Instructions on cleaning your air filter

How To Clean A Hepa Air Filter

So – we have good news and better news: If you own an air purifier with a true HEPA filter, then you have one of the best, most efficient air purifiers for your apartment, house, office or dorm room.  That’s the good news. The better news is that the HEPA filter in your air purifier can be easily cleaned, so you don’t have to spend any extra money to  ensure that you always have  the cleanest and healthiest air for yourself and your family. 

Before you start, you will need to know which type of HEPA air filter you have. Check your owner’s manual (or do an online search if you don’t have a manual )  to see if you have a washable filter or one that needs to be “dry cleaned”.  This is extremely important because if you try to wash a “dry” or “permanent” filter, then you will ruin it have to buy another one. And they can be very pricey.  HEPA based products work extremely well for removing smoke smell and dust among others.

Next, before you clean any of your appliances with HEPA filters, disconnect the unit from the power source, remove all batteries, and make sure all switches are tuned to “off”. If you can, move the unit outside before you remove any parts (there may be chunks of nasty stuff, and there certainly will be dust). If you are not sure how to find, remove, or re-install your HEPA filter, double check with your manual. This is not the time for an expensive “oops”.

Cleaning a WASHABLE HEPA air filter

  • Try to have the unit outside or near a sink before you start the process.
  • Unplug the unit and remove batteries. 
  • Carefully remove the HEPA filter (try not to touch the woven filter material - this could make work less effectively).
  • If you have a canister type filter on your air purifier, you will  have to remove the inside HEPA filter. Do not wash the canister. 
  • Rinse the filter under cold water until it runs clear.
  • Let the HEPA filter dry completely – at least 24 hours! This is veryimportant because mold can grow on damp filters. Be patient. Let it dry completely. 
  • Reassemble the air purifier unit.

Cleaning a DRY or PERMANENT HEPA air

  • Try to have the unit outside or near a sink before you start the process.
  • Unplug the unit and remove the batteries.
  • Gently vacuum the surface of the filter with hose attachment of your vacuum cleaner. If you do not have an upright vacuum cleaner, a hand-held unit will work. Be careful not to puncture the filter.
  • Do notput the HEPA filter on the ground and run over it with your vacuum. Gentlyclean it by hand.
  • Do not use water on “Permanent” or “DRY” filters – it will ruin them.
  • Reassemble the air purifier unit.

Now that you’ve cleaned HEPA air filters on your air purifier, you are probably thinking, “Great – now all that smoke and dust and all those allergens are on the HEPA filter in my vacuum cleaner. Can I change the HEPA filter on my vacuum?”  Yes, you can. But this is a job that definitely should be done outsideif at all possible. Otherwise, you will just be sending all those pollutants and allergens back into your home.  If you cannot do the entire cleaning process outside, at least take your vacuum outside – on the balcony or even in the hallway outside your apartment.  Disassemble the unit and remove the HEPA air filter away from the room or area that you are trying to keep clean.  


    Cleaning a VACUUM HEPA filter

  • Check with your owner’s manual to see where the HEPA filter is located. It is usually inside a pull-out panel or a canister. 
  • Unplug the vacuum to remove the HEPA air filter (don’t worry – it will work without the filter). 
  • Take the unit outside if possible. If it is not possible, place the unit on a towel or a cleanable hard surface (there will be dust and possible large bits of debris on the HEPA filter).
  • Remove the HEPA air filter from the vacuum and shake or tap it over a trash can. It will be dirty and probably covered with dust and dirt.  
  • If the HEPA filter is WASHABLE (check your manufacturer’s manual) then wash it in your sink, using cold water, until the water runs clear. If you are outside, your garden hose will work perfectly for this – just don’t turn it on full-blast. Let the HEPA filter dry completely before you reinsert it into your vacuum.
  • If your HEPA air filter is DRY, use the hose unit of your vacuum, or a separate hand-held vacuum unit to gently clean the filter. 
  • Reassemble the vacuum.

QUESTIONS and tips

Can I wash my HEPA filter?  

Yes, if the manufacturer says that you can.

Can I wash my HEPA filter if it is a dry or permanent filter?

No. Vacuum it instead. 

Can I put my washable HEPA filer back in my air purifier as soon as I have washed it?

No. Let it dry completely.  If you put a wet or damp HEPA filter back in your air purifier, it might grow mold which could endanger your family’s health. 

Can I clean it more often than the manufacture recommends?

Of course. In some situations – like if you have smoke from wildfires, second-hand tobacco smoke, or just poor indoor air quality – you will want to clean your filters more often. 

Can I clean the HEPA air filter in my vacuum?

Yes – but try to do it outside. At the very least, disassemble it outside. 

 I your air purifier has a “change the filter” reminder feature, reset it each time you clean your HEPA filter. 

If you are in a construction zone, are having issues because of environmental conditions or wildfires, or you have a smoker in the house, feel free to clean your HEPA air filter more often. You will have healthier air and a healthier family. 

About the Author Stacy

Personally, I have always been fascinated with home items. I’ve learned long ago that when buying these products, there needs to be a balance between functionality and creativity. Otherwise, they get old and boring, and I don’t get to use them as much.

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