Complete Guide: How to Properly Wash a Reusable Air Filter

The reusable air filter is an innovative product that can save you money and time; because of this, many people are starting to prefer reusable air filters versus disposable ones. However, it's important to know how to properly wash the reusable air filter so it doesn't get damaged.

In this post, we will cover all of the steps necessary for washing a reusable air filter and what type of water and soap should be used. So, grab your reusable air filter because it's time for a complete guide on how to wash them!

What Kind of Air Filters Can Be Reused?

First of all, it is important to determine if your air filter is reusable. Not every filter can be reused; HEPA filters and soft, pleated filters usually cannot be reused based on their design. If the material is made with something like fiberglass, it is pointless to reuse the filter, because of how it traps particles. The truth is, the more powerful air filters are usually disposable ones. A standard HEPA air purifier filter is so powerful that it will not release all particles if it is simply washed.

However, there are plenty of filters that do qualify to be washed and reused. Many HVAC filters, furnace filters, vacuum filters, and reusable car air filters can be washed. If you use electrostatic filters for air conditioning or other HVAC purposes, those filters can be washed and reused as well.

There is no clear visual indicator to let you know if the filter can be washed. If you're still not sure, the next best option is to refer to your user manual or call the filter manufacturer to confirm.

How To Wash A Reusable Air Filter

Now that you know which filters can be washed and reused, let's learn how to properly wash one! The following steps will help ensure your reusable air filter is clean and ready to go for its next use.

      1. Remove the reusable air filter from the unit.
      2. Rinse off the reusable air filter with plain, warm water. Since you are reusing the filter, using distilled water is the best option, but tap water can be used if you find that more convenient.
      3. Soap up the reusable air filter with a gentle household detergent. Dish soap is a great option because it is gentle on filters but tough on dirt and grime. Hand soap is also perfectly fine!
      4. Scrub the reusable air filter with a soft bristle brush. This will help remove any caked-on debris or particles that may be difficult to remove with just water alone.
      5. Rinse off the soap and reusable air filter with water.
      6. Shake out any excess water from the reusable air filter.
      7. Put the filter on a table or counter and leave it there. You need to allow the reusable air filter to dry completely before putting it back in the unit.


Alternatively, for filters that are only mildly clogged, you could use a low-pressure vacuum hose on both sides of the filter. Afterward, you can continue to use the filter immediately. However, you could also simply rinse the filter with regular water after vacuuming it, just to allow any stubborn particles to slide off. If you do this, you will still need to allow the filter a couple of hours to dry off completely. You should never install a filter containing water molecules, it must be completely dry for it to function properly.

Is it OK to Clean A Filter With Bleach?

While it is possible to clean reusable air filters with bleach, it is not recommended. In fact, many filter manufacturers specifically advise against using bleach on their products.

More Harm Than Good

It is understandable why people may think using bleach is an option, especially when it comes to sanitizing filters. However, bleach can be harsh and damaging to the delicate materials of a reusable air filter.

Bleach can cause the filter to break down more quickly, thus reducing its lifespan. If there is any damage caused to the filter or unit by using bleach, it will more than likely void your warranty. It’s best not to even go down that route.

How Often Should I Clean My Reusable Air Filter?

The general rule of thumb is to clean reusable air filters every one to three months. However, this timeframe can vary depending on the type and condition of the filter, as well as how often it is used. If your reusable air filter starts to look dirty or clogged before the one-to-three-month guideline, then it is definitely time for a cleaning.

After Being in Storage

Be aware that reusable air filters can become blocked with dust, dirt, and grime even when you are not using them. This type of debris is called "background" dust or particles because it accumulates over time regardless of whether the fan in your unit is on or off. So, if you have a reusable filter for an HVAC unit, for example, it's a good idea to give it a cleaning every few months even if you haven't been using the unit recently.

How Do I Store My Reusable Air Filter?

If you are not currently using your reusable air filter, you should store it in a dry place. This means keeping it away from moisture and humidity, as well as places like the basement or attic. You should avoid storing reusable air filters in a garage, shed, or other outside areas because they will be exposed to more dust and debris that way.

If you are not using your reusable filter for an extended period of time (a few months at least), it is best to remove any dust or debris from the filter before putting it away. This can be done by using a vacuum cleaner with a low-pressure hose, just make sure the reusable air filter is completely dry before storing it! Ensuring the filter is dry prevents the growth of mold during storage.


Reusable air filters are an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to improve the air quality in your home. This is especially true if you live with someone who suffers from allergies or breathing problems, like asthma. If this sounds like a good solution for you, be aware that reusable air filters require proper maintenance and cleaning to ensure they perform well. By following these simple tips, you can keep your reusable air filter clean and in good condition for years to come!

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