How to Clean Soft, Flexible Air Conditioning Ducts

While traditional ductwork is made from steel or aluminum, flexible ducts are made from PVC or plastic. They are installed in homes and businesses, and are used to transport air from the cooling unit to rooms throughout the building. While duct cleaning companies do not typically clean these flexible ducts, homeowners can perform this task themselves using simple tools and techniques.

  1. Turn off the power to any units that are connected to the ducts. If you are unsure how to do this, simply turn off the power to these units at your electrical panel.

  2. Remove the tape or clamps that are holding the ducts in place. Carry each unit outside very carefully and shake it clean to remove dirt and dust.

  3. Clean dirt and debris from inside of each dust using a very soft duster. Be careful not to puncture the sides of the duct, as they are often made from fairly delicate materials.

  4. Vacuum the area where the ducts connect to cooling units or supply grills. Use a small attachment on your vacuum to remove all dirt and dust from these areas. You may also wish to wipe the supply grills with a damp rag or sponge to remove surface dirt.

  5. Reattach the ducts to the cooling unit and fasten them in place with foil tape or metal clamps. Make sure the ducts are secure, then repeat this process to secure each duct to supply grills or other outlets as necessary.

  6. Dust the outside of each duct using a soft feather duster. If your ducts have a PVC coating, you may also wipe them down with a rag or sponge and any regular household cleanser.

  7. Consider replacing flexible ducts instead of cleaning them. These units are very inexpensive, and are difficult to remove and replace without damage. Check prices at your local home improvement store if you need help making this decision.

About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.