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air duct interior

Air ducts are a part of the respiratory system of your home. Keep your home healthy with air duct maintenance. Here are the basics.


Having central heating and cooling in your home is fantastically convenient. However, your air ducts can accumulate allergens and other irritants that make the air in your home less than pristine.

While it’s always a good idea to get your ducts professionally cleaned every so often, you can keep your air fresher by cleaning your ducts yourself in the interim.

Why clean your air ducts?

All kinds of things can build up in your air ducts, and then blow into the air in your home when using your heating and cooling systems. Dust, mold spores, pollen, pet dander, smoke residue and particles, are just some of the air pollutants that can escape into your home. Keep the air you’re breathing clean by conducting routine maintenance on your ducts.

How do you know when to clean them?

If you notice yourself more susceptible to allergies, it is likely due to the accumulation of irritants in your air ducts. Dust collecting along the grates is an excellent way to check for pollutants. Schedule cleaning as necessary. At minimum, work duct cleaning into your spring and fall maintenance routines.

What tools will you need?

Grab a screwdriver, a vacuum with a hose, a set of work gloves, and a brush. You may also want a broom and some rags or paper towels. Depending on how much cleaning is needed, you may also want to prepare a cleaning solution by mixing bleach with water.

How do you clean them?

First, vacuum or sweep the floor near your duct to keep debris from falling inside the duct while cleaning. Then, remove your vents with a screwdriver if attached. If you notice a lot of dust on the grate itself, use your rag to wipe off the excess dust.

Wipe off the dust from the inside of the duct as well. Your vacuum cleaner hose will reach farther into the vent than your arm. Avoid using your vacuum on any filters inside the air ducts. Filters damage easily when a vacuum makes contact. Finally, reattach your grates and run the vacuum over the grates to remove any additional particles.

When do you need a professional?

You can only reach a certain point in the air ducts with this cleaning method. If you have mold or dust issues, it’s best not to tackle these yourself. Not only might you expose yourself to something harmful, but also you won’t have the equipment to reach and scour your ducts properly. It is best to hire a professional for a complete HVAC inspection and cleaning. Professionals will also be able to tell if your air conditioning unit is running at full efficiency and do necessary repairs.

If at any point during this DIY project you feel uncomfortable or encounter something you don’t know how to deal with, don’t be afraid to call a professional. While it’s great to be able to do this kind of thing yourself, your health and safety are most important.


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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.