Can You Wash A HEPA Air Filter?

Is there a way to wash or clean your HEPA air filter, and how do you do it?

         HEPA filters can be expensive, which means that you will want to get all the use out of it that you can by keeping them clean and functional. So, the question is can you wash a HEPA filter? Or is there an acceptable way to clean a HEPA air filter? The professionals at Clover Contracting are always happy to answer any questions you have about HEPA filters and air purification. Let’s go over the details of HEPA air filters and how you can clean them properly.

What is a HEPA air filter?

         The EPA references a HEPA air filter as a mechanical filtration device. For it to be a true HEPA air filter, it must filter out up to 99.7% of particles in the air down to 0.3 microns. This is extremely small as a single human hair ranges from 80-100 microns.

         HEPA filters exceed this limit and can trap particles to an even smaller degree than 0.3 microns. These are usually used in the medical industry and in the manufacturing plants of high-end electronics. Regardless the filter must be able to filter at least 99.7% of the 0.3 microns for it to be considered a true HEPA filter.

Can you wash a HEPA filter?

         HEPA filters are designed to trap particles that can get caught in the closely webbed fibers. They are not designed to be able to capture things such as odors and smells like smoke. The density of a true HEPA filter means that it can catch up to 99.7% of particles down to 0.3 microns.

So, can HEPA filters be washed? The answer is no – for these filters to be able to reach this level of filtration they need to have exceptionally fine fibers. These fibers will be very fragile, which means that you will want to try and avoid touching the filter material itself, even when installing it. This also means that doing something like using an air hose, garden hose, vacuum, or shaking the filter out can cause severe damage to the filter, resulting in it not working to its desired filtration level.

Reasons not to wash a dirty filter

         As stated, the mesh fibers that make up the filter are fine and fragile. If you try to clean them with water or a vacuum, then you are highly likely to tear up the fibers which will affect its filtration. If you’re still wondering if you can wash your HEPA filter, here are some other reasons why it may be a bad idea to do so.

  • Counterproductive

 HEPA filters are designed to catch all kinds of minute particles that you do not want to have floating around in your home. If your filter manages to remove antimicrobial bacteria out of your air, then attempting to clean it can spread the antimicrobial bacteria back into the air. If it had time to grow on your filter then it may make the issue even worse. Taking your filter out and trying to clean it, makes it likely that you will redistribute at least some of the particles back into your home.

  • Filter your filter

 If you were to go ahead with an attempt to clean your filter with a vacuum, then you would need to have a HEPA filter for your vacuum. Otherwise, all those small particles that your filter was able to pull out of the air, would get blown right back into the air by the vacuum’s exhaust.

  • Wet filters need to dry 

If you have decided that you can wash your HEPA filter then you will need to wait at least 24 hours for the filter to dry. Mold will be able to grow throughout your filter, if you do not let it dry sufficiently. If your filter is drying, then it is not filtering your air.

What if it is a “Permanent” or “Washable” HEPA filter?

         Depending on the purpose of the filter you may be able to clean certain HEPA filters. A vacuum filter may be able to be cleaned and reused, depending on what you are vacuuming. However, a HEPA filter cleaning the air of an active OR will have to be replaced every single time it is deemed dirty.

         What if you have a HEPA filter labeled permanent? Can you wash a HEPA filter if it says permanent? Some HEPA filters claim they are permanent and are therefore more durable, but these are most definitely not washable. If you were to utilize a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter installed, then you could lightly vacuum the filter and get most of the filth off it.

         If your HEPA filter is labeled washable then can you wash your HEPA filter? Yes, you can, but you will only be able to gently wash it. It is important that you continue to not touch the filter material with your hands, and only allow the water to come into contact with it. It is also vitally important as previously stated that you let the filter completely dry out before you reinstall it, to prevent mold growth.

What should you do?

         If you do not have a permanent or washable HEPA filter then it is widely agreed upon by the filtration companies that you should replace your filter. This is even more important if you are considering what to do with a filter in a high-risk area, such as a medical facility or a densely populated office building.

         If you have purchased a HEPA filter for your home, why would you risk cleaning it yourself, dispersing all the harmful particles back into your home, and losing the capabilities of the HEPA filter. It is always better to purchase a new filter. For the efficiency of the filter, for the safety of your health, and for your peace of mind that it is doing its job. If you still have questions, the professionals at Clover Contracting are experts on filtration and can help you find a solution.

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