How to Clean An Air Purifier Filter: 4 Important Tips to Learn Before Starting

Learning how to clean an air purifier filter is essential for its proper working. Especially if you live in an area with dust particles or have a respiratory disease. The question remains what is the correct way to do this? Let’s get to know!

Quick Answer

Before I move towards cleaning, determine if the filters should be cleaned or replaced. Companies such as Honeywell, Levoit, and Winix suggest disposing of and using a new HEPA filter instead of washing.

And for example a prefilter, that is above HEPA should be washed with water with vinegar added. Scroll down to read the complete steps to unclog air filters, clean pet fur, and muddy dirt from them.

Is it Okay to Wash Air Purifiers’ Filters?

Yes, it is ok to wash the air purifier filters! But you should pay attention that not all types can be washed. Let’s look deeper:

air purifier filters

  • Prefilter: They are designed to capture larger grains. It can be washed and reused.
  • Carbon filters: They trap pollutants and eliminate odors. This filter type is not washable.
  • HEPA filters: They are created to capture small particles. Not all of them are washable. Please be sure you have a washable variant before starting cleaning. Otherwise, you can damage the filter’s fibers and reduce their effectiveness.
Pro-tip: Do not throw the manual. It is best to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for air purifiers in order to know specifically about your filter model.

Correct Way of Cleaning HEPA Filters

Extremely Fine Filter (HEPA) can be found in:

  1. Vacuum cleaners and Air purifiers: They are typically shaped as a cylinder or flat filters.
  2. HVAC systems: They are mostly flat.
Extremely Fine Filter

Some filters cannot be adequately cleaned and must be replaced instead. Disposable ones need to be changed for 3 to 12 months.

You can read more about the frequency of filter replacement depending on the type of filter in my article “How often to change air purifier filter“.

disposable filters

If you make up your mind about cleaning, check the owner’s manual first to know if it is washable or not. Read below for the next step.

Steps for Washing HEPA Filter

Follow the guidelines below to do it properly:

  1. Wear a protective face mask.
  2. Place the filter in warm water for several hours.
  3. Let it soak so the hardened dust becomes loose.
  4. Now, use cold water to clear the dust build-up.
  5. Take an old toothbrush, to catch any pet hair or stubborn dirt in its bristles.
  6. Alternatively, you can give it a pre-wash to remove any debris.
  7. Make sure the filter is completely dry before reinstalling it. A damp filter can obstruct airflow and create a breeding ground for mold, which poses a health risk.

For more insights, check out this video.

YouTube video
Note: Make sure to wipe down the air vents which are connected to the air filters to improve indoor air quality. Do not use a detergent to clean a HEPA filter.

Cleaning Air Purifier Filters That Are Unwashable

Here are the steps to clean an air purifier filter if it’s a HEPA one that can not be washed:

  1. Place a damp rag into a trash bag.
  2. Slide the filter into it.
  3. Close the bag then shake it so the dust releases and sticks on the wet rag.
  4. For your safety, wear a mask to protect your nose and mouth. Then only remove the non-washable HEPA filter from the bag.
  5. When reattaching the clean filter inside the air purifier, check that it is completely dry.
  6. If you are blowing to clean the HEPA air filter with a can of compressed air, protect yourself from the flying dirt.
  7. Dispose of the bag and rag appropriately after cleaning.

Read Also: 8 Best Air Purifier with Washable Filter in 2023

How to Clean An Air Purifier Filter. Unwashable

Note: Sometimes, if you are dealing with the likes of a permanent filter, it is better to just replace it instead of washing it.

Correct Way of Cleaning Foam Filters

The foam commonly found in air purifier filters is known as pre-filters. These are placed to capture larger dirt grains and pet dander before they reach the HEPA. They are in comparison durable and easier to clean.

  1. Begin by gently washing it with warm water.
  2. Pour two drops of dish soap over the filter and create a lather by gently rubbing it.
  3. Wash away all the soapy water from the pre-filter thoroughly.
  4. Gently wring out any excess water from the prefilter.
  5. Let the filter dry before reinstalling it.
  6. The air purifier’s filter is ready to reduce indoor air pollution.
Note: You also can use vinegar instead dish soap.

For more insights, watch this video to clean them.

YouTube video

Read Also: How to Clean a Levoit Air Purifier: 6-Step Easy Guide

How to Clean An Air Purifier Filter – FAQ

Can you wash and reuse air purifier filters?

Yes, you can wash and reuse air purifier filters but not all filters are washable. Prefilters are can be reused. HEPA and Carbon filters in most cases should be replaced.

How do you clean an air-purifying filter?

You can clean an air-purifying filter by rinsing it thoroughly in cold water. Use a toothbrush, to remove fur or caked-on dirt, or pre-rinse to remove any debris. Let it dry then reinstall it.

How often should I clean my air purifier filter?

You should clean an air purifier’s filters every month. If it gets dirty earlier than this, you should clean it at that time.

Can I wash my air filter with water?

Yes. You can wash the air filter with water. Although most HEPA and disposable ones are non-washable.


Simply put, pre-filters can be washed or replaced. HEPA ones can be cleaned gently with a dry cloth or with water if it’s a washable type. Disposable filters must be replaced.

However, I strongly recommend checking the manufacturer’s recommendations for how to wash your filters. If you no longer have the hard copy, look for a PDF online.

Let me know if you were able to figure out the best way to clean your air filter.