How to Remove Odors From a Room Air Conditioner

Room air conditioners, or window units, grow mold and mildew when the condensate water does not drain from the unit. The stagnate water produces offensive odors and unhealthy air quality conditions. A room air conditioner unit's air filter also causes odors when it is not cleaned or replaced on a regular basis. The most effective way to remove odors from a room air conditioner is to thoroughly clean the unit and allow the interior to completely dry.

  1. Pull the air filter from the room air conditioner. Wash the filter under a stream of hot water in the bathtub. Set the filter aside to dry.

  2. Remove the room air conditioner unit from the window. Set the unit outdoors on a solid flat surface such as concrete or asphalt pavement.

  3. Access the interior of the air conditioner by removing the screws that hold the metal cover over the unit. Follow the manufacturer's maintenance instructions for screw locations. Collect the screws and set them aside so you will not lose the parts.

  4. Connect the garden hose, with the sprayer attachment on the working end of the hose, to a water source. Wash the two coils down with a stream of water, holding the nozzle 8 to 10 inches away from the coils. Spray in a downward fashion to remove all errant debris from the aluminum coils.

  5. Pour concentrated household liquid detergent into the hand sprayer. Soap down all visible parts of the air conditioner. Allow the soap to set for a few minutes. Rinse the interior with the stream of water from the garden hose sprayer.

  6. Wipe the plastic fan blades with the dry cloth. This will remove all built-up debris on the blades. Do not bend the blades with your hands by using excessive force.

  7. Allow the interior of the unit to completely dry. This may take several hours depending on weather conditions.

  8. Replace the exterior cover over the unit. Install the air conditioner into the window. Place the filter into the unit.


  • Most modern room air conditioners have a sealed compartment for the electrical connections. Do not open these compartments when cleaning. Older units may have exposed electrical connections. Avoid cleaning these areas. Allow all parts to thoroughly dry before energizing the appliance with electrical power.
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