How to Clean the Air Return Vent Cover

Are you spring cleaning? How long has it been since you’ve cleaned your Air Return Vent Cover? Read on for quick step-by-step instructions on cleaning yours! Thank you to Harris Teeter for sponsoring this this tutorial. Be sure to check out their Clean Spring Sweepstakes!

I’m hearing lots of talk of spring cleaning this month. The weather is warmer, and it’s time to open those windows and let in the sunshine and fresh air. I’ve never been one to go on a spring cleaning spree. I have tasks that I perform daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annually, and yearly all year long. I bet most of you do, too! But if you are looking for a few areas of your house that may need extra special cleaning attention, let me call your direction to the Air Return Vent Cover.

Say, what? I’m hoping you’re not frantically looking around your house to see if you actually have an Air Return Vent Cover. The air return vent cover hides, well, the air return vent. A lot of air travels through that vent every day, and the cover itself collects dust and cobwebs. In short, the air return vent pulls air circulating in the home and recycles it back through where it can be heated or cooled. Our Air Return Air Vent Cover that I’m using for today’s step-by-step tutorial is located in the ceiling.

The Air Return Vent Cover may not look that bad on first glance, but a close examination will reveal lots of dust bunnies. I like to clean mine a minimum of yearly. Here’s a step-by-step pictorial on cleaning this seldom-noticed home necessity.

How to Clean the Air Return Vent Cover

Supplies needed:

  • Vacuum cleaner (with a wand if the vent cover is on the ceiling)
  • Screwdriver
  • Stepladder (to reach vents that are on the ceiling)
  • Some sort of safety glasses to prevent dust from falling into eyes (if vents are on the ceiling)
  • Damp rag

Step One

Turn off the air conditioner/heat at the thermostat.

How to Clean the Air Return Vent Cover

Step Two

Inspect the air return vent cover. Make sure none of the screws are loose.

How to Clean the Air Return Vent Cover

Step Three

Using the vacuum cleaner, and the wand tool for vents on the ceiling, remove the loose dust from the cover.

How to Clean the Air Return Vent Cover

 Step Four

Using a screwdriver, remove the vent cover. Place the screws in a safe place for re-installing the cover.

How to Clean the Air Return Vent Cover

Step Five

Inspect the inside of the air return vent. If needed, wipe down with a damp rag and let dry.

Step Six

Clean BOTH sides of the cover. My return vent cover is metal. I used a damp rag and a spritz of an all-natural cleaner to get the grime off of tough places. Do not use a paper towel, as the rough texture of the vent will just “eat” the paper. Depending on how dirty yours is, you can always wash it in hot water before wiping clean. Be sure to clean both sides! Let the cover dry completely before screwing it back over the vent.

I used a white rag on purpose to demonstrate exactly how gross these vent covers can get. Yuck, right! But, no worries, mine is white and clean now!

How to Clean the Air Return Vent Cover

I hope this tutorial helps you get your Air Return Vent Covers nice and sparkly!

Did you know that Harris Teeter wants to help you out with your spring cleaning? They are having a fabulous Clean Spring sweepstakes with products, gift cards, coupons, and more up for grabs! Check out their Spring Cleaning tips and recipes, and enter their awesome sweepstakes, HERE

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  1. Rachael says

    I can always use some new cleaning tips! My covers all need cleaning! I’m not too excited to start on those.

  2. says

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve cleaned the outside of my vents, but have never opened them I have this dusting cloth that keeps the dust from getting all over the place without water. I will be doing this soon.

  3. says

    I am pretty sure I only clean my vents when I paint. Haha. This is a good reminder to add it to my list more regularly – because honestly, the less dust blowing around, the better, right?

  4. says

    I needed to see this post! I am terrible at cleaning air vents. I confess that sometimes I let the dust pile up for much longer than I should!

    Thanks for sharing your tips! I’ll be sure to keep them in mind for the next time :)

  5. says

    My air vent looks so disgusting right now, so I really need to clean it out! Thank you so much for this post–I am going to share with my hubby too (so hopefully he gets the hint that he should clean our vents hehe)

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