How To Clean A Washable Air Filter?

Posted by: Mas Broto
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How To Clean A Washable Air Filter

A clean and fresh indoor air, especially at home, is one of the key and important factors contributing to your family’s overall health. Although there are various ways to improve your home’s air quality, using a clean air filter in your HVAC appliances will greatly help maintain fresh and clean air.

Furnace, air conditioners or other space heating and cooling systems like air purifiers and humidifiers. All these essential home equipment uses air filters that should be cleaned or changed regularly.

Without regular cleanings and maintenance, the air filter in your HVAC system becomes less effective. In addition, dirty air filters often require more energy to run, leading to increased electricity bills.

Over time, air filters trap and accumulate dirt, dust, mould, and other pollutants that can cause and alleviate your family’s allergies and other respiratory symptoms. This can enter your home and compromise the overall air quality. This post will explain how to clean a reusable or washable air filter.

How Often Should Air Filters Be Cleaned?

In general and in normal situations, air filters should be cleaned or changed every three months at most. However, in some cases, you might consider frequent air filter cleaning or replacement. I.e. if your home is located in a dusty area, if you have lots of pets, or if you have allergen-sensitive family members.

If you do not know how often you should clean or replace an AC filter, you can check your air filter monthly to see how quickly dust and pollutants accumulate.

Suppose you’re unsure about the state of your air filter as you go along your monthly check-up. In that case, an easy way to know if your air filter needs immediate cleaning or replacing is when light cannot pass through it anymore when you hold it against bright light.

The Difference Between Disposable and Reusable Filters

The air filters your HVAC equipment is using can either be disposable or washable filters.

As per its name, disposable air filters are designed for one-time use only. Furthermore, its frame is usually made of cardboard instead of plastic or metal, which suggest that it cannot be washed by water. Also, cleaning it will cause its fibres to be matte, promoting mould and mildew formation. This can affect the efficiency not only of the filter but of your HVAC equipment as well.

On the other hand, reusable or washable air filters are more expensive to purchase and more difficult to maintain because it needs regular cleaning. However, they are most cost-effective in the long run and are definitely more environment-friendly.

How to Clean a Reusable Air Filter

Tools and materials used:

  1. Warm water
  2. Liquid dishwashing soap
  3. Vacuum
  4. Water sprayer
  5. Sponge
  6. Soft-bristled brush
  7. Stepladder
  8. Screwdriver

The process

Pre-cleaning process

  1. Turn off your HVAC equipment.
    Before you start cleaning or checking any appliance, make sure it is turned off or unplugged to avoid any potential electric shock and keep the work area safe.
  2. Open the Filter Cabinet
    To access the air filters, you first need to open the filter cabinet. Then, to open its covers, you can simply open the latches that hold it close or use a screwdriver if the cover is attached with screws.
    If you are trying to get the filter from an overhead air vent, make sure to use a sturdy stepladder.
    Then, simply slide the air filter out of the filter cabinet and note the direction of the arrows in the filters (your clean filters must be positioned in the same way).
  3. Head outside
    It is best to clean the furnace outside your home so dust and dirt won’t spread indoors and double your workload.

Cleaning Process

  1. Remove loose dirt
    Lightly tap or shake the air filter to get rid of the loose dirt. Then, clean both sides of the washable air filter using a soft-bristled brush.
  2. Rinse the remaining dust
    Using a water sprayer, rinse both sides of the washable filter with warm water to eliminate the smaller remaining dust particles that were not removed by the brush. Make sure to start on top and work your way down while rinsing the filter.
  3. Wash the filter frame
    Wash the grime on the filter frame with a solution of warm water and liquid dishwashing soap using a sponge or a soft-bristled brush. Make sure to rinse the filter to get rid of any dirt and soap residue.
  4. Dry the filter
    Before reinstalling the reusable air filter back in your equipment, make sure that it is COMPLETELY dry. Then, you can dry it outside or place it in front of a fan.


  1. Clean the filter cabinet
    While waiting for the filter to dry, clean the filter cabinet to get rid of any dust or cobwebs.
  2. Reinstall clean air filters
    Once the air filters are completely dry, reinstall them on the filter cabinet, allowing the correct air filter direction from the printed arrow. Make sure to close the latch or attach the screws back to firmly close the covers before turning the equipment back on.

Learning how to clean an air filter can help you save on energy bills and help keep your HVAC system in top performance. Cleaning a washable air filter every 30-90 days is recommended. In addition, it is good to inspect the filter every 30 days to see how dirty it is.

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Mas Broto

Have been in the heating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry for over 20 years. He is person that will grow and thrive to learn more about the HVAC industry throughout his career. Mas Broto is also a blogger, who's dedicated to bringing you the best knowledge to get ahead in the game of life.

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