Coils are found in the majority of cooling devices including air conditioners. They are usually found in the evaporator and condenser parts of the AC unit and contain the refrigerant which when air is blown over it, heat is absorbed from the air and released outside.
Since air from your home and outside is constantly passing over the coils when the unit is switched on, all of the dust, dander and debris that’s floating around gets trapped in the coils and this ultimately reduces the efficiency of your AC.
The coils then become a problematic breeding ground for harmful microorganisms that then get distributed into the air by the AC unit. This is why it’s a great idea to take care of the coils with the best AC coil cleaner; maintaining optimal performance and reducing the spread of pathogens.
Top Picks: Best AC Coil Cleaners
The Nu-Calgon Evaporation foam is the best AC coil cleaner for evaporator coils as it quickly destroys dirt, grime and debris on the coils with no need to be rinsed off afterwards.
There’s no wonder this is the best-selling coil cleaner on Amazon.
This product can be used indoors and it’s registered with NSF so that it can safely be used in environments where food is processed.
It’s even scented and leaves the room smelling like fresh lemon after use.
What’s more is this product is versatile and can even be used on refrigerator coils as well as AC coils. One can should be enough for one or two jobs but it does depend on how much work there is to be done so it is best to buy an extra can just to be sure.
Luckily this is an affordable product so you can buy as much as you need and have the left overs for next time. What’s great about this product is the formula is already prepared for you, no need to dilute and decant into your own spray bottle, it’s already prepared.
If you are not sure about using Nu-Calgon Evap Foam then make sure you are looking at the right product for your needs.
This is another one of the best ac coil cleaner products that’s already in a spray can, foams up to get in between the slits of the coils and can be used on both the evaporative and the condenser coil is offered to us by A/C Safe.
With this formula you don’t need to scrub or rinse, it works quickly and easy with no hassle on your end.
What’s even better is it is non corrosive and so you don’t have to worry about it damaging plastics and metals such as drains and pans which you couldn’t say the same for similar products on the market.
It’s alkaline based, and you’ll see in the guide after the reviews why this is such an advantage over acid based cleaners. There are many happy reviews about this product and it’s pretty cheap to buy; well worth checking out!
Nu-Brite another product by Nu-Calgon the best ac coil cleaner that is an alkaline based cleaning product.
It is primarily for condenser coils and dissolves grease and dirt with ease.
It foams up nicely to cover hard to reach spots between the slits and is recommended to be used in a heavy duty spray bottle with a ratio of 1:4 with 4 parts water.
Since this product is quite a strong alkaline formula it does have a corrosive effect on metals if left for a long period of time and so it will need to be rinsed off thoroughly after use. Fortunately it is biodegradable and has also been approved by the USDA for use in meat and poultry processing establishments.
Due to how strong this product is and that you’ll be using a small concentration in water, this product can be used a good few times before you’ll need to buy more so in that sense, its good value for money too.
However, take note that due to its strength it is not to be used on evaporator coils or indoors at all and this would be due to the toxic nature of the vapours that this product releases.
This air conditioner cleaner eliminates odors, foams up to fight grime, grease and other contaminants and is versatile, can be used in your vehicle and on other appliances.
The spray also comes with a tube to make it easier for you to access those hard to reach places such as between the grill in your AC and to spray more accurately.
This product is really cheap; affordable for those on a budget or who don’t want to spend too much on an AC coil cleaner. It also not only fights existing odors but leaves the air smelling fresh too and does so effectively for up to six months!
As one of the best ac coil cleaner products, it is designed specifically to be used on the AC system in a vehicle. But it could still do the job just as well on a home AC unit too. It does have a good amount of positive reviews but also have some who claim the product was ineffective.
Much like every other AC coil cleaner we’ve featured here, the product is designed to foam up so that it can expand and clean between the fins getting rid of the horrible dust build up that occurs and restoring your AC unit to peak efficiency.
Unlike most of the other products though, except for the Nu-Calgon Nu-Brite, you will need to dilute this product with water before use and it would be easier to apply if you then transfer it to a spray bottle. It’s suggested to dilute with 3-10 parts water dependant on the job at hand.
What brilliant about this particular choice is that it has a good variety of buying options so you can purchase as much as you need in packs. This is very handy if you have a large AC cleaning job to do, particularly if you are an HVAC technician who stocks this and does AC coil cleaning as part of the service you offer.
Why Purchase an AC Coil Cleaner?
You may be wondering whether it’s even worth cleaning the coils of your air conditioning unit. I can tell you it 100% is without a doubt. An AC coil that’s clogged up with dirt and grime will see a drastic drop in efficiency.
Not only will you notice the cooling ability of your AC drop so that you no longer feel its effects in the room anymore but effectively you are paying to power your AC for nothing.
Ensuring the coils are nice and clean with the best ac coul cleaner is totally worth the cost of the cleaning product and the effort because it restores your AC to proper working condition and gives it more value for the energy it consumes.
Even more, if it is clogged up with nastiness, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, fungi and viruses; all of which could be pathogens. They then get pumped through the AC unit via the little cooled air it does manage to produce which can cause illness.
It’s not just the pathogens that cause illness either, but the debris, the dander, pollen and pollutants all get dispersed into the air of your home. These are all irritants to your eyes and even more so your respiratory system which to those with allergies can be unbearable!
What to Look for in The Best AC Coil Cleaner?
There are a few things to look out for when comparing the best ac coil cleaner products that you come across because you don’t want to spend your money on something that’s either ineffective, bad value or that damages your property.
The best AC coil cleaner solutions are those that display all or most of the following characteristics:
All of the cleaners displayed in the reviews above are alkaline based and there is a good reason for this. Acid based cleaners are more likely to cause damage. Having acid based cleaners for other purposes is sometimes perfectly suitable but for air conditioning units, with the plastic and metals that are involved, it’s best to avoid acid.
If you have some product left over after cleaning your AC, the product goes further and is worth more if it can then go on to be used for cleaning the coils of your refrigerator or the AC in your car. This makes the product much better value and worth its cost, otherwise it’s just being stored for next time the AC needs a clean.
It’s much better if the coil cleaner just comes in a can, you spray it and it does its job without much more input than that. This way means you don’t have to worry about applying too much or too little. Some you will need to dilute with water and add to your own spray bottle which is more hassle but these formula types tend to last longer.
AC cleaners that have the label of USDA certified or NSF registered are much more trustworthy than their non-certified counterparts. The reason being is that they have been trialled, tested and approved to be safe and able to be used under certain conditions, such as near food production.
What is a Condenser Coil and Evaporator Coil?
There are two coils within your AC unit: the condenser coil and the evaporator coil.
The evaporator coil is internal and this is where the heat is absorbed from the air into the refrigerant causing the solution to turn into a gas and travel to the condenser coil.
The condenser coil is located outside and is where the heat is removed from the refrigerant solution and pumped outside. The solution then turns back into a liquid state and returns to the evaporator coil.
How do AC Coils Get Dirty?
It is during the process of cooling the refrigerant that the AC coils get dirty.
The system uses the air form outside to cool down the refrigerant and return it to its its liquid state so it can travel from the condenser coil to the evaporator coil.
The air from outside is sucked into the system and, of course, it contains fungi, dirt, debris and particulates which land on and stick to the coils.
The more all this nasty stuff builds up on the coils the less efficient over time your AC unit is going to become. This causes an increase in your utility bills as you use more of your AC to achieve the same effect you used to get when it was clean and new.
In time, not only are the AC coils coated with dirt, but it is now working a lot more than it needs to; wearing its components and reducing its lifespan. If it is never cleaned, eventually the coil will not be able to perform at all, and this is a costly replacement!
Do You Need a Professional?
A professional is not needed in most cases when it comes to cleaning the coils of your AC unit.
If you know how to determine what the coils look like, it can be easily done by yourself.
They will look like something similar to the image depicted on the right although they may be in a different shape or formation.
You’ll need to take care when you access the coils that you don’t bend or break the fragile fins or any other components for that matter otherwise you’ll probably end up needing a professional to come and fix it.
If you are doing the job yourself, you may want to grab yourself some HVAC coil cleaning tools, such as the fin cleaning brush displayed. The AC coil cleaning products work much better once you have given the fins a brush down before hand and it makes the job much quicker and easier and they’re very inexpensive.
how to clean aC condenser coils
It may be useful for you to get acquainted with the task of AC coil cleaning before you start on your own air conditioning unit.
Have a watch of the video below to get a good sense of how to clean your AC condenser coils, what your are going to do and how you are going to doing it. You’ll also be able to pick up on some handy tips.
Coil Cleaner FAQ
Hiring a professional to clean your AC coils for you can cost up to $400 depending on local prices and the job at hand.
If the coils can be easily accessed the job will come at a lower price of somewhere up to $200. But if the coils do need to be removed then that’s a lot more work for the technician and they will require you to pay for their time.
If you are planning to do it yourself, it would cost as little as the best AC coil cleaner products in this article and other cleaning accessories you chose to use.
Replacing an AC coil is a labor intensive task and the cost of the component alone can be as high as $1,200.
This is why it is important to maintain the coils of your AC as best you can and by keeping the coils clean, you’ll saving yourself from future expenses.
AC coils should last for at least 10 years. This is the average life span before they need to be replaced. This of course does depend heavily on the build quality and materials it is made from.
However, if a system has been treated properly; with love and care, it has a chance of lasting for even longer, up to 15 years, in fact!
The coil system in your AC is a closed system which the refrigerant travels through in either a gas or liquid state.
VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) from laundry products, aerosols, adhesives and air fresheners as well as acids brought on by moisture in your home can affect this close system.
They effectively create microscopic holes in the closed system of the coils causing the refrigerant to leak.
If you notice this problem call a HVAC consultant right away to get the copper coil replaced as refrigerant solutions are damaging to you and the environment.
It depends on what you mean by spray? If you are planning on using a spray bottle to carefully clean the exterior of your AC unit then that’s no problem.
If you mean spraying the external unit with your garden hose then that is a big no no! The approach to take here is to not flood the system with water otherwise this will result in malfunctions.
About the Author
Dave Miller is a HVAC technician with over 10 years in the industry. Dave created HeatTalk with the ambition for it to become a resource for individuals looking for answers, whether they be a layman, student or a professional.