The Best HVAC Coil Cleaners for Yearly Maintenance

Keeping your condenser and evaporator coils clean can save you money and extend the life of your HVAC system.

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Best HVAC Coil Cleaner Options

Photo: amazon.com

Your HVAC system helps keep you and your family warm in the winter and cool in the summer. For cooling, it uses two main components: The condenser coils, which typically reside outside the house in a large box-like metal structure, and evaporator coils, which are located within the HVAC system inside the house.

Over time, your air conditioner unit’s evaporator and condenser coils will collect dirt, debris, and various deposits. All that dirt can reduce airflow and insulate the coils, inhibiting its ability to absorb heat. This, in turn, causes them to work harder and can also shorten their lifespan. Because your condenser coils are located outside your house, they are exposed to the elements for most of the year. Even if covered when not in use, these coils can still be susceptible to inclement weather.

Inside your house, your evaporator coils are exposed to dust and debris every time your HVAC system switches on—and that can clog them, just like condenser coils. To avoid this problem, it’s a good idea to clean your HVAC coils annually. The best HVAC coil cleaner will help keep your air conditioning system running smoothly and efficiently for a long time.

Our Top Picks

Ahead, this guide rounds up some of the best HVAC coil cleaner options in spray, foam, and liquid formulas. Before you proceed with any of these recommendations to clean your HVAC coils, though, remember: Always start by turning off the power to avoid injury during the task.

Best Overall

Best HVAC Coil Cleaner Options: Comstar 90-298 Coil Safe Professional Grade
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Comstar’s 90-298 formula removes lint, dust, grease, and dirt build-up without needing to rinse it off afterward. It’s a neutral pH, non-foaming liquid cleaner that can be diluted with three to 10 parts water depending on the amount of grime present. Because it’s concentrated, it’s cost-effective. Plus, less plastic waste is easier on the environment.

The Comstar 90-298 cleaner is a little different from the other options on this list because it’s neither acidic nor alkaline, meaning it’s safe to use indoors and outdoors. Its earth-friendly formula is designed to keep the air, water, and ground around the coils unharmed. It cleans and brightens all metal parts, including the aluminum and copper parts found on the condenser and evaporator coils.

Best Bang For the Buck

Best HVAC Coil Cleaner Options: Nu-Calgon 4171-75 Evap Foam
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The Nu-Calgon cleaner foams onto your condenser or evaporator coils’ interior surfaces and gets to work right away. This alkaline formula is specially integrated with surfactants to quickly and efficiently liquefy grease, oil, dirt, and other residues. The aerosol can be applied either right side up or upside down for easy application in those hard-to-reach places on the inside of your HVAC system.

Because Nu-Calgon fortified the formula with corrosion inhibitors, it’s also safe for use on other metals and materials around the coils. Though this cleaner is specially designed for evaporator coils, it’s still an excellent product for condenser coils. Being a no-rinse cleaner makes the job even more manageable and less messy when used inside the house. It’s also registered with the National Sanitation Foundation for use around food products, making it a safe-choice cleaning product for the home.

Best Spray

Best HVAC Coil Cleaner Options: Lundmark Coil Cleen, Air Conditioning
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Like some of the best spray cleaners on the market, Lundmark’s Coil Cleen allows for fast application and even faster cleanup. This condenser-specific cleaner can reduce your electricity bills by up to 40 percent by removing the gunk and dirt that clogs your HVAC air conditioner, reducing its efficiency by forcing it to work harder and wear out sooner. Coil Cleen works just as well on the condenser fins as on the coils, making it doubly efficient. Simply spray the cleaner on the coils and let it work. After a few minutes, you can rinse it off without worrying about damaging the surrounding landscaping.

It’s a pity the product is not recommended for the evaporator as well, but this made-in-the-USA product works very well for what it was designed.

Best Liquid

Best HVAC Coil Cleaner Options: Nu-Calgon 4291-08 Nu-Brite, 1- Gallon
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Nu-Brite is a state-of-the-art liquid cleaner with surfactants that penetrate corrosive deposits on your condenser and lift oily grime from the coils. This alkaline-based product is recommended for outdoor use only, but the formula is especially effective at removing the dirt and grime build-up that cakes onto your HVAC condenser. The USDA has authorized it for use in federally-inspected meat and poultry facilities, a good indicator of its safety and cleaning abilities.

Nu-Brite is a concentrated foaming cleaner that requires a 4:1 mix, which makes for a long-lasting, plastic-saving product. The foaming action eats through the grease and dirt to brighten the coils like they were new. As a bonus, the Nu-Calgon 4291-08 is also recommended for cleaning radiators.

Best No-Rinse

Best HVAC Coil Cleaner Options: Nu-Calgon 4168-08 Evap Pow'r No Rinse Coil Cleaner
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This green-colored cleaner is slightly alkaline and metal-safe, making it an appropriate choice for taking care of your evaporator coils. It won’t harm your in-house HVAC coils by leaving it on during the no-rinse application. This biodegradable formula emulsifies stubborn deposits and grime to get coils looking bright and working better. Build-up on these aluminum coils will cause your HVAC system to work harder to overcompensate for the insulating effects of dirt and soil layers.

The Pow’r green-cleaner has also been USDA-authorized and is concentrated for less waste. You’ll need a spray bottle to dilute the cleaner. The Pow’r No-Rinse should always be mixed with a ratio of 3:1 water at a minimum, though it could be diluted more if the amount of dirt present isn’t so acute.

Most Effective Foam

Best HVAC Coil Cleaner Options: Frost King ACF19 Foam Coil Cleaner
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This heavy-duty foam detergent coil cleaner comes in an aerosol can with a special 360-degree valve that can be sprayed in virtually any direction. Not just for HVAC condensers and evaporator coils, the Frost King cleaner can also be used for other products like freezer and refrigerator coils, lawnmower engines, and car radiators. While aerosol products may not be as environmentally friendly as other products, it contains no CFCs, chlorinated or fluorinated solvents, and is entirely self-rinsing on condensate producing coils.

This formula quickly liquefies grease, dirt, oil, and other residue and includes a corrosion inhibitor to help prevent metal degradation.

Best Alkaline-Based

Best HVAC Coil Cleaner Options: CRC 3196 Foaming Coil Cleaner
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Alkaline cleaners are water-based, heavy-duty detergents that cut through oil, grease, dirt, and other contaminants that can clog your condenser and evaporator coils. This foaming aerosol formula has no chlorinated solvents or ozone-depleting chemicals, which is good news for eco-conscious people. The spray had a very low-odor and required no rinsing after use. The 360-degree valve allows the product to be sprayed from any position, even upside down.

The CRC formula also has no flash or fire point, which significantly reduces fire risk caused by incidental contact with a live electrical component. Other useful applications for the CRC cleaner include refrigeration condensers, fan blades, and blower wheels.