How to Clean Vacuum Filters: HEPA, Paper, or Foam

Has your vacuum stopped cleaning effectively? The filter may be dirty. Filters collect debris and dirt as you vacuum your house. Failure to clean the filters regularly causes clogs.

A clogged filter increases energy consumption and makes your vacuum start spitting stuff back out. It also lowers the suction power and the vacuum's lifespan.

Keep your vacuum working optimally by cleaning it once a month or twice if it cleans high-traffic (public) areas. It's easy to clean the vacuum filters and takes just a few minutes.

Types of Vacuum Filters

There are three types of vacuum filters:

  1. Paper vacuum filter
  2. HEPA vacuum filter
  3. Foam vacuum filter
HEPA filter for vacuum

HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) Vacuum Filter

HEPA filters capture allergens and small particles, including pet dander, dust mites, and pollen. HEPA filters are made of densely packed fiberglass layers to create a maze-like layout.

This layout successfully allows air to pass through, trapping allergens and tiny airborne particles.

round gray foam vacuum filters

Foam Vacuum Filter

It captures paper, dust, hair, dirt, pet dander, debris, and other larger particles. It's made of foam material. While air passes through the filter, it traps the debris, dust, and other contaminants so they can't spit back into the air.

Foam filters are cost-effective because they're washable and reusable but are less excellent than HEPA filters in capturing allergens and small particles.

collection of various paper vacuum filters in different sizes and shapes

Paper Vacuum Filter

These filters feature a cartridge made of pleated paper, which helps trap air contaminants successfully. Paper vacuum filters effectively capture powder, dust, small particles, and germs in the air.

Some paper vacuum filters are disposable and must be replaced often to keep the vacuum suction power high.

Other paper vacuum filters are made of non-woven synthetic material, hence cost-effective as they can be washed and reused.

Precautions and Requirements Before Cleaning the Filters

Take the vacuum outside the house when cleaning it because a dirty filter can easily mess up your carpet and other surfaces. Ensure you have all the necessary tools and materials before unscrewing your vacuum cleaner.

Here's what you need when cleaning your filter:

  • All-purpose cleaner or ordinary dishwashing liquid
  • Screwdrivers
  • Trash can
  • Microfiber towel
  • Drying rack
  • A small bowl (or a sink if you want to wash the washable filters under running water)
  • Soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush

First things first: Whether you're working on a Shark, Eureka, Dyson, Dirt Devil, or Bissell vacuum, first unplug from the power source and disassemble it. Empty the vacuum's canisters or discard the bag and remove the filter.

How to Clean a Vacuum Filter

How to clean your filter depends on whether it is washable or non-washable (as we shall see below). Your vacuum's manufacturer should provide a manual or guide with information regarding your specific filter. Do a web search to see if you can find an online version of the manual and refer to it.

Clean your vacuum cleaner filter once a month or more, especially if you vacuum the floor often because your kids spill food on the carpet and the pets shed a lot of fur.

Regularly cleaning your vacuum filter will highly improve its effectiveness. Cleaning filters also eliminate vacuum smells and allow the suction to work excellently.

Below, we shall guide you on how to clean the various types of filters.

How to Clean Pleated Paper (Non-washable) Filters

Some pleated paper filters shouldn't be cleaned (soaked or rinsed) in water. Dispose of them as scheduled by the manufacturers.

You can extend their lives by using an old toothbrush or any soft-bristled brush in your home to remove dirt, dust, and debris. Next, tap the filter on the bin or the side of your kitchen sink to loosen and remove dust from the filter and replace it.

You may also use a low-pressure compressed air (instead of a brush) to remove fine dust and dirt particles.

How to Clean Foam Vacuum Filters

  1. Add 2 cups of warm water and 2 to 3 drops of all-purpose cleaner or dishwashing liquid in a bowl.
  2. Submerge the foam filter in the solution and gently squeeze it.
  3. Repeat the process several times to let out the cleaning solution and all contaminants.
  4. Mix a new solution and repeat the process until the water is clear.
  5. Roll the foam in a microfiber towel or shake it firmly to remove excess water.
  6. Leave the foam in a drying rack for about 24 hours to air dry completely.
  7. Once completely dry, replace the filter in your vacuum.

How to Clean a Vacuum With HEPA Filter

HEPA filters are made of tightly woven fibers; scrubbing or washing them may tamper with their effectiveness in capturing microscopic particles. It's best to replace them with a new, store-bought filter.

If you're short of cash, extend its life by tapping it lightly against a bin or the side of your kitchen sink to remove all surface dirt and dust.

Always refer to the user manual to know if you can clean your HEPA filter and how to do so in case you should.

upright black and blue vacuum cleaner on a white rug in a living room

How to Clean a Washable Vacuum Filter

Washable vacuum filters are cost-effective and easy to clean and maintain. Here's how to clean your washable filter.

  • If needed, unscrew the vacuum cleaner suction compartment
  • Remove the filter
  • Wash the filter under running water
  • Shake it firmly to remove excess water
  • For the filter to do its job successfully, air dry it for at least 24 hours.

How to Keep the Vacuum Filter Cleaner, Longer

  • Dust the vacuum cleaner canister or empty the bag regularly.
  • Clean the vacuum vent covers after vacuuming to eliminate the clinging dust.

When and How Often to Clean a Vacuum Filter

Clean your filter if the suction power has declined or there's a foul smell after switching on the vacuum. How often you clean the filter depends on how often you vacuum clean and how much debris it suctions. Clean the filter weekly if you clean a public, high-traffic area but monthly if it's a household machine.

Replace your filters after 3 to 6 months, depending on their usage. Regularly cleaning your filters eliminates the need to replace them more often as they last longer.

Zerorez Zr Wand deep cleaning a white carpet to extract all the particles vacuuming leaves behind

Once a year, schedule a deep cleaning of your carpets

Even if you regularly clean the filter on your vacuum, and vacuum often, your vacuum will still not remove all the particles, dirt, sand, oils, and stains in your carpet. At least once a year, your carpets need a deep cleaning by Zerorez®.

We offer the best cleaning services for all flooring types including carpets, hardwood, tile and grout, and area rugs in homes and offices. We regularly deep cleaning ensures a healthier, cleaner living environment, and lengthens the life of your flooring.

Try our services; you'll love the results as our past clients did! We're only a call away!

Book a Cleaning with Zerorez® Today!