Cleaning the air filter in your car and home can be done yourself, but know that using a professional will reduce the risk of errors. Make sure the filter can indeed be cleaned; Disposable air filters should be discarded and not cleaned, while permanent filters can be cleaned. The quickest way to clean the permanent filter is with a vacuum cleaner, although it will still need to be washed if the dirt builds up heavily.
Method 1 of 3: Cleaning Car Air Filter
Step 1. Remove the filter
Open the hood. If you can't find the filter, consult your vehicle's user manual. If not, you can ask a mechanic during a visit to the workshop. Open the canister (usually bolted and clamped), then pull the filter out.
The air filter casing is usually located on top of the engine, and can be circular or square in shape
Step 2. Vacuum the filter dry
Attach the hose connection to your vacuum cleaner. Vacuum the filter for about 1 minute on each side. See through the light, and suck up the missing parts.
Vacuuming the filter is faster and safer than washing it
Step 3. Wash the filter dry, if desired
Fill the bucket with soapy water. Put the filter in the bucket and shake it in the water. Take out the filter and brush it through to get rid of any remaining water. Gently rinse the filter under running water. Place the filter on a towel and air dry.
- Do not reinstall the filter when it is still wet because it can damage the car engine!
- Washing will make the filter cleaner than simply vacuuming, but it is riskier and time-consuming.
Step 4. Clean the oily filter
Tap the filter to drop dust and dirt. Apply the cleaning solution (designed specifically for oily filters) to the outside of the filter, then to the inside. Make sure the filter is fully wetted. Leave in the sink or bucket for 10 minutes before rinsing with cold water on low pressure. Shake and air dry the filter until it is completely dry.
- Do not let the cleaner dry on the filter, and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Rinse the filter by moving it up and down under a stream of water.
- After rinsing, let the filter air dry for 15 minutes. If the filter is not dry, wait a little longer.
- If you're in a hurry, use a hairdryer or a small fan on a moderate heat setting to speed up the drying process, only after the rinse stage.
Step 5. Re-oil the filter, if possible
Apply a thin layer of air filter oil evenly on the surface thoroughly. Wipe off excess oil on the filter cover and bottom lip. Leave it for 20 minutes so that the oil is well absorbed.
Step 6. Clean the canister
Vacuum the dust and dirt from the filter casing using the hose head. Otherwise, you can use a soft cloth or kitchen paper. Just make sure the canister is completely dry and free of dirt before replacing the filter.
Moisture and dirt can damage the vehicle engine
Step 7. Put the filter back on
Return the filter to its casing. Retighten any locks or filter retaining clips that you previously opened to remove the filter.
Method 2 of 3: Cleaning the Home Air Filter
Step 1. Remove the air filter
Turn off the system before touching the filter. Clean the area around the air duct with a broom or vacuum cleaner before opening the vent. Unscrew or lock and open the vent. Vacuum the area and then remove the air filter.
- If the system is not shut down first, all debris will be sucked in during the cleaning process.
- Use stairs if the vent is high on the ceiling or wall.
Step 2. Remove any remaining dirt
Filter brush to drop the dirt in the outdoor trash can. Attach the hose connection to the vacuum cleaner. Vacuum up dust and debris from the front, back and sides of the filter using the suction head of the furniture cloth.
Vacuum the filter outdoors, if possible to prevent dust from flying in the house
Step 3. Rinse the filter under running water
Attach the hose to the water tap. Hold the filter so that the water flows in the opposite direction of the air flow. Spray the filter completely to remove dust and dirt.
Spray lightly and not under full pressure so that the filter is not damaged
Step 4. Remove heavy dirt with a soap solution, if needed
If regular rinsing isn't enough, you can soak the filter in a soapy solution. Drop a drop of dish soap into two cups of warm water in a bowl and stir. Dip a clean cloth in the solution and use it to wash both sides of the filter. Rinse the filter with water, and allow it to dry completely.
- After the final rinse, shake off any remaining water before aerating the filter.
- It's a good idea to wash the filter with a soapy solution if it's exposed to oil, fumes, or pet dander.
Step 5. Dry the filter completely
Leave the filter outside so it can be ventilated. Make sure the filter is completely dry before reinstalling it.
If the filter is not completely dry, mold can grow and spread spores throughout the house through the air ducts
Step 6. Put the filter back on
Put the filter back into its casing. Make sure the air duct is facing the right direction. Close the vent, and tighten any screws or locks.
The filter should fit snugly, and not appear too small or bent. Make sure there are no gaps
Method 3 of 3: Evaluating Whether the Filter Needs to be Cleaned or Replaced
Step 1. Replace the disposable filter
Cleanable air filters are labeled “washable”, “permanent”, and/or “reusable”. Do not wash paper filters or disposable types. We recommend that the filter is also not vacuumed.
- Washing a single-use filter will actually clog it and make it moldy.
- Disposable filters can tear due to the strong pressure of the suction air or compressed air. At low pressure, this method can be a temporary solution, but not in the long term.
Step 2. Clean or replace the air filter regularly
Clean or replace vehicle filters every 19,000-24,000 kilometers, or less if you drive in dusty or polluted areas. Check the air filter with bright lighting. Clean or replace the filter if it is darkened or clogged with debris.
- Disposable filters must be replaced, while permanent filters can be vacuumed or washed.
- If you don't replace the air filter as needed, various vehicle problems can arise such as decreased fuel efficiency, ignition problems, or faulty spark plugs.
Step 3. Clean or replace the home air filter regularly
Filter cleaning or replacement needs to be done every three months, or less in certain seasons. Clean or replace fireplace filters monthly during the fireplace season. During the summer, cleaning or filter replacement only needs to be done every 1-2 months.
- Replace your filter if it is a single use type. If the type is permanent, wash or vacuum clean.
- Filters need to be changed more often if they are exposed to a lot of dust or pet dander.
- If the housing filter is not cleaned, there will be a problem in the HVAC system or even a fire.