Knowing how to clean your air ducts can save you a lot of money, since the professional duct cleaners charge a small fortune to do it.
Is it a necessary household task? Probably not. Is it one that I do? You bet.
How to Clean Your Air Ducts
Why Clean Them?
Ever since the day I dropped an earring down a floor register and opened it to find a massive spiderweb occupied by an equally massive spider, I’ve made a point to clean my air ducts regularly. It lets me sleep at night. Also, I always notice less dust settling on my furniture after I’ve done such a cleaning.
It just makes sense, doesn’t it? If you’ve got forced air coming out of a duct filled with dust, pet hair, Cheerios, or big ol’ hairy spiders, they’re bound to spread around a bit, right? Why put up with that? That’s why you need to know how to clean your air ducts.
How Long Does This Take?
Fortunately, cleaning your air ducts isn’t that difficult to do if you use the right tools and make a point of following directions. It takes maybe five minutes per register the first time, and only a couple of minutes each if you do it regularly.
How Often Should You Do This?
Follow the steps below to clean your home’s air ducts at least twice a year. If someone in your home has indoor allergies, or if you have a lot of pets, do it each season. You can use this method to clean cold air returns, too. Be sure you change your system’s filter after you’re done.
If you have pets that shed a lot, or kids who like to drop things down floor registers, you might want to consider installing vent register filters. These filters are made from electrostatic material that filters dust out of the air your system blows through the vents while also keeping dust from settling into them.
Steps To Clean Your Home’s Air Ducts
You will need:
- A vacuum cleaner with a dust brush attachment
- Microfiber cleaning cloths
- Screwdriver (to remove wall registers)
- Manual dryer vent cleaning brush
- Flexible vacuum hose extender brush (optional)
Step 1: Cleaning the duct walls.
Floor registers are easy to remove — lift them up. You may have to unscrew wall registers, which is easy enough using a screwdriver. Either way, remove and wash the vent in a sink of hot, soapy water, then rinse and let them air dry. You can clean unpainted metal registers in a dishwasher, but wash painted or varnished ones by hand. (Related: 54 Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher.)
Once the registers are out of the way, insert whichever brush you’re using into the duct. If you’re using the vacuum attachment brush, make sure it’s firmly attached because you do not want it falling off in your duct system!
Rotate the brush around in the duct, working it against all four duct walls. Lightly scrub the walls as well as the floor of the duct to loosen debris, then remove the brush and set it aside.
Finally, stick your vacuum cleaner hose into the duct to pick up dust and other gunk you’ve dislodged then use it to clean the vent brush before moving onto the next duct.
Step 2: Cleaning the rest.
Using a damp microfiber cloth, reach down into the duct as far as you can and wipe the interior clean. You’ll want to rinse the rag repeatedly because you’ll find a lot of dust and gunk in there the first time you do this. To clean stubborn dirt, spray a homemade all-purpose cleaner on the cloth before wiping.
Wipe the area around the duct, including the floor or wall. Return the clean register vent to place, and you’re done.