how to clean your air vents

Through normal use or by just sitting around your car’s air vents will become dusty over time. The narrow spaces between the fins can be a hard place to clean, however, it is very much doable and something you can do on your own. With that in mind, we have created a quick guide to help you, with the basic tools needed to help you clean out your car’s air vents.

It’s important to note that for the best results make sure to clean your car’s air vents at least once every two to three months or more depending on the accumulation of dust or if there are foul smells. If foul smells still persist after your attempts at cleaning it is highly recommended that you visit a professional detailing service for the best results. With that said, on to the guide.

vacuum cleaner

One of the first few steps you can take to clean your car’s air vents is to utilize a vacuum cleaner. It is important to note that you will need a vacuum cleaner that comes with a small brush attachment for maximum results. The bristles will help loosen up the dirt and dust from the vents without damaging them. The vacuum in turn will help lift up the dirt and remove it from the vent. 

If you can find a vacuum attachment with little straws at the end it can also be a big help. The smaller tubes can reach behind the fins and clean more the area within the vent itself resulting in a more thorough cleaning. That said, if that kind of attachment isn’t available then the brush attachment will be enough.

compressed air can for cleaning

Another alternative to the vacuum cleaner is compressed air. However, it can work as a double-edged sword as it can blow the dust into the vent instead of out of it. Make sure to use it with caution and in places where the dust or debris will not be able to get back into the air vent itself. Either way, it performs a similar job to that of a vacuum cleaner as it loosens and blows away the dirt found near or around the vent. You can also pair this with a brush to further maximize the cleaning results.

detailing brush

Paired with detailing liquid, having a detailing brush can make quick and easy work of cleaning an air vent. The brush can agitate heavier dirt particles that will not be able to be lifted out by a vacuum cleaner or by compressed air alone. Make sure after every use that you clean your brush and wipe away the dirt onto a microfiber towel to ensure better cleaning efficiency. 

If a detailing brush is not available a paintbrush may be used or if you want to get creative you can make your own by cutting out a sponge wedge and attaching it to a popsicle stick. Either way, these can make sure that most of the heavier dust is removed from the vents.

Why detailing fluid is important

Making sure that you use detailing liquid will also ensure that the fins in the vents stay clean and better resist damage to oils and to the sun. The liquid itself will act as a protective layer to the plastic and will require repeated applications in order to remain consistent. Make sure to read the instructions on the bottle to know how much you should put and when you should reapply the liquid.

The sun can especially be damaging to the plastics in air conditioning vents as they can cause the plastic to degrade over time. This will cause them to get brittle and snap after a certain amount of time. It will eventually lead to a costly repair as the whole ven may need to be replaced. Detailing liquid can also prevent the oils from your hands from sticking to the plastic and damaging it over time.

microfiber cloth

A microfiber cloth goes a step further to what a brush can do and picks up whatever dirt is left. Make sure that you gently glide the cloth along the vents to ensure that you don’t damage them. You can also choose to pair this with either soapy water or detailing liquid so that the cloth can lift up the dirt and safely remove it from the fins without causing any possible light scratches. You can also use this in tandem with a detailing brush or a regular brush to maximize your cleaning efforts.

car air filter

While not a necessary step it can help keep your air vents cleaner for longer. Installing a new filter will ensure that no new dust gets into the ventilation system and will ensure that your cabin remains clean. The more frequently that you use your car’s air conditioning system the more often you should change out your filter. This applies especially to those who live in a dry and dusty area as the filters can get clogged up fairly quickly. 

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