Bleach Or Vinegar To Clean AC Drain Line?

Air conditioners do a fantastic job at keeping us cooled down on hotter and more humid days. However, they can only work if you maintain them properly. One thing that you are going to need to pay special attention to is the AC drain line. The AC drain line is a simple component, but it is vital for your air conditioner’s proper functioning. If you don’t keep up to date with your cleaning, it will cause so many issues with your air conditioner. It may cause so many issues that you may end up with an air conditioner that needs to be replaced. Thankfully, with a bit of bleach or vinegar, cleaning that system is easy.

What is the Purpose of the AC Drain Line?

The purpose of the AC drain line is to allow any water inside the air conditioner to flow out of the system. This moisture is created when the coils inside of the air conditioner remove humidity from the air that is passing through it through the process of evaporation. There is a lot of water collected. It has to go somewhere, and that is the AC drain line. You do not want it pooling inside of the air conditioner itself. That will cause way too many problems.

Where is the AC Drain line Located?

The AC drain line runs to the outside of your home. The water is collected in the indoor unit and flows through the pipe to the outdoor unit, where it is eventually just ‘dumped’ outside. If you head to your outdoor air conditioner unit, look for either a plastic pipe or copper pipe. This is likely going to be the AC drain line. Of course, always double-check the manual for your air conditioner to be sure.

Why Cleaning AC Drain Line is Important

If you fail to clean your AC drain line, water will get trapped inside the air conditioner. This can lead to rust on the various components. This is going to cause long-damage. Your air conditioner won’t be able to function as well as it did in the past. Eventually, the air conditioner will stop working altogether.  In addition to this, not cleaning the AC drain line regularly can result in harmful bacteria being trapped in the system. Eventually, this could spread the harmful bacteria through your air circulation, which, of course, could make you very sick.

How Often should you Clean your AC Drain Line?

Ideally, you should clean your AC drain line every 30-days. It would help if you did this whether it appears to need cleaning or not. It isn’t a job that takes more than a few minutes, but it helps to save you thousands upon thousands of dollars in potential repair fees for your air conditioning system. 

How to Tell if your AC Drain Line Needs Cleaning

There are a few signs that your air conditioner’s drain line is in desperate need of a cleaning. Remember, the air conditioner line is not always going to be the cause for these issues. There may be other problems with the cooling system too:

  • Water damage to the air conditioner system
  • You have noticed water pooling around the indoor unit.
  • There is a moldy smell coming from anywhere within the air conditioner system
  • The air conditioner is not working.
  • The air conditioner is not cooling your home as effectively as it did in the past.

Remember, water damage to your system will likely need to be dealt with by a technician. The other problems can be solved by cleaning out your AC drain line. If that doesn’t work, then you know that there are issues elsewhere in the system. Thankfully, an air conditioner maintenance team will be able to diagnose these issues and sort them out for you. However, in most cases, it will be the drain line.

How to Clean AC Drain Line with Bleach

To clean your AC with bleach, you will need to ensure that any gunk within the AC has been removed first. You will need to use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner for this. If you regularly clean out your AC, then this is not a required step. The chances are that the gunk would not have built up to the point where it clogs the system. Mix up a solution of 50% warm water and 50% bleach. Ideally, you will want to end up with 3-4 cups of liquid. Some people use 2, but the more, the better. You should be using liquid bleach for this job. You mustn’t use gel bleach. It won’t flow through the system quite so easily, and it may even result in more blockages. Find the drain clean-out point on the inside unit of your air conditioning system. This will be in the manual, but it should be highlighted on the air conditioner too. Pour the warm water and bleach solution gently into the AC drain line. If the system has been thoroughly cleaned out, the water should flow through the AC drain line to the outside AC unit. If it does not, then you know that you have a problem.

How to Clean AC Drain Line with Vinegar

Cleaning an AC drain line with vinegar is not dissimilar to cleaning an AC drain line with bleach. First, you will need to open up the AC drain line ‘entrance’ on the interior unit and suck out all of the gunk with a wet/dry vacuum. If you do not know the AC drain line’s entrance point on your unit, you must consult the manual. Of course, make sure that you remove any filter that stands in your way first. Once you are sure that you have sucked out all of the gunk from the system, you will want to mix up a combination of 50% vinegar and 50% warm water. 3-4 cups is fine, but you may be able to get away with a little bit less if you regularly clean the system. Pour the solution slowly into the AC drain line. This should be the same place that you used the vacuum cleaner on. As the solution goes through the system, it should clear out any bacteria or gunk remaining. If the water does not flow through to the outside unit, you know that there is a serious blockage somewhere in the system that needs to be rectified.


If you want to ensure that your air conditioner unit remains in perfect working order, you must do regular maintenance. At least a couple of times per year, you will want to be pouring a bleach or vinegar solution into the AC drain line. This will help to remove any blockages. It will also help to ensure that any water inside of the system is not able to pool. This increases the lifespan of the air conditioner and helps to keep repair bills to the minimum.