The natural instinct that we all have when we see something dirty is to clean it immediately. Soap and water have always been our go-to cleaning tools. But that isn’t true and applicable with HEPA filters.
HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. HEPA is a type of air filter that was originally manufactured and used for scientific and industrial purposes, later it came to be used in various products like vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, cars, and all HVAC systems. Here, in this article, we would learn about how to clean a HEPA filter?
How do HEPA Filters Work?
HEPA filters, when looked at, are exactly like an array of folded papers. These filters have interwoven fibres that are closely packed and allow a very little pathway for the air to pass through them. So that these fibres present inside the filter would be able to get hold of all the particulates, dust, and dirt and filter the air and provide us with clean fresh air.
By doing this, it helps in improving indoor air quality. These filters claim to remove 99.97 percent of particulates and give out clean air.
The HEPA filters are manufactured in a way to only filter all the dust particles present in the air and not the pollutants like smoke and all other gases. These pollutants belong to the rest 0.03 percent and because of that they easily pass through them.
Why Do We Use HEPA Filters?
Apart from the obvious reason for purifying the air, the filters are mainly used in houses that have people with a very sensitive and weak immune system like newborn babies or elderly people. The air available all over has a lot of dust and dirt present in them. These might be a problem for them as they can trigger allergies, breathing problems, wheezing, asthma, and much more.
To provide vulnerable people like them with a safe environment and fresh air to breathe in, HEPA air filters are used in mediums like air purifiers, special vacuums, and HVAC systems.
Can We Clean Any HEPA Filter?
There has always been a lot of confusion and hesitation when it comes to cleaning the HEPA filters. The experts’ answer to the question has always been “not recommended”. We’ll see why that is?
On your products or in your manual, check whether your HEPA filter is ‘washable’ or ‘permanent’. If it is labeled ‘permanent’ then it is not advisable to wash your filter. Permanent also doesn’t mean that it’ll last forever. There will come a time where you’ll have to replace your HEPA filter with a new one and not clean and reuse them.
You can even clean your permanent filters but it still is not advisable. You can remove it, clear off the dust, vacuum or rinse it with water, either way, you’ll still end up with a damaged filter. The most important part of the filter is the fibres and if they’re torn there’ll be gaps between them through which the particles can easily pass through.
The filter might even look the same as before, but the fibres inside it will be loosened or broken, making it not fit to purify the air. The result of your cleaning will be a clean fresh filter that doesn’t even do its job. If that’s what happens then you’ll have to buy a new filter.
How To Clean The Washable HEPA Filter?
Now that we’ve made it clear not to wash your permanent filters, let’s see how to wash the washable filters.
The first thing you need to be sure of is whether your filter is washable or not. If you’re not sure, check the manual that came with your product. If you can’t seem to find it or don’t have it, you can always go online and search for your product with the manufacturer and product number and download an online guide. Follow the instructions given in the guide. Note the time period at which you’ll have to clean your filters and clean them accordingly.
It will be better if you take your filter outside to your garden area or garage and then clean it, as cleaning filters will let out a lot of dust and you don’t want to breathe in that or make your floors dirty. If you’re okay with getting your floors dirty and your filters are small and handy, then you can just have it cleaned inside.
Before you get into cleaning make sure you have got your vacuum or air purifier unplugged. Then you open the panel with the filter and get your HEPA filter out. If you’re not sure how to open the panel and get it out, look into your product guide and follow what it says.
Another thing, make sure you never use your vacuums or air purifier when the filter is removed, cause it will damage your product.
Once you’ve taken the filer out, you can tap it with your hands or tap it on the sides of a trash can and get the settled dust out.
The next thing you have got to do is rinse the filter with water to get rid of the dirt. Use only water and not any soap or detergent. While rinsing, remember to apply only slight pressure on your filter, or else you’ll end up damaging your filter. For some filters, it is advised to use lukewarm warm water and for some, cold water. If you’re not sure about your filter, check your guide again and find the best temperature the water must be for cleaning your filter.
If your filter is a flat one, you can wash both sides of it. If it’s a cylindrical filter, rinse only the outer part and don’t allow water to enter the interior part.
When you’re done with cleaning your filter, let it dry. You’ll have to wait at least 24 hours before you’re ready to install it back. While letting it dry, don’t use a blow dryer or cloth dryer cause it’ll spoil the fibres inside the filter. Just leave your filters be and allow them to dry naturally. When they are completely dry you can install them back.
Also, another note- cleaning your HEPA filters every now and then will also damage them. Only clean it according to your guide and only when needed.
Cleaning HEPA filters might seem like a fairly easy job. But to keep it as good as new you’ll have to follow all the precautions and clean it accordingly. A slight mishap will even ruin your entire filter. So, be cautious with your filters and also know when it’s time to replace your filter.
Most filters come with a clean filter indicator light. It indicates if your filter is not clean and needs to be replaced. If you’re not sure you can look up your product online and find out the time period. But then again, the dust and particulates that your purifier collects are according to your usage and surroundings. So when you see your filter is full of debris and needs to be changed, get a new filter and replace the old one.
I hope this article about how to clean HEPA filters helped you clear all your doubts. If so, go get your filters cleaned!