The AC unit is one of the RV components that requires routine maintenance. When you have your RV serviced every 12 months as recommended, the AC is always included on the procedure checklists at RV service centers.
However, there might be times when you need to roll up your sleeves and do the work yourself. It could be that your air conditioner all of the sudden blows less cold air than usual or the air just doesn’t come out as cold. Or it could be because you or one of your visiting relatives suffer from respiratory health issues such as asthma or allergy, and you want to make sure the air filter is doing its job preventing dirt, smog, and allergens from polluting the air inside.
Whatever the case may be, RV air filters clogged with too much dirt and debris will work less efficiently. In these instances, instead of making an appointment with a professional, you can follow our guide on how to clean RV air conditioner filters.
So, let’s grab your screwdriver and get your cleaning products ready. This straightforward 4-step guide will tell you where and how to remove the AC filter, the proper ways to clean them, as well as when they are due for replacement.
Table of Contents
Before We Start
This section serves as a heads-up that this cleaning tutorial isn’t for the disposable filter. Single-use filters manufacturers recommend against washing and reusing the filters due to the loss of filtering function upon being degraded when washed. We can only imagine how bad it would be for our health if the air we are surrounded by is not filtered.
For this reason, make sure your AC filters are reusable air filters. You can do this by having a look at the AC’s user manual or contacting the RV dealer of your van. When certain, you can move on to prepare the tools required for this task.
What You Will Need
Cleaning the RV AC filter doesn’t require more than the things you can find around the house. The items listed below are essential for each of the steps.
- Screw container
- Vacuum cleaner
- Mild detergent, dish soap, vinegar, or citric acid
- Soft brush
- Cleaning cloth
- Cotton swab
RV Air Conditioner Filter Cleaning Steps
Step 1: Removing the filter
To start with, turn the air conditioner of your camper off. One should never clean the air filter while the AC’s on because dirt and particles will deposit on the AC evaporator coils as well as other internal parts, resulting in a malfunction of the system later on. You should disconnect the AC power supply just to be safe.
The following step varies depending on which model of AC is in use. If there are screws on the front panel, you are going to unscrew them to access the filters. This is where a container will come in handy so you won’t lose time finding the screws. If there is no screw, see if you can pry open the covering lid or slide it off sideways. The air filter is identifiable by its black color and mesh-like material. Just pop the filter out or unclip it and move on to the next step.
Step 2: Getting it vacuumed
Just like cleaning up a dusty tabletop, we carefully remove the dust first before applying any liquid. Use a vacuum cleaner to get all grit and debris out of the filter, but be careful not to damage the fragile filter with too much suction.
A related question that gets asked commonly is whether we can clean the filter without taking it off the AC. The answer is a no because doing so would lead to dirty particulates being discharged into the air since it’s harder to maneuver the vacuum cleaner.
After vacuuming your filter, the regular cleaning process is considered done, and you can proceed to put the filter back in place. However, keep in mind that a vacuum cannot suck all the dirt buildup out of your filter and a deep clean is more preferable in some cases. Follow step 3 to deep clean your filter.
Step 3: Deep cleaning
At this point, although the filter has been vacuumed, a good deal of particulates, and even organisms, are still attached to it. We’re going to try to clean all this nasty stuff by soaking the filter in a bucket of cleaning solution.
Here, there are several options to choose from, and the most common one is lukewarm water with either mild detergent or dish soap.
A mixture of one part vinegar and one part water also works. 34 fl oz of water mixed with 30g of citric acid is another option.
Leave your filter in for 15 minutes before scrubbing the now softened dirt off with a soft brush. However, if a solution of water and vinegar was used, you need to wait for up to one hour. Additionally, extra caution must be exercised to not use force so excessive that the mesh fibers are damaged.
Following this step, rinse the filter under the tap or hose it in your shower. A garden hose can also get the job done, but make sure not to use a pressurized hose nozzle or you might risk damaging your RV air conditioner filter.
Step 4: Dry and reinstall
By now, your filter has been cleaned and needs drying before putting back in. Cleaning the RV air conditioner exterior can be done while waiting for the filter to completely dry, which can take up to half an hour. Use a cleaning cloth to clean the air conditioner cover and a cotton swab to clean the crevices. When cleaned, pop the filter back into place and your spotless RV air conditioner is ready to be used again.
If your RV is equipped with a Dometic AC, the cleaning and installing steps are well illustrated in the following YouTube video which describes Dometic AC filter cleaning.
When Should You Get a New Filter?
The life cycle of an air conditioner filter lasts after 14000 miles, and every filter reaching this threshold no longer functions properly in terms of filtering. You should get a new one at your RV center after this road trip mileage or if there are holes in the filter upon inspection.
This simple tutorial has walked you through the steps on how to clean RV air conditioner filter. Was the article easy to follow and were you happy with what you learned? Please let us know in the comments below because we are on a mission to provide useful DIY knowledge to the RV owner communities.
We understand it can be a hassle to hire someone to inspect our van, especially for something as regular as cleaning the RV air conditioner filter. Knowing how to do this ourselves will definitely save money and time.
Also, if there is anyone you know who will benefit from the knowledge provided in this article, please share it with them. We would really appreciate you for doing so.