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Summary
  • Dust and pollutants can settle inside air vents and get blown by the air conditioner’s (A/C) blower. Your vehicle’s cabin can appear clean, but a dirty air vent might be continuously introducing harmful particulates.
  • To clean your air vents, you’ll need to remove the vents using a screwdriver from the dashboard to access the air ducts. Then, use compressed air to blow the dust inside.
  • A common sign that air vents need to be cleaned is the presence of musty odors or if your allergies are frequently getting triggered when you’re in your vehicle. Getting your air vents cleaned after replacing your cabin’s air filter can also be a good plan.

Vehicle air vents can collect allergens like dust and pollen, especially if it hasn’t been cleaned in a long time. This problem might seem easy to brush under the rug, but it might affect you and your passenger’s health in the long run, especially if they’re sensitive to allergens and particulates.

In this article, we’ll talk about how to clean car air vents. We’ll also discuss why cleaning them is important.

Why You Should Clean Your Vehicle’s Air Vents

If you’ve ever breathed the air on an interstate or in a busy tunnel, you’ll realize that the air outside your vehicle can be quite polluted. Continuously breathing the polluted air outside your vehicle isn’t healthy and can cause a range of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. These can include allergies and even heart disease and cancer. Toxic particles can also trigger sinus problems, chronic bronchitis, or asthma. Hence, keeping good air quality inside your vehicle is important.

When your air conditioning system is set to let in outside air, the intake cowl lets in dust, soot, allergens, and air particulates. Most vehicles have a cabin air filter, but it isn’t perfect and can still allow some particles to enter your cabin.

Your vehicle’s air vents can also grow bacteria, mold, and fungus over time, which can cause your cabin to have an unhealthy odor. Vacuuming your vehicle’s upholstery, carpet, and dashboard is a great way to get rid of the allergens and odors that have managed to get inside and settle inside the cabin. However, cleaning your vehicle’s air vents typically isn’t part of its maintenance checklist or a routine car wash. So, your vehicle’s cabin can appear clean, but a dirty air vent might continuously introduce harmful particulates and odors.

How To Clean Air Vents in Cars

Here’s how to clean air vents so that you can keep your cabin fresh and healthy.

You’ll need the following tools:

  • A vacuum cleaner
  • Screwdrivers
  • Car vent cleaner
  • An air compressor with a long nozzle

You’ll need to remove the vents using a screwdriver from the dashboard to access the air ducts. That said, some vents can simply pop out.

You can use compressed air to blow the dust inside. Alternatively, you can also use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the dust. A lot of dust might linger in the air during this process, so using a dust mask and safety glasses might be a good idea. Reaching down into the ducts, you can also wipe the dust using a microfiber cloth with an all-purpose cleaner.

A common mistake is ignoring hidden vent areas because they’re tucked away in hard-to-reach areas. You should try to clean these areas because they can be a source of odors.

Afterward, you should spray the air vent cleaner solution into air ducts to kill any bacteria, mold, mildew, or fungus that might be causing any unwanted odors.

Dirty air vents are a problem that’s typically out of sight and out of mind. Cleaning air vents at least once a year can be a good plan, but you might want to do it sooner rather than later depending on whether your location is humid or dusty. A common sign that air vents need to be cleaned is the presence of musty odors or if your allergies are getting triggered frequently when you’re in your vehicle. Cleaning your air vents after replacing your cabin’s air filter can also be a good plan.

If you’re not that experienced when it comes to doing DIY work on your ventilation system, then you can always ask a mechanic for help.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

Bosch
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