Wash vs. Buy: Can I Wash My Air Filter instead of Buying a New One?

washing air filters

Are HVAC filters washable? Is it easier to give it a good scrub or to buy a new one? Here’s what you need to know about your heating and air conditioning air filter.

Why Wash or Replace?

Your air filter protects your HVAC system by trapping dirt, dust, pollen, and other airborne particles. It also keeps those same pollutants out of your indoor air. When your HVAC runs every day, the filter gets full and needs cleaning or replacement every few months.

Wash or Buy New?

By design, you can clean some types of filters. These are permanent or semipermanent filters and can hold up to water and cleaning. Most filters, however, are disposable and should not get wet. It can break down the material and promote mold and mildew growth which can spread to your home when the HVAC system turns on and blows air through it.

What About Vacuuming?

Vacuuming a dirty filter might seem like a great option. Unfortunately, vacuuming is not a good solution to clean the pollutants out of the fibers. When the dust and particles are deep in the filter material, a vacuum can’t pull out most of the dust and dirt. In addition, any vacuum strong enough is too strong for the filter material and can damage it.

If your system takes reusable filters, make sure you get the right kind and be sure it’s washable. Because most HVAC systems use disposable filters, talk to the experts at your local McCall’s Supply to ensure you get the most effective one for your system and home.