How to Clean HEPA Filter – Everything You Need to Know

Updated on February 28, 2022 by Joseph D. Nielson

Table of Contents

How to Clean HEPA Filter - Everything You Need to Know

A HEPA filter is a device that removes airborne contaminants from the air. This type of filter is a great way to ensure your house stays clean by catching any dirt or buildup of dust particles in the air before they settle on furniture, carpet, floors, etc.

You should clean a HEPA filter regularly for optimal performance and healthy indoor air quality. This blog post will go over how to clean HEPA filters.

What Is a HEPA Filter?

A high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) is an air purifier that uses mechanical filtration to remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles from the air passing through it.

HEPA filters are used in many industries for cleanroom environments or where sterile conditions are required, such as laboratories, hospitals, and pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities.

HEPA filters can also be used at home. This filter is beneficial for homes with young children or pets because its filtration capabilities trap allergens and irritants that can exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma.

HEPA filters are not expensive to buy and can be installed in most air purifiers. The main downside to using a HEPA filter is that they require regular replacement, typically every six months to a year.

Some filters also require manual cleaning, which can take time and effort. Overall, if you are looking for an effective, long-lasting air purifier, a HEPA filter is the way to go.

Here Are Our Top Two HEPA Replacement Filter Picks

Product ImageProduct NameFilter TypeCompatible Device Performance LevelView Latest Price
GermGuardian Air Purifier Filter FLT4825 GENUINE HEPA Replacement
GermGuardian Air Purifier Filter FLT4825 GENUINE HEPA ReplacementFilter BAir PurifierRemoves 99.97% of dust, pollen, pet dander, mould spores & allergens as small as .3 microns from the airView Price
Easy-Off Fume Free Oven Cleaner Spray
Honeywell HAC-504 Series Humidifier Replacement, Filter AFilter AHumidifierInhibits 99.99% of growth and migration of particles on the filterView Price

What Are HEPA Filters Made Of?

HEPA filters are made of several different materials. Most commonly, they are made from fibreglass. According to Popular Science, the material helps trap larger particles at its surface and doesn’t allow them to pass through easily. The downside of using fibreglass for HEPA filtration is that it can be pretty costly.

As technology advances and the demand for clean air increases, it is now possible to find HEPA filters made from more advanced materials, such as cotton or cellulose mesh of fibres treated with resins like epoxy or urethanes. The result can provide you with similar benefits to a fibreglass HEPA filter at a fraction of the price.

How to Clean HEPA Filter

Many owners of the equipment wonder how to clean a HEPA filter. This is a general question in the air purifier and humidifier community. If you are an owner of one or more home appliance types that utilizes vacuum technology for filter cleaning, you’ve probably tried to figure out what the best cleaning method is.

Consider Replacing The Filter

It is recommended that you replace a HEPA filter rather than clean it, especially if you own disposable filters. Do not attempt to wash your HEPA filter if it is non-washable or non-permanent. You can clean the filter with water, vacuums, or tap off excess dust, but this will most likely damage the fibre mesh that permits the filter to capture airborne particles.

Although the filter may appear in good condition, some fibres could be damaged or strained. You’ll wind up with a filter that seems to be clean but isn’t filtering anything.

Read The Labels

If your HEPA filter is labelled as permanent or washable, you may be able to wash or clean it safely. However, there is no industry standard for washable “HEPA-like” filters, and no tests have been done to see how well they operate after being washed.

Some manufacturers may have discovered a technique to make filter fibres resistant to cleaning, but there is no way to know for sure.

Rinse With Cold Water 

Cleaning a washable HEPA filter involves rinsing it in cold water. You must avoid touching the filter material and only contact the water. Before reinstalling the filter, make sure it’s completely dry. 

Rinse With Cold Water

Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions 

Specific instructions are included with some filters. Certain canister vacuum filters, for example, must only be washed on the exterior of the filter, avoiding getting the core part of the canister wet.

A “permanent” HEPA filter has to be cleaned by gently sucking loose debris and dust away from the surface of the filter using a vacuum cleaner. You should never use these permanent filters with water.

Use a Vacuum Cleaner

Another effective way to clean your HEPA filter is using a vacuum cleaner. First, remove the filter from your appliance and make sure it is completely dry before proceeding. Next, place the filter in the vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment and turn on the machine.

Be careful not to damage the filter by applying too much suction. Vacuum the entire filter surface for about 20 seconds to remove dirt or debris. Finally, reattach the filter to your appliance and enjoy clean air once again.

Why Should You Avoid Cleaning a HEPA Air Filter?

Cleaning a HEPA air filter can result in a damaged filter. When filters become dirty, they collect particles and gases, and excess water can damage them.

If these particles are removed or cleaned from the filter, it can reduce its effectiveness and allow more pollutants to pass through. There are other reasons why cleaning a HEPA filter might be a bad idea.

Challenging Task

Cleaning a dirty filter may be more complicated than it seems. You need to ensure that you do not damage the delicate components of the air filtration system while cleaning and changing filters.

Increased Exposure to Contaminants

Cleaning a HEPA filter might increase your exposure to bacteria, viruses, or other contaminants. It is best if a professional handles the cleaning and replacement of filters in your air filtration system.

Risk of Exposure to Pollutants

If the filter is clogged with dust and other particles, you might need a vacuum cleaner or air compressor to clean it, resulting in more exposure to pollutants.

Risk of Exposure to Pollutants

Requires Time to Dry Off

The HEPA filter has to be completely dry before you can use it, so you should ensure that your air filtration system has completely dried before using it again. If there is any moisture or humidity in the filter, this could cause it to be ineffective.

How to Replace a HEPA Filter

Some indications that you need to replace your filter include:

  • The filter has become torn or damaged.
  • It is dirty and clogged with particles of dust, dirt, pet hair, and other pollutants.
  • Your vacuum cleaner isn’t picking up as much dirt or debris as it once did.

If you find that your HEPA filter is no longer effective at removing allergens and other contaminants from the air in your home, it’s time to replace it. Here are a few tips on how to do that:

  • First, consult your vacuum cleaner’s owner’s manual to find out the specific model of HEPA filter that is compatible with your machine.
  • Then go to an online retailer like Amazon or vacuum cleaner specialist websites to purchase a new filter.
  • Once you have the new filter, carefully follow the instructions on removing the old one and installing the new one.
  • Ensure that the seal around the filter’s edge is appropriately in place.

When installing, ensure that the seal around the filter’s edge is made correctly and that your machine has room for proper airflow. If not, the filter will not last as long and defeats the purpose of having a HEPA filter.

Also, keep in mind that many vacuum cleaners have more than one type of filter. Be sure to check and see if it is time to replace any other filters in your machine when you replace your HEPA filter.

Other Ways to Improve the Quality of Indoor Air

Apart from using a HEPA filter, there are other ways you can improve the quality of your indoor air. 

Open Windows

One way to improve indoor air quality is to open windows. Fresh air can help reduce the levels of pollutants in the air.

Open Windows

Use an Air Purifier

Another way to improve indoor air quality is to use an air purifier. Air purifier products can remove allergens, smoke, and other harmful chemicals from the inside of a building or home.

Remove Pollutant Sources

The best way to improve indoor air quality and reduce average pollution levels is to eliminate or reduce air pollution sources. Pollutant sources can include cigarettes, pet hair, and dirty carpets.

Clean Regularly

It is also essential to clean your home daily or weekly to ensure that dust particles don’t sit on the surface for too long.

Use a Humidifier

Using a humidifier can help improve indoor air quality by adding moisture into dry air and preventing it from becoming too dry during colder months when heaters are being used more often.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it Worth Getting a HEPA Filter?

A HEPA filter can improve the quality of air in a household and positively affect the health of all household members. By effectively removing most allergens, dust, pollen, and mould, it provides cleaner air.
HEPA filters can remove dust particles in the air. HEPA filters are also great for people with allergies like dust mites, mould spores, pollen, and pet dander in the air inside your home can cause problems. However, you need to clean other parts of your home for maximum results, such as frequent vacuuming, replacing old carpets, and changing bedding regularly.

Is HEPA Filter Better Than Regular Filter

Is HEPA Filter Better Than Regular Filter?

A HEPA filter comprises thin fibres of glass and activated carbon-based materials. On the other hand, regular filters are porous materials like cotton paper sheets and polyester. Although both filters have their unique benefits, a HEPA filter is better for households with residents that have allergies or asthma. 

How Do I Know When to Change or Clean My HEPA Filter?

The first step to ensuring that your HEPA filter is frequently changed or clean is by marking the date you changed it on your calendar. If you use your machine often, it is best to change it monthly. If you don’t use it regularly, changing it once every season should be sufficient. 

Another indicator that you shoulder change your filter is if your air purifier or humidifier isn’t working correctly. When dirt or dust collects inside the filter, it may not be efficient at its job.

Do HEPA Filters Stop COVID-19?

After the global spread of the COVID-19 virus, people started to look for ways to eliminate the risk of contracting germs. One common question that arises while determining how to stay safe is whether or not HEPA filters in humidifiers or air purifiers prevent COVID-19 from spreading. 

According to Canadian Public Health Services, High-quality, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters effectively capture airborne particles, including some viruses. Although there is no evidence that portable HEPA cleaners effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19 transmission, it is still a valuable tool to reduce pollutants in the air. 


According to a scientific study, indoor HEPA filters significantly reduce pollution indoors when the outside air is unhealthy. So, it is essential to take care of your HEPA filter and ensure that it remains clean at all times to perform efficiently. 

If you want to clean your HEPA filter, the first thing we recommend is checking the label of the specific model or user guide and ensuring it says “washable” or “permanent.” If not, do not attempt to wash it. 

When replacing a HEPA filter, we suggest that you find one with a higher efficiency rating than what’s currently in use for maximum effectiveness. If you’ve been wondering how to clean a HEPA filter, we hope this article has helped you decide the best way to go about it.

Joseph and Family
About Joseph D. Nielson

Former journalist and editor for various press groups, I now dedicate my time to reviewing products for the home and family life. When I get time to myself, I enjoy rock climbing, taking my dirt bike for a rip, and most importantly providing my family with the best home possible!