How to Clean Air Purifier Filter

If you are thinking about buying a top-rated air purifier, you have no doubt wondered how to clean an air purifier filter. After all, these filters are the actual mechanism that purifies the air, removing dust and allergens.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Only electrostatic air filters and activated carbon filters should be cleaned. HEPA filters should be disposed of and replaced.
  • Clean electrostatic and activated carbon air filters once per month unless otherwise indicated by the purifier’s instructions.
  • The cleaning process is simple but may vary depending on the make and model of your purifier and filter.

Can All Air Purifier Filters Be Cleaned?

No. We strongly advise that you check with the instructions that accompanied your air filter to see if the integrated filter should be cleaned or disposed of or replaced. Generally speaking, HEPA filters must be replaced while activated carbon and electrostatic filters should be cleaned. This is not an absolute rule, however, as there are some HEPA filters that can be cleaned and some electrostatic and carbon filters that must be disposed of.

Insider Tip

HEPA filters must be replaced while activated carbon and electrostatic filters should be cleaned.

When Do You Clean or Replace a Filter?

These metrics may vary depending on your specific make and model, so we again recommend you check with the instructions. Purifiers for larger spaces will operate differently than models designed for cars, for example. Having said that, HEPA filters tend to need disposal and replacement every six months to one year. Activated carbon filters and electrostatic filters should generally be cleaned once a month.

How to Clean an Air Purifier Filter

The process will vary depending on the type of filter and the specific design of the filter. Check your instruction manual for details. However, we have assembled some general tips to consider for each type.

Insider Tip

HEPA filters tend to need disposal and replacement every six months to one year. Activated carbon filters and electrostatic filters should generally be cleaned once a month.

Activated Carbon Filter

Activated carbon filters, otherwise known as charcoal filters, are actually quite simple to clean. Here are the steps to take.

  1. Remove the filter from the air purifier.
  2. Vacuum the exterior of the filter using a hose attachment or another slim vacuum nozzle.
  3. Place the filter in a container of cool distilled water for 30 seconds. Check your instructions to ensure the filter can get wet.
  4. Allow the filter to dry and place it back in the housing when ready.

Electrostatic Filters

Electrostatic filters are a common type of air purifier accessory and should be washed every month. Here are the steps to take.

  1. Remove the filter from the air purifiers.
  2. Use a garden house with a power spray nozzle and turn the water to full pressure. Take care to spray the filter’s clean side. This will backwash the filter and force out contaminants.
  3. Spray for 30 seconds to one minute until you are sure the filter is clean.
  4. Allow the filter to dry for 15 to 30 minutes before placing it back in the purifier.

F.A.Q.

Why should you clean your air filter?

Air filters can get really dirty and filled to the brim with unhealthy contaminants, allergens, mold, and other icky substances. You don’t want to breathe that stuff in.


How often do you need to change an air purifier’s filter?

Generally speaking, change a HEPA filter every six months to one year. Charcoal filters and electrostatic filters should be cleaned once per month. These figures could vary though, so check the instructions.


What if the filter is hard to reach?

If the filter is hard to reach it is likely that it is not intended to be hand-cleaned. Check with the instructions that accompanied your air purifier before proceeding.



STAT: A purifier with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter is designed to remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria, plus all airborne particles 0.3 microns or larger. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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