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How to Get Smells Out of an Air Conditioner

When you power on your air conditioner on the first warm day of spring or summer, you may be greeted with an unpleasant smell. Air conditioners can have moisture buildup or other debris, which can result in some putrid odors that come through your air vents. Instead of enduring the bad odor all summer long, you can work on getting the smells out of your air conditioner.


  1. Put on some gloves and use a flashlight to try to peer into your air conditioner. If you have a window unit, you may have some dead rodents in the air conditioner. If you see anything, including leaves and debris, clean it out of the unit.
  2. Spray foam coil cleaner on any spots where you've cleaned out the air conditioner to remove bacteria. Let it set for 10 minutes before rinsing it off with water.
  3. Flush out the drain line with hot water and bleach, if you can access it. The location varies. Make sure you get the mixture into the drain pan, to clean it out as well.
  4. Replace or wash the air filters. Some units have filters that you can take out and wash with warm soapy water, while others require you to replace the filter with a new one.
  5. Spray the air conditioner with a disinfectant--such as Lysol or Febreze--if you can't access it to take it apart, such as with a window unit on a fifth floor apartment.

Things You Will Need

  • Gloves
  • Flashlight
  • Foam coil cleaner
  • Soapy water
  • Disinfectant

About the Author

Jamie Lisse has been writing professionally since 1997. She has published works with a number of online and print publishers. Her areas of expertise include finance and accounting, travel, entertainment, digital media and technology. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English.