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How Do You Clean A HEPA Filter (with Step by Step Process)

Published by: Katherine Frame

How Do You Clean A HEPA Filter

Can you wash a HEPA filter? If yes, how do you do it? These questions are a primary concern for many. 

HEPA filters have become a part of our everyday life. It removes dust, dirt, allergens, and pet danders from the air. Unfortunately, when they become clogged with debris, they start to lose their effectiveness. These filters are either disposed of or washed.

However, you should check the manual before attempting to clean any kind of HEPA filter.

Can You Clean A HEPA Filter?

No! You cannot clean a HEPA filter unless it is tagged as permanent or washable. Cleaning a HEPA filter can damage the network of fibers, thereby reducing the efficiency of the filter. Although it doesn’t look damaged from the outside, some of the fibers can be split or stretched out. As a result, it will create gaps in the filter, making it lose its functionality to filter the air.

On the contrary, if the HEPA filter is marked permanent or washable, you can clean or wash it. In this article, we will discuss how you can clean your HEPA filter yourself.   

How Do You Clean A Permanent HEPA Filter?

You can follow the steps given below to clean your permanent HEPA filter:

1. Remove The Filters

Permanent HEPA filters are generally non-washable filters. 

Since HEPA filters are loaded with dust and dirt, it is advisable to cover the floor in plastic or old linen. You can even take the appliance out of the house as it may pollute the air again. 

First and foremost, turn off and unplug the device before removing the filters. If you don’t know how to remove the filter, you can refer to the product handbook for specified instructions. These devices most often have a back cover that can be removed to access the filter.

2. Wash The Pre-Filter

The permanent HEPA filter also has other filters attached to it. These pre-filters should be cleaned for two to three minutes with water or until the water runs clear. You can clean the ultra-fine filters tenderly with a soft-bristled brush or a damp sponge. 

Now, towel dry them and allow them to dry in natural air for 24 hours. 

3. Vacuum The HEPA Filter

It’s time to clean the HEPA filter now. First, use a handheld vacuum cleaner to remove the dirt and debris from the filter.

It is suggested to use a soft brush or nozzle attachment to prevent any damage to the filters. Vacuum until all the specks of dirt are gone. Make sure to use a powerful suction so that it is completely clean.

4. Reassemble The Device

After cleaning and drying both the HEPA filter and the pre-filter, reassemble the device. Position the HEPA filter first, and then put the activated charcoal and pre-filter to its position. If you are not sure about how to do it, refer to the handbook for detailed instructions.

How Do You Clean A Washable HEPA Filter?

Follow the steps to clean a washable HEPA filter:

1. Check The Instructions Handbook

It is essential to find out if the HEPA filter is washable or not. For this, you need to check the product handbook before cleaning the filter. Some filters are washable periodically, as water can affect the functionality of the filter. 

If you don’t have the instruction handbook, go through your manufacturer’s website and enter the model number. Then, you can get a downloadable copy of the device.

2. Dismantle The Device

Large filters carry more dirt and dust. So, take it outside the house or to the garage to clean the filter. Then, dismantle the device so that you can clean the filters accurately.

3. Remove The Filters

Turn off your device and unplug it. Next, remove the instrumental panel that encloses the HEPA filter. Then slide the filter out gradually. Refer to the handbook for guidance if you are not sure how to do so.

4. Tap To Loosen The Dust

The filter may be filled with dust and dirt, depending upon the frequency of cleaning. You can gently tap the filter over the dustbin. Tapping it can loosen the dirt and remove the gathered dirt.

5. Rinse With Water

Rinse the filter with water using medium pressure. Small filters can be cleaned under the tap water in your bathroom or kitchen. On the other hand, you can take your larger device to the garden and rinse it with the garden hose. 

Make sure that you check the handbook before rinsing. Some manufacturers recommend using lukewarm water, while others suggest using cold water. So, check the water’s temperature before washing the filter.

6. Dry The Filter

All the filters should be dry before installation. After rinsing, shake the excess water and let the filter dry for at least 24 hours. Reassemble the filter after drying.

How Do You Maintain A HEPA Filter?

Maintaining a HEPA filter will enhance the efficiency of the HEPA filters. It will increase the shelf life of the filter, thereby saving the replacement cost.

Here are a few tips that you can follow to maintain your HEPA filter:

  • Clean the filter whenever it is necessary. You can clean it more often, depending upon the frequency of its usage.
  • Remove the debris from the filter every three to six months. Or, check your user’s manual for cleaning recommendations.
  • It is prudent to check the HEPA filter before cleaning it.
  • Use an electronic reminder to keep track of cleaning the filter.
  • If the HEPA filter of your device is worn out, replace it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


Cleaning the HEPA filter is cost-effective when compared to replacing it. It is the main reason why people choose permanent or washable filters. Make sure that you are cleaning the filter the right way. Otherwise, it might ruin the device. Hence, it is advised to check the user’s guide before cleaning the HEPA filter.


How do you know if your HEPA filter is dirty?

There are two methods to check if your HEPA filter is dirty. One with the help of a filter indicator which shows when the device loses its ability to function correctly. The other method is through visual inspection. If you see dirt, dust, and debris build up in your device, then it is time to clean the HEPA filters. However, the filters need to be replaced when they are entirely clogged up.

Are washable HEPA filters as effective?

Yes, washable HEPA filters are effective. They can remove 99.97% of dust, dirt, and allergic pathogens from the air. If you still have a doubt, you can check with your manufacturer for complete information.

Can activated carbon filters be washed?

Yes, you can wash the activated carbon filter. Simply, mix one cup of dishwashing liquid in a bucket of water. Soak the carbon filter in the mixture for 15 minutes. Shake it a little to loosen the dirt. Rinse off the filter with water and let it air dry for at least 24 hours.

Is cleaning a HEPA filter a bad idea?

If the HEPA filter is not labeled as permanent or washable, cleaning it will reduce the filter’s efficiency. Washing it can cause damage to the network of fibers. There is a possibility that you can inhale the allergen particles while cleaning the HEPA filters.

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Article by:

Katherine Frame

Katherine Frame is a professional writer and reviewer who worked in higher education for eight years before working on The Hardware Hub. She has written for multiple home magazines and blogs.

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