How To Clean Air Conditioner Coils With Vinegar

Vinegar is considered an excellent home cleaner for AC coils. You can use it as a DIY cleaner by diluting it with the right amount of water. It can remove dust and light layers of gunk.

Other cleaning agents like soap or dishwashing detergent can also be added to strengthen the effect. Clean your AC coils regularly to avoid developing thick layers of dirt.

Let’s admit it: cleaning the air conditioner coil is not an exciting task to do. Opening the AC system and getting dust and gunks out of it can be quite a frustrating experience.

Still, cleaning your AC coils is an essential part of owning an AC. There are a handful of reasons why you should take the time to clean these components. 

Importance Of Cleaning Air Conditioner Coils

AC units use two kinds of coils to function successfully. The condenser coil is located on the AC’s outer part, while the evaporator coil is facing indoors. During the operation, the evaporator coil will produce condensation.

Consendated particles will accumulate in an area and turn into a water pool. This water should not be a problem. A component called the drain line collects it and flushes it automatically. 

However, since dust and other particles get into the evaporator coil, some dirt layers will develop over time. When this happens, a clog can prevent the water from exiting the system.

The clog does not only make your system very inefficient, but it also increases energy consumption. Cleaning your AC coils does not only keep your AC functioning. It also makes your unit last longer. 

How To Tell If Your AC Coils Need Cleaning?

There are three tell-tale signs that your AC coils need a bit of cleaning. Unfortunately, all of these signs are more apparent in the long-term.

  • The AC System malfunctions quite a lot in recent weeks. 
  • Higher electricity bills compared to previous months.
  • The air from the AC is not as cool as it used to be. 

Take note: the signs mentioned above might also be due to other factors. But before you focus on other components, checking your AC coils is worth the try. If the problem is dirt and dust built-up, all you have to do is to clean it. 

How Often Should Evaporator Coils Be Cleaned?

The primary function of the evaporator coil is to absorb heat from the air. While this is happening in the background, the water vapor causes condensation. The drain line releases all the water that forms from accumulated water vapors. 

During the colder times of the year, most people use the heater or nothing at all. Dirt buildup happens during those times when people do not use the evaporator coil. 

Hence, the best time to clean your evaporator coil is during the start of every season. For busy people, once a year should be enough. If you don’t have any AC coil cleaners at home, you can make your DIY solution. The most important part is to replace your air filters regularly. 

Can You Use Vinegar To Clean AC Coils?

Using a cooking material in cleaning your AC component might sound like a ridiculous idea. However, vinegar is known for its cleaning properties. It contains what you call “acetic acid,” which is a kind of cleaner and disinfectant. By applying vinegar to the drain line, you can remove any developing mold or dust.

Vinegar is one of the most popular alternatives used in cleaning AC coils. It also doesn’t affect or harm the other parts of AC. Unfortunately, due to its properties, the vinegar smell will waft throughout the room after cleaning. 

If you want to avoid this scenario, you can instead schedule your cleaning during a warm day. During the operation, the water collected and released via the drain line will help in rinsing the vinegar. Over time, the smell is minimized until it’s completely gone. 

Where Do You Pour Vinegar In Your Air Conditioner?

Most people don’t pour the vinegar in their AC coil. Instead, they use sprayers since it’s easier to control and leaves fewer things to clean. Spray bottles are also very versatile. It can coat an area properly, even if the location is a lot trickier to reach. 

Pouring the vinegar in the air conditioner can also do the job, but you might want only to use this method in the drain line.

First, you have to make sure that the whole system is turned off. This means that even the thermostat and the breaker are not running. Find the opening of your drain line, and carefully pour the vinegar on it. 

How Much Vinegar Does It Take To Pour Down An AC Drain?

The amount of vinegar needed in the solution depends on the size and the container. The rule of thumb is half-vinegar, half water. If you’re using a spray bottle, don’t forget to dilute the vinegar. Some users add baking soda to the mixture to create a foaming effect, which helps clean away dirt. 

However, if you’re going to pour vinegar directly into the drain lines, there is a slight difference in method. For better results and to avoid liquid overflow, you should remove some of the clogs manually if you can.

Measure about a quarter cup of vinegar, and pour it directly to the drain line. No need to drain, as the water from the condensation will rinse the vinegar automatically. 

How Often Should You Put Vinegar In Your Air Conditioner?

Vinegar does work effectively in cleaning AC coils. But unfortunately, it doesn’t have the long-lasting effect of other products in the market. If you’re using vinegar for your cleanup, the recommended cleaning schedule is at least once a month. 

Eventually, the evaporator coil will be deemed worn out and would require replacement. Once the coil is degraded enough, no amount of cleaning will bring it back to life.

You might want to consider calling for help from an HVAC professional since replacing the evaporator coil includes handling the refrigerant. 

How To Clean Air Conditioner Coils With Vinegar?

Cleaning your AC coil with vinegar is relatively easy.

  • After mixing half-half of water and white vinegar, add this solution to any spray bottle available.
  • Add a few drops of detergent if you want to have a bit of foam to the solution. 
  • You might want to lessen the dirt from the evaporator coil before spraying the vinegar into it.
  • Leave it for a bit, so the vinegar can penetrate the gunk layer and loosen it up. 
  • Use a soft-bristle brush to remove the buildup.
  • If something a layer is too touch to remove, spray more vinegar mixture to the surface.
  • Get a second bottle, fill it with half-half water and vinegar, and spray to rinse. 


When it comes to HVAC components, prevention will always be better than the cure. Make AC coil cleaning a habit to reduce any inconveniences from dirty AC coils.

Home remedies are great if you don’t have any available supplies for cleaning. Clean your evaporator coil at least once a year. Condenser coils often require cleaning on an “as needed” basis. 

Vinegar is a safe and effective cleaning agent that you can use for A/C coils. It is cheap, reliable, and readily available. Before using vinegar, do note that it can make your whole room smell acidic and unpleasant for a while.