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How to Clean a Reusable Air Filter

Dirty AC Filter

Some things are designed to be thrown away. That Styrofoam container you got with your takeout order? Trash it! But that plastic container you saved last night’s pasta in? That one can be reused time and time again.

Air filters that work with your home’s air conditioning system are the same way. There are some filters designed for only one use (although “one use” is about a month). Others can be used time and over and over—as long as you keep them clean.

The Difference Between Disposable and Reusable Filters

Here, we will discuss how to keep your reusable air filter clean. However, you must make certain it is an air filter designed to be reused. Disposable air filters cannot be cleaned sufficiently, and attempting to clean them could lead to AC efficiency issues or even mold.

If you have a disposable air filter, replace it after about one month. Otherwise, follow our tips for cleaning out a reusable model.

The Importance of Regular Cleaning

Cleaning a washable air filter in an AC or heating system is one of the most important things you can do. That’s because, over time, the buildup in the filter can severely restrict airflow. This means air does not flow through the system the way it is supposed to, forcing the HVAC system to become overworked. This is actually the reason many air conditioners (and heaters) do not live out their full lifespans.

Plus, when you wait too long, certain bacteria can build up on a filter. And, if you don’t clean properly, mold, mildew, and other problems can develop on the surface of the filter. Routine cleaning increases its lifespan and ensures your health and comfort. ENERGY STAR recommends cleaning a filter a minimum of every 3 months.

The Process

This may differ slightly depending on the type of filter you have. But here are the basic steps of removing and cleaning reusable (washable) home air filters.

  • Find the filter – Many people are surprised to learn a filter in a newer home is not where they expect it. Try searching at the AC unit, or behind a return vent in the wall or ceiling.
  • Remove carefully – Shut off the AC before removing the filter. Otherwise, you risk damage to the AC system from unfiltered debris.
  • Decide on a plan of action – Next, you’ll have to assess the filter and think through your options. You might be able to vacuum out most of the debris. But more heavy duty cleansing could be required.
  • Wash the filter – You can simply rinse the filter with warm water. But for odors and other issues, try adding baking soda first.
  • Allow the filter to dry – This is important. Do not return the filter until it is dry, as this can cause mold or mildew to accumulate. Once this happens, you may need to replace the filter prematurely.
  • Replace the filter – Make sure the arrows on the filter line up properly.

Call Air On Demand for more helpful advice and for air conditioning services in the Homestead, FL area.