May 31, 2019  

How To Clean Air Vents

You may be surprised at the amount of dust and lint lurking in the vents and ducts in your home. Keep reading to learn how to easily clean air vents!


I’ll be honest, cleaning our air vents has never once crossed my mind. That is, until the day I glanced over at the return air vent in our living room and noticed the disturbing amount of dust bunnies hanging out on that vent. And once I noticed how gross it was, I couldn’t unsee it.



I started thinking about all of the dust, dog hair, and Cheerios that find their way into your air ducts and it only makes sense that you should probably clean your air vents every now and then. Who wants that dirty, dusty air circulating their house?

Cleaning is most definitely not my forte but I took to Google to find out how I could clean my own air vents. And it’s actually really easy!

This is a great project to add to your seasonal cleaning routine.


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Cleaning Your Own Air Vents

Cleaning all of that dust out of your air vents is an easy task that’s perfect to add to your spring cleaning routine.

You can pay professionals to deep clean your air duct system, but I’m frugal and always game for a DIY approach. Of course, you won’t be able to deep clean your ducts as thoroughly as a pro, but I figure most of the debris hangs out near the vents and floor registers anyway. Plus the vent covers themselves are super easy to clean.

Watch this video see how dirty these air vents really were and how I cleaned them so they are sparkling clean again! I can’t believe the water was that dirty after soaking them!

Supply list

1. Turn Off HVAC System

Before you start cleaning, be sure to turn off your furnace and air conditioner.

2. Remove Vents

Pull up floor registers and remove return air vents. My wall vents required a flat head screwdriver.


3. WASH Vents

Lay all of your vents in the bathtub and fill the tub with warm, soapy water. Dish soap works great for this, especially dish soaps that have a degreaser in them.

Allow your vents to soak in the soapy water for 10-15 minutes.


Use a bristle scrub brush to remove any remaining grime from your vents. These two brushes from Full Circle worked really well for cleaning air vents! The larger brush’s narrow shape reached in between all of the vent grates. I also used Full Circle’s small detail brush for a few hard-to-reach spots.

After you’ve scrubbed the vents clean, rinse them under warm water and lay on a towel to dry. If you have a shower head attachment, it works really well for rinsing! I laid all of my clean vents out on a large bath towel and let them air dry while I moved onto step 4.


4. Vacuum Ducts

Use a shop vac or your vacuums hose attachment to clean out your ducts before replacing the vents. I borrowed my father-in-law’s small shop vac for this task.

Use your vacuum’s hose to suck up all of the cobwebs, crumbs, and dust lurking in your ducts. You won’t be doing as deep of cleaning as a pro would, but just getting the stuff that’s collected around the duct opening is a huge improvement.

5. Put Vents Back In Place

Put all of your vents back where they belong. If they’re still a little wet, that’s okay because they will air dry.


6. Replace Furnace Filter & Turn On HVAC

Before you turn your HVAC back on, take a minute to replace your furnace filter. If your filter is dirty, you’ll still get dirty air coming up through your vents and it will ruin all of your hard work!


I know learning how to clean air vents is basically the most mundane topic I could blog about, but I am so appalled at all of the dust bunnies clinging to my vents that I had to do something and had to share it with you!

Looking for more cleaning tips? Take a look at these!

Have a great day!

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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a working mom juggling two young kids, a corporate job, and all that goes into managing a home. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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