Indoor air pollution is an issue every home struggles with. Since 1970, and with air pollution becoming a global concern, most homes have implemented tighter measures to help them conserve energy and improve their air quality. One of these vital measures is by investing in a reliable air purifier with cleanable or replaceable air filters.
Air filters are incredible at trapping dust, pet dander, and other pollutants that trigger allergies and permanent harm to your respiratory system.
Most homes today have several devices and systems that use air filters. One of these appliances is the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system). There are also the individual room heating and air systems, air purifiers, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, window air conditioners, oil diffusers, clothes dryers, vacuum cleaners, and range hoods that feature air filters that you need to clean or replace often.
That said, though, how often should one clean their air filters to ensure that the indoor air quality is up to standard?
Cleaning Air Filters
How Often Should You Clean Air Filters?
According to experts, you need to clean or replace your air filters on a routine schedule. Most HVAC air filters need cleaning or replacement every two to three months. If you, however, live in dust-prone areas or with your pets, then you need to clean your filters regularly.
A simple way to tell if your air filters in any appliance require cleaning is by removing it from its location. You can then hold the filter up to a brightly lit window, and if you see the light coming through, you can use it for a bit longer. If no light comes through, then you need to clean your filter or replace it.
Do You Need to Clean or Replace Your Air Filters?
When should one replace the filter or entirely replace the air purifier or HVAC system?
There are some dirty air filters that you can easily clean and return t the appliance, but there are some that cannot stand up to cleaning, and you need to replace them with a new filter. How can you decide what action is most appropriate?
Well, the market consists of a variety of air filter models. There are the disposable air filters that are designed for one-time use and are usually less costly than the washable air filters. Their frame is typically made of cardboard that won’t stand up to cleaning. Trying to clean a disposable filter will cause mating of the fibers, thus encouraging mold and mildew to grow, which will automatically reduce the effectiveness of your air filtration system.
Washable filters, o the other hand, feature metal, and plastic frames and are more eco-friendly. They, however, take more effort to maintain.
Owing to these facts, the best way you can determine what type of filter you can use is by consulting an appliance manual. It will walk you through how to clean or replace the filters and also give you suggestions on the schedule for changing or replacing filters so that your appliance can maintain optimum performance.
If you don’t have the manual, then you can always consult the manufacturer’s website, which will provide you with advice on cleaning and replacement filters.
What You Need
- Warm water
- Liquid dishwashing detergent
- Water spritzer/sprayer
- Sponge or soft brush
- Drying cloth
- Screwdriver (optional)
How to Effectively Clean a Washable Air Filter
1. Turn the Appliance Off
Before you start the process of cleaning your air filter, ensure that the air purifier or HVA system is off. For small appliances, it’s recommended that you unplug the system to avoid any potential for electrical shock. If you leave your air purifier running when cleaning or replacing the air filter, it’ll draw excess dust into the fan and motor.
2. Open the Filter’s Cover
Most air filter covers have latches that you can open to access the filter. However, some are attached with screws that you’ll need to remove with a screwdriver. Therefore, you need to ensure that you have your screwdriver close and you put the screws in a secure place. If you’re working on an overhead HVAC system, use a robust stepladder.
3. Take the Filter Outside
If the weather allows it, take the filter outside to start the cleaning process. Tap it lightly to get rid of any loose dust. You can use the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner hose to clean both sides of the filter meticulously.
4. Dust It
Since you have removed the bulk of the dust, move to a sink and hold the air filter under some warm water or try using the water spritzer to get rid of smaller dust particles. You can start at one side and work your way down the filer to ensure the dirty water runs off it and doesn’t deposit on the air filter.
5. Wash Away the Grime
After examining the air filter and it looks dirty or feels sticky, make sure you mix a solution of warm water and a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap. You can try to dip the sponge or soft brush into the solution and thoroughly clean the filter. When all is done, rinse the filter thoroughly to get rid of any soapy residue.
6. Dry the Filter
After you’ve washed away all the grime, you need to ensure that you completely dry the filter with a soft and dry cloth/towel before reinserting it into your air purifier. If it’s possible, place your air filter outside or in front of a fan to ensure it’s completely dry before reinserting it. As you wait for it to dry, you can clean the appliance or vent opening where you took out the air filter to eliminate any dust particles or cobwebs.
7. Change the Filter
When you’re done, and the filter is clean, make sure you replace it into the appliance or vent. You should also remember to latch the opening safely and turn the air purifier or HVAC system back on.
As scientists and eco-friendly companies try to figure out more effective ways to rid the environment of pollutants ultimately, you need to be vigilant and take care of the only option you have right now – you air purifier systems. By cleaning and taking care of your air filter regularly, you can be a step closer to kicking out those allergies!