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Everyone loves the cool breeze from the air conditioner but what if you find it difficult to breathe suddenly? This is because there might be mold growing on your air conditioner which emits a musty smell, leading to various health issues. I myself have been a victim of some serious headaches caused by this mold but as soon as I cleaned it, not just my A/C but even I felt refreshed.
That is why today I will be guiding you in cleaning window air conditioner mold. And you don’t need to be extremely skilled for something like this—if a normal person like me could do it, then so can you!
What Are the Requirements?
Cleaning mold is simple and cost-friendly. Here are the things you should have/buy:
- Facemask: You wouldn’t want to inhale more mold, do you?
- Eyewear: There are chances of mold entering your eye. To avoid irritation, mandatorily wear this.
- Gloves: Sure, you can clean it without wearing gloves, but mold feels disgusting. I bet anyone wouldn’t want to touch it.
- Screwdriver: There will be mold inside the air conditioner. You’ll need to dismantle the appliance to give it a thorough cleaning.
- Scrub: Mold won’t come off with just one wipe. It requires some repeated scrubbing.
- Vacuum: This isn’t always necessary but if you think that the mold is growing in a particular place that cannot be manually cleaned, then a vacuum cleaner with the necessary settings can be used to suck it out.
- Detergent Liquid: You have to mix this with water to clean the mold. Do not use strong detergent because it can mess up the air conditioner.
- Bucket: Well, it will definitely come in handy to hold the gallons of hot water to clean the mold.
- Ventilation: Make sure the windows and doors of the room are open while you’re cleaning the mold. If you clean it in a confined room, it will cause irritation and the dust spores will remain inside the same room.
- Room spray: Once all the cleaning is done, a fragrant room spray will make the room smell as good as new.
General Steps to Clean Window Air Conditioner Mold
1. First and Foremost
You’ll first need to unplug the air conditioner and wear the mask, gloves, and eyewear before getting rid of the mold. To avoid toxic air, open all the doors and windows.
2. Remove the Front Body Grille and Filter
You can usually achieve this by moving the grille forward and then lowering it slightly. You may have to unscrew it first and then you have to remove the filter.
Most of the filters are washable and so you can clean them with water and washing detergent.
How to clean the filter?
Simply run hot/cold water through the sink and put the filter in. The force of the water will push away most of the dirt. Then allow the filter to soak for about 15 minutes and after that, clean both sides of its sides thoroughly.
Finally, run clean water through the filter once again. Make sure you then wipe the filter with a fresh towel, thoroughly after washing it or you can simply keep it somewhere to dry.
3. Remove the Metal Lid of the AC and Vacuum the Interior
The metal lid would be hidden behind the front body grille of the air conditioner and you can easily use a screwdriver to remove it.
Now moving on to the fun part, vacuum sucking! Make sure you have all the necessary hose attachments that will work fine for this small process. Slowly suck out the dirt from the interiors but don’t allow too much vacuum force. A partially strong setting is enough.
4. Make the Cleaning Solution and Wipe the Moldy Spots!
Take your bucket and fill it with hot water along with a detergent liquid. Check if the water is way too hot before putting your hand in.
Then soak the scrub in the liquid cleanser and scrub the moldy parts of your air conditioner carefully without messing with any wires or parts. If the front grille is particularly filthy, make sure to properly clean it. Scrub! Scrub! Scrub!
Allow the cleaning solution about 10 minutes to do its job before wiping it away with a clean cloth. You should be able to eliminate the rest of the moldy growth this way.
5. Let Everything Dry, Then Reassemble Them
Make sure the body, the filter, the metal components, and the grille are all dry. By leaving any moisture inside, you don’t want to encourage the next round of mold development. Reassemble your air conditioner once everything has dried out.
Voila! You’re all done and now you can plug in your AC and enjoy the clean, cool breeze.
Step-By-Step Tutorial On Cleaning Window Air Conditioner Mold- 2 Ways
This step-by-step guide will help you learn how to clean window air conditioner mold in two ways: without removing it from the windowsill and after removing it from the windowsill.
1. Cleaning the Air Conditioner without Removing It from the Window
STEP 1– Pull out the front grille:
The first step towards cleaning your window air conditioner is taking out the front grille. See if you need a screwdriver to unscrew it from its place or if it can be easily pulled out.
STEP 2– Use an air compressor to clean the filter:
Use a small high-pressure air compressor to blow off all the dirt in the air filter. This is an optional step that will help you clean your air conditioner better.
STEP 3– Mix bleach with dish soap to clean mold:
Create a mixture with ½ cup bleach, 1 big spoon of dish soap, and some gallons of hot water. Spray it all over the window AC to remove mold stains outside and inside.
STEP 4– Don’t bend the aluminum/copper coils:
Make sure that the aluminum or copper coils covering the air filter remain in the same state/shape. Bending them would likely result in damaging the unit.
STEP 5– Clean the unit from the back to finish:
For the final cleaning, use a garden hose to blow water over the back. Once done, use the air compressor to speed up the drying process. Let the window air conditioner air dry for a period of 24-48 hours to dry properly before using it again.
2. Cleaning the Air Conditioner after Removing It from the Window
STEP 1– Take out the front grille:
Unplug the air conditioner and remove it from the windowsill with someone’s help. Then, take out the front grille carefully.
STEP 2– Remove the air filter:
The second step is removing the air filter inside the unit. You can reuse the air filter after giving it a nice wash but if the mold is too much then you should probably buy a new filter.
STEP 3– Dismantle the unit for vacuuming:
Carefully unscrew and take out all the removable pieces like the styrofoam, the metal sheet, and the air fan for soaking. Now take the air vacuum and blow out any debris inside or at the bottom of the unit to ensure that there’s no dirt remaining for the mold to multiply again.
STEP 4– Soak the unit pieces in hot water and bleach:
The best way to go about removing the mold is to mix about ½ cup of bleach, 1 teaspoon of dish soap, and 3 to 4 gallons of hot water. Use a scrubbing sponge to scrub off all the mold using this liquid.
Finish the process with a gardening hose to ensure all the bleach is washed off.
STEP 5– Reassemble the air conditioner:
Make sure to leave the unit to air dry overnight or up to 24 hours so it’s well dried and without any mold or mildew stains. After that, fit all the removed parts back and screw the front grille back to secure the air conditioner as it was before. And voila, you’re done!
Prevention and Maintenance Against Mold
Now that we figured out a way to clean window AC mold, we should also try to avoid it. If you don’t actively try to control it from growing, then you’ll have a big mess on your hands.
There are no guarantees that despite your best efforts, mold growth will stop, but what’s the harm in trying, right? But if you take these precautions, you can avoid extra labor.
Here are some ways to prevent the growth of mold in your air conditioners and maintain them for the best service.
1. Keep the Air Conditioner On for a Long Time
I understand you will find this unrealistic because who’ll want to pay a hefty electricity bill? However, keeping your air conditioner on (even if you’re not home) can help prevent mold growth. Yes, it will.
When your air conditioner is turned off, moisture will quickly accumulate inside your home. The temperature inside may rise, and the air will get stale. All of these conditions encourage mold development, but keeping your air conditioner on can prevent mold growth.
2. Install a UV filter and Remove Any Organic Sources of Mold from Your Home
Mold spores can be controlled using a UV filter in an HVAC system. It traps and destroys allergens using UV light and a high-end filter. As a result, a UV filter can come to the aid of allergy and asthma patients by killing germs and mold spores in the air.
Also, mold may develop on a variety of substrates, including dust. As a result, you should vacuum regularly to remove dirt and organic compounds from your carpet as well as other locations or things in your home where these tiny particles might attach.
3. Repair Any Water Leaks
Mold can form as a result of water leaks. In fact, water is the most basic component which can lead to a mold infestation in your house. If you have the skills, you can fix it yourself but I will suggest you take some rest and allow a plumber to fix it.
During quarantine, you might want to find a way to kill time and yes you can learn plumbing with the necessary equipment. But there are chances that you’ll mess it up (can happen to the best of us!).
So hire a reputable plumber to repair all of your home’s leaks. Mold may grow even in the tiniest of water breaches!
4. Use an Air Conditioner with a Humidity Control Feature
It’s not always about the air conditioner brand, it’s more about the features and settings. So, if you’re in the market for a new air conditioner, be sure it has humidity control, or if you already own one, make use of it.
This feature enables your air conditioner to remove moisture from your house.
5. Regular Cleaning of the Air Filter and Front Grille
You should regularly check up on your air conditioner and wipe even the tiniest spot of dust before it worsens. Your AC filter will eventually accumulate enough dust and grime to become a breeding ground for mold. So, maintain it regularly.
If you live in humid areas, then it’s best to do clean it once/twice a month.
Pro tip: In our personal opinion, covering the exterior of your window air conditioner with a cloth/plastic wrap or a tarp might be a good choice when you’re not using it for a while. This will ensure that dust particles and moisture do not find a way in there.
How bad is the growth of mold for our health?
According to the CDC, mold can emit spores that we unintentionally inhale. This can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye discomfort, etc. People with weakened immune systems or persistent lung diseases may get severe infections in their lungs.
Even my dust allergy got out of hand because of mold and I experienced skin irritation. Thankfully as soon as I was aware of its growth, I wiped it clean right away.
Though mold in the air conditioner is said to be not that dangerous, it can become worse when the unit is turned on for the whole day. Imagine invisible mold spores spreading throughout your room along with the cool air? You will never be able to figure it out but will start suffering from health issues.
How can you identify if your air conditioner has mold?
Humidity, moisture, and other factors like keeping your ACs unused for a long while can cause mold to grow in them, which further leads to health hazards.
A musty smell is the leading indicator of the fact that there may be mold in your window air conditioners. You can always double-check by turning off the AC to see if the smell leaves or if the AC is, in fact, the problem.
Growing in humid areas with a damp environment, mold is very similar in texture to dirt and can be brown, black, or green. It can also be in the fungal stage of grey mildew with a fuzzy texture covering the inside of your unit.
Once you’ve found the evidence of mold in your window air conditioners, the next step follows, which is preparing to remove the mold.
Is window air conditioner mold really dangerous if not cleaned and removed?
You might not know this, but many places in your house are prone to mold growth, for instance, the bathroom or the basement, if not cleaned properly. That said, window AC r mold can be really dangerous as it directly affects air quality and inhalation.
Mold-sensitive people find it hard to breathe under such circumstances and can experience various symptoms like running nose, red eyes, and skin rash if they come in contact with it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been very detailed in their warning against living in a home with mold. The time and intensity of exposure are two factors that drive health hazards wherever mold growth is concerned. So, if you are living in humid areas and haven’t had a chance to clean your window ACs, now is the time to take some action!
Chase away the musty smell and make sure that the air you inhale is clean, fresh, and healthy without spending a pretty penny on it! Follow the mold cleaning tutorial above on how to clean window air conditioner mold at home and say goodbye to any possible health hazards.
Mold is dangerous whether it is in your air conditioner or somewhere in your home. I suggest you call some professional service and clean your home to look spotless once or twice a year.
The reason why an expert is required is that they’ll be able to inspect your air conditioner for duct leaks and other reasons behind it. Remember spending your money on these causes is worth it! I hope you found this guide helpful and happy cleaning!