An air conditioner filter helps eliminate impurities such as pet dander, dust, and bacteria from the air. They trap contaminants that affect your comfort and health, improving the quality of air in your home. So, can a dirty air conditioner make you sick?

A dirty air conditioner filter can make you feel sick if it isn’t cleaned in time. The pet hair, dust, bacteria, and fungi trapped in the filters are mainly what makes you sick. Frequent sinus infections and allergies are indications that your air conditioner filter is dirty.

As a homeowner, ensure that your air conditioner filter is functioning and clean. Get professionals to assist if you don’t know how to do the inspections. Read this article to learn how your AC filter is making you sick and how to clean it.

Signs Your Air Conditioner Filter Is Making You Sick

Your AC filter often gets overlooked and while the problems it can cause are usually not fatal, it can cause mild problems. Here are couple to watch out for:

Breathing Difficulties or Respiratory Problems

Once your air conditioner filter gets dirty, they become a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria. This then results in the growth of mold. This is because moisture builds up in the ducts in your home. When fungi and bacteria go airborne, they result in breathing challenges.

Living near a moldy air conditioner increases your chances of getting a respiratory infection. Mold causes throat irritation, congestion, and wheezing. If you experience any of these signs, inspect your air conditioner to ensure it’s not moldy.

You can prevent respiratory diseases and breathing problems by regularly cleaning the AC and changing the filters after a few months.

To fix a moldy air conditioner, follow these steps:

  1. Make a solution of water and bleach. I recommend two parts of water to one part of bleach but you can increase the concentration if you feel it’s necessary.
  2. Use the solution to scrub the moldy spots, and always wear protective gloves. If the mold has permeated throughout the filter, you might need to get a replacement.

Headaches and Fatigue

If you spend your days indoors but feel tired and sick at the end of it, ensure you have your air conditioner checked. A dirty air conditioner can cause headaches and overall fatigue. Have it inspected by the professionals and if it’s dirty, have the AC cleaned and the filters changed.

Always have your air conditioner filters frequently cleaned and replaced to prevent these problems. This will keep your living space as healthy as possible.

Why Your Air Conditioner Filters Are Getting Dirty So Fast

Are you constantly having to replace your air conditioner filters? If you are, read on and find out some of the reasons why they are frequently getting dirty.

Some Filters Accumulate More Dirt than Others

Using a one-inch pleated filter might be one of the key reasons you’re having filter problems. These filters are made of a finer mesh than non-pleated options. As a result, they catch far more dust and debris.

Although this isn’t a bad thing on its own, many people do not understand that pleated filters have to be replaced far more often, leaving them to get dirty as they filter air.

To avoid this, you can always get a disposable fiberglass filter. You can also opt for a filter with thicker pleats.

Your Fan Might Be the Problem

If your AC’s fan is always turned on, the filters will get dirty a lot quicker. Like the filter, the fan itself isn’t an outright problem but it needs to be managed properly. The fan is built to direct airflow and an unfortunate side effect of this is moving dirt in the air over the filters.

As a result, it’s important to regulate your fans. Try to turn it off, especially when you don’t need it. While this won’t completely eliminate any dirt, it will slow down how fast it builds up on your filter. It will also keep your energy bills down.


If you have a pet, beware they might be contributing to your filter problem. Your pet’s hair can sometimes get into the air, which means they will eventually end up in your air conditioner filter. You can reduce the amount of hair ending up in your air conditioner filter by having your pet’s hair brushed and cleaned regularly.


If you are a candle lover, you should be aware that soot can be a severe issue for you as a homeowner. Soot is a byproduct of burning carbon which candles have a lot of. Sometimes a fireplace could also contribute significantly to the soot in your home, especially if it burns wood.

To minimize the amount of soot in the home, always trim the candle wicks. This will help reduce the flame’s size and the amount of soot produced in short periods.

However, it’s not a magic fix as it will still produce the same amount of soot once it burns completely.

How to Clean Your Air Conditioner Filter

Before we get into how you should clean your air conditioner, there are a few tips you should always keep in mind:

  • You may require specialized equipment to complete the cleaning.
  • The cleaning process will take time. You should set aside about half a day to do the job right.
  • Be careful while cleaning to avoid damaging other parts of the air conditioner.

Knowing some of these tips will make the job significantly easier.

Vacuum the AC Filter

Vacuuming your AC filter is the first step to get them clean. For this step you’ll want to use the vacuum’s nozzle to gently blow debris out of the filter. Ensure you use a vacuum attachment without a brush for this step to avoid damaging the filter

Soak the AC Filter

If a vacuum alone doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need to soak the filter to loosen the dirt and force it to drift from the filter.

You can do this in a few quick steps:

  1. Mix liquid soap with a large bucket of water.
  2. Place the filter in the mixture, moving it back and forth a few times to dislodge as much debris as possible.
  3. Leave the filter to soak for a minimum of 15 minutes. This gives the mixture time soften and remove the dirt from the filter.

Spray the AC Filter With a Vinegar and Water Solution

A solution of equal parts vinegar and water is a great way to kill off bacteria in your filter. Simply add it to a spray bottle and use it on and around to filter.  Vinegar is also great for your AC drain pipe as that can also get easily backed up with mold and bacteria.

For a deeper clean, you can also soak the filter, repeating the steps you would for soap and water but substituting for the vinegar solution.

Dry the AC Filter After Cleaning

Before replacing your filters ensure you dry them properly. You can simply place them outside to dry from the sun’s heat. If you’re worried about rain, filters are generally light so leaving it in front of a fan can also do the trick.

Take Away

It’s important to regularly clean your AC filters. With time they accumulate a lot of dust and mold, which can cause mild illnesses. Problematic filters can also aggravate already existing health problems, so periodic maintenance is a must.

Thankfully, cleaning an AC filter is a generally painless process and can be done with a few household items.

See also: How Much Power Does an AC Use?

Write A Comment