How to Clean an Air Conditioner Filter with Baking Soda (Activated Carbon Filter)(2023)

dirty ac filter

In this post, I’ll show you how to clean an activated carbon air conditioner filter by using baking soda and dish soap.

I have been using this method ever since I bought my Carrier Optima A/C. That was more than 2 years ago already, and the filter is still working as it should.

So let’s dive right in.

What you’ll need:

Baking soda
Dish soap
Warm water
Soft brush
Laundry basin or sink

clean ac filter what you need

Steps on How to Clean your Activated Carbon A/C Filter with Baking Soda

Step 1: Brush off dust build-up

Remove dust build-up by scrubbing the filter with a clean brush. You can also use your vacuum cleaner for this.

brush dirty filter

Step 2: Make the Baking Soda and Dish Soap Solution

Mix 3 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of dish soap per liter of water. Make sure the water is warm and NOT hot. Stir them together until you create some suds.

make baking soda solution
baking soda solution suds

Step 3: Soak the a/C filter in the solution

Let the filter soak for 30-40 minutes. This will give the solution enough time to soften and remove some of the dust build-ups.

soak ac filter

Step 4: Scrub the filter with a brush

Use a brush to remove any remaining dust. Scrub gently so you don’t destroy the fibers of the filter.

scrub filter again

Step 5: Rinse with water

Put the filter under a running faucet and rinse well. You can also use a water hose. Make sure to rinse off any remaining traces of soap and baking soda.

rinse filter with water

Step 6: Air-dry the filter

Finally, air-dry the filter. You might be tempted to use the dryer, but don’t do it. Exposing the activated carbon filter to high heat can make it brittle.

air dry ac filter

How Often Should You Replace An Activated Carbon A/C Filter?

According to Mr. Raul Santos, an air conditioner technician, you should replace your air conditioner filter every 2-3 years, depending on how often you use your A/C. If your air conditioning is turned on for more than 8 hours every day, replace the filter every 2 years.

Another factor that also affects the lifespan of your A/C filter is how dusty the place you live in. As a rule of thumb, if your filter starts to look worn out and the air coming out of your AC smells strange, then it’s time to replace the filter, according to Mr. Santos.

4 Reasons why You should keep your air conditioner filter clean

  1. You Save Power. A clean filter makes your air conditioner run more efficiently lowering your power consumption. Lesser power consumption equals lower electricity bills.
  2. Fewer Allergies. A dirty air conditioner filter can spread air-borne allergens.
  3. Longer A/C life. The back of the aircon gets too hot when the filter is dirty. This can shorten the lifespan of your air conditioner. 
  4. Cooler Air Coming Out of Your Air Conditioner. Dust build-up on an A/C filter can block the airflow, so it’s essential to keep the filter clean if you want to maximize your A/C’s cooling power.


There you have it.

That’s how to clean your activated carbon A/C filter with baking soda.

Give this a try!

By the way, if you’re looking for more ways to clean with baking soda, check out my article on how to clean a plastic chopping board.

Thank you for reading.

-Baking Soda Guy

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Regarding Cleaning Activated Carbon Air Conditioner Filter with Baking Soda and Dish Soap:

  1. Can I use a different type of soap instead of dish soap to clean the A/C filter? While dish soap is commonly used and safe for cleaning A/C filters, you can also use a mild detergent or a specialized air conditioner filter cleaner. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as they may damage the filter’s activated carbon material.
  2. Is it safe to clean the A/C filter while it’s still inside the air conditioner unit? It’s generally recommended to remove the A/C filter before cleaning it. Cleaning the filter while it’s inside the unit may lead to water damage to the air conditioner and electrical components. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for filter removal and cleaning.

Tips for Maintaining and Replacing Activated Carbon A/C Filters:

  1. Can I reuse the baking soda solution for multiple cleanings? It’s best to prepare a fresh baking soda and dish soap solution for each cleaning. Reusing the solution may reduce its effectiveness in removing dust and odors from the filter.
  2. What should I do if my activated carbon A/C filter has stubborn odors even after cleaning? If the filter still has persistent odors, you can try sprinkling a thin layer of baking soda directly on the filter surface. Let it sit for a few hours to absorb any remaining odors before rinsing it off with water.
  3. Are there any alternative methods to clean an activated carbon A/C filter? Besides using baking soda and dish soap, you can also clean the filter with a mixture of vinegar and water. Vinegar has natural cleaning properties and can help remove odors as well.

Regarding Replacing Activated Carbon A/C Filters:

  1. Can I replace the activated carbon A/C filter with a standard air conditioner filter? Activated carbon A/C filters are specifically designed to remove odors and gases, which standard filters may not effectively do. It’s best to use the recommended filter type for your air conditioner unit.

Benefits of Keeping the A/C Filter Clean:

  1. Does a clean A/C filter improve indoor air quality? Yes, a clean A/C filter can significantly improve indoor air quality by trapping dust, allergens, and pollutants, preventing them from circulating in the air.
  2. Can a dirty A/C filter affect the cooling efficiency of the air conditioner? Yes, a dirty A/C filter can restrict airflow, making the air conditioner work harder to cool the space. Regularly cleaning and replacing the filter can improve the A/C’s cooling efficiency and lower energy consumption.

Safety Measures:

  1. Is it safe to use baking soda and dish soap on all types of A/C filters? Baking soda and dish soap are generally safe for cleaning activated carbon and most standard A/C filters. However, some specialized filters, like HEPA filters, may have specific cleaning requirements. Always check the manufacturer’s guidelines before cleaning.