Informational Guide

How To Clean Air Purifier HEPA Filter (DIY Guide)

by Josh M

Air purifiers can improve air quality, boost health, and reduce the transmission of potentially hazardous airborne toxins. Keeping these units clean is an important part of helping them to last for longer and be in great condition. Discover how to clean air purifier filter elements properly, and extend the life of your HEPA unit.

What Is A HEPA Filter?

A HEPA filter, also known as a “high efficiency particulate air” filter, is a specific type of air filter that bears a close resemblance to folded paper in terms of appearance and which consists of a dense matrix of fibers. Each of which is carefully interwoven and allows air to pass through. The majority of portable air purifiers contain HEPA filters. These are perfect for capturing small particles present in the air and filtering these to improve the quality of the air that you breathe in.

A HEPA filter is an important element of any air purifier, and it is the element responsible for purifying the air and filtering out the tiny particles which have the potential to be hazardous.

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How To Clean HEPA Filter Air Purifier

Knowing how to clean air purifier units properly is an essential element in helping them to last for longer.

1. Remove the Filters

In many air purifiers, the HEPA filters are permanent, and these should not be washed as the water can cause damage to the filters.

In other units, you should start by removing the filters, making sure that you have sheeting in place to capture the dust and dirt which will fall out. Switch the air purifier off and unplug it from the wall before removing the filter – this is usually achieved by removing the back cover.

2. Clean the Pre-Filters

Most HEPA filters come with a pre-filter and an activated carbon filter, and these also need to be removed. Run the pre-filter under the tap until the water runs clear. If the filters are made of fine wire, you can use a soft-bristled brush and a damp cloth to gently wipe the surface on both sides.

Next, vacuum the activated carbon filter on both sides to remove any debris, dust, and dirt. You can also leave the filter in direct sunlight if there are lingering odors. For any carbon or foam pre-filters, you can wash the surface gently, towel dry, and leave to dry entirely for around 24 hours.

3. Vacuum the HEPA Filter

Once the pre-filters are taken care of, you can turn to vacuum the permanent HEPA filter using a handheld nozzle or soft brush attachment to reduce any risk of damage. Use the vacuum in a horizontal motion and gently move from left to right, continuing until all of the dust and debris are gone. Press gently to avoid any damage.

4. Reassemble the Filter

Once you have cleaned the pre-filter and filter, reassemble the unit by placing the HEPA filter in, followed by the activated charcoal, and then the pre-filter.

Which Brands Can This Be Used For?

This method can be used for a number of top brands, including:

  • Aerus
  • Austin
  • Bionaire
  • Bissell
  • Brookstone
  • Ecoquest
  • Edenpure
  • Febreze
  • Filtrete
  • GT 3000
  • Homemedics
  • HathaSpace
  • Hunter
  • Idylis
  • Ionic
  • Miko
  • Mooka
  • Nutrate
  • Partu
  • Sharp
  • Shark
  • Taotronics
  • Therepure
  • Toppin
  • Rainbow Rainmate
  • Rigoglioso
  • Vollara
  • Winix

So, can HEPA filters be washed and reused? The answer is yes, as long as the correct processes are followed and gentle care is taken.

How To Know That The Air Purifier HEPA Filter Needs Cleaning?

Now that we have taken a look at how can you clean a HEPA filter, you may be wondering how you know that it is time to clean the filter.

In many cases, you will be able to check that the air purifier needs cleaning by sight alone. There are a few signs that suggest that the air purifier needs cleaning, and these include:

  • The filter appears black or discolored
  • There is obvious dust, dirt, or debris
  • The quality of the air has noticeably decreased
  • White clothes or sheets around the air purifier seem to be getting dirtier
  • Your electricity bills have increased – a dirty filter has to work harder to do its job and will use more energy.
  • There is a strong smell coming from the filter.
Best Air Purifier With Washable Filter

How Often Should You Clean The Air Purifier HEPA Filter?

The lifespan of an air purifier will depend largely on several factors, including:

Filter Type

As a rule, more expensive filters will tend to last for longer, as they are made of higher-quality parts. Therefore, if you have the budget, it is worth spending a little more.


A smaller air purifier will need cleaning more often than a larger one, as there will be less space – this means that dust, debris, and unwanted particles will collect more quickly, and this can cause the filter to become blocked and damaged more quickly.


The more you use your air purifier, the more regularly you will need to clean it out, as there will be a faster accumulation of particles, debris, dust, and buildup.

You should aim to clean out your HEPA air filters around once a month, with a view to replacing them about once every six months – the factors above, however, will impact this.

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What If I Don’t Clean The Air Purifier HEPA Filter?

Cleaning your air purifier HEPA filter is an important element of maintenance. A dirty HEPA filter will cause a buildup of dirt, grime, and dust, which will reduce the overall efficiency of the air purifier, forcing it to work harder and increasing the amount of energy used to run the unit.

A dirty air purifier will also lower the air quality in your home; if the filter is blocked and full of dust and dirt, then it will not be able to capture particles from the air. This means that the air in your home will not be filtered, and toxins and particles will be free to enter your lungs.

In addition to failing to filter the air, a dirty HEPA filter can make you sick, particularly if you have existing respiratory conditions such as asthma. When the filter is blocked, it cannot achieve the job of removing any dust or particles, and these can continue to linger in the air. In some cases, the unit can start to blow debris and dust back into the room, causing issues with air quality.

Person Wiping A Green Plant In Brown Clay Pot

People Also Ask (FAQ)

What are HEPA filters made of?

HEPA filters are usually made from fiberglass or plastic (PP and PET), though this can vary depending on the brand. Fiberglass filters tend to offer the best results and screen the pollutants from the air most effectively.

Are all HEPA filters washable?

There is currently no standard for washable HEPA filters, and there are some filters that can be prone to damage if they are washed – these are not automatically washable as standard.

How do I know if my HEPA filter is washable?

You will know if your HEPA filter is washable because it will be clearly labeled or marked as being permanent or washable. If this is not clearly marked, it is usually a good idea not to try and wash your filter, as this can cause damage.

How do you disinfect a HEPA filter?

HEPA filters can be disinfected by ensuring that they are regularly cleaned and free from any dust or debris. This will allow the air to continue to circulate freely and improve the quality of the air in your home.

Are HEPA filters recyclable?

The nature of the use means that HEPA filters are not recyclable; they are designed to trap particles, dust, dirt, and pollutants. When you replace your filter, you will need to throw it out with the regular household waste.


A HEPA air filter can offer huge advantages to your daily life, comfort, and health quality, but it is important that you have the knowledge you need to keep your filter clean, clear, and free from dust and debris. This will allow you to make the most of your purifier, and the methods we have discussed will be perfect for keeping your home free from toxins and pollutants.

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Last Updated on January 9, 2023

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.