Cleaning Air Purifiers

Cleaning Air Purifiers

Since the pandemic, workplaces across the country have turned to air purifiers to reduce the spread of infection and improve indoor air quality. Though air purifier use has gone up, education on cleaning air purifiers has not. 

Most people forget that if the purifier is cleaning indoor air that’s five times as polluted as outdoor air, its filters are getting quite the workout. 

You need to read our article to prevent contaminated air from being recirculated:

  • Learn how to clean an air purifier filter
  • Cleaning air purifier steps for proper maintenance
  • Tips for replacing or how to wash HEPA filters like new

How Do Air Purifiers Work?

Air purifiers function by extracting pollutants, allergens, and harmful toxins like radon from the air. While filters remove particles from the air that passes, air purifiers neutralize other particles in the air before running them through a filter or can sanitize on contact.

To maintain the efficacy and efficiency of your air purifier, you need to clean it periodically. Of course, smaller ‘home-style’ air purifiers (with small filters) will need to be cleaned much more frequently than designed-for-work commercial air purifiers featuring far more advanced filters.


Are Your Filters Getting Clogged Every Other Day?

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Step-by-Step Guide: How to Clean an Air Purifier

While many top-rated air purifiers feature washable HEPA filters or a carbon filter, it’s important to check the owner’s manual before you start to clean your air purifier. Look for any specific do’s and don’ts of cleaning the filter.

Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough that’ll help you clean most air purifiers:

  • Step 1: Turn off the air purifier, unplug it from the wall socket, and ensure you can access all its panels. 
  • Step 2: Use a dry, soft-bristle brush to carefully clean the filtered air outlet (usually located near the top or back-side of the purifier) as dust and debris can obstruct airflow.
  • Step 3: Carefully remove the front grill of your air purifier by following the instruction manual (although pull-tabs are usually available for easy removal). You can use warm water to rinse it gently. For large particles that require deeper cleaning, consider using a mixture between light soap and water and allow to air dry. 
    • For hard to remove stains, soak in water with lemon for about 20 minutes, scrub gently, then allow to air dry. 
  • Step 4: Pending the specifications in your owner’s manual, you can begin to clean a HEPA filter using warm water or allow it to soak first, then rinse (if extremely dirty). Finish by allowing the filter to air dry.

Step 5: Clean permanent, non-washable HEPA filters or activated carbon filters using a vacuum cleaner to carefully remove the debris build-up. These filters aren’t designed to come into contact with water. Alternatively, you should consider filter replacement. The costs of replacement can depend on the type of filter you need to replace.

Not sure if you should be cleaning or replacing an air filter? Check with the manufacturer.

  • Step 6: After you’ve returned the filter and front grill, use a lightly damp microfiber cloth to clean your filtered air purifier’s exterior, then consider repeating these steps every two to four weeks. 

How to Clean an Air Purifier Filter 

how to clean an air purifier filter

Knowing how to clean an air purifier and properly maintain it can add years to its lifespan. Let’s take a look at the general how-to steps for air purifier filter cleaning:

  • Step 1: Turn off and disconnect the air purifier, then move to an open space where you can access it from all sides. 
  • Step 2: Remove the air inlet grill or panel to access the filter. 
  • Step 3: Before removing the filter, examine its condition and note whether there is significant debris build-up such as lint, dust, or particular accumulation. Next, release the filter by pulling the tab or following the instructions in the owner’s manual. 
  • Step 4: Knowing how to clean non-washable HEPA filters or carbon filters that are non-washable may save you from having to order a replacement filter. Since these filters are non-washable, it’s important to make sure they don’t come into contact with water, or you risk damaging them. To clean the air purifier’s filter, use a vacuum to remove debris. If the filter is damaged, it’s best to replace it.
  • Step 5: To clean washable or permanent filters, use a vacuum at low speed using a soft brush attachment to gently remove visible debris. Next, gently rinse and hand wash the filter using warm, soapy water and a damp cloth.
  • Step 6: Put the filters back to their original arrangement (there is usually an arrow indicating the direction that filters should be oriented), then reinsert the front air inlet grill. 
  • Step 7: Return the air purifier to the desired location, plug it in, and allow it to run on high for at least one hour before returning to normal usage. 
  • Step 8: Examine your filter every 2 to 4 weeks (or when the filter check light is blinking) to maintain a routine schedule for cleaning air purifiers and filters.

Tips and Tricks for Cleaning Air Purifier 

Here are five additional need-to-know do’s and don’ts for cleaning air purifier filters: 

  1. If you have severe allergies, use face masks and gloves for added protection while cleaning.
  2. Do not turn on or operate an air purifier with a damaged electrical cord.
  3. Do not use detergents, household solvents, or harmful cleaning chemicals to clean filters or housings.
  4. Do not use a hairdryer to dry the filter as high heat can damage the fine meshes
  5. Ensure you only plug air purifiers into grounded or wall outlets to avoid static discharges. 
  6. If the air purifier begins making rumbling or creaking sounds after cleaning, it’s possible one of the panels or filter is not seated correctly. Reseat it and try again.


Learn About the Different Air Purification Technologies:

  1. Air Ionizers Vs. Air Purifiers – Which One You Should Buy
  2. Difference Between Air Cleaners And Air Purifiers
  3. Air Scrubber Vs. Air Purifier – What’s The Difference

How Often Does Your Air Purifier Filter Need Cleaning

Several factors influence how frequently air purifiers require cleaning, such as:

  • If you leave purifiers running 24 hours a day
  • The IAQ reading for the air in your home or office (dirtier air means more frequent cleaning may be needed)

Cleaning One Air Purifier is Easy, Cleaning Air Purifiers Across the Entire Office is Hard

It’s why commercial users such as offices, condos, hotels, and schools rely on AirFixture’s CleanAir Tower. It requires servicing once every 18 months (depending on use), and you don’t have to worry about that either.