Vacuum Filters: How to Clean Them and Why It’s Important

Have you noticed your vacuum isn’t performing as well as it used to? Maybe it’s leaving behind dust and dirt. If that’s the case, you might need to clean your vacuum filter!

cleaning your vacuum filter

If you want your vacuum to maintain its strong suction and pick up all the dirt and debris it’s supposed to, then you need to clean the filter regularly. A clean vacuum filter is crucial to the effective operation of your vacuum cleaner. A clogged filter will decrease performance and could even damage your vacuum!

In this post, we will provide instructions on how to clean your vacuum filter as well as explain why it’s important to do so!

Why Cleaning Your Vacuum Filter Is Important

Cleaning your vacuum filter is a necessary house chore and a big part of regular maintenance. Regularly cleaning or replacing the filter will ensure that your vacuum is able to pick up all the dirt and debris it’s meant to. A dirty filter will decrease suction, meaning the vacuum picks less dirt and dust.

In addition, a full filter can cause damage to your vacuum over time due to the extra strain on the motor. The heat generated by the clogged filter can damage your vacuum and reduce its lifespan.

So if you want your vacuum cleaner to last and to properly do its job, make sure you are replacing your filter often! If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry. I’ll walk you through the process and help you get into a good routine to keep your vacuum running smoothly.

How to Clean Vacuum Filters

There are a few ways to clean vacuum filters. The best way to find out how to change or clean the filter for your specific vacuum cleaner is to check the appliance manual. If you no longer have the manual, you should be able to find information for most filters online by searching for the model number.

However, I’ll go through the basic steps of cleaning your vacuum filter to get you started.

First, figure out what kinds of filter you have.

The first step when cleaning your filter is figuring out what kind you have. The main types of vacuum filters are bag filters, foam filters, cartridge filters, cyclone filters, and HEPA filters.

What type of vacuum filter you have will determine how you wash it. Or, in the case of bagged vacuums, you probably won’t wash it all. But let’s go over the different types of filters and how to clean them.

What to Do with a Bag Filter

For vacuums with bags, you’ll need to change the bag, not clean it. Empty the contents of the bag into a trashcan. Then, if it’s a paper filter, you’ll need to replace it when it’s full.

If your vacuum has a cloth filter inside or another type of reusable bag, you’ll need to shake it out and wipe out residual dirt or excess dust. Your bag might be washable, but check your manual first to confirm!

Cleaning a Foam Filter

Foam filters are one of the more common filter types on a bagless vacuum, so you might have this type.

Foam filters don’t require much maintenance unless they have a lot of dirt or debris, but you do need to clean your filter to keep it efficient. When they are full of dust particles, it really ruins the airflow!

To clean your foam filter, soak it in a bucket or bowl of warm water for a bit. It doesn’t have to be an extensive soak, just 5 minutes will work. The water bath will help remove dust from your filter.

Next, wring out the filter. The water will probably be pretty dirty. You can rinse it out again (until the water runs clear) to get out more dirt particles. Once you’re satisfied, set it on a cloth or paper towel and let it air dry.

You need to let the filter dry completely before placing it back in the vacuum, or else you risk the chance of it growing mold. (And stinking up your house.)

Cleaning a Cyclone Filter

For cyclone or cartridge filters, you need to be a bit gentler. Some vacuum filters can handle more water and vigorous cleaning, but the cyclone filter should just be wiped down with a damp cloth.

For best results, you should remove all dust from the filter before wiping it down to ensure that it gets as clean as possible. Remove the filter and gently tap the filter against a hard surface like your trash can or sink to get out any loose debris. Then wipe it down with a damp cloth depending on the material of your cartridge filter.

Some of them are made of paper, and in that case, you don’t want to use water. Make sure it’s not a non-washable filter before you clean it!

Also, most cartridge filters are meant to be replaced, but washing them can really extend their life before you need to replace them. If you have a washable vacuum filter, make sure you take advantage of that rather than just replacing it each time. This will save you money!

Cleaning a HEPA Filter

A HEPA vacuum filter (also known as a high-efficiency particulate air filter) is a special type of filter designed to capture very small particles. It’s similar to the cartridge filter, but it has a much smaller pore size and can trap even smaller particles.

HEPA filters are interesting because true HEPA filters can’t be cleaned. They need to be replaced. If your filter isn’t 100% HEPA, then it might be washable, but most HEPA filters need to be replaced. You can try to use another vacuum to remove extra dirt, but you should not get it wet.

Check the information on your HEPA filter and vacuum cleaner to ensure that is a washable vacuum filter before you try, otherwise, you might ruin it and need to replace it anyway.

Quick Reminders for Cleaning Vacuum Filters

Remember to order replacement filters so you’re never caught without one if yours is not reusable or is non-washable. It also helps to inspect your filter before and after each use, and if it looks dirty, clean or replace it as soon as possible. It’s also important to read the instructions in your vacuum’s manual for details about cleaning the filter safely and properly.

How often should I clean my filter?

Most vacuum filters should be replaced every 3-6 months, but it depends on how often you’re vacuuming, how much dirt and debris your vacuum is collecting, and how old your vacuum is.

Check the filter every time (or every few times) you vacuum. Remove the filter and clean it when its air flow has been too restricted or you can tell it needs to be changed or cleaned.

Common Mistakes People Make

A few common mistakes people make when cleaning their filters are using a dry cloth for a foam filter and cleaning the filter too frequently. Foam filters should never be cleaned with a dry cloth, as it can damage the material.

Additionally, filters should not be over-cleaned as this can cause them to lose their effectiveness over time. Always refer to the directions in your vacuum’s manual before attempting to clean them.

Also, make sure you allow your filter to completely dry before putting it back in your vacuum bin. Get out any excess water and then let it air dry until it’s totally dry. You do not want to put a damp filter back in the vacuum.

Keep Your Vacuum Cleaner Functioning at Its Peak

And that’s how to clean vacuum filters! Don’t let your vacuum’s suction power decrease just because you haven’t cleaned the filter in a while.

Make sure you clean your filters regularly to keep your vacuum cleaner working and performing at its peak. With a few easy steps and some maintenance, you’ll be able to maintain the longevity of your vacuum cleaner’s performance!

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