How to Clean an RV Air Conditioner Filter in 5 Easy Steps

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Regular maintenance must be performed to keep your RV air conditioner running in tip-top shape.

Most notably, cleaning the A/C unit’s filter.

Below, I’ll show you how to clean your RV air conditioner filter in 5 simple steps and provide some general maintenance tips to keep it running smoothly.

How to Clean Your RV Air Conditioner Filter

Important: These steps only work for washable filters. If you have a one-time-use filter, throw it away and replace it. Do not attempt to clean it.

1. Remove the Filter

Begin the cleaning process by turning off the AC unit and disconnecting its power source. Then, access the filter by removing the vent cover from the AC unit, which is typically in the ceiling of your RV. Use caution when pulling out the screen to prevent damage.

Tip: Consult your RV’s owner manual for instructions on removing the filter, as it will vary by model.

Do not turn on the AC while you have the filter out. This can severely damage your AC unit and cause dirt particles to fill your motor home.

2. Use a Vacuum to Clean the Filter

A vacuum cleaner uses suction to loosen and pull out all of the particulates from inside the filter. Be careful not to damage the screen with too much suction. Find the screen’s sweet spot of force that does the job without creating new problems.

Sometimes, just a vacuum is enough to clean your air filter. If you don’t see a lot of buildup on your screen, you can put it back in after this step.

For filthy filters and those that haven’t undergone regular care, it might be time for a more thorough approach. If that’s your filter, follow the remaining steps below for deep cleaning.

3. Soak and Scrub the Filter

Use warm water and mild detergent to wash your RV air conditioner filter. For best results, submerge the screen and let it soak for at least 10-15 minutes. We suggest using your RV shower or a large bucket.

Filthy filters might require more attention. They will benefit from a longer time in the solution, up to a few hours. You can work a soft brush, for example, a toothbrush, through the screen to remove the dirt and grime from the filter, but use extra caution to ensure it isn’t damaging the fibers.

Once you are satisfied with the filter’s cleanliness, rinse it. Use your RV’s detachable showerhead (or a hose) to wash the soap off the filter and remove any remaining dirt.

4. Use a Vinegar Solution to Prevent Bacteria Growth

This combination makes a natural antibacterial cleanser that won’t put harsh chemicals into the fresh air supply of your motor home.


  1. Prepare your solution by mixing equal parts vinegar and water into a spray bottle.
  2. Spray both sides of the filter with your vinegar solution and wait about 15 minutes.
  3. Then rinse the screen so your RV doesn’t smell like vinegar when you turn it on again.

5. Be Sure The Filter Is Completely Dry, Then Put It Back In Place

Air conditioner filters have thick, dense fibers in the screen. As a result, it can take several hours for the filter to dry.

Tip: Allow the filter to dry in sunlight to help kill bacteria and to speed up the drying process.

Once the filter is dry, carefully slide it back into its spot. Reinstall the air conditioner cover and reconnect the power. Then you’re good to turn your cold air on once more!

Routine Maintenance for Your RV Air Conditioner Filter

Regularly cleaning the A/C filter can help the unit run more smoothly and avoid costly RV air conditioner repairs.

Some manufacturers recommend cleaning your air conditioner filter as often as every two weeks of use. This is why following the filter manufacturer’s directions for care is important.

For people who travel only on weekends, this would mean cleaning the screen every other month. If you take longer trips or live in your motor home, you must clean the filter during your travels.

People with allergies or other health conditions might require even more frequent cleaning. It’s better to spend time cleaning the vent screen than suffering through your vacation.

Replacing an RV Air Conditioner Filter

Replace the filter when it shows signs of wear or per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

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