How to clean air vents | a step by step guide

August 4, 2023

How To Clean Air Vents | A Step by Step Guide

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Cleaning is a vital routine task for households. But, when it comes to cleaning, sweeping floors and dusting the furniture are not the only things to do.

There are many miscellaneous crucial tasks for maintaining a healthier and cleaner environment. Cleaning your air vents is one of them. The air vents conceal layers of dust and debris that become visible and affect indoor air quality.

People usually tend to overlook the importance of air vents in their homes. Vents filter the air they breathe and contribute to the quality of their life. Thus, missing out on cleaning the air vents is not the right to do. With time dirt, debris, and mold clog the vents hampering the ventilation.

If there is a suffocation feeling or allergies, that is probably due to the unclear air vents. It is the main reason you need to clean your air vents.

If you have no idea how to clean air vents, we have got you covered! We present here a comprehensive guide explaining each step of cleaning air vents efficiently. Here, you will also know when and how often to clean the air vents. The blog also informs you about the materials you need, why professional cleaning is more appropriate, and other details.

Ready to get started to clean your air vents? Take a read.

Key Essentials You Require For Cleaning Air Vents

HVAC or air conditioning vent cleaning is a tedious task, and you need professional help for that. Hiring technical experts is a great decision when it is time to clean them. They assure the best way to clean air vents in the ceiling to make your indoors healthier and smell-free. 

But, if you ever decide to clean air ducts and vents by yourself, we will guide you well. Before you learn how to clean air vents, find out what materials and equipment you need

1. Vacuum equipment

It is the first basic requirement to clean the dust and dirt inside and around the vents. A regular vacuum cleaner is usually insufficient for the job, and heavy-duty equipment is necessary. Also, you should ensure it has several attachments and a lengthy hose. It is essential to clean the hard-to-reach spots of the vents for the best results.

2. Scrub brush

You require a brush with a strong long handle and hard bristles. It cleans the air ducts and vents of your HVAC system.

3. Screwdriver

This is necessary to access the vents and ducts. Use the screwdriver to open the covers of the vents.

4. Soap

Prepare a soapy solution using water and soap. You will need it to remove the sticky dirt or grease in the vent covers.  

5. Broom and cloth rags

You get up to the ceiling to clean the air vents of your HVAC system. Keep a broom and some cloth rags handy to remove them from the vent covers before cleaning their insides.

6. Gloves and mask

Make sure to wear gloves and a mask before starting with the air vent cleaning procedure. It prevents you from catching allergens and experiencing breathing problems or irritations in the skin.

How to Clean Your Air Vents Efficiently? A Step-By-Step Process To Follow

To address the issues of dirty vents in your home, it's essential regularly inspect and maintain your HVAC system. While doing it all yourself seems a tiring task, it is better to hire commercial cleaning professionals. They know how to clean air vents efficiently!

They will clean air vents and ducts thoroughly, replace the clogged filters if needed, and check proper ventilation. Apart from cleaning, they also discover and rectify any issues within your HVAC system. They do it to affirm that the system operates efficiently and provides breathable air quality to your family.

There are certain steps with techniques on how to clean air vents in the ceiling, explained by HVAC experts. As professional cleaners, we mastered the steps. Whether you are cleaning air vents yourself or hiring professionals, these steps are a must to follow. 

Step 1: Turn off the system

Think about safety first. Whenever it is time to clean the air conditioning vents, turn off the HVAC system. Also, unplug the power cord of the system.

Keeping the system on or unplugged while cleaning can cause severe accidents or health hazards. To prevent that, unplugging is a supremely necessary step. 

Step 2: Thoroughly inspect the air ducts 

You need to check the HVAC system, by taking a close look at the insides. Qualified cleaners always do the inspection beforehand, which is a sign of their competency.

Being technicians in the field, they seek to identify leaks or any problems in the HVAC system before cleaning. If there are any issues found that need attention, they will report them to you. Immediately, you can get them repaired by the concerned electrical agency.  

The cleaners also do checking and inspections to understand the amount of dirt and debris build-up in the air vents. It allows them to decide whether they need special equipment or any exceptional cleaning solution to clean the dirt.

Sometimes, there is heavy mold build-up on the vents. In that case, the vents need delicate cleaning treatment outside with a garden hose or sprayer. They even may need to remove the grills of the vents to clean them.

If everything seems right after inspections, they are ready to start with the cleaning process. 

Even if you know how to clean air conditioning vents, ensure to take a close look at the HVAC system.

Step 3: Remove the vent covers carefully and clean them

The first step to cleaning the central air vents of your house is to remove the covers of the vents. Unscrew them and give a thorough brushing with the soft bristles dust broom for removing the loose dirt, cobwebs, and grime.

In case the vent covers look moderately clean and there’s no sticky filth on them, brushing is enough. But, if they look too dirty, cleaning them with a soap and water solution is the next thing to do.

There’s nothing to be fearful about using soap and water solutions to clean the covers. Here’s a brief explanation of how to clean air vent covers carefully without damaging them.

Prepare the soapy solution by mixing a mild dishwashing soap or a detergent in a bucket. Make sure to use warm water. Now, if the bucket is larger, you can submerge the vent cover to wash. Else, use a sponge or soft brush to wash away stubborn dirt, grime, or mold. 

While cleaning with the solution pay special attention to the grills and slats. It gets the most dust, including the four corners.

After a thorough cleaning, take the cover under running water and rinse it. The process ensures the cleaning of the cover and removes dirt and soapy residue. Repeat the same step for all vent covers. Allow them to air dry in an open space.

Step 4: Clean the air ducts 

It's time to proceed with the main part of your air vent, i.e., the ductwork, after completing the covers.
The first important thing for this step is to get a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner. If you are hiring professional cleaners for the job, they know how to clean ac air vents using it.

Before going for the ducts, take a long stem scrub brush, and go along the duct walls. It is useful for removing loose dust or dirt from the walls. Get the brush as far as you can reach inside the duct and clean it.

Once done it is time to use the vacuum cleaner. If you don’t have the heavy-duty one, then rent it for the purpose. Such a vacuum is necessary because it is stronger at sucking up dirt and debris from the air ducts. It hence helps in better cleaning them compared to a regular vacuum.

The process of deep cleaning the air ducts is a painstaking one. Clean the loose dirt with a long brush. And vacuuming the ducts reaching as deeper as possible inside is undeniably a tough job to handle.
It is also time-consuming for any novice person. That’s why we never really suggest you cleaning air ducts yourself. 

But, it is wise to know the phases involved in the deep cleaning of air ducts. It ensures the professionals are doing it right.

  • Ensuring the vents are clean: Look for any dirt, dust, or stuff stuck inside the duct.
  • Look at the return registers: Inspect the return registers and check if there's dust building up on them.
  • Time to replace the filter: Take out the air filter and give it a good look. If it's all shabby and coated with dust, just replace it with a new one.
  • Check the furnace: It is time to open the furnace and see if its components have dust on them. Clean them gently.

Step 5: Deep clean the vent walls and ceilings

You will agree this step is important if you know how to clean air vents thoroughly or deeply. It is necessary to maintain the efficiency of your HVAC system.

Using a damp cloth, wipe and clean along the vent walls and ceilings till you can reach them. It is even better to use a long stick and attach a damp cloth to it.

It will help you reach the vent walls. Ensure that you firmly fix the cloth and stick. Otherwise, you can imagine the headache you will get if by chance the cloth falls inside the air ducts while cleaning.

Remember this step is for removing any stubborn dirt or grime off the walls. Thus, before this step, dust the walls with a soft cloth or duster. Prepare a gentle solution of soap and water and dampen a cloth. Then start wiping down the walls and ceilings of the vents.

Slowly move the damp cloth around the vent walls. While pulling it back, sweep off the ceilings.

Knowing how to clean out air vent walls seems easy at first. But this step is challenging and physically tiring, which needs a lot of your arm’s strength. If you are confident of it, then only go for it. If not, leave this deep cleaning step of air vents walls to the professionals who will do it efficiently and quickly.

Moreover, doing this step is riskier without masks and eye cover. If you are doing it yourself, wear everything to prevent dirt or dust from getting into your eyes or mouth.

Step 6: Clean up your space and reset the vents

Well, we have come to the last step of our guide on how to clean an air vent!

When the vents, vent covers, and ductworks look clean, it is time to put vent covers in place. You can then turn on your HVAC system. This is also the clean-up step of the space, including floors, carpets, or furniture nearby the vents. They got dirty with the dust or debris that came out of the vents and ducts while cleaning. 

Get whatever household item you need for cleaning up the space. Clean up the floors, carpets, and other stuff using them to make your home pristine and hygienic once again.

After completing the clean-up, place the air vent covers back in their respective places, and you're done!

Wondering if professionals will help you with the final clean-up procedure after cleaning the air vents? Surely, they will. They know dusting, cleaning, and rearranging

your place after the deep cleaning of vents is equally backbreaking.

They will do the post-cleanup tasks to assure your home is dirt-free and hygienic. Their service is also helpful in giving you fine-working air vents that circulate quality air. 

When Is The Time To Clean Air Vents? 6 Crucial Signs To Take Hint From!

Air vents don’t easily show the dirt or dust that collects over them. It is hard to notice any difference in the vents of your air conditioners. You need to take a close look at them and see the formation of rings around them. 

However, there are many simple ways to find out your HVAC condition and its vents. HVAC is the core system for circulating air between indoors and outside in homes. It requires maintenance for optimal performance.

Cleaning the air vents of your HVAC is one of the essential maintenance tasks you should do frequently. But, more appropriately, if you notice any of these situations, it’s time to clean the vents.

1. Inconsistent airflow

The first and major sign you should know if your air vents need cleaning is the irregularity of the airflow. If the room is colder than others, even after all vents are open or vice-versa, it is a problem.

When thick layers of dirt or dust build up in the air duct, such instability in the air flow happens.

2. Poor air quality

Inevitably, unclean or dirty air vents will make the indoor air quality poor and unhygienic. Dirt, debris, and other particles make vents their home if not cleaned. Naturally, the quality of air that the vents circulate deteriorates for this reason. It’s a sign to clean them immediately.

3. Rise in the power bill

Experiencing an unexpected spike in electricity bills these days? An HVAC system that works at its full potential efficiently helps to keep a check on your power bill. An unexpected rise in your bill is a hint that ducts are dirty and vents are not working properly. 

4. Unpleasant odors

A common telltale sign to know it’s time to clean the vents is awful odors. If you experience some foul odors for a consistent period, it is probably coming from the dirty air ducts. Check it out with the help of a technician, and you will know the reason.

5. Dust accumulates everywhere quickly

When you continuously notice that your vents get dusty even after frequent cleaning, take it as a sign. The air ducts of the HVAC system eventually direct the dirt and debris they collect to your surfaces. Getting them cleaned is the only solution!

6. Mold growth

Dust, mold, or mildew has serious health effects. They produce dust mites or antigens that cause allergic reactions or respiratory problems. Whenever you discover mold growth in and around the HVAC system or vent covers, you rightly know what to do. It is especially a common reason for households in wet or humid regions, to clean air vents frequently.

How long does it take to clean air vents?

By looking at the entire procedure, you may be wondering how long does it take to clean your air vents?
It can take either an hour or a half of the day, depending on the condition of the air vents.

However, a standard air vent cleaning process typically takes around 2-3 hours. It’s time professionals take to clean various parts of the HVAC system, vents in every room, and the air ducts.

Best Practices Or Tips To Follow While Cleaning Air Vents

Now you understand well how to clean air exchanger vents. Here are a few expert DIY tips to keep the vents cleaner for a longer time.

  • Every time you clean your floor or house, clean the vent covers with a microfiber dusting cloth or a vacuum.
  • Call the technician and replace the air filter frequently, typically every 1-3 months. Changing the filters ensures the vents and ducts do not trap dirt particulates and hamper the HVAC system’s performance.
  • Some HVAC system contractors provide an air cleaner that helps to trap more contaminants faster. If you have it, make sure to use it for your system.

What Makes Air Vents Dirtier? 

Air vents are the basic components of your HVAC system that works as its front doors. Firstly, they protect the ductwork of your home from infestations. Secondly, they ensure that the quality of air circulating through your home is good, and temperature-regulated. 

Several reasons make air vents dirty. They hinder the vents to perform these basic functions and ensure a healthier environment inside your home. Some of the most probable reasons are as follows:

• Accumulation of dirt or dust in the vents:

It occurs when you do not maintain and clean the air vents often. Dirt or dust hinders the airflow in the ducts, leading to reduced efficiency of the HVAC system. The dirt or dust also can potentially spread contaminants and allergens in the home. It can even cause health problems for you or other family members.

• Clogging of HVAC filter: 

This one is a serious reason behind your dirty air vents! The air filters are an essential component of the HVAC system. It traps dust, pollen, and other particles from entering the ducts.

When you don’t clean them regularly or replace them, they get clogged. This strains the system and can even cause its breakdown.

• Mold growth: 

The HVAC system also traps moisture from the air. It results in mold growth and makes the vents dirtier and smelly. That’s why you should know how to clean vents at regular intervals.

If you do not clean, the molds may spread across the air ducts and start circulating throughout your home. It makes the air unhygienic for breathing. 

• Improper position of the vents: 

This is a common reason that most vents remain dirty. The ceilings position them, which is not within the hands' reach. Households therefore usually skip the cleaning of vents while doing all other essential cleaning duties every day.

To clean they need stairs and also a helping hand. Doing it alone is also not possible. This is why we recommend hiring expert cleaners from a professional agency for the job! 

• Inappropriately-sized HVAC system: 

When the size of your HVAC system is inappropriate, you struggle a lot in cleaning its vents. They may be more in number, so you prefer to clean them less frequently. That makes them dirtier day by day.

Now you know why your air vents are getting dirtier? Waste no more time and hire technical cleaning experts. They know how to clean air vents like a pro quickly and efficiently!

How Often Do You Need To Clean Your Air Vents? 

By now you know all the steps of how to clean air conditioner vents meticulously. The next question that pops into your mind is – how often do clean air vents?

Cleaning the air vents is undeniably a physically-intensive and time-consuming. Most households tend to do it at the time when thick layers of dirt or grime build up on vents. It is the time when it becomes visible and air quality significantly declines.

In such a situation, they require deep cleaning of vents, and hiring professionals from a local agency is ideal for that.

However, considering the contribution of air vents in our everyday life, it is necessary to keep them sparkling clean. Furthermore, it is the only way to ensure your vent system is working efficiently. It ensures the air is breathable and hygienic around you.

If you do deep cleaning every 2-3 years or after a more time gap, the contaminants and dust accumulate on vents. They will then circulate all through the air ducts. They build up layers of dirt on vent covers and even blow them out into your home. This can cause serious health impacts on any kids or any members with asthmatic or allergic tendencies.

To maintain supreme quality indoor air and ensure the safety of your family members, frequent cleaning of air vents is necessary. Ideally, you should do it once or twice a year to ensure cleaner and healthier air circulates through your home. We suggest adding the task of vent cleaning to every spring and fall cleaning season. Contact your nearest cleaning experts for that!  

In case you have pets at your home, your air vents get dirtier with dander build-up on the covers. In that case, you need cleaning more often. If you know how to clean dirty air vents and are confident about it, then do it frequently by yourself. However, hire professionals 1-2 times a year for deep cleaning.

How To Ensure Your Air Vents Remain Clean For Longer Time?

Cleaning air vents annually is the most economical and rational decision! But, for ensuring high-quality indoor air all through the year, you also need maintenance activities in between annual cleanings. 

Maintenance practices are necessary to keep your air vents cleaner and more efficient for a longer time. There are only two vital practices that are enough to keep the vents dirt-free.

1. Changing air filters frequently

The air filters are the doors of your HVAC system. They trap dust, airborne particles, dander, and debris to prevent them from entering the ductwork and circulating in your indoor air. Thus, be sure to replace the filters frequently! You may require changing them more than 1-2 times a year if you have pets or someone prone to allergies.

2. Keeping home sparkling clean

The dirtier you homer, the more layers of dirt or grime your vents will catch. This will also make your vents clogged and make the HVAC system function inefficiently. To limit the amount of dust and debris in the air vents, regularly clean your home by dusting and vacuuming.

Why It Is Necessary To Clean Air Vents Regularly?

Air vents play a significant role in every home. They circulate the air from the HVAC system to all areas and rooms of the house. It maintains a regulated and comfortable atmosphere all through the year.

Keeping the vents unclean will result in the accumulation of dust particles, debris, pollen, dander, etc., in the ducts. When you turn on the HVAC system, these spread through the air and can cause potential health damage to your family.

Let us tell you the importance of cleaning vents regularly or more often.

• Enhanced indoor air quality 

By cleaning the vents regularly, you prevent the ducts of the HVAC system to pull contaminants. Thus, the air you and your family members breathe in remains clean and hygienic.

The cleaner air ensures to not trigger any breathing problems coughs, sneezing, suffocation, or bronchial congestion in your family members.

• Boosts the HVAC system’s efficiency

You also should learn how to clean central air vents as it helps maintain the efficiency of your HVAC system. It will work smoothly to circulate hot or cold air accordingly.

An efficient HVAC system also consumes less power and hence, saves your electricity bills.

• Prevents awful donors

Terrible smells circulate within the indoor air from food, cooking, cleaning agents, paints, mildew, and tobacco. You need to know how to clean air vents to prevent trapping any odors in the ducts. Dirty vents make these odors come out as stale and terrible stinks and circulate throughout the home. This is also a reason you should know how to clean kitchen air vents regularly.

Room fresheners cannot help to get rid of such stinking odors. It can also trigger a feeling of nausea and vomiting.

• Ensures home safety

Dirty ducts can cause major accidents like fire. When particles like dirt and lint stay in the ducts for a long time, they may heat up. When they heat up to a great extent, they can ignite the fire and put everyone’s life at risk.

This is perhaps the most crucial reason to learn how to clean air vents in ceilings regularly. The best reason is to get professionals to do it.

When To Call and Hire A Professional Cleaning Agency? 

Thinking whether it is time for you to call and hire a professional cleaning company to get your vents cleaned?

Well, our comprehensive process of how to clean ac vents has made you think to delegate this job to the specialists. Dirty vents in your home are neither going to comfort your family members nor save you money. Have you noticed layers of dust, black spots of mold growth, or a musty smell all around the house? It is time to contact the professionals.

Also, you need to call professionals frequently for air duct maintenance. Cleaning inside the ductwork is never your job and is also riskier for a non-skilled person. Air duct cleaning becomes necessary, especially after renovation and repair works in the home. It is the time when lots of debris and dust accumulate in the ductwork.

 Having a team of experienced staff to clean your air vents is beneficial for the following reasons.

1. Professional grade cleaning

The staff will assure comprehensive air vent cleaning with specialized cleaning supplies and tools.

2. Takes care of your HVAC system

They also inspect your entire HVAC system for any issues. Thus, entrusting the task to professionals helps you prevent expensive repairs and maintenance costs in the future.

3. Saves your money

Spending money by hiring professionals might appear to be an upfront investment. But it saves you money in the long run. You save on your power bills as well as prevent costly repairs.

Call The Professionals Of Sterling Cleaning Services To Get Rid Of Dirty Vents!

Cleaning your air conditioning vents and ducts by yourself needs a lot of hard work plus your time. Also, you need to spend money on renting special equipment such as a high-grade vacuum. This step-by-step guide on how to clean air vents is helpful if you do it yourself.

However, we won’t recommend that. Leaving the job to some of the best professional cleaners is the best decision for you!

When you hire professionals, they do thorough cleaning while examining that the vents and ducts are working efficiently. They use specialized equipment for deep cleaning and making the vent covers look sparkling clean and new.

Their rigorous cleaning process will also ensure that you would not have to clean the vents again sooner. So, that saves up time, and money too. Think about it!   

If your air vents need cleaning now, Sterling Cleaning Services is here to help. Contact our experts and we’ll schedule a team of trained cleaners. They go to your home and clean its air vents outstandingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What happens if you don't clean your air vents? 

Keeping the air vents and ducts dirty in your home can cause several health problems for you and your family members. Household dust mites, and pet dander, are especially common things accumulating on the dirty vents of the home. When the dust and allergens get stuck inside the vents, they cause allergies, breathing trouble, and some extreme cases.

To prevent all these, ensure to know how to clean dusty air vents periodically and maintain a healthier environment.

2. How much does it cost to get air vents cleaned?

The cost of cleaning air vents of the HVAC in the USA ranges between $25 and $50 per vent. Thus, the average price to clean per vent is $35. This will help you in calculating the total cost of cleaning the vents in your place. Multiply the number of vents in your HVAC system and estimate the cost.

The costs of vent cleaning also depend on factors such as the air ducts' condition, vent accessibility, and number of vents.

3. What is the best method for air vent cleaning? 

There are preferably 3 methods for air vent cleaning – air sweep or power vacuuming method, mechanical agitation, and negative pressure. Experts consider negative pressure as the best way to do air vent cleaning. It prevents the fly-away of dirt and debris into the air while cleaning.

In this method, it is necessary to spray an antimicrobial mis. It prevents re-contamination and prevents further build-up of dust.

Air sweep is the most thorough and expensive method of cleaning an air duct cleaning. It uses a high-power vacuum cleaner. Mechanical agitation requires a cleaning method consists that breaks contaminants from the duct.

All of the methods are challenging and hence, it is best to hire cleaning experts!

4. What if you find mold during your air vent cleaning?

Mold spreads through tiny particles or spores, which can cause allergies and other respiratory problems. Discovering mold in vents indicates a big problem that requires fixing. Did you notice mold growth in your air vents? Calling a professional cleaning agency to clean them is the right thing to do.

5. How do you clean interior air vents?

To clean the interior of the vents, follow these steps.

  • Turn off your air conditioning unit.
  • Remove the grilles of the air conditioner vents by unscrewing them one by one.
  • Clean the grilles with warm soapy water and a soft brush.
  • Let the grilles dry completely.
  • Use a strong vacuum to clean inside the ducts wearing gloves and masks to remove dust and dirt.

6. Should I hire professional cleaners to clean air vents?

Hiring a professional cleaning agency in the USA to clean air vents is a beneficial choice for several reasons. It provides you with trained cleaners who have expertise and knowledge in such challenging jobs. They use specialized equipment to methodically clean the air vents and ensure healthy indoor air quality. Here are the reasons why you should consider hiring a professional cleaning company for vent cleaning.

  • Ensures efficient and thorough cleaning of air vents that keep them dirt free for a long time.
  • Prevents damaging the vents, ducts, or duct components of the HVAC system while cleaning.
  • Saves up your time, which you can spend on other productive household chores or leisure activities.
  • Thoroughly inspects the ducts and components of the HVAC system to discover if there is any potential issue. So, you can address them immediately!

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