The weather seems to have changed from crisp mornings and breezy nights to just humid.  If you live off-base, you probably have at least one Japanese Air Conditioner.  Its bad enough learning how to read the Air Conditioner Remote,  let alone maintaining your salvation from heat and humidity.

I noticed that there were periods of time when the air flowing from one of our air conditioners smelled like a funky dishrag less than desirable.   After some research and a little reassuring translation from family,  I started my project.  Disclaimer, if this seems too intense of a mission just call this guy Heavenly A/C Cleaning. If you are up for the challenge here are the steps I took:

First: Get yourself a can of Air Con Cleaning Spray.  They can be found in DIY, grocery and department stores.  The blue can is fragrance free. Green is fragrance of forest.  And Pink is a new floral fragrance.  I went with green.  If you would like to see more photos of their products, click HERE.

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Second:  Prep your work area.  Since this was my first time, I erred on the side of caution and used a light painters plastic drape held onto the wall with painter’s tape under the air conditioning unit.

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Third: Unplug your Air Conditioning unit.

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Fourth:  Lift the hood on the unit and pull out the filter screens.  We used the attachment on our vacuum and sucked away all of the dust that had accumulated on them.  Set them aside.  They won’t be sprayed.

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Fifth:  As stated on the directions, open windows for ventilation.  Its okay to let in a little humid air while doing this.  Just think how forresty or floraly fresh and cool your place will be in no time!

Sixth, remove the plastic wrap off of the can of spray.  Then lift the little white square tab on the top until it snaps off to “unlock” the sprayer.

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Seventh, shake the can 5 or 6 times.

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Eighth, with a distance of 5 centimeters, spray evenly to saturate the inside of the air conditioner.  If it looks like an electrical part or motor, avoid spraying it.  Sunglasses are optional.

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*There were a few drops of spray that landed on the painter’s drape, so if you have furniture under your A/C, you might want to cover it up.

Ninth:   Wait 10 minutes.  That’s the hardest part!

Tenth:  Put the filters back in and plug in your A/C.

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We covered the front with a light towel to catch anything.  It didn’t seem like anything but air came out.  Whew!

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The liquid from the spray and all of the stink-causing-bacteria will come out with the water through the hose that runs outside.

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  1. This is great. I have done all of the instructions but no water is coming out the drip pipe. I turned it on after ten minutes waiting. I turned it on cool mode for 30 minutes but still nothing coming out.

    The air is nice and cool and no smell which is great but worried about nothing coming out the pipe.

    Any thoughts?

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to show us this. I have been in a house out in town for 5 months (with musty smells in 2 units). The housing agency (Joy) didn’t call me back after asking the owner whether or not he would pay to have them cleaned. I have felt helpless until reading your post. Thank you again!!

  3. Totally agree with Paul. If you watch someone professionally clean your A/C you will be amazed. I have six A/Cs in my house and I have all six of them cleaned every Spring. My cleaner gets here around 8:30 am and works non-stop until 6 pm on them. He charges me 28,800 Yen to do all six (4,800 Yen each) and it is money well spent!

      • I am so sorry, I just saw your question! For you or anyone else out there who may want my cleaner’s info his name is Nagahama-san and his # is 090-5022-3551. He speaks VERY little English, so it would be best to have your housing agency or a Japanese friend call him for you. Your agency may try to send one of their people out, but you need to insist that you want this guy since you are the one paying for it to be done.

  4. Note: This only cleans the coil. The blower is where most of the dust/mildew/mold will accumulate and this truly needs to be cleaned out. You can do it yourself, but it’s best to hire someone that is competent.

  5. wow !! thank you so much for this post now i know what to do to my airconditioner tomorrow 🙂 after 2hrs searching and watching “how to clean an airconditioner” in youtube.. the best answer is here in your article ,, thank you sooo much for sharing your idea,, loved this 🙂

  6. This is for those who want their AC units cleaned for them.
    Had my 3 AC units professionally cleaned this morning for 15,000 Yen total. The units were broken down for a complete cleaning. Now my AC units are operating at peak performance. Never had them so cold. I am sure the cleaning will save me some Yen on utility bills as well. If interested, visit this website:
    I am one satisfied customer. Normally, each unit will cost about 10,000 Yen for cleaning.

  7. Thank you soooooooo much for this post! We live out in town and I’ve heard about this from a couple co-workers, but this post has really made me want to get a can and do this to my a/c’s.

  8. Thanks for this (a year later), it’s been very helpful. I was loking at my unit wondering how I can get this thing cleaned because I’m pretty sure I’m breathing in all sorts of terrible things. Your photo-tutorial is great!

  9. Heather, you are not spraying any electrical items. You are spraying the aluminum coil, kinda looks like a mini car radiator.

    As for the blower, best to clean it by hand with a toothbrush or q-tips and a vacuum.

  10. Love the article – I am currently in Sasebo and I am doing this over the weekend. Just to confirm, the parts inside the air-con are still wet when you turn it on? I am freaked out to get electrical items wet (shock?) but I have to do something… My AC Stinks! Also, the fan under the blades on the bottom (it rotates) has funky gunk on it… will this get that too? Thanks so much!!

  11. Does anyone know if this works with the AC units inside on McT? I assume mine vents outside somehow but I don’t know for sure. Mine all smell musty and I can’t get them to stay cold for the life of me. Thanks!

  12. Thanks soooooo much for posting this. I went to Make Man and got the spray and took care of the A/C units in our Kishaba home. We just had our home inspection done and when the maintenance guy saw that we were using the spray, he said it was the best thing to do…BUT, he highly recommended spraying, waiting 10 minutes, then use a spray bottle with water to wash away all the bacteria after the spray dislodges it all. Saw that there was significantly more gunk released through the exhaust hose.

  13. This might sound gross, but what about the little rotating parts on the bottom of the A/C? It looks like we have *something* growing on them! Eww! Any tips on cleaning that part of the A/C would be much appreciated.

  14. Used my cans today on my three airconditioners…seems to be working great. Did wipe down the blades and vents with clorox wipes as well but that is just me. I used 2 cans on three AC units.

  15. Shannon, Makeman, or the Kanehide DIY store in Naval Kadena will have it, also the DIY store outside Kadena gate 5.

  16. I called our housing agency (Joy) back in April to flush ours out and they said they’d charge over 10,000¥ for each unit, we have 4 units. I am not smelling anything, so it was just something I figured we should do after 2 years in our place, but definitely will try Kandy’s method first to save $500.

    Nicole – you got lucky! Kadena housing told me that unless these types of cleanings are in your lease, you’re going to have to come out of pocket for them. I WILL say that it saves energy & money to use the dehumidifier if it’s not too hot and it’s just muggy. So try that too!

  17. Thanks Kandy, been waiting for this and broken down barney stylee too. Yes!
    Think I will call my agency in the am though and ask if they will clean them before I attempt it myself!

  18. Nicole, thank you for sharing! I think it depends on the owner of the building/house. Our building is owned by one person. And that person leases out the different units in the building to several different housing agencies. Our agency is great, but there have been issue with other agencies and the owner regarding cleaning the units. I’m glad to hear that you got lucky with your agency and owner being so accommodating in cleaning the unit! That should be something that people ask about when looking for a place off base too!

  19. We had ours cleaned when we noticed our son’s room smelling a little musty.

    we just called our housing agency-and they contacted the owner, and next thing we knew, we had an appt to get them cleaned! We didn’t pay anything for it.

    We got all of our units done. They used some high pressure sprayers…the water that came out was BLACK! It was pretty gross-and they didn’t look gross to us at all. So, I guess you never know what might be in there!

  20. Paul, I haven’t heard any housing agency cleaning the A/C units. They pretty much just hand out a sheet of paper with basic instructions on how to clean the filters. Thanks for the other tips…too.

    Mishka, I did like the green smell. It was only strong while spraying. Today is the day after and I can smell it at all.

    I asked my cousin about the professional cleaning. She said it wasn’t necessary unless the A/C was hideously gross. But I think, generally, the housing agencies have the units cleaned between tenants preventing “said hideousness.”

  21. These work fine, but you can do the same exact thing with a water hose or a spray bottle. You are just washing off the dust from the evaporator. I wouldn’t use lysol, no real need for it.

    You really don’t need the plastic, unless you want to cover furniture…the water/spray will go directly out the drain line as she mentioned.

    Great tutorial…should save a few people a few $$, but your housing agency should handle this for you if you are SOFA status.

  22. This sounds so much easier than what I do…I usually wash my filters in the sink…works fine since they aren’t paper or anything and then let them dry. I also use a clorox wipe to wipe down the directional blades and any other parts I can reach but this spray sounds so much easier…might just have to give it a try since I have three units and in the spring cleaning urge, I should do it now.

  23. If your uncomfortable about doing this yourself or just plain lazy (like me!), you can hire professional air conditioner cleaners to come do this professionally – especially good if your air con unit has any mold inside it or is especially dirty. Either call your housing agency and ask or ask in a store like Best Denki. It should cost around $100 for a regular sized unit.

  24. I have used Lysol spray sparingly after taking out and cleaning the filters. The only problem is that the gunk isn’t forced out and reappears sometime later and I have to do it all over again. Sometimes weekly. Maybe I didn’t use enough spray, but I didn’t want to take a chance! This seems a much better solution and I will be doing it today!

  25. Lysol…Hmmm. The spray I used didn’t have too much fragrance or “chemically” smell. Perhaps it would be safer to use something made for these kinds of A/C units just in case? I honestly don’t know.

  26. i do not think there could POSSIBLY be a more relevant post right now. thanks, Kandy, you’re the best! I think it will be this weekend’s project.

  27. AWESOME tips – and I love the photo tutorial. 🙂 We have one of these in our on-base home. I will *so* be doing this. Any idea if plain ol’ Lysol spray would work as well?


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