Aaron Widmar
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Tips for Easily & Effectively Cleaning Car Air Vents

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How to clear your car's air ducts of dust and allergens

Your car’s air vents might not look dirty, but they’ll filled with dust and particulate that blows into your lungs every time you run the air conditioning. If the air ducts are filthy and neglected, they’ll fill the cabin with pollutants and irritants that could be harmful to your lungs.

When you’re cleaning your vehicle’s interior by vacuuming the seats and dusting the dashboard, make sure you’re also cleansing the car air vents following these steps every six months.

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air duct intake vent spray dust cleaner
Photo: The News Wheel

Spray compressed air into the vents

Just like cleaning a keyboard or other sensitive electronics, a can of compressed air will stir up any dirt sticking to the air duct surfaces.

First, spray it into the exterior air intake vents, located by the windshield, running the car and air circulation system as you do. Then, turn off the engine and A/C completely and spray into the cabin air vents. Only use an aerosol product that’s safe for vent and duct cleaning, like Armor All FRESHfx or A/C Pro Vent & Duct Cleaner.

vacuum clean air vents car interior smell stink dust
Photo: The News Wheel

Use a strong vacuum

To suck that loose dirt out of the vents, grab the hose of a powerful wet/dry vacuum and hold it against the vent cover. Run the vacuum to pull the filth out and carefully

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Car Vent Wipe Cloth Tool Slots
Photo: The News Wheel

Wipe the vent slots

Swap any remaining dirt and dust off the vent slots by using a cloth. The best way to reach between them into all the nooks and crannies is with a slotted brush or vent cleaner. It costs only a couple bucks and is a must-have tool for anyone who’s sensitive to dust or has breathing problems.

cabin air filter replace change glovebox
Photo: The News Wheel

Change the air filter

When’s the last time you or your mechanic changed the cabin air filter in your car? This item should be replaced every 15,000-25,000 miles. The more frequently you run the HVAC system, the more often you should change the filter — or if you live in an area with high air pollution levels.

If your car has foul embedded odors, like cigarette smoke, coming from the vents, you’ll need to take further measures. You can spray the aerosol cleaner into the interior and exterior intake vents to cycle it through the system as you run it. A professional auto detailer can also steam clean the vents to safely wash them.