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9 Effective Steps to Air Duct Cleaning

To maintain indoor air quality, you must regularly remove dust, dirt, and microbial dirt from your ductwork. Here are 9 steps in thorough air duct cleaning.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

Learn the effective steps to air duct cleaning

We all know how uncomfortably humid and hot it can get in the Philippines. So, having an air conditioner has become a necessity for many homes and business establishments. Now, if you have a centralized unit, you must ensure take care of every system component. 

You’ve probably spent time learning how to clean a front-loading washing machine and you already know the steps to keeping your clothes smelling fresh. If you want to ensure that your home is thoroughly tidy, you should also understand the steps to effective air duct cleaning. So, keep reading this blog post to learn how to remove dirt and dust from your ductwork.

What to Prepare for Air Duct Cleaning

Before going through the steps in air duct cleaning, make sure you’ve prepared the following materials:

  1. New filter – At the end of the process, you’ll need a new air filter. Don’t forget to get the replacement specifically designed for your ductwork.

  2. Protective gear – To protect yourself while cleaning, get a pair of heavy-duty gloves, goggles, and a dust mask.

  3. Industry-grade vacuum – Household vacuum cleaners may not be strong enough for the job. You’ll need an industry-grade vacuum that can suck up the dirt and dust from your air registers. Moreover, you’ll need one with a long hose to effectively reach the ducts.

  4. Stiff-bristled brush – Get a stiff-bristled brush with a long handle. Something that looks like a toilet brush will suffice.

  5. Screwdriver – You’ll need a tool for removing the screws from the vents. While a screwdriver will do the job, the process will be easier if you use a power drill.

  6. Microfiber cloth – Any type of cloth will do, but microfiber types work best.

  7. Paper towels – You’ll need thick kitchen towels for this job.

Get prepared to clean your air duct

9 Steps in Air Duct Cleaning

1. Remove the screws

Use the screwdriver or power grill to remove the screws from the ductwork covers.

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2. Cover the other vents

Let’s say you’re working on one vent at a time. In this case, you must use paper towels to cover the other vents to prevent dirt and dust from blowing out of them. 

All you need to do is place the paper towels in between the vent cover and the wall. Even if you don’t put the screws back, the vents will hold the paper towels in place. 

3. Switch the AC unit to ‘Fan Only’

To loosen the dust in the air ducts, switch the unit to ‘Fan Only’. Make sure that the system is not set to cooling or drying mode.

4. Loosen dust buildup

You may need to manually knock loose dust buildup in the ducts after letting the fan run. You can lightly tap the clumps in the ductwork using the handle of your stiff-bristled brush. Doing so will help break up hardened dust sticking to the insides of the duct.

5. Sweep and vacuum the supply registers

Place the vacuum hose near the register and let it run. While the vacuum is running, lift the register and use your brush to sweep the dust out. Make sure that the hose is catching any dust that is being pushed out. 

The next step is to dampen your microfiber cloth and clean the interior. You may have to rinse and wring the cloth repeatedly. After all, it will absorb any gunk left in the supply registers. While you’re sweeping, you can also get rid of the paper towels you initially placed.

6. Sweep and vacuum the return registers

You’ll repeat the previous step in your return register. Make sure to brush and sweep as far back into the cavity as you can reach.

7. Switch off the fan

Go to the breaker panel or server switch and turn off the fan. Doing so will ensure that the unit doesn’t have a power supply.

8. Sweep and vacuum the return air boot and blower compartment

Once the unit is switched off, remove the panels to access the return air boot and blower compartment. Keep in mind that this area will have a significant amount of dust. Use the brush and vacuum to get rid of the dirt buildup.

9. Replace the air filter

If the filters are clogged, you won’t enjoy the maximum benefits of air duct cleaning. So, we recommend replacing them with new ones that have better quality. This way, you can lower the dust levels indoors and replace the filters less frequently. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, AC filters should be replaced every 60 to 90 days.[1]

Know When to Clean Your Air Ducts

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends cleaning air ducts once every three to five years.[2] However, you don’t have to wait for the suggested interval to perform this maintenance procedure. There are tell-tale signs that indicate you’re due for air duct cleaning. For instance, you must take care of your ductwork if there are visible molds or pests inside the components.

Even so, serious cases like these may need professional cleaning. So, aside from knowing when to clean your air ducts, you should also understand when to hire technicians. This way, you can ensure that your ductwork will be cleaned thoroughly and safely.

Know when to clean your air duct

FAQs About Air Duct Cleaning

Q: How often should you clean your air ducts?

Check the manufacturer-recommended intervals for air duct cleaning. However, in general, you should perform this procedure once every three to five years.

Q: Why should you clean your air ducts?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends duct cleaning to prevent health problems.[3] Over time, pollutants can collect in the AC system due to smoking, cooking, cleaning, and regular daily activities. It is important to clean your air ducts to avoid health issues like throat irritation, respiratory infection, and even skin rashes.

Q: How do you disinfect air ducts?

Usually, professional AC technicians use disinfectant fog to eliminate fungi, bacteria, and mold in air ducts. So, if you want to disinfect air ducts, your best option is to hire professionals who have the right cleaning equipment and materials.


1. Air cleaners and air filters in the home | US EPA. (2022). US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/air-cleaners-and-air-filters-home

2. Frequently asked questions about residential air duct cleaning. (n.d.). https://nadca.com/homeowners/frequently-asked-questions-about-residential-air-duct-cleaning 

3. Should you have the air ducts in your home cleaned? | US EPA. (2023, February 27). US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/should-you-have-air-ducts-your-home-cleaned 

Originally published