How to Clean a Vacuum Filter

A woman uses a vacuum on her floors.
What You'll Need
Vacuum cleaner manual
Small soft brush
Garbage can

An important part of vacuum cleaner maintenance is regular, thorough cleaning of the vacuum filter. If the filter is not clean, the vacuum cleaner has to work harder to absorb and eliminate dirt and allergens from your home. Improper cleaning of the filter reduces the suctioning capability of the vacuum cleaner over time. The dirt can also lead to clogging and malfunctioning of the motor and other parts, making replacement the only option.

There are several washable filters available on the market, with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters being one of the most popular, because of its ability to remove up to 99 percent of the smallest particles in the air. Allergen filters and micron filters in most vacuum cleaners can also be cleaned thoroughly by following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 1 - Refer to Your Vacuum Cleaner Manual

You must clean your vacuum cleaner filter regularly, ideally after every 3 or 4 uses. Loss in suction is a sign that the filter needs cleaning. A dirty filter can cause dust particles to settle on the interior machinery, and over time the motor may die. Motor replacement is very costly, and it is best to avoid these problems by regular cleaning. Before you clean your vacuum filter, refer to the device manual for cleaning instructions. Never wash the filter if the manual specifically mentions that the filter is not washable. Various vacuum cleaners also have different filter types that can be detached and cleaned in different ways. Remove the filter from the vacuum cleaner.

Step 2 - Remove Excessive Dust

A woman uses a vacuum on a couch.

When you remove the dust from a vacuum filter, chances are it will spread around in the air and settle on nearby surfaces. It is best to take the filter outside, preferably to the garage or a dumpster, so that you do not spread all the dust indoors. First, tap the filter gently on the side of the garbage can so that most of the dust falls in. Next, use a soft brush and run it over the filter, on both sides. You can use an old toothbrush for this purpose. This will remove most of the particles that are lodged onto the filter.

Step 3 - Rinse the Filter if Allowed

If your vacuum filter is made of plastic, foam or similar material, you can probably give it a good wash under the sink. Cross-check the manual before you wet the filter. If the filter is made of paper, it may be adversely affected if you wash it.

Step 4 - Replace the Filter

A vacuum is used on white carpet.

If you washed the filter, air-dry it thoroughly before you put it back in the vacuum cleaner. Once the filter is clean and dry, you can put it back into the vacuum cleaner. Even with regular cleaning, most vacuum filters have a specific lifespan and must be replaced regularly, according to manufacturer recommendations.

With proper maintenance, your vacuum filter will aid in keeping your home clean and free from dust and allergens.