Keeping your RV air conditioner ceiling vents and filters clean and debris-free, allows it to operate more efficiently even on your hottest days. By maintaining your AC’s filtering system, you will also extend the life of the air conditioner. But more importantly, regular vent cleaning and periodical AC filter replacements will help sustain or even improve your family’s respiratory health while occupying your RV.
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How to Clean Your RV Air Conditioner Ceiling Vents and Filters
Before cleaning or removing any parts from your RV’s air conditioner and ceiling ventilation components, you should read the air conditioner manufacturer’s instructions.
For maximum benefit, pick a cooler day to clean your RV air conditioner ceiling vents and filters because you’ll need to shut down the AC during this process. If that’s not plausible, prepare your cleaning station beforehand.
Since this job will take less than thirty minutes, it may be best to do this either early in the morning or in the evening during the summer or when it’s warm outside.
How often should you clean your RV air conditioner ceiling vents and filters?
You should inspect and clean your RV air conditioner rooftop components at least once a year.
However, if you park your motorhome or camper in warmer climates for longer durations, you’ll want to complete this simple RV maintenance project more often to keep your air conditioner running efficiently.
We highly recommend cleaning your air conditioner vents and filters at least monthly.
If you have pets, cook indoors, smoke inside, or are parked in high pollen regions, we highly recommend conducting air conditioner maintenance and cleaning more often; even every other week.
Then, your RV air conditioner will operate with more efficiency and more cleanly. As you can see by the photo in the beginning, that alone should be reason enough to keep after them.
Removing your RV air conditioner ceiling vent covers and filters
Before starting with this important RV maintenance task, you may want to wear a respirator mask and safety glasses if you are in a high dust or pollen area or suffer dust allergies. There’s high possibility of dust or pollen becoming airborne when opening the AC vents or filters.
Removing your air conditioning ceiling vent covers and filters is simple. Simply unscrew and remove the vent covers from the ceiling.
However, be very careful when using any tool to pry them loose. You want to avoid puncturing your RV’s padded ceiling or cutting into the ceiling board.
Once you remove each AC ceiling vent cover, be careful not to disturb or shake the dust or debris that’s in the ceiling vent assembly and filter. Carefully, place them in a disposable shopping bag without disturbing the dusty contents and take the bag outside.
Cleaning your RV air conditioner ceiling vents and filters
Step 1: Remove all dust and debris
Keeping the dusty AC vents and filters away from your face, carefully disassemble the air conditioner ceiling vent covers by removing the black circular foam filters.
Then, shake them out individually upwind away from open doors and windows as well as your neighbors’. You don’t want to breathe in those allergens, dust and debris. Nor do you want them blowing back into your RV.
Once you shake them out where nothing is coming out of them, bring them all inside to clean each ceiling vent cover and AC filter.
Step 2: Set up your cleaning area
First, I set up two dish pans side by side; one with hot soapy water and the other with hot rinse water.
For detergent, I use regular Dawn dish soap (the original blue stuff) because it cuts any grease that may have adhered to the filters. Stay away from caustic cleaners as they can damage or deteriorate the foam filters.
Then, I lay out a clean and dry drying mat next to the dishpan with rinse water.
Step 3: Wash, rinse and dry the ceiling vent filters
First, toss all of the foam AC filters into the hot soapy water solution. Allow them to soak a few minutes so the detergent can permeate the filters to loosen any dirt, grime or greasy residue.
After the foam filters are finished soaking, squish them in your hands several times to get the soap working through the cells of each filter. Be very careful not to rip or tear them.
Once the filters are clean, rinse each foam filter thoroughly with clean hot water. Again, squish each foam filter in your hands to work the soap and any remain residue out of them. Then, gently squeeze all excess water out of each filter.
You may want to repeat the rinse process if there’s a soapy feeling or soap bubbles in your rinse water.
Spread each foam filter out on a drying mat and carefully blot dry with a clean, lint-free, drying towel. Then set each filter aside to air dry completely.
If it’s a bright sunny day with no wind, you may set them out on a clean towel on the picnic table so the sun can help disinfect them with the UV rays.
Otherwise, that’s not a requirement; just an added assurance of removing any toxins left behind in your RV air conditioner ceiling vent filters.
Step 4: Wash, rinse and dry the ceiling vent covers
While the foam filters are air-drying, toss the plastic vent covers in the same hot soapy water. Allow them to soak for a few minutes to loosen any grease and grime.
Using a small cleaning brush, gently scrub the ceiling vent covers; between the louvers and on both sides. Make sure you get into the cracks, corners and crevices of each vent cover.
After washing, dunk each in the rinse water and set them on the drying mat. Allow them to air dry completely. Like the filters, you may set them outside on a clean towel also.
While your RV air conditioner ceiling vent covers and foam filters are drying, move onto the next step of cleaning the air conditioning ceiling ventilation system components.
How to clean your RV air conditioning ceiling ventilation system
Again, if you have respiratory issues or suffer allergies, you may want to wear the proper PPE (personal protective equipment) such as safety glasses and dust mask. You will also need a ladder to inspect and clean up into the ceiling vents.
For safety sake, be sure you have a spotter and wear appropriate footwear while using the ladder or step stool.
Once you’re on the ladder, take a flashlight and look up inside each of the air conditioning system’s ventilation channel. Get rid of any debris, cobwebs, insects or spiders.
Also, thoroughly inspect your AC’s ceiling ventilation system to ensure there’s no rodent evidence (mouse turds, nesting material).
A good tool to use to clean your RV’s ceiling ventilation system is a Swiffer 360 duster as it has an extendable handle. The cleaning end is soft and won’t puncture the delicate hose channels. You may want to use several duster refills to ensure you’re getting every piece of dust and debris out of the ventilation channels.
When cleaning the dust out, try not to shake the duster too much once you remove it from your air conditioner ceiling vent holes. I recommend placing dirty duster pads into a trash bag immediately to not disturb the dust and debris.
Now, you can use a long hose vacuum cleaner to clean your AC’s ceiling ventilation system. However, cautionary use is imperative. You do not want to puncture the hose channels or anything up inside the AC ventilation system.
But, we’re not finished yet cleaning your air conditioner ceiling system.
Most RVs, both motorhomes and campers, have an overhead ceiling air conditioning component. Remove the cover and clean that filter as well using the same method as above.
You’ll need to inspect the electrical wires and look for anything that doesn’t look right. Look for chewed wires and clean away any dust and debris.
Once you’ve cleaned, inspected and satisfied with cleaning your RV air conditioning ventilation system channels, it’s time to reinstall your ceiling vent covers and foam filters.
After which, turn your RV air conditioner back on and VOILA!
✰ PRO TIP ✰ While you’re up on your ladder cleaning your air conditioning ceiling ventilation system, it’s also a good time to clean your ceiling fan! Carefully dust each fan blade and wipe it with a clean damp cloth.
RV air conditioner vent filter replacements
Through age, wear and tear, you may need to replace your ceiling vent circular foam filters. While you could order precut OEM foam filters, we’ve found a more economical way of replacing them.
I will buy a foam filter sheet or actual RV air conditioner replacement filter foam and trace my old filters and cut them out individually. I usually can get a few extras for later.
Either which way you choose to replace them, it’s a good idea to keep an extra supply of AC filters just in case you may be boondocking and can’t afford the water to clean them.
Final thoughts on how to clean your RV air conditioner ceiling vents and filters
It’s important to make cleaning your RV air conditioning ventilation system part of your regular RV maintenance schedule.
Not only does it help sustain or even improve the efficiency of your RV’s air conditioner, but also it’s better for your and your family’s respiratory health.
More RV air conditioning and ventilation tips:
How to Keep Your RV Air Conditioner Working Efficiently
Soft Starts for Your RV Air Conditioner
How to Keep your RV Cool in the Hot Summer Months
How to Stop Condensation in Your RV *Moisture Prevention Tips*
Fantastic Fan Screen and Window Screens
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21 Replies to “How to Clean Your RV Air Conditioner Ceiling Vents and Filters”
Great post! I just did this 3 days ago…….2 dogs & 2 humans and gravel campsites are very dusty! Thanks!
Thank you for reading our blog, Susan. Depending on location, you may have to clean your vents more often than others. I know we do. Travel safe out there!
I have done this, and they do get dirty but some of The foam filters are missing on some of our vents, is this going to cause a problem?
Karen, you should have filters as they keep your ventilation system clean. You can find sheets of the black sponge filters at Walmart or Lowes. You can cut them to your desired size. Once you get them replaced, we suggest scheduling a cleaning as part of your RV maintenance check once a month. HTH’s
Worthy topic. Karen, be aware of which ducts are supply and which are returns. To my knowledge only return vents will have filters. One does not want to restrict the output of the system with filters.
Thanks for the info. very helpful.
You’re welcome Sheila! -Dan
Are there any other filters with this type of ac unit? On the roof?
Love the post, just finished doing ours.
Hi Matthew, there are no filters on the roof unit; just the intake vents. Hope that helps! Safe travels!
It’s good that you mentioned how you should get all of the dust out of your filters before soaking them in hot soapy water. I am trying to ventilate my RV, and I want to make sure that I have all of the parts necessary to get the job done properly. It might be a good idea for me to look for some spare parts in case of an emergency.
Its important to take care of your RV components because if you don’t, they will fail or not be as efficient. Going that extra step in keeping them clean(er) has never steered us wrong. Thanks for your input. -Dan & Lisa
The air-conditioner is working and we can feel the cool air but they will not open the vents throughout the fifth wheel what is causing the vents not open. Also we have no filters on any of the vents except on the air conditioning itself, should all the vents have filters ?
Rosemary, thanks for taking the time to read. Filters should only be inserted on the AC intake vents. Hope that helps! Safe travels!
The information is very useful. It helped me know how to clean Rv air conditioner properly. Thanks very much!
Natalie, we’re glad our information was helpful. Just keep a good regular maintenance schedule and your components will last much longer. Safe travels!
Great article! I’ve heard that mold can grow in the vents/ducts. How do you keep mold from growing in the vents when the camper is covered for the winter and its humid and cold in the camper?
I cleaned my air conditioning ducks with a water hose that was new by pushing it from vent to vent. In the middle I tied a old bath towel sprayed disinfectant mole spray. I pulled from one end and my wife pulled from the other end it worked great.
Thank you Andy for taking the time to read our article. While that may have worked for you, others may incur damage to their air conditioning ducts. Be very careful as you may experience the same in the future. Also, be very careful about putting any chemicals in your ductwork. The last thing we’d every want to hear is anyone getting sick, asphyxiated or ending up in the hospital for respiratory distress. Please be safe. We care.
But how did you get the vents off the ceiling? There are no srews or openings in mine.
Beatrix, thank you for taking the time to read this article. The vent covers should come off easily with a simple twist counter clockwise.
I have the same vents in my RV ceiling. How do you remove the covers to get to the filters? I have tried unscrewing them and I can’t get them to release. It looks like there is a small slot to insert a flathead screwdriver, but that worries me about puncturing ceiling. Please advise.