How to clean a HEPA filter and how often?

How to clean a HEPA filter?

A good filter in your vacuum cleaner is very important. If there is poor filtering, the dust emission will be very high. In other words, the air that leaves the vacuum cleaner after vacuuming contains a lot of dust particles. You actually vacuum for nothing.

Fortunately, vacuum cleaners are increasingly equipped with one or more filters. A well-known type of filter is the so-called HEPA filter. This filter filters fine dust particles from the air, after which clean air leaves the vacuum cleaner. However, such a HEPA filter must be maintained to ensure that dust emissions remain low.

In this article I'll tell you everything you need to know about cleaning a HEPA filter. Because, how do you actually do this and how often do you have to clean it?

What is a HEPA filter?

Let me start with what a HEPA filter actually is. HEPA is the abbreviation for ‘High Efficiency Particulate Air'. It is an air filter: the filter can be found in the airflow of a vacuum cleaner, whereby very fine particles are filtered out of the air. A HEPA filter consists of all small layers, leaving fine dust particles behind.

A HEPA filter can often be found behind the dust container of a vacuum cleaner. I showed this in my Philips FC9745/09 PowerPro review. View the photo below to see what the HEPA filter of a vacuum cleaner looks like.

philips fc9745 powerpro expert hepa filter

The HEPA filter is often easy to remove from the vacuum cleaner, after which you can replace or wash it. Read more information about the HEPA filter here.

Cleaning and washing HEPA filter

Before I just share the steps for cleaning a HEPA filter, it is very important to know whether the HEPA filter is washable. Not every HEPA filter is washable. Washable filters are often provided with water drop icons. However, this does not always have to be the case: I recommend that you consult the manual of your vacuum cleaner when in doubt. Of course you can also send me a message!

If you are sure that it is a washable HEPA filter, we can get started!

Step-by-step plan for cleaning the HEPA filter

When you are sure that you are dealing with a washable HEPA filter, you can follow the steps below.

  1. See where the HEPA filter is in your vacuum cleaner
  2. Carefully remove the HEPA filter
  3. Double check whether it is a washable filter
  4. Often there is a plastic frame around the HEPA filter: remove it if you can
  5. Wash the HEPA filter gently with lukewarm water
  6. Do not use sponges or stiff brushes, let the water pass through them gently
  7. Let the HEPA filter dry for at least 24 hours
  8. Check whether the HEPA filter is completely dry and put it back in your vacuum cleaner

Got a step-by-step plan with your vacuum cleaner? Then follow that step-by-step plan!

How often should you wash a HEPA filter?

I often get the question how often you should wash a HEPA filter. That very much depends on how often you vacuum and what exactly you vacuum up. If you use the vacuum cleaner for a week during a renovation or move, you will have to wash a HEPA filter faster than if you just use it normally.

It also depends on the type of vacuum cleaner. In my article ‘bagless vs bagged vacuum cleaner‘ I already mentioned that with a bagless vacuum cleaner you have to maintain the filters more often than with a vacuum cleaner with a bag. This is mainly because a dust bag serves as an extra filter, which is of course missing from a bagless vacuum cleaner.

If we look at the cleaning intensity during normal use, I would recommend that you wash and/or replace the HEPA filter at least once every three months.

When is it time to replace my filter?

A HEPA filter will age. And yes, unfortunately this also applies to washable filters. A worn HEPA filter will filter less and less well, resulting in higher dust emissions. It is time to replace the filter if the filter:

  • Needs to be cleaned faster and faster
  • There are often blockages
  • You've had it in your vacuum cleaner for more than a year

So: now you know what a HEPA filter is and how important it is to maintain it properly. Do you have additional questions? Please let me know!

Robbert Tigchelaar
Robbert Tigchelaar

Robbert Tigchelaar has made testing vacuum cleaners his life's work. He has dedicated himself to conducting fully independent and valuable tests of vacuum cleaners to provide consumers with honest advice. His expertise in vacuum cleaners has been highlighted in The Washington Post and the Daily Express.

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