How to Clean Your Home Air Filters for a Healthy Home

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Your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system keeps the air in your home clean by trapping dust, pollen, germs, and other contaminants, but all of these particles have to go somewhere. The system’s air filter collects much of this debris, which can eventually affect the efficiency of the device, increase your utility bills, and even affect the air quality of your home. Learning to clean an air conditioning filter or oven filter is an important part of regular maintenance to keep the system running smoothly and avoid costly downtime.

However, cleaning your home’s air filters will only get you so far. If the filter is excessively dirty, torn, or otherwise damaged, it is time to replace the air filter. Also note that disposable air filters (which are usually placed in a cardboard frame) are generally not intended for cleaning and should be replaced if they become dirty. Cleaning works best with reusable filters, like this washable electrostatic oven and AC filter ($ 24, Lowe’s).

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How to clean an HVAC air filter

For best results, you should clean your home air filters about once a month and replace them about every six months. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions to find out the best way to clean your air conditioner or oven filter, but the following steps will work for most reusable filters.

What you need

Step 1: Turn off the power and find the filter.

Before you begin, turn off your HVAC equipment to prevent unfiltered air from circulating around your home while cleaning. Find the vent and use a screwdriver to open the device. Some systems may have multiple vents, each with a filter, so clean them all. Remove the filter and check for damage. Replace the filter if necessary; otherwise, continue vacuuming.

Step 2: Vacuum the air filter.

If possible, take the filter outside to avoid raising dust around your home. Use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to remove dirt from the filter. Run the brush over the filter to carefully loosen any stuck deposits.

Related: 7 AC Mistakes You Are Likely To Make (Plus Expert Solutions To Prevent A Breakdown)

Step 3: wash the filter with vinegar and water.

When your air filter needs a more thorough cleaning, fill your sink or large bucket with an equal part mixture of hot water and distilled white vinegar. Let the filter work for about an hour and then rinse it out with clean water. If the filter is too large to fit in a sink or bucket, wash it off with a garden hose and let the water pass through the filter in the opposite direction to the airflow. Use a low pressure setting to avoid damaging the filter.

Step 4: let dry and replace.

Allow the filter to air dry completely before replacing it. This will help prevent mold from building up in your HVAC system. Put the filter back into the device, making sure it is facing the correct direction for proper airflow. Most filters have arrow markers that indicate proper placement; These arrows should typically point in the direction of airflow to the oven. Replace the ventilation slots and turn the device on again.


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