Hepa filters are perhaps technology’s best answer to stay safe against air pollution, which is affecting millions of people worldwide today. The air we breathe is our lifeline and to imagine that it’s contaminated with many molecular-level pollutants can send shivers down the spine. However, as with other aspect of our life, advanced appliances may provide a bit of a relief. Air purifiers with True HEPA or HEPA type filters used significantly improve the quality of indoor air.
However, just like any other filter that separates contaminants from the air, HEPA filters face a significant challenge of getting saturated with pollutants and losing their desired efficacy. Replacing them every few months (considering how fast they get saturated!) isn’t very economically feasible, It is, therefore advised to buy air purifiers with cleanable filters. We reviewed some of the top-rated air purifiers that that either have long-lasting filter lives or come with washable filters in well-researched guide to buying large space air purifiers. Re-using the filter means cleaning up all the dust and dirt first. Is it that easy? This post intends to find out the answer to this common problem: how to clean Hepa filters without the risk of damaging them.
Can You Clean Hepa Filter?
Before we go there, a quick peek into what they are and where they’re used efficiently. HEPA filters are today a vital component of several household products such as air purifiers, vacuum cleaners, HVAC systems, and also used in cars. As can be understood, they mostly work on purifying the indoor air we breathe and can be particularly helpful to people with weak immunity or airborne allergies.
Now, as already mentioned above, these filters tend to get contaminated trapping dust, dust mites, and moulds within that they need to be free of these to continue working efficiently. Replacing a filter regularly may prove quite a costly affair. Now you need to make sure that your HEPA filter indicates explicitly on the label that it’s washable or in some cases, “permanent”. If either of the two isn’t specifically instructed, then you can’t go ahead with washing your HEPA filter.
You would end up damaging the filter if neither of these has been mentioned on the HEPA filter. Rinsing a non-washable HEPA filter will damage the fibre mesh which is responsible for removing the pollutants from the air. This is possible even if the filter itself looks undamaged or “clean” from the outside. It may lose its efficacy to filter the air, otherwise known as the CADR rating. (What is CADR rating?)
Cleaning a Washable Hepa Filter
Now for those filters that are labelled washable, here’s how to clean air purifier filter:
- Disassemble the appliance (air purifier or vacuum cleaner) outside the house – This is done to prevent all the dust and dirt from getting released within the home space. In fact, larger HEPA filters contain large amounts of debris too, which may not be a good idea to clean inside the house. Ensure that you have access to a garden hose or water faucet outside the home where you choose to remove and clean the HEPA filter. However, for smaller filters, dust-spilling may not be too worrisome, and you may want to rinse it in a bathroom sink indoors.
- Remove the filter but make sure that the appliance is turned off and unplugged before you do so. To remove the filter, you need to first detach the canister or panel covering the filter and gently slide the filter out of the appliance.
- Tap the filter gently over a dustbin – Once removed, you’d notice that the filter is coated with dust and dirt (even thick layers), depending on the type of appliance used and the frequency of cleaning its filter. To loosen up excess debris, gently tap the filter over a trash can.
- Rinse with water – While rinsing, make sure you don’t apply too hard or extreme pressure over the filter to avoid damaging it. Rinse it softly under running water until the time you feel that the water runs through it clear and dirt-free. Besides, it might be a good idea to check your product manual for specific instructions on rinsing the filter with lukewarm or cold water. Rinse both sides evenly (again better to check up the manual once).
- Air-dry the filter – Before re-placing, the HEPA filter into the appliance, make sure that it has dried entirely in the air. After rinse cleaning, shake off all excess water and leave it to dry outside for at least 24 hours before re-installation. You may also blow-dry the filter for faster drying.
Cleaning a Non-Washable HEPA Filter
Now, not all HEPA filters are labelled washable, in which case following the above method of rinsing them with water may be a terrible idea. If anything, you might end up ruining your filter for life. Instead, always check your manual before proceeding with cleaning.
For the ones that cannot be washed, vacuuming is a better idea. Here’s how to clean air purifier filter:
- Detach the filter from the appliance. Make sure the latter’s turned off and unplugged before accessing the filter.
- Wash the other filters – Normally, a non-washable HEPA filter comes with at least one foam or activated charcoal filter, which can be washed. Rinse them with water thoroughly or until the water runs clear through the accompanying filters.
- Towel dry these filters and leave them out for natural air drying for at least 24 hours.
- Use a vacuum cleaner hose attachment – Now to clean your non-washable HEPA filter, run a vacuum cleaner. It has a hose with either a nozzle or brush attachment which can be used to clean the HEPA filter. Keep vacuuming until all the dirt has been removed. However, do so carefully to avoid puncturing the filter with the attachment.
- Replace the filter – After all the filters – washable and non-washable – are clean, dry, and ready to reuse, you may reassemble the appliance. Remember to wrap the HEPA filter tightly in plastic until the other filters are drying up to ensure that it doesn’t get contaminated.
HEPA air filter is a delicate and highly important part of any air purifier or vacuum cleaner. Take great care in maintaining it periodically to ensure the best quality of indoor air for your home.