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How to Clean and Replace Your RV Air Conditioner Filter

Before you head out on a cross-country trip, make sure to do the proper maintenance on your RV. No one wants to get on the road to find an empty propane tank, low tire pressure, or a tear in the roof. One thing you can easily overlook is cleaning (or replacing) your RV air conditioner filter.

This simple task ensures healthy air quality inside your RV. Let’s see just how easy it is.

clean and replace rv ac filter
Check your RV air conditioner filter once a month to determine if it needs to be cleaned or replaced.

Where Is the RV Air Conditioner Filter? 

Like in a traditional sticks-and-bricks house, the RV air conditioner filter is located behind the air vent. Most of the time this vent is located in the RV AC shroud in the ceiling of the RV. If you open the vent, you’ll see the dirty filter, just like if you opened the vent at home.

It’s important to have at least a basic filter in an air conditioner because otherwise the dust will get caught on the evaporator fins inside. This will make the AC perform much worse and will be much harder to clean than a filter.

RV air conditioner Vent
Most of the time you will find the filter behind the grate in the AC housing on the ceiling

How to Clean Your RV Air Conditioner Filter

You don’t always have to replace the air conditioner filter when it gets dirty. Sometimes it just requires some cleaning. However, before you do anything, make sure you don’t have a disposable filter. If you do, don’t clean it. Just throw it away and insert another one. If you do have a reusable air conditioner filter, then you can start to clean it.

Make sure the air conditioner is turned off, then remove the dirty filter. There are several methods for cleaning to choose from, just be gentle so you don’t rip the fabric. If you tear it, you’ll need to replace it.

  1. Rinse gently with water to clean the filter
  2. Place the filter in a bucket of water.
  3. Gently vacuum the RV air conditioner filter. Usually, owners can get by with this if the filter isn’t very dirty. Just make sure not to press down on the filter as this will cause damage. Also, make sure you clean it outside as you don’t want the dust particles swirling around in your living space.
Woman using a hand vacuum on vent.
Use a vacuum to remove dust particles from your air conditioner vent gently.

Go The Extra RV AC Cleaning Mile

While we have our AC unit open for filter cleanings, we like to take the opportunity to perform a deep clean. We check around the vent opening for dust and other dirt particles. We clean around the coils with our fingers, wiping away any grime. 

We also clean the vent cover itself because dust particles will gather there. The filter won’t collect the dust particles on the vent, and they’ll get blown all over our RV if we don’t wipe it down.

Some RV owners will also spray a disinfectant on the filter before returning it to the vent. You can fill a spray bottle with equal parts white vinegar and water. Once the filter dries, you can return it to the vent.

Pro Tip: Nobody likes a sweaty, stinky camper. Keep cool on the go with The Complete Guide To RV Air Conditioners.

Hand holding a dirty air conditioner filter.
There are many great RV air conditioner filter options that will work for different types of AC units.

How Often Should You Clean or Replace Your RV AC Filter?

You’ll want to check your RV air conditioner filter about once a month. You might not have to clean it or replace it every time, but it’s a good idea to put it on your monthly maintenance list. And if you maintain this regimen, you might get by just vacuuming the RV air conditioner filter more often than washing it.

If you vacuum it regularly, you might not have to clean it with water or a disinfectant as often. If you only use your RV a couple of times a year, you can probably get by with cleaning the filter each time you travel. 

Usually, RV air conditioner filters last about 90 days of continuous use. So if you live in your RV and use the AC every day, you’ll need to replace the filter more often than someone who only travels a few times a year.

Commonly Missed RV and Vehicle Maintenance Items | Preventing Catastrophic Failure and Breakdowns

How to Know When It’s Time to Upgrade

If the filter is still dirty after you rinse it or soak it, or if it has tears, it’s time to replace it. A torn filter won’t trap the particles to keep the air clean. An air conditioner filter protects the air quality, so if it’s not doing its job well, you’ll want to upgrade for the sake of your health.

You might also start to notice a stale smell in your RV. This indicates possible mold growth that you’ll want to take care of quickly. If the air doesn’t cool as quickly, your filter might need replacing.

Air conditioner unit in an RV.
If your air conditioner is not cooling quickly or has a stale smell, replace your filter.

Replacing Your RV Air Conditioner Filter

When you’ve decided to replace your RV air conditioner filter, make sure to check the owner’s manual for the correct AC model and filter size. Different RVs have different filters, and sometimes the manufacturer will even recommend a specific brand. 

Also, determine whether you need a disposable or reusable one so you can choose the appropriate replacement.

Pro Tip: Need to troubleshoot your AC unit? Find out How to Stop Your RV AC Or Heat Pump From Freezing Up.

Best RV Air Conditioner Filter Replacements

Just like in stick-and-brick houses, you can get many kinds and brands of RV air conditioner filters. Here are three of the best.

1. Cut-To-Fit RV AC Filter Replacements

Since RV air conditioners come in a variety of brands and sizes, it makes it simpler to get something you can cut to size.

With a MERV 6 rating, these filters are eight times more efficient than regular foam ones. MERV stands for Minimal Efficiency Reporting Value, which serves as a “grade” for your air filter. This means this specific filter will trap large particles like allergens, dirt, lint, pet dander, etc., more effectively, thus improving the overall air quality in your RV. 

However, if someone in your family has asthma or severe allergies, you may want to look for one that has an even higher MERV rating, just like you would in a house.

FilterTime RV, Cut To Size RV Air Filter, 17″x20″…
  • Filters: Pet Dander, Pollen, Dust.
  • Cuts Easy to the size you need.
  • Installs easily in seconds. Rated for 90 days of use.
RV Air Conditioner Disposable Air Filter - No More Mold Spores, Pollen, or Dust - Review

2. RVAir Dometic RV Filter Replacement

These RV air conditioner filters are compatible with Dometic AC units. This filter has several size options to choose from. 

They also have a MERV 6 rating and come in a two-pack. Overall, they are very similar to the previous example. You can’t go wrong with either option.

They’re straightforward to install and maintain.

RV Air AC Filter – Air Conditioner Replacement…
  • EXACT FIT FOR YOUR RV: Ensure that your air conditioner functions…
  • ADVANCED FILTRATION TECHNOLOGY: Going beyond typical stock…
  • QUIET NIGHTS, PEACEFUL SLEEP: The RV Air conditioner filter…
How to Clean Your RV AC Filter AC-105G & Replace the RV Air Dometic RV Air Conditioner Filter

3. Coleman Compatible Replacement RV Air Filter

Coleman is another name recognized in the camping world for decades. It’s a respected company and one that produces quality materials. Their RV air conditioner units generally last about five years, also, so you’ll need to replace the filters several times during the lifespan of each unit. 

This specific foam filter is compatible with the Coleman 67983751 unit. It only comes in a one-pack, which is cheaper than the 2-pack options, but it also means you might want to order two so you have a replacement handy when the time comes.

Coleman Compatible 67983751 Replacement RV AC Foam…
  • Replacement foam RV AC filter
  • Compatible with Coleman 67983751
  • Dimensions measure 16-1/8″ x 16-1/8″ x 1/4″
Removing, cleaning, and reinstalling the filter on a Coleman-Mach

Pro Tip: An RV air conditioner cover can help protect the exterior of your AC unit, so we put together a list of the 5 Best RV Air Conditioner Covers (and Why You Should Use One).

Keeping Your AC System Functioning

It’s important to maintain the air quality in your RV by regularly checking, cleaning, and replacing your RV air conditioner filter. But it’s also just as crucial to the life of your HVAC system. 

A dirty air conditioner filter will harm the overall system because it uses more energy to draw in air to cool your space.

Is regular maintenance of your RV air conditioner filter on your monthly to-do list? Drop a comment below!

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Sharing is caring!

Michael Clark

Thursday 7th of April 2022

To begin, switch off the air conditioner in your camper. Cleaning the air filter while the air conditioner is running is not recommended since dirt and particles will deposit on the evaporator coils and other internal elements, causing the system to malfunction later. To be safe, you should unplug the AC power supply.

Samantha Nichols

Saturday 25th of December 2021

There are 5 steps to clean the AC filter for your RV. Step 1: remove the AC filter. Step 2: vacuum the AC filter. Step 3: soak and brush the filter. Step 4: rinse and sanitize. Step 5: dry and put it back. Hoping that this way can help you.