How to Clean an Indoor Air Duct

Indoor air ducts need regular cleaning to ensure top performance and effectiveness. Unclean air ducts can harbor viruses, bacteria, and other germ potential, which can harm your health. Moreover, grime and dirt build-up flowing through your indoor air ducts can circulate particles that are potentially damaging or dirtying for your furniture, electronics, and clothing.


  1. Image titled Clean an Indoor Air Duct Step 1
    Prepare a cleaning bucket. Use a small ice cream container or a mini bucket. Fill with warm water and dish detergent. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar. And have mold removal spray on hand in case. Select several rags and find your vacuum cleaner and a flashlight. Place all of these items within reach so that you can use them easily.
  2. Image titled Clean an Indoor Air Duct Step 2
    Locate the air ducts in your home. Some homes have vents high on the walls, others have them located at the base of the walls. Some vents might be located in unusual places; have a good check around to find all of them. Plan to clean each one of these in systematic fashion. Check for anything underneath the duct, such as furniture, hanging pictures, carpet or rugs, decorative items, etc. and move them out of the way or cover them so that they don't get dust, etc. landing on them.
  3. Image titled Clean an Indoor Air Duct Step 3
    Take off the cover for each air duct as you go. The method for doing this will depend on the type of air duct that you have – some can be levered off, some need to be screwed off, and some slide off. Consult the manufacturer's instructions if you're not sure.
  4. Image titled Clean an Indoor Air Duct Step 4
    Set up a stable surface to stand on if your vent is high. A ladder, step-stool, stable chair, etc. Make sure that the item is sitting flat and does not wobble under your weight.
  5. Image titled Clean an Indoor Air Duct Step 5
    Use the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner to remove loose dust, fluff, particles, etc. that have built up in the vent corridor. If your vacuum cleaner is heavy and the vent is high up, have someone else hold the vacuum so that you only have to concentrate on the nozzle and cleaning.
  6. Image titled Clean an Indoor Air Duct Step 6
    Using the rag, wipe down the inside walls of the vent area with the warm water and detergent mix. Use the flashlight to check for mold – if there is any present, wipe down with the vinegar and if that doesn't do the trick, spray with the mold killing solution, following its instructions. Use a paper towel to clean up after wiping. Allow to dry.
  7. Image titled Clean an Indoor Air Duct Step 7
    Replace the vent cover. Move on to the next vent until all are completed.


  • It's a good idea to keep a "regular maintenance" notebook to allow you to check off regular cleaning jobs. Include the duct cleaning as part of this and note the rooms that are affected. If, for any reason, you were not able to clean the ducts of any particular room, you can come back to that one first next cleaning schedule.
  • Cleaning the vents is a quarterly job if you're keen to ensure air quality.
  • Air vents aren't found in all types of houses; wooden houses, for example, tend not to need them. In which case, you're freed up from another chore!

Things You'll Need

  • Small bucket or ice cream container
  • Warm water
  • Dish detergent
  • Cleaning rags
  • Mold killing solution (commercial)
  • Flashlight
  • Kitchen paper towels
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Ladder, step-stool, chair, etc. if your vents are up high
  • Apron to cover your clothes, or old clothes

Article Info

Categories: Home Improvements and Repairs | Indoor Air Improvement