Every air conditioner, whether it be a window or central unit, dehumidifies the air as a byproduct of their cooling method. During the dehumidification process, your air conditioner is removing moisture from the air and draining it through a condensate drain. Over time, this drain can become clogged with various things such as dirt and debris. You will have to clean it out every so often and luckily, there are various ways to clean out an air conditioner condensate drain. The two most popular methods are pouring white vinegar or bleach down the line to clear clogs. However, there is a time and a unit for each cleaning method and using the wrong method can potentially damage the unit.

Window Units

Using the bleach cleaning method to clear clogs in the condensation drain on window-mounted air conditioners can potentially cause damage. Window air conditioning units drain their condensation from the bottom of the case, which is just outside your window. Pouring bleach into a drain on a unit above decorative plants or your lawn will kill anything it gets on. More importantly, bleach can damage vinyl siding/shingles.


You know the odor that Bleach and vinegar both have because they are characteristic odors. They may not be the most pleasant chemicals to smell, so you will need to wash out your drain with water a few times to remove the odor. Bleach vapor can be harmful if it is inhaled, whereas vinegar is more annoying than a danger. Vinegar is definitely the easier of the two to rinse out of the drain line.

Bleach vs. Vinegar

Bleach should not be used for drain lines that are made of PVC or ABS plastic. Chlorine bleach eats away at not only the line but the glue and cement joining the line to the fittings and the condensation pan. If your drain line is PVC, use only white distilled vinegar for clearing clogs and debris, especially during the winter. A disturbing fact most people don’t realize is that mold, mildew, and algae will grow in your air conditioner condensation drain year-round. During the summer months, you can use bleach to clear out your drain line because the constant flow of condensation that comes from an operating unit will wash out any bleach residue. If you use bleach to clean a drain on a nonoperating unit will leave residual bleach, which will damage the drain pan and line as we stated before. Using vinegar for preventative maintenance throughout the year will keep not only keep your drain clean and clear, but it also will not damage your line.

If you’re in need of preventative maintenance, tune-ups, or diagnosis of your air conditioning unit in Pinellas, Hillsborough, or Pasco counties; call Cool Depot Air today!