How and Why You Need to Clean your Car's Air Vents Right Now

Cleaning the air vents in your car might have been on your to-do list for a while, always slipping between the cracks. You don’t want to procrastinate cleaning them too long, though, and we’re here to walk you through why as well as how to clean them.

Why You Want Clean Air Vents

Uncleaned air vents can lead to several unpleasant problems that no one wants to face. Here is what you are up against if you leave your air vents as they are:

  • Mold growth is encouraged. Mold reproduces through spores that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. These spores travel through the air, and when they land on a wet or moist surface, they begin to grow. Mold growth can cause eye irritation, throat irritation, skin irritation, coughing, wheezing, and nasal stuffiness. Dirty vents can easily circulate mold spores and any moisture creates the perfect condition for it to grow.
  • The smell of the car will worsen. Any form of dirt, debris, bacteria, mold, or other forms of build-up in the vents of the car can cause an unpleasant odor to be circulated through the small, confined space of your car’s interior whenever the heating or air conditioning is turned on. Even if the heating or air conditioning is in the off position, enough build-up in the vents can leave an odor.
  • Bacterial growth is likely. When condensation from the air conditioning unit does not drain from the pan properly, it often leads to bacterial growth in the air vents of your car. The telltale smells of this growth are musty or old, sweaty clothing aromas coming from the air vents. Any moisture inside the vents can lead to bacterial growth, and the bacteria need to be removed from the affected surfaces.
  • Allergens and dust are present. If the vents are not cleaned regularly, dust and allergens can accumulate in the system. Any passenger or driver with a sensitivity to these allergens could suffer from a mild to more severe allergic reaction if they breathe these. Additionally, anyone who suffers from asthma or any other respiratory issues may find it difficult to breathe in the vehicle.
  • The vents are compromised. If caked in dirt and debris, the life of the vents will be shortened. Certain debris can start to slowly deteriorate the vents, and their durability will be weakened. By avoiding cleaning the vents right now, you might be looking at replacing the vents sooner than necessary.

Ways to Clean your Air Vents

The air vents in your car can be cleaned in multiple ways. Here are some different methods you can attempt to clean your vents:

  • Brush and vacuum. A fine brush or cloth (microfiber is a great option) in one hand can be used to dust each air vent, while a vacuum in the other hand can suction up the loosened particles.
  • Foam paintbrush. For more difficult-to-reach areas, a foam paintbrush is a great option. If simply brushing the debris is not enough to remove it, you can make a natural cleaning solution of white vinegar and warm water (in equal parts).
  • Steam cleaner. The heat of the steam can be used to disinfect the air vents, as well as give it a thorough cleaning. Beware; you will want to make sure any moisture from the steam is dried thoroughly.
  • Compressed air. You can clean the inside of the vents from the outside of your car. Using compressed air you can spray into the exterior air intake valves. Keep the ventilation system running while you do this to give the air somewhere to go.
  • Air filter. A cabin air filter that is blocked up could be replaced for an instant improvement in smell from the vents.
  • Hire a professional. Some mold and bacterial growth that is invading the interior of your ventilation system might require professional help. Removing all the mold spores or bacteria can be difficult for someone not trained to know all the places to search and scrub. Leaving even the smallest amount of mold or bacteria will just prolong the problem. Once any amount of mold or bacteria begins to grow, it will just keep reproducing.

How Often Should Air Vents be Cleaned?

By keeping on top of cleaning regularly, you can more easily avoid the build-up of bacteria or mold. Routine cleaning will also free your car’s air from allergens that may accumulate. Using a brush or cloth with a vacuum once every month or two can keep your car vents in their best condition.

Cleaning the air intake valves and disinfecting through steam cleaning should be done twice each year, or more often if you think it is necessary. If you live in an area that is full of dust, allergens, or other particles in the air, you may need to perform these routine cleanings more often.

If you start to notice irregular and unpleasant smells from your vents, a deeper clean is in order. You can attempt to tackle it on your own, but if they persist, you will need professional help to eliminate the problem.

For heating and air conditioning repair, contact our service center. If you are in the market for a great deal on a new-to-you car, visit our Salt Lake City auto dealership. Our inventory includes rebuilt title cars that have been meticulously restored by our skilled mechanics. If you live out of town, tap into these same great deals by perusing our online inventory of used branded title cars.