Can You Wash a Dirty Air Filter? A Comprehensive Guide

Learn how to clean an air filter in your car or home safely without damaging it. Find out what type of cleaner you should use for different types of filters.

Can You Wash a Dirty Air Filter? A Comprehensive Guide

Cleaning an air filter is a delicate process that requires care and attention. Don't be too aggressive with the filter or vacuum, as it could damage the filter fibers. Once the dirt on the surface has disappeared, you can wash the filter with mixed soap and water in a large bucket. Start by filling a clean bucket with water and a small amount of laundry detergent.

Dip the filter into the water and turn it around, using your hands to agitate dirt and dust from the filter material. Then, remove it from the water and shake off any excess, before rinsing it under running water. You can clean the air filters in your car or home yourself, but keep in mind that hiring a professional to replace them for you reduces the chance of error. Make sure the filter is compatible with cleaning; for example, disposable air filters should be changed, not cleaned, while permanent filters can be washable.

Vacuuming is the quickest way to wash a reusable filter, although heavy dirt may require a wash. If the filter frame looks dirty or feels sticky, mix a warm water solution and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Dip a sponge or soft bristle brush into the solution and clean the filter. Rinse thoroughly to remove any soap residue.

Before cleaning a household air cleaner, turn off the air cleaner system so that debris is not drawn back into the system during the cleaning process. A thorough cleaning of K&N air filters is only required when parts of the screen are no longer visible, or approximately every 50,000 miles. There is little more vital to your family's good health than having clean air to breathe, especially in your home. If you don't drive much, we recommend that you clean the air filter at least once a year as part of a regular service, as this will ensure engine performance and efficiency. Air filters are usually replaced every 15,000 miles, but cleaning between replacements can improve the performance of your car. An easy way to know if an air cleaner in any system or appliance needs cleaning is to remove it from its usual location.

Whether your appliance has cleanable or replaceable air filters, they must be kept clean to work as they should. If the air cleaner is fitted to an outer housing, remove it with basic hand tools, such as a screwdriver and wrench, and set it aside. If you experience any of the above and can't figure out what's wrong, don't forget to check your air filter. When cleaning your car's air filter, it's important to use a cleaner that completely removes dirt and debris without petroleum-based chemicals, which can damage or dissolve filter materials. Consult your owner's manual or check with your air filter manufacturer to make sure it's safe to use soap and water, and if you have an oil coated filter.

Individual room heating and air conditioning systems, window air conditioners, air purifiers, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, oil diffusers, extractor hoods, clothes dryers, and vacuums have air filters that need to be cleaned or changed regularly. The humble air filter is an important part of your vehicle that prevents dirt, debris and other contaminants from entering the engine and damaging it. Typical dry filters are made of foam which blocks more particles than paper filters but due to their material density they are known to inhibit airflow as they become dirty. Some dirty air filters can be easily cleaned and returned to the appliance while others cannot withstand cleaning and need to be replaced with a new filter.