How To Clean A Permanent Air Purifier Filter

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Updated January 13, 2023

If you have been looking to buy the best air purifier you may be confused about which filters can be cleaned and which cannot. How to clean a permanent air purifier filter? This guide will answer that question.


  • You should make it a habit to clean a permanent air filter every month according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Some filters cannot be cleaned, such as true HEPA filters, and must be disposed of and replaced.
  • Be gentle when cleaning a permanent air filter, so as not to damage any of the sensitive internal components.

What is a Permanent Air Purifier Filter?

If your air purifier advertises the inclusion of a permanent air filter, that typically means it can be cleaned instead of disposed of and replaced. Activated carbon filters can be cleaned, as can electrostatic air filters. While most HEPA filters cannot be cleaned, there are some HEPA-style filters that are permanent and can be cleaned. However, you should change your air purifier filter if you find that it is not working well even after cleaning.

Insider Tip

Activated carbon filters can be cleaned, as can electrostatic air filters.

Why Clean a Permanent Air Purifier Filter?

Air filters get clogged and dirty as they work. That is part of their design. If you do not regularly clean a permanent air filter, it will become unusable after a certain period. You may think your air purifier is working fine, but if the filter is clogged, it won’t actually be doing anything aside from running some fans. To keep the air in your home freshened, clean your permanent air filter about every month.

How to Clean a Permanent Filter

Each filter is different and will require a different set of cleaning instructions. Still, we have assembled some general tips.

Insider Tip

To keep the air in your home freshened, clean your permanent air filter about every month.

Check the Instructions

Permanent filters come in many different styles from electrostatic to HEPA and beyond. Check the instructions that accompanied your air purifier for some specific guidance on how to clean your actual air filter. Some filters, for instance, can only be vacuumed and cannot get wet, while others will require the opposite process. Cleaning an air filter incorrectly could damage its internal components and, therefore, its overall efficacy.

Be Gentle

No matter the design of your individual air filter, you should be gentle as you clean it. If the instructions indicate that you use a vacuum, put the vacuum on its lowest power setting before cleaning. If the instructions said you should use water, try not to blast the filter with ultra-powerful water streams (in most cases).

Additionally, you can clean tar from your air filter at home easily without having to call an expert. But, when you just need to replace the ozone plates on an air purifier, you don’t really need professional help.

Allow Adequate Drying

Make sure you allow the filter to dry before reinserting it into the purifier. For electrostatic filters, this process could take only 30 minutes. HEPA-style filters, on the other hand, could require a full day of drying.


While most HEPA filters cannot be cleaned, some HEPA-style filters are permanent and can be cleaned.


Can you wash and reuse air purifier filters?

You can wash and reuse many types of air purifier filters. Most electrostatic filters and carbon filters can be washed and reused. Some HEPA-style filters can be used, though not genuine HEPA filters.

How do washable electrostatic filters work?

Electrostatic filters work by trapping pollutants via static electricity. These trapped particles remain in the filter until you clean it. As such, it is recommended that you clean electrostatic filters once each month.

Why might cleaning a HEPA filter be a bad idea?

HEPA filters are sensitive and made from a multitude of components. Cleaning the filter could damage the internal mechanisms and also dislodge potentially harmful pollutants back into the air. HEPA filters should be replaced every six months to a year.

STAT: According to the EPA, Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors. (source)

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