4 Quick and Easy Ways to Clean Air Purifier Filters Yourself

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

Expert Reviewed By

Holly Curell

Last Updated On

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Key Takeaways

  • Using a combination of running water and vacuum cleaner, you can clean the air purifier pre-filter and the HEPA filter.
  • It should be noted that not all air purifiers or their filters can be cleaned particularly if the HEPA filter is not washable.
  • A dirty filter with discoloration and debris, worsening air quality, and rise of adverse health symptoms are all tell-tale signs of an air filter that needs cleaning.

Air purifiers can improve air quality and promote better health by reducing the transmission of airborne toxins.

However, I quickly found out that in order for my air purifier to clean the air, I have to clean the air purifier. Cleaning your air purifier is crucial for its longevity and effectiveness.

Maintaining your air purifier starts with the filter. With proper care, you can keep your HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter running like new, extending the life of your unit so you can continue to breathe clean air.

I learned this lesson the hard way. Let’s dive in and uncover the secrets to keeping your air purifier in top shape so you don’t make the same mistakes I did!

How To Clean HEPA Filter Air Purifier In 4 Easy Steps

Knowing how to clean HEPA filters properly is an essential element in helping them last longer.

1. Remove The Filters

The first thing you should know is that not all air purifiers have washable HEPA filters. Many HEPA filters are permanent and should not be washed, as water can cause damage to the filters (I also made that mistake).

The first step for air purifiers with washable filters is to remove the filter while keeping the sheeting in place to capture any dust and dirt that may fall out. Before removing the filter, switch it off and unplug the air purifier from the wall. In most cases, the filter can be accessed by removing the back cover.

2. Clean The Pre-Filters

HEPA filters typically come with a pre-filter and an activated carbon filter that also require cleaning. To clean the pre-filter, rinse it under running water until it runs clear. For filters made of fine wire, use a soft-bristled brush and a damp cloth to gently wipe the surface on both sides.

To clean the activated carbon filter, use a vacuum cleaner on both sides of the filter surface to remove debris, dust, and dirt. My little dustbuster did the trick. If there are lingering odors, leave the filter in direct sunlight. Carbon or foam pre-filters can be washed gently with a cloth, towel-dried, and left to dry completely for approximately 24 hours.

3. Vacuum The HEPA Filter

After properly cleaning the pre-filters, grab your vacuum and move on to cleaning the HEPA filter. Use a handheld nozzle or soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to minimize any risk of damage. Tap excess dust off the filter and vacuum the filter horizontally, gently moving from left to right until all the dust and debris have been removed. It’s essential to press gently to avoid damaging the filter during the cleaning process.

4. Reassemble The Filter

After cleaning the pre-filter and filter, reassemble the unit by placing the pre-filter first, followed by the activated charcoal, and then the HEPA filter. The first time I tried to put everything back together I did it in the wrong order!

It’s essential to make sure they’re in the correct order because it ensures that the air passes through the filters effectively, with the pre-filter capturing larger particles before they reach the HEPA filter.

Which Air Purifier Brands Can Be Cleaned This Way?

This cleaning 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

HEPA filters are not only limited to air purifiers; they can also be found in various other devices such as your home’s HVAC systems and some vacuum cleaners.

So, can you clean HEPA filters and reuse them? The answer is yes, as long as the correct processes are followed and gentle care is taken.

Signs Your 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 portable air purifier needs cleaning by sight alone. There are a few more 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.
  • The airflow seems to be blocked.

I noticed almost all of these signs the first time I finally cleaned my filter. Don’t wait as long as I did!

How Often Should You Clean The Air Purifier HEPA Filter?

How often you should clean your filter depends on several factors. The lifespan of an air purifier depends largely on:

Filter Type

Higher-quality filters made of better materials typically last longer, even though they may be more expensive. It’s in your best interest to invest in higher-quality filters if your budget allows it. It took me a while to finally bite the bullet and buy the expensive filters.


Smaller air purifiers have less space, which means dust, debris, and other unwanted particles accumulate more quickly. As a result, they require more frequent cleaning than larger air purifiers, which may cause the filter to become blocked and damaged more quickly.


The more frequently you use your air purifier, the more regularly you’ll need to clean it. This is due to the faster buildup of particles, debris, dust, and other contaminants.

Cleaning your HEPA air filters once a month and replacing them every six months is recommended. However, this may vary depending on the factors listed above.

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

If you don’t clean your HEPA filter, you will soon notice a buildup of dirt, grime, and dust, which can reduce the air purifier’s efficiency. Cleaning your air purifier’s HEPA filter is an essential part of maintenance that shouldn’t be skipped. If it isn’t cleaned or replaced, it will have to work harder and use more energy to remove air pollution.

A dirty air purifier can also lower the air quality in your home (this is what finally made me check my filters). If the filter is clogged and full of dust and dirt, it will not be able to capture particles from the air, so the air in your home will not be filtered. This can lead to toxins and particles getting into your lungs, which can cause health problems.

A dirty HEPA filter can make you sick, particularly if you have pre-existing respiratory conditions like asthma. When the filter is blocked, it can’t remove dust or particles, which can continue to linger in the air. Additionally, a clogged filter can cause the unit to blow particles like dust mites, mold spores, and other allergens back into the room, making your indoor air quality even worse.

When Should You Avoid Cleaning A HEPA Filter?

Avoid cleaning your HEPA filter if it isn’t washable, or if it is too dirty or damaged to be cleaned. HEPA filters are designed to capture tiny particles and contaminants from the air, and they can become clogged and saturated over time.

Attempting to clean a damaged, worn-out, or old filter may do more harm than good. Trying to clean a filter that has already reached the end of its useful life could release trapped particles back into the air.

Cleaning a damaged or worn-out HEPA filter may not restore its effectiveness and could actually cause further damage. It’s also important to avoid cleaning your HEPA filter with water or any other liquid that could damage the filter and reduce its efficiency.

Before cleaning your HEPA filter, ensure it’s still in good condition and hasn’t reached the end of its useful life. Sometimes it’s best to just replace dirty filters with brand-new filters.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What are HEPA filters made of?

HEPA filters are typically made of dense layers of coarse glass fibers like fiberglass that trap tiny particles in the air to reduce indoor air pollution.

Are all HEPA filters washable?

Not all HEPA filters are washable. Some HEPA filters are designed to be disposable and cannot be washed, while other dirty filters can be washed and reused multiple times.

How do I know if my HEPA filter is washable?

The only way to know if your HEPA filter is washable is by checking the manufacturer’s instructions or the filter’s labeling. Always check because attempting to wash a non-washable HEPA filter can damage the filter and reduce its effectiveness.

How do you disinfect a HEPA filter?

HEPA filters should not be disinfected with chemicals because they can damage the filter fibers and reduce their effectiveness. Instead, they can be cleaned using a vacuum or washed with water, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions.

Are HEPA filters recyclable?

HEPA filters are recyclable depending on the manufacturer and the type of filter. Some manufacturers offer recycling programs for their HEPA filters, while others do not. Check with the manufacturer or a recycling center in your area for specific guidelines on recycling HEPA filters.

Can you clean an air purifier with vinegar?

You shouldn’t clean an air purifier with vinegar because it can damage the unit’s delicate filters and components.


Getting an air purifier with a HEPA air filter was an absolute game-changer for me and my overall health. That is, until I neglected to keep my HEPA filter clean!

Keeping your filter clean, clear, and free from dust and debris is vital to ensure it functions at its best, and fortunately, doing so is pretty easy.

Learn from my mistakes and follow the simple tips and methods we’ve discussed so you get the most out of your air purifier. It can create a safe and healthy living environment free from toxins and pollutants for you as long as you give it a little TLC!

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Josh Mitchell


Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

My Favorite Home Appliance?

Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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