How to Clean a Washable Air Filter for Your AC, Furnace, or Purifier

When it comes to environmental impact, you can make plenty of daily choices to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Las Vegas residents are used to conserving water, for example. But did you know that purchasing a reusable air filter means you can reuse the same furnace, AC, humidifier, dehumidifier, or air purifier filter over and over without the waste and expense of using disposable filters?

But what kind of maintenance commitment do they take, and how do you clean them?

Can You Clean an Air Filter?

Yes, some kinds of filters are washable! That means that instead of getting rid of your air filter when its three months are up, you can wash the dust and debris off and place the filter back into your HVAC system. Not all filters are reusable, so make sure you have a washable filter before running it underwater.

How to Tell If an Air Filter Is Washable

Your filter should indicate somewhere on it whether it’s washable. If you aren’t sure, get rid of the old filter when its time is up and buy a new filter you know is reusable. New filters should say on their packaging if you can wash them. Reusable filters are typically made of electrostatically charged woven polypropylene.

What Happens If You Wash a Non-Washable Filter?

Disposable air filters are not meant to be cleaned and reused. If you try to wash a disposable filter, dust, dirt, and other contaminants can linger in the folds of the filter material. Attempts to clean the filter will likely damage it, decreasing your HVAC’s efficiency and straining the motor. It may not dry out completely, encouraging mold growth.

How to Clean an Air Filter

Learning how to clean a reusable air conditioner filter, air purifier filter, furnace filter, or whole-home dehumidifier filter allows you to keep your air filter in working condition, pulling contaminants out of the air that cycle through your HVAC.

To wash your filter:

  1. Shut off your AC, furnace, air purifier, or dehumidifier, then remove the filter.

  2. Rinse your filter with plain, warm water. Since the water in Las Vegas is very hard, we recommend using distilled water unless you have a water softener.

  3. Wash the filter with gentle household soap. Dish soap is ideal, but hand soap will also work.

  4. Gently scrub any caked-on grime with a soft-bristled brush. Be careful not to damage the filter.

  5. Rinse again with warm water until all soap and debris are gone.

  6. Gently shake the filter to remove excess water.

  7. Allow your filter to dry completely before putting it back into your system. Remember to turn your AC, furnace, or air purifier back on!


You should wash your reusable HVAC air filter as often as you would replace a disposable filter. In most cases, you should clean your furnace filter every three months and your whole-home humidifier and dehumidifier every six months. If you have multiple furry pets, a large household, or allergy problems, clean your filter as often as every one to two months. Always follow filter instructions for cleaning and maintaining, since best practices can differ by brand.

Are Reusable Air Filters Worth It?

That depends on what you want out of your filter and the work you’re willing to put into maintenance.

Most washable furnace and AC (HVAC) filters have a MERV rating between one and four, but it’s possible to find higher-rated reusable filters. A well-maintained washable filter offers the same performance as a disposable filter of the same MERV rating. The lower MERV rating filters won’t filter a lot of particles and irritants, but higher MERV ratings can vastly improve your indoor air quality.

Cleaning a reusable air filter is a bigger pain than just throwing away the filter and replacing it with a new one. However, buying new filters every three months adds up over time. A reusable air filter can get expensive compared to disposable filters, around five to six times more expensive. However, reusable filters can last for five years or even longer before they need to be replaced, meaning they pay for themselves after a few washes. Plus, you’re adding far less trash to the landfill.

Contact the Las Vegas HVAC Experts for System Maintenance

Air filters are only one part of your Las Vegas HVAC system. You can also increase HVAC efficiency and save power by scheduling routine system checkups twice a year with the experts at One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating of Las Vegas. We can handle everything from regular maintenance to fixing problems and keeping your HVAC efficient. Call us at (702) 602-8801 or book online.