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The Home Depot

How to Clean Your Vents for Winter

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Seasonal > How to Clean Your Vents for Winter
How to Clean Your Vents for Winter

The area inside your home’s heating vents can get pretty gross. Those dark tubes can collect dust, dirt, hair and even small household objects. If you suffer allergies or have small children in your home, you should make it a priority to clean your vents periodically. Even if you don’t have either of those things – cleaning your vents can make a big difference in the way your HVAC system works to heat your home.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “duct cleaning generally refers to the cleaning of various heating and cooling system components of forced air systems.” This includes, the group says, “the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers, heating and cooling coils, condensate drain pans (drip pans), fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing.”


It’s expected for a small amount of dirt and dust to settle inside your heating ducts. However, excessive amounts of dirt can be problematic. The dirt could make you sick, and it could also block the flow of air into the room.


So, how do you tackle the task? Read on to find the best way to clean your vents for winter.

  1. The area inside your home’s heating vents can get pretty gross.

    1.Do a Visual Inspection

    This isn’t a task you have to do a lot. In fact, the EPA says that you should only do it under certain conditions: when there is substantial visible mold growth inside the heating system, when the ducts are infested with vermin or when there is an excessive amount of dust and dirt inside the vent. Take a look at your vents and ducts to determine whether a cleaning is needed. Be on the lookout for the smell of mildew, signs of mold or droppings or other signs of infestation. Use a flashlight if you need and be careful to protect your hands, nose and mouth while you inspect.

  2. 2.Remove the Vent Grille

    If you do decide that now is the time to clean, remove the vent grill and clean it thoroughly. Be sure to get inside the cracks and lines of the vent and remove all dirt and debris. Clean the area that surrounded the vent as well.

  3. 3.Clean the Inside of the Duct

    Next, clean the actual duct. Protect your hands with a pair of gloves. Use a damp cloth to gently wipe the inside of the duct. You can also use a small vacuum to remove the dust – but be careful and get help if you plan on cleaning using this method.

  5. 4.Clean Up your Workspace

    Finally, take care to remove any dirt you may have stirred up. Sweep or vacuum the area directly around the duct. Wipe off any furniture that may now have dust on it.

  6. 5.When to Call in a Professional

    If you think your home needs a deeper clean, only a professional with experience and the right equipment can provide that. Any professional you use should do a thorough inspection of your entire home heating system to ensure that it’s working as it should and that there are no contaminants in it that could make you sick. They should have the right tools to tackle the job. They should also take care not to damage any parts of your heating system while cleaning.


    The time right before winter hits is a great time to have your vents cleaned and inspected. That’s because winter is when you’ll likely spend a lot of time in your sealed up home. Also, your ducts may have built up with allergens that are prevalent in the air in summer and fall. Tackle the job early and breathe a little easier.

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