Air conditioning return vent covers should be cleaned at least twice a year.
Air conditioner return vent covers, as their name implies, hide the return vents, which pull air into your air conditioner before it is redistributed throughout each room. Homeowners may have the ducts cleaned as part of their cooling system maintenance, but vent covers may be ignored. Dust and other debris that becomes caught in the narrow slats of the vent cover may eventually be forced into your home’s air system. Dust that makes its way into your air conditioning duct system not only irritates allergies, but it can also cause your cooling system to work harder, making it less energy-efficient.
Turn off your air conditioner at the breaker.
Vacuum as much dust, cobwebs and debris as possible from the vent cover slats. If your vacuum cleaner has attachments, such as a crevice tool, you may find them useful in this task.
Remove the screws that hold the vent cover in place, using a screwdriver, and set them aside. Gently pull the cover away from the wall. Some vent covers are held in by clips. If this is the case, lift or press the clip at the top and pull the vent cover up and out to release it from the holders at its base.
Fill your sink or tub with a solution of dish soap and hot water.
Immerse the vent cover in the soapy water and leave it to soak for about 20 minutes to loosen stubborn dust and grime.
Remove the cover from the water and scrub both sides with a damp cloth. Clean between the slats of the vent cover with a wet foam paintbrush.
Rinse the vent cover thoroughly with clean water and then set it on a clean towel to dry.
Set your hairdryer on its cool setting and blow air into the joints and crevices of the vent cover to dry up any moisture that may have pooled in the slats. This helps to prevent rust from forming later.
Reinstall the vent cover when it is fully dry.
Things You Will Need
- All-purpose cleaner
- Spray bottle
- Dish soap
- Foam paintbrush
- Do not use a stiff-bristled brush or scouring pad to clean your vent covers. These will scratch the finish, particularly if the vent cover is brass or lacquered.
- Avoid harsh or abrasive cleaners such as bleach or ammonia when cleaning your vent covers. These can damage the finish.