Living Rooms

How to clean a swamp cooler – a natural method to cool down your room safely

Knowing how to clean a swamp cooler the easy way will make the hot season more seamless – here's what the experts suggest

Swamp Cooler
(Image credit: GettyImages)

If there is a season to know how to clean a swamp cooler, it is now. As we sit on the fringe of the hottest months on the calendar, you're likely to have already used your cooler this year – and its usage shows no signs of slowing down. However, if you've recently retrieved your swamp cooler and quickly realized that it has seen better days, then it may be time for a clean. 

While knowing how to clean a swamp cooler may seem mundane, the process is quick and easy with the correct cleaning tips. And there is none more reliable than those from the experts. Here's how the clean a swamp cooler, the professional way.  

How to clean a swamp cooler – safe, natural ways to prepare for the heat  

Shopping List

To follow this guide, you will need: 

• White vinegar: such as this one from Amazon that works for many cleaning jobs

• Baking soda: this one will also last for many cleans


• Citric acid: if you have hard water then this citric acid will come in handy.

Your swamp cooler is one of the things you can clean with vinegar – so you don't need to invest in many extra cleaning materials for a finish that is (almost) as good as new. Here's how to clean your cooler safely. 

Swamp Cooler

(Image credit: GettyImages)

1. Disconnect the power to your swamp cooler 

Before beginning the cleaning process, it is vital to cut the power supply to your swamp cooler. Home expert Daniel Akins from The Yardable suggests that to do this, you need to remove the side panel of your unit. 'Unplug both the pump and the motor's wires. The receptacles are located on the interior of your cooler,' he says.

2. Gather the appropriate supplies 

You may already know that white vinegar is one of the key ingredients used in cleaning a swamp cooler. However, you also need some pantry staples to ensure a deep clean. 

'You'll need to gather a few supplies. You will also need white vinegar, baking soda, and a scrub brush. If you have hard water, you may also need citric acid,' says Ryan Collier, the director of HVAC company, Heat Pump Source.  

Swamp Cooler

(Image credit: GettyImages)

3. Create the cleaning solution  

 The expert recommends mixing equal parts of white vinegar and water in a bucket before adding half a cup of baking soda for every gallon of water used. 'If you have hard water, then add a quarter of a cup of citric acid,' Ryan adds. 

4. Remove the pads from the swamp cooler

You should then return to your inactive cooler and remove the pads. Ryan then suggests soaking the pads in the homemade solutions for at least one hour. 

'While the pads are soaking, use a scrub brush to clean the inside of the cooler. Be sure to reach every part of the unit,' the expert says. 

5. Re-add the pads to your cooler

To conclude the clean, you only need to remove the pads from the solution and rinse them off. Ryan says you should allow them to dry completely before putting them back in the cooler and re-introducing the power to your unit. You can enjoy a summer space that is both cool and clean for the rest of the season ahead.  

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.