11 Easy Ways to Clean Vacuum Filter

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Last updated: September 04, 2023
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You’re doing the weekly house cleaning and notice that your vacuum cleaner isn’t performing as it should? There could be multiple reasons behind that, but the most probable one is a dirty filter. So how do you clean a vacuum filter? Read on to find all the tips and tricks to keep your vacuum cleaner in tip-top condition.

A dirty filter makes a vacuum cleaner less efficient. As such, it’s vital to make sure that the filter is cleaned regularly. With different vacuum models using different filtering systems, it’s crucial to learn how to take care of each one, so you don’t have to replace them too often. We put together this guide to help you clean your vacuum filter Trusted Source HEPA - Wikipedia Many vacuum cleaners also use HEPA filters as part of their filtration systems. This is beneficial for asthma and allergy sufferers, because the HEPA filter traps the fine particles (such as pollen and house dust mite feces) which trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. en.wikipedia.org properly and prolong its lifespan.

Why you don’t want to skip filter cleaning

A clean vacuum cleaner is an efficient vacuum cleaner. With that in mind, you need to make sure you clean the filter regularly, not just when you feel like there’s something wrong with the vacuum cleaner’s performance.

Without proper maintenance, a vacuum cleaner will stop doing its job correctly, and it will basically only be good for moving around dust and dirt. When a blockage happens in the filter, the machine will be quick to overheat and slow to pick up the dirt from your floors and carpets.

When the filter gets clogged with dust, the machine will lose most of its efficiency.

If you have a vacuum that you have bought to remove particles because you have allergies or to remove pet hair, it’s extra important to keep the filters clean.

Besides losing efficiently, clogged filters can eventually ruin your vacuum cleaner because of overheating. It’s important to avoid vacuuming certain things to make sure that your vacuum cleaner filter doesn’t get clogged.

Avoid vacuuming soil and plant debris because the moisture may clog your vacuum cleaner’s filter almost instantly. Other things that you shouldn’t touch with your vacuum cleaner include sharp objects, such as a broken wine glass, for example, ashes, all forms of liquids, and sticky stuff, such as glitter or glue.

How often should you clean vacuum filter

You should ideally clean the vacuum filter every three months. However, this depends on how often you use your vacuum cleaner and whether you have high traffic in your home. If the vacuum cleaner has a non-washable filter, you will need to replace dead approximately once a year.

What you’ll need

Before you begin the cleaning process, you will need to gather some supplies. It is important to remember that cleaning your vacuum cleaner’s filter can get messy, so it’s always a good idea to take the vacuum outside if possible.

Some of the tools you need before you begin include some screwdrivers that will help you take the vacuum cleaner apart to access the filter, a bin bag for all the excess dust, and, if you’re not doing the cleaning on the grass, some tools to clean all the mess.

Just FYI, bagless vacuum cleaners are more likely to need extra care for the filters. This is because the best bagged vacuums come with built-in filters, but it’s always a good idea to check your appliance manual in order to see what type of cleaning is recommended by the manufacturer.

11 Easy Ways to Clean Vacuum Filter

How to clean HEPA vacuum filter

The general consensus is that HEPA filters shouldn’t be cleaned but replaced. Most vacuum cleaner manufacturers recommend this, but if you truly need to clean a HEPA filter, there are two methods to do it, depending on the type of filter you have.

You can clean a washable HEPA filter by rinsing it in cold water, but it’s important to be super careful not to allow the filter material to come into contact with water. The filter should be completely dry before you put it back into the vacuum cleaner, which means that you might need to leave it outside to dry for up to 24 hours.

If you have a HEPA filter that is marked as non-washable, you can clean it gently with the help of another vacuum cleaner. This will suck away any debris and dust from the surface of the filter and is vital that water doesn’t touch these types of filters.

How to clean foam vacuum filter

Some vacuum cleaners, such as most models produced by Shark, have a thick foam filter and an HEPA filter. To clean this type of filter, you should rinse the foam in cool water, being extra careful not to damage it.

Most manufacturers recommend that you do not use soap on foam filters, but you should also keep in mind that it typically takes a good amount of scrubbing of the foam to get it clean.

You should then allow the foam filter to be completely dry before putting it back into the vacuum cleaner in order to avoid possible mildew and mold.

How to clean cartridge vacuum filter

Just like in the case of HEPA and foam vacuum filters, you should not immerse a cartridge filter in water. To clean it, remove it from the vac and brush it until you remove all dust and debris traces.

These types of filters need to be replaced quite often, but you can typically increase their lifespan by tapping off the dust and brushing them carefully before disposing of them.

How to wash vacuum filter

11 Easy Ways to Clean Vacuum Filter

Many vacuum cleaners come with at least one washable filter, so you should start by checking where this filter is located and remove it. Start by tapping it against a hard surface to remove any large clumps of dust. It’s always a good idea to do this outside, so you don’t have to clean up the mess afterward.

Next, run the filter and the lukewarm water, making sure that you don’t use any type of soap or detergent. Allow the filter to dry thoroughly for at least 24 hours before putting it back into the vacuum cleaner. Make sure that you check the instruction manual of the vacuum cleaner before washing the filter.

How to dry vacuum filter

The best way to dry a vacuum filter is to allow it to do so naturally over the course of 24 to 48 hours. However, if you need to use your vacuum cleaner quicker than that, you can speed up by placing the filter on a flat surface in one area and allow it to dry for 10 to 12 hours.

You can also set your hairdryer on the low setting if you really need to use the filter sooner. Blow-dry the filter by holding 4 inches away from the hairdryer and moving it back and forth to prevent scorching.

How to clean vacuum filter by brand

Not all vacuum filters are created equal, so the process of cleaning them typically depends on the brand. Below you will find instructions for cleaning vacuum filters by brand, but it’s always important to consult the instructions provided by the manufacturer in the manual that comes with the machine to make sure you are doing it properly and without voiding your warranty.


The majority of Shark vacuum cleaners, including the best cordless ones, have a foam and felt filter. This includes the popular Shark NV352. You can rinse both these filters with cold water, making sure that you avoid using any soap or detergent. The fielders should be hand-washed, and you should allow them to dry completely before putting them back in the machine. According to Shark, you should do this approximately once every three months.

Dirt Devil

Dirt Devil vacuum cleaners come with multiple types of filters, but many of them are bagless. The manufacturer recommends that you remove and clean the filter every 3 to 6 months, depending on the level of use.

Start by locating the filter and removing it from the vac. Shake off the dust, and then rinse the filter on the running water to eliminate the rest of the dirt and debris.

Next, tap the excess water off and allow the filter to dry for up to 24 hours before putting it back.


Start by dislodging the filter and then remove dirt by pushing the filter latch. Hold the field over a garbage can and shake it to get rid of most of the debris and dust. Most Eureka vacuum cleaners have washable dust cup filters, which you can rinse under warm water. As with most other types of filters, you shouldn’t use any soap or abrasive cleaners because this could damage the filter. When you’re done washing, allow the filter to dry completely and then put it back in the vacuum cleaner, making sure it is safely locked in its place.


Most Bissell vacuum cleaners, such as the highly popular Bissell Cleanview, for example, have a pre-and post-motor filter, and both of them need to be cleaned regularly. To do so, take the pre-motor filter out by opening the tank lid and wash them with warm water and mild detergent. You should make sure you raise them well and then allow to dry for up to 24 hours. The post-motor filter can’t be washed with water or detergent, but you should still take it out every 3 to 6 months and tap it on the side of a garbage can to remove debris and dust.


11 Easy Ways to Clean Vacuum Filter

If you have a Dyson vacuum cleaner, such as the Dyson V11 Animal+, for example you can typically remove the filter and wash it in the sink. Dyson recommends that you only use cold water and never use any soap or detergent to clean the filter. You shouldn’t put it through your washing machine or dishwasher either. When the filter is clean, let it sit for at least 24 hours before putting it back in the vacuum cleaner to avoid the build-up of mildew and mold.


Most Hoover vacuum cleaners have two filters, and the manufacturer recommends that you take them out every month to dust them with a brush for best results. You can wash the filters in warm water, but you shouldn’t use any detergent or soap on them.

Final thoughts

If you are vacuum cleaner isn’t as efficient as it was on the day you bought it, it’s time to have a look at its filters and clean them. If you are wondering how to clean a vacuum filter, the best course of action is to look at the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure that you clean them in a way that doesn’t cause any damage.

Some vacuum cleaner filters can be washed in warm water, but you shouldn’t use detergent or soap on the vast majority of them. Some vacuum machines have two filters, and instructions for cleaning them may vary. If you cleaned your vacuum machine’s filter and the performance hasn’t improved, it’s time to buy a new one.


HEPA - Wikipedia
Many vacuum cleaners also use HEPA filters as part of their filtration systems. This is beneficial for asthma and allergy sufferers, because the HEPA filter traps the fine particles (such as pollen and house dust mite feces) which trigger allergy and asthma symptoms.

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