How To Clean an Air Duct: Do's and Don'ts

How To Clean an Air Duct: Do's and Don'ts

Cleaning your home air ducts is a critical component of breathing clean, clear air, but most people often overlook this important task. Why? Because ductwork and maintaining your HVAC system isn’t always the most exciting of tasks.

However, air ducts are prime spots for dust, dirt particles, dead insects, pet dander, cobwebs, mold, and other debris to linger. If your air ducts have any form of contamination in them, their next stop is into the air in your home. Once contaminants are in the air, you are more likely to breathe them in, which can cause negative impacts on your health and lungs. The health problems associated with dirty air ducts include allergies and asthma, which you definitely want to avoid at all costs. 

What Is Dust? 

Dust isn’t exactly the friendliest thing in your household, and people are largely responsible for the production of dust. So what, exactly, is dust made of? It’s primarily made of dead skin cells and dust mites, which is why increased time indoors can contribute to an increase of dust in your house. 

Even though many of us dust once it is visible, dust accumulates on surfaces long before it is visible to your eye. That's why it’s important to instill a cleaning routine that is consistent and thorough and includes vacuuming, wiping surfaces, and prioritizing effective airflow throughout the home.

Why a Clean Air Duct Is Important

Clean airflow through your air duct’s supply vent is also a major proponent of how dust circulates, which is why a dirty air duct can contribute to a dust problem in the home. Not only that, but an air duct filled with dust and other contaminants can prevent the circulation of clean air. 

This can result in health issues and a generally reduced quality of air. The majority of Americans still do not see dusting as a priority, even though clear air contributes to the overall higher quality of life. Not only should dusting be a priority, but clean air ducts should be as well. 

When To Clean Your Air Duct 

The best time to clean out your home's air ducts is during the spring or summer, when you can open windows and doors and get air circulating throughout the home. Cleaning your air ducts can release contaminants like dust or mold into the air, so make sure to have proper ventilation when you decide to deep clean.

Some signs that your air ducts might need cleaning include if you or members of your family are having mild allergic reactions to the presence of dust. Sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes are signs that your air ducts might be contaminated with dust, mold, or cobwebs. If there is the presence of moisture, contaminants could potentially contribute to microbiological growth, or mold, in your home.

Though it is unlikely that your reactions to dirty air ducts will be severe, it is possible that the health impacts can include asthma attacks or other reactions to allergens circulating through the air. It is your decision whether you choose to clean your air ducts or have them professionally cleaned, but whatever choice you make, prioritize your wellness. 

What To Look for in Your Air Duct

Air ducts are likely to be spread throughout your home and can be located towards the ceiling, or along the baseboards of your home. Start by removing the slatted grille that holds the air duct in place, and inspecting the duct for any noticeable signs of a buildup of dust, mold, or other contaminants. If there isn’t anything noticeable it may not be time for a cleaning. 

However, if you or your family is experiencing symptoms of allergic reactions it may be wise to clean your air ducts. It is especially important if you suspect that a more serious contaminant than mold is in your air ducts, that you contact a professional for an inspection.

If you have a large family, several pets, or spend a significant amount of time indoors, your air quality may be reduced. Geographic location can also impact your air quality, including whether you live in a city or in a rural area. 

Cleaning Your Air Duct: DIY or Call a Professional

Cleaning your air ducts is an important, yet time-consuming task, so it’s best to do your research about what a thorough air duct cleaning requires before committing to it. Always begin with a preliminary evaluation of your air ducts, by removing the air duct grates and inspecting the vent with a flashlight. If you see sizable amounts of dust, it may be time to clean the air ducts

However, if you believe that you have found mold in your air ducts, call a professional duct cleaning service to have it tested to verify what type of mold it is, and its potential impacts on your home and health. In all likelihood, if you have mold in your air ducts, turning to professional air duct cleaning services with adequate equipment to thoroughly clean your air ducts may be the best move. 

How Often Should I Clean My Air Ducts

Though it’s recommended that air ducts be cleaned every three to five years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that air ducts only be cleaned only when necessary. Routine cleaning of your home, and cleaning your space of dust regularly can contribute to overall higher air quality.

Maintaining airflow throughout your home, prioritizing weekly cleaning of major areas in the home, and using products that don’t contain chemicals or contaminants can all help the air quality in your home. This antimicrobial odor eliminator by Azuna is the perfect way to prioritize better air quality in your home. 

Not only does this treatment work perfectly for smaller rooms in the home, like bathrooms, small bedrooms, and closets, but it lasts up to three months. This odor eliminator doesn’t just eliminate unwanted smells from the space, but actually helps to clean and neutralize the air against contaminants like mold, bacteria, and mildew. 

Azuna’s odor eliminator is also offered for larger rooms and comes in four high-quality, natural scents including Simply Citrus and Aromatherapy. Using natural ingredients and chemical-free odor eliminators not only supports cleaner air but doesn’t release additional contaminants into the air. 

Prioritize Prevention

As previously mentioned, taking preventative measures is one of the most effective ways to keep your home clean and your air quality as clear as possible. Regularly changing your air filters can contribute to higher air quality, as can regular and thorough cleaning in the home. 

Getting out of the home and prioritizing time outside can also support cleaner quality of air, as dead skin cells are what comprise the majority of dust. Don’t wait to clean air ducts, as keeping clean air ducts is critical to maintaining high air quality in your home for you and your family. 

If you notice moisture building up in areas of your home, like basements or bathrooms, or start to smell mildew or mold, address the problem as soon as possible. Since mold and fungal bacteria thrive in moist environments, it's critical that you address any mold growth immediately. 

Use Natural Ingredients When Cleaning

Chemical-filled cleaners may smell good, and boast properties to clean as effectively as possible, but often contain contaminants that can be harmful to your health. If you’re cleaning contaminants from your home, why clean them with chemical-filled products? High quality air in your home is not just about keeping your air clean, it's about what products you choose to create clean air with. 

Look for natural odor eliminators, opting to clean with homemade or high-quality natural cleaners that have legible and minimal ingredients. Essential oils can be effective in cleaning and for aromatherapy when diluted with water and used as a cleaner

Though it may be tempting to reach for a cleaner or air freshener that claims to address unwanted odors, most of the time these products mask – not neutralize – odors in the home. Not only are natural products the safer options, if there are children or pets in the home, but you won't be breathing in potentially harmful chemicals while you clean. 

The Bottom Line

Dust, mold, mildew, and other contaminants all exist in the natural world, but when they come into the home they can be harmful to your health. There are a number of effective measures that you can take to not only prioritize a cleaner home, but a house that has a high quality of air. Before attempting to clean your air ducts, ensure that you have the proper protection and equipment to do a thorough job cleaning. 

If you suspect your home has a mold problem, particularly if it's in the air ducts, be sure to contact professionals who may be able to address the situation. 

And though routine cleaning of air ducts and dusty surfaces is important preventative maintenance, be sure to not overclean your air ducts. Using antimicrobial odor eliminators with natural ingredients, increasing airflow throughout your home, and maintaining regular cleaning practices can all support better air quality. 

 

Sources:

Health and Environmental Effects of Particulate Matter (PM) | US EPA

Dust & Indoor Air Quality Briefing | American Lung Association

Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? | US EPA