7 Flawless Tips on How to Clean Air Filters

by Mother Huddle Staff

If you weren’t paying attention to air quality before, now’s a great time to start. HEPA filtration makes spaces safer from COVID-19 and protects you from wildfire smoke. HEPA and other kinds of filtration take usual dust and allergens out of the air, too.

But isn’t buying air filters expensive and wasteful? Aren’t all air filters disposable? In reality, you can clean many air filters.

This may be news to you, or you’re new to filtering your air entirely. No matter your situation, these seven tips on how to clean air filters will help you. Read on to raise air filter efficiency and get the best air you can in your home.

1. Always Turn the Unit off for Safety and Health

The first step to cleaning any air filter is to go through and turn the air conditioner or air purifier off before you start. One reason this is important is to avoid being electrocuted or otherwise hurt. Even though you may not touch the electrical parts themselves, you could still be shocked and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you’re servicing a whole-house air conditioner or purification system, consider shutting the electricity to that part of the house off. That guarantees the least electrical risk possible and takes an easy few seconds. In any case, you need to turn the unit off and unplug it. 

Aside from electrical risk, turning the unit off keeps your air fresh and protects the machinery.

You’re replacing the filter because you want to breathe clean air, and running the unit while you service it blows unfiltered air into the space. The unit won’t filter the air while it’s off, either, but it not blowing means the air circulates less. That means that you breathe in less dirty air.

Plus, your air filter or air conditioner isn’t designed to run without a filter. Sending unfiltered air through could damage it.

2. Find Out Where the Filter Is

If you’re not sure where your air purifier or conditioner’s filter is, the best thing is to check the device manual.

If that isn’t possible, find the unit’s main intake and look for how to access the air conditioner filter, which is behind the intake. There might be a tab to pull or panel to slide off, in the case of some small air conditioners and purifiers. For HVAC systems, you remove most access panels with a screwdriver.

3. Take a Look and See How Dirty It Is

After you take the filter out, see how much grime built up. If you can see most of the filter media and the unit had good flow before you shut it off, then you don’t need to change it yet. If the media looks grey and you can’t see the filter itself, you need to clean or replace it.

Some cheaper filters wear out in a short time and many pleated filters last for months. Know manufacturer instructions and pay attention to how well air is flowing through the unit.

4. Make Sure You Can Clean the Media

Not all filters can be cleaned: Washing disposable filters may cause mold problems. The instructions can tell you, or the filter itself may be labeled.

This is important cleaning advice—be sure to follow instructions as mold can cause serious breathing problems.

5. Decide to Wash or Use a Vacuum

The way you wash your air conditioner filter depends on the type of filter you have. Some filter media is too fine to be vacuumed well, so washing it is your only option. 

If you have the option, vacuuming is usually faster. If you use a weaker vacuum, it could miss particles that washing might get out.

6. How to Clean Air Filters of Any Kind

Whether you vacuum or wash your air filter, start by wiping off any clumps of dirt and dust into a trash can or bag. Do this outside or hold the filter inside a trash bag to avoid stirring the dirt particles into the air around you. Those methods are vital if you have allergies or asthma, but make the job less painful for everyone.

An old toothbrush is good for this, or you might be able to knock the large particles off by hand. Consider wearing gloves and be sure to wash your hands after.

Vacuuming Your Air Filter

Use the hose attachment on your vacuum to clean the front of the filter.

Make sure your vacuum’s filter is clean before starting, or you won’t have its full suction power. Don’t press too hard or you might warp or break the filter media.

Cleaning Your Air Filter With Water 

If you clean your filter with water, you can soak it in a half-and-half mix of vinegar and water in a sink or bucket for an hour. Rinse it well afterward, and make sure it’s completely dry before you put it back.

If your filter can’t be soaked, you can wash it outside with a hose. Don’t use a pressure setting to avoid doing damage. If it’s too cold to wash outside, you could wash it in your shower or bathtub. 

You don’t need to use soap to wash the air filter but in some cases, it helps get stubborn dirt off.

7. Put the Filter Back Where It Came From

After your filter is clean and dry, put it back. Most filters have arrows that say what direction faces forward, or it might be obvious from the design. Put the filter back in place, making sure not to leave gaps.

Put the air conditioner or purifier’s access panel back on if you removed it. Your last step is to turn the power back on and make sure air flows.

Important Tips for the Modern Woman and More

With this information about how to clean air filters, you can keep your family safe from harmful particles in the air. Cleaning air filters protects you in difficult times and helps you breathe easily all year round.

We have all the best news for moms today looking to keep their families safe and healthy. Our site is also perfect for women without kids and everyone else can use these great tips, too.

So, you have no reason not to click around on our website and reap the benefits.

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