how to clean an air purifier filter

Air purifiers aren’t the cheapest devices to have in your household, so chances are that you have one with a permanent or washable HEPA filter. Cleaning it every three months is an important task, as it ensures your air purifier’s efficiency and effectiveness. There are three ways of cleaning your HEPA air filter. 

Before we start, keep in mind that air filters are made of thin fibers that can be easily damaged if you are too harsh with the filter cleaning. 

How to Clean an Air Purifier Filter?

Unplug your air purifier and follow these steps:

  1. First, check the manufacturer’s instructions for any specific guidelines on cleaning the filter. Some air purifiers may have different cleaning requirements, so it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  2. Remove the filter from the air purifier according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This may involve pressing a release button or unlocking a latch to remove the filter.
  3. Once the filter is removed, check for any visible dirt or debris that can be easily removed. 

Your next step will depend on the type of your HEPA filter. 

For Washable Filters

You may have a permanent filter installed in your air purifier – however, it doesn’t mean that it can be washed. On the contrary, submerging it in water may damage your filter. 

Before filling your bathtub with lukewarm water, make sure the manufacturer’s instructions clearly say it is a washable filter. Once confirmed, you can soak the filter in the water and let it soak in warm water for a few hours before air drying it. 

A few minutes of soaking won’t be sufficient as it is not enough time for the filters to release dirt and dust and other particles.  If you tangled pet hair, grab a soft brush and gently – emphasis on gently – scrub it off. A HEPA filter is made of thin fabric and if you try to clean it vigorously, you risk breaking the filter. 

Note: If you have accidentally washed a non-washable filter, there is a chance its performance and efficiency of catching pollutants are decreased.  

For Non-Washable Filters

Non-washable filters, as the name suggests, shouldn’t be rinsed or soaked in water. Instead, you can use your vacuum cleaner to clean the dust and debris off it. Again, make sure you don’t tear the filter, so keep the vacuum cleaner in the lowest power mode. 

Note: If you are using disposable filters, it is always best to replace them every few months. Disposable filters aren’t meant to be cleaned and reused. You might want to prolong their shelf life if they are used in your vacuum cleaner – however, an air purifier works more efficiently with a clean, undamaged filter. 

For Foam Filters, Also Known as Pre-Filters

Some air purifiers have two filters installed, one of them being a pre-filter or a sponge-like circle. It is placed in your purifier to catch large particles and leave the tiny ones to be purified by the main HEPA filter. 

Foam filters tend to catch pet dander, along with large pollutants. While dissembling your air purifier, you will spot this foam filter before the main HEPA one. Take it out carefully and remove the visible dirt from it. 

Next, you can rinse it and add a bit of detergent. Rinse it thoroughly until you see clear water. Make sure to wash off the soap before air drying the smaller filter. 

At no point should you squeeze it – instead, gently wring it out. Make sure not to tear it, otherwise, its effectiveness will be greatly affected. 

How Often Should You Clean Air Filters?

How often to change the filter

The frequency of cleaning or replacing air filters depends on a few factors, including the type of filter you are using, the quality of the air in your home, and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Here are some general guidelines for how often to clean or replace air filters:

  • Disposable fiberglass filters: These filters should be replaced every 30-60 days, or more frequently if the air in your home is particularly dirty or polluted. However, there are some disposable filters of good quality that can last significantly longer. 
  • Washable or reusable filters: These filters can be washed and reused, but they should be cleaned every 30-60 days or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. The frequency may be extended if you run it rarely or only when the air quality indicator is dangerously high. The same rule applies if you live in a greener zone and occasionally run the device. 
  • High-efficiency filters: These filters, such as HEPA filters, are more effective at trapping small particles and can last longer than other types of filters. They should be cleaned or replaced every 3-6 months, or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Final Word

Breathing fresh air shouldn’t be something you struggle to do. Unfortunately, some places are simply more polluted than others. Luckily for devices like air purifiers, your home can always be a safe green island in a smoggy city.  

To maintain fresh air, it’s important to regularly check your air filters and clean or replace them as needed. This ensures the device’s efficiency and effectiveness. 

If you have pets, allergies, or live in an area with high levels of pollution, you may need to clean or replace your filters more frequently. Although it may seem like another household task added to the weekend list, it can be quite a life-saving chore.