How to Clean an Air Purifier Filter

If you run your air purifier for extended periods of time, as you should, the HEPA filter inside is bound to get dirty eventually. Most of the air purifier brands suggest replacing filters after a certain time of use and some are more transparent about it than others. Anyhow, should you find yourself owning an air purifier with no such guidelines, or simply want to save the extra dollar on filter replacements, there are ways that you can clean the filter to prolong its lifespan.

Type of Filter

Before undertaking any cleaning, you need to discern the type of filter you have. Multiple-stage filtration systems usually employ more than one filter; there might be a prefilter, there’s usually some sort of activated carbon filter and there are the actual HEPA filters.

There’s no blanket solution for all of those, so make sure you consult the manual for your device first or simply contact customer support and ask if your filter must be replaced or if it can be cleaned and reused.

Although we will discuss the possible methods of cleaning for most filter types, the technology and materials used in their production vary wildly, and the main HEPA filters usually end up being replaceable, in some cases washable, or permanent. For the permanent ones, there must always be some recommended maintenance technique. Keep in mind that if you clean your filter in a manner that’s not supported by the material, you might end up damaging it and decreasing its efficiency or even create a health hazard for yourself and your family. Always refer to the manual.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to how you can actually clean air purifier filters.

Method of cleaning

As we mentioned above, you can clean permanent and washable HEPA filters. Both of them are usually made from some sort of fiberglass, and depending on the brand they may include additional materials, such as activated carbon (if not present in the prefilter), for better odor removal.

Permanent HEPA filter

When it comes to permanent HEPA filters, they almost always have some sort of a pre-filter. Remember, unless explicitly stated, these filters should not be washed, as you may end up severely damaging the filter.

  • First and foremost, disassemble the device on some sort of a plastic sheet or simply do it outside to avoid spilling all the trapped dust in your room.
  • Shake them out to spill the large dust particles clumped up inside and then proceed by vacuuming. Make sure to use a handheld vacuum cleaner, if available, and if not, use a soft brush or attachment to avoid damaging the filter. A lower speed setting on the vacuum cleaner is recommended as well.
  • After vacuuming, leave them briefly in the sun so they can air out any odors and simply reassemble the air purifier.

Washable HEPA filter

If you happen to own an air purifier that has a washable HEPA filter, then the cleaning process is much more straightforward and you can clean them more thoroughly.

The disassembly process is the same as before:

  • Take it outside and take it apart to prevent spilling the dust inside.
  • After vigorously shaking it out and tapping it to release any backed up debris, take it inside and begin washing it.
  • Before doing so, you can vacuum it as well, but water will do the trick. Check the manual again to see if you can use any chemicals while doing so. If yes, apply some washing detergent. Otherwise, just rinse it for a couple of minutes.
  • After finishing the cleaning process make sure you leave it to dry for at least 24 hours. The filter must be absolutely dry before putting it back in the device. Avoid using a clothes dryer, a hairdryer, or any similar device as this may end up loosening the fiberglass of the HEPA filter.


And there you have it, that’s our air purifier filter cleaning guide. The important part is to always make sure you reference the manual before applying any of our suggestions. HEPA filters are very complex, even those in cheaper air purifiers, and can be easily damaged if you’re not careful. Discern whether you can wash it or not and proceed accordingly.

Should you want to learn more about air quality or air purifiers in general, visit our blog for more useful resources.