How to Clean Air Vents in an Apartment

Air vents in apartments often get dirty and clogged. That means the air that is circulating your home could be full of dust

That can cause all sorts of health problems, including respiratory infections. Read on to understand what cleaning apartment air vents involve.

The following are the steps to follow when cleaning your apartment air vents:

Turn Off the Main HVAC System Switch

The quickest way to find the switch is at the circuit breaker box. Turn off the power for that room (if you have a panel) or unplug it from the wall outlet.

If your HVAC unit has a shutoff valve, close this valve as well.

If your air vents are located in an outside area, turn off the main power source for that building.

You just don’t want to take the chance of power being restored while you’re working. Also, it’s wise to ensure that the fire department has been notified of the situation.

Remove the Cover and Clean Any Debris Inside the Air Vent

To remove the cover, remove the screws on either side of it. You’ll need a screwdriver for this process.

After the cover removal, clean any debris from inside and around the air vent.

The key is to clean all of the closest parts to where your furnace gets its air supply from.

If there’s a lot of dirt built up in one area, like at the end cap, then use some steel wool. Copper scrubber pads are also a good option.

The best practice is to use water-based cleaners. Chemical cleaners may damage your HVAC system.

And don’t forget about those louvers as dust/dirt may have accumulated there too. They can be a great place for dirt and dust to accumulate.

Use a Vacuum Cleaner or Brush to Remove Dust from the Air Vent Exterior

Done with cleaning inside the vents? The next step is to make sure the outside of the vents is clean and free from dust.

Cleaning these areas will also help reduce potential allergens. Allergens can aggravate asthma or other allergies if you’re sensitive to them.

To complete this cleaning step, simply vacuum up any loose particles using a brush attachment.

Alternatively, you can use your hand with a soft cloth.

For hard-to-remove dirt, use some steel wool or copper scrubber pads. Combine these with a water-based cleaner.

When using the vacuum cleaner, be sure to hold the vacuum head just a few inches from the vents. Also, clean with one hand while holding down on any metal parts attached.

Cleaning from this distance will help you avoid causing damage by pulling off paint. Your grout lines will also be safe.

Also, remember to use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. The filter can sift even the smallest dust particles.

These particles are especially dangerous to people with allergic reactions, such as asthma. Also, switch out any filters first before using brushes, sponges, or other tools.

Clean Out Any Dust That Has Accumulated in Between Coils

Completing this step will also require a vacuum cleaner or brush. Dust accumulation between coils in an air vent can cause it to stop working well.

In extreme cases, it may render your air vent less effective. This is because dust creates a buildup that blocks the fins from circulating air efficiently.

That, in turn, causes this area of the appliance to become hot and dirty over time. To clean out any accumulated dust, vacuum or brush off dirt/dust on coils with the vacuum cleaner.

Use vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment for inside crevices around the coil surface. Also, replace the filter before vacuuming to capture any escaped dust.

Close the door when vacuuming so you don’t blow dust back onto the floor. However, it’s okay if you plan to clean the floor after the process.

For the best results in this task, use a vacuum cleaner with a rotating brush. That will cause the dirt to be loosened and then sucked up easily.

Replace the Air Vent Covers

Now that your coils have been cleaned, the next and final step is replacing the vent covers. It’s important to make sure that you have replaced all of your vent covers and not just a few.

Screws should be used when replacing front grille panels. That’s because the panels do not simply press-fit into place like other parts can.

Make sure that there are no openings on either side where any debris could get through. Leaving loopholes could cause more problems inside your air event.

Once you have replaced the air vent covers, you can then sit and watch your favorite movie. That’s how simple the task is.

Importance of Cleaning Your Apartment Air Vents

You already know the steps involved in cleaning apartment air vents. That’s awesome.

This guide now takes the conversation to another level by looking at why air vents need cleaning. So, why should you keep your apartment air vents clean?

Improved Air Quality

Everyone needs good quality air. After all, air quality is important for living in a comfortable, healthy environment.

Cleaning your air vent will improve the quality of the air circulating your apartment. In addition, the process cleans out any dust and dirt that may be clogging up your air vent system.

Clogging in the air vents wreaks havoc on the ventilation system, resulting in malfunction. Forget about improved air quality if that happens.

Prevents Health Problems

Your respiratory system is as good as the air you breathe in. Therefore, breathing in dirty or dusty particles can leave one with respiratory infections.

The infections are something you most definitely want to avoid at all costs. Some of the respiratory infections include common cold, asthma, and pneumonia.

As long as you’re not keeping your air vents clean, treating these conditions may be difficult. 

Long-Lasting and Efficient HVAC System

Ensuring your apartment air vents stay clean and free of dust will ensure that your HVAC system lasts much longer. It will also save you extra bills.

The inside of an HVAC system can get dirty very quickly if it isn’t cleaned out regularly. In addition, this mess may cause additional strain for the fan blades and motors, which may result in frequent repairs.

At the very worst, you may need to replace your HVAC system more frequently. That causes strain on your pocket.

How Often Should You Clean Your Apartment Air Vent?

Well, it all depends on various factors. Some of these factors, with the dust condition being one of them.

If the unit is set in a place where there is a lot of dust, it’s likely to soak up dust quickly. That means you will need to clean the vents more regularly.

It’s a whole different case when the unit is installed where there is only minimal dust. Again, the best approach is to keep tabs on your air vents to know when they need cleaning.

Regular air vent cleaning may not be a rigorous exercise. For instance, a slight shaking of the unit could dislodge some recently soaked-up debris.

On average, apartment air vents may be cleaned once a month. However, you could do it at a longer time interval if that’s possible.

Do You Need a Professional Cleaner for Your Apartment Air Vent?

You can clean your apartment air vents by yourself. That’s possible and can be fun sometimes.

Hiring soaked-up a professional cleaner can be a great option. That is especially true if you don’t have the time to work on the vents.

A professional will clean your vents and might also replace them with newer models that work better. They always have information about new units which are more energy-efficient than older ones.

Professionals will also provide duct cleaning services as well. That means they’re sure to tackle all sorts of issues like mold and bacteria in the vent system.

Do professional cleaners use chemicals when cleaning air vents? Yes, some professional cleaners may use chemical sprays.

Chemical-based cleaners can cause bleach on your air vent surfaces. Your air vents should never come into contact with any electrical components, so choose your professional wisely.


Cleaning your apartment air vents regularly makes cleaning more manageable. It also helps improve the efficiency of your heating unit.

The quality of air in your apartment will also improve the quality of air in your apartment. The beautiful part is that you can do the task by yourself if you understand the basics.

It’s not difficult to clean an air vent- it could take less than 15 minutes per system on average. However, if you’re looking into cleaning just one unit, make sure to do them all because they are connected.

If, for some reason, you can’t do it, then you can hire a professional cleaner. However, a professional will typically do a far much better job than you.

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