough to clean your AC filter. You’ll need a stronger solution to kill the germs and other pathogens. One way to eliminate these nasties is to make a homemade antibacterial solution out of white vinegar.

Vinegar contains around 5% of acetic acid that destroys viruses and bacteria. Lactic acid changes the components of these germs and demolishes their cell structures. Research has found that vinegar can destroy a wide variety of household pathogens, including the flu virus.

  • Antibacterial Solution

If you like to be fancy, you can buy antibacterial solutions sold in can sprays. The best thing about these products is that they leave a wonderful scent on your AC unit. For example, the Frost King ACF19 Cleaner leaves a citrus scent while removing dirt and stains.

Another potent antibacterial solution is hydrogen peroxide. More specifically, a 3% hydrogen peroxide is effective enough to kill most bacteria and viruses. However, extra caution is required because this solution can cause damage to the skin and eyes when in contact.

  • Spray Bottle

The spray bottle will be used as a container for your vinegar solution. You can use any empty spray bottle in your RV or buy a new one. When choosing the best spray bottle for your vinegar solution, find one that’s heavy-duty and leak-proof.

As possible, look for a glass spray bottle because it can’t be eroded with vinegar. The nozzle should be strong, so it won’t leak. It’s also ideal to look for an adjustable nozzle so you can switch between a mist and stream spray.

Step-By-Step Instructions


1. Remove The AC Filter

Before you start anything, turn off your air conditioner unit and unplug it from the power source. Next, open the front grille and pull the filter out from the locking area. The filter may be placed differently depending on the model, so check your owner manual for correct instructions.

Remember, you can only do this cleaning regimen if your AC filter is permanent or washable. If not, then it’s better to replace the filter with a new one if it’s all worn out.

See how to take out the filter in a window AC model here.

2. Vacuum The Dust Away

Now, take the AC filter outside for cleaning. Get your vacuum cleaner and install the tube extension to suck all the dust and particles embedded in the filter. Too much suction might damage the screen, so use low-power suction.

Watch how to vacuum the AC filter here.

After this is done, if you think that the filter is already clean, put it back in the AC unit, as seen in the last step. If it’s still filthy, proceed to the next steps for deep cleaning.

3. Soak And Wash In Mild Detergent

In a large bucket, mix an adequate amount of mild detergent with warm water. Put the filter in the soapy water and soak it for 10-15 minutes or even more. The longer the soaking time, the better the cleaning performance.

After soaking the filter, scrub any remaining dirt deposits with a soft toothbrush. Follow it with a good rinse afterward.

4. Sanitize With A Vinegar Solution

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in your spray bottle. This vinegar solution will kill bacteria, mold, and other pathogens that might still exist in your AC filter.

Now spritz both sides of the filter with your vinegar solution or preferred antibacterial solution. Let the filter soak with the solution for about 15 minutes in a shady area. Finally, rinse clean with water.

5. Dry And Install The AC Filter Back

After rinsing, let the filter dry under the sun to help destroy bacteria and quicken the drying process. Drying time may take a few hours because the screen consists of thick, dense fibers.

Once fully dried, put the filter back in the AC unit. Simply slide the filter back into the locking area behind the front grille. Reconnect the power and enjoy cleaner, colder air inside your RV.


It’s important that you know how to clean RV air conditioner filter, so you can continue to enjoy cleaner air inside your RV. The steps are easy if you have the right materials. Generally, you have to clean your AC filter every two weeks.

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