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DIY Air Duct Cleaning

Hvac wall register.

DIY air duct cleaning is a great way to clean the ventilation ducts in your home while saving money at the same time. It's important to clean the air ducts in your home on a regular basis. By taking the time to learn how to take care of this important maintenance task yourself, you can avoid having to pay for a professional HVAC contractor to do it for you.

When to Clean Your Air Ducts

Cleaning the air ducts in your home can eliminate or reduce dust and foul odors. There are certain times it is especially beneficial to clean the air ducts. For example, if you purchase a home where the previous owners had animals, cleaning the air ducts before you move in can help rid the house of any permeating animal smell. Use the following recommendations to help decide when to clean your air ducts:

  • When you purchase a home
  • Once a year or more if someone has allergies or breathing problems
  • Once a year or more if you have pets
  • Every three to five years in normal households

How to for Air Duct Cleaning

Start your DIY air duct cleaning job by gathering the following materials:

  • A sturdy ladder
  • Screwdriver
  • Long handled brush
  • Broomstick
  • Duct tape
  • Rags and towels
  • Vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment
  • Mop
  • Bucket of water

Steps for Cleaning:

  1. Climb up the ladder and remove the air duct grates (also called registers).
  2. Clean each of the registers with a brush and wet rag
  3. If needed, paint the registers
  4. Attach the hose end of your vacuum cleaner to a broomstick with duct tape
  5. Climb up the ladder and use the broomstick to push the hose end of the vacuum as deep as you can into the duct
  6. Vacuum the duct
  7. Use the rags, towels or mop to clean out more debris if necessary
  8. Replace the grates

Rent Equipment

If you want a more professional job on your air ducts, but still want to do the job yourself, rent air duct cleaning equipment. Check your local home store's rental department to see if they rent duct cleaning equipment.


The best way to keep your ducts clean is to maintain them appropriately. Be sure to change the filters to your HVAC system regularly and dust the registers twice a year or more.

Professionally Vs. DIY Cleaned Air Ducts

Having a professional clean your air ducts will cost anywhere between $400 to $1000 dollars. Professionals will use heavy-duty vacuums and equipment that can get deep into your duct system. It is possible to DIY air duct cleaning, but having a professional clean your ducts in the following cases is recommended:

  • There are rats or rodents living in your ducts
  • You have excessive mold growth
  • Fire damage in your home
  • The job seems too big to do on your own
  • Excessive odors

Why Air Duct Cleaning is Beneficial

In the past 10 years there has been a growing awareness about how important it is to purify the air we breathe, especially in the place we spend most of our time…our homes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made this statement about air duct cleaning: "Knowledge about air duct cleaning is in its early stages…you may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should be occasionally cleaned. Provided that the cleaning is done properly, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental."

The EPA goes on to say you should have your ducts cleaned if:

  • There is visible mold growth on the metal grates covering the ducts
  • The ducts are infested with rodents, insects, or other vermin
  • The ducts are clogged with excessive dirt and debris
  • There is a wood burning furnace, stove or fireplace that uses the duct system
DIY Air Duct Cleaning