Now in Shanghai we are in the period of perfect weather. These are the times after youve stopped using the heater and put your winter clothes away, but before youre working the air conditioner overtime and wear flip-flops any time youre not at work. So, now is the perfect time to do a bit of spring cleaning, specifically on your air conditioner. Since youre going to be using it most of the time during the summer, its good to clean the dust and grime out of the air filter now.

If you havent cleaned your filters out in a while (or ever), you may be in for a surprise. The good news is that after youre done, your air conditioner will work better and produce a better air flow.

As most apartments in China have individual air conditioner units for each room, Ill focus on cleaning these individual units.

Steps for Cleaning Your Air Conditioner in China

1) Get all your supplies ready. If the air conditioner unit is above your bed, computer, or TV, you may want to put a sheet over your stuff to protect it from any dust that falls down. Also, if youre worried about breathing in anything hazardous you can want to wear a mask while you do this. Or, if youre like me, you can just hold your breath. Also, figure out where you are going to clean the filters. If you have a bathtub, this is probably the best choice as no food comes in contact with it. If youre lucky to have an outdoor area, you can also clean the filters there.

2) Open the air conditioner unit. Usually there are 2 latches on either end of the unit. You just push these in, and the top half of the unit will open up allowing access to the filters underneath.

3) In all the air conditioners in my apartment, there are 2 filters, side-by-side, once you open the unit. Pop these out, being careful not to get dust everywhere. Immediately take these to your cleaning area. Remember how the filters fit into the air conditioner. This way when youre done, you wont be scratching your head trying to fit the puzzle back together.

These filters were actually really clean, so dont expect them to be so spotless

4) Start cleaning the filters. Try and get as much of the dust off first without soaking the filter. Try a damp paper towel, or even use your fingers to peel the grime off.

5) Once youve done as much as you can without water, then use your shower nozzle or sink faucet to blast the rest of the dirt out of the mesh filter. Be sure to have something in the drain to catch all the nastiness, or you may end up clogging the drain.

6) Now that your filter is all clean, leave it out to dry completely.

7) When the filter is dry, you can replace it back in the air conditioner unit. Then close the unit up, and youre done!

Congratulations! Now once it gets hot out youre air conditioners will work better and be more energy-efficient.

There is one final tip Id recommend in preparing your air conditioner for the Chinese summer. Actually make sure it works. Turn on the a/c for an hour or so to be sure that its blowing out frigid air. Its good to check this now, before it gets sweltering outside. If there is a problem, call up your landlord and ask him to arrange for it to be repaired.