Buying Guide

How to Clean an Air Purifier

How to Clean an Air Purifier with a Washable or Permanent HEPA Filter
A person wiping down an air purifier with a microfiber cloth.

Many of the best air purifier brands on the market come with a HEPA filter that is washable, allowing you to clean and re-use it. Learning how to clean a HEPA filter may reduce strain on the air purifier as a whole, helping it last longer in your home.


Here’s how you can clean an air purifier filter when it is a washable or a permanent HEPA filter:

  • Turn off your air purifier and unplug it from the wall socket. Move the air purifier somewhere where you can easily access all sides if it's positioned near a wall.
  • Clean the filtered air outlet – often located on the top and back side of the unit – with a dry, soft-bristled brush. This will help you remove dust and debris that can obstruct airflow.
  • Remove the front grill of your air purifier. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for specific details, but there's often a pull tab for quick removal. This part of your air purifier can be cleaned with warm water or a light mixture of soap and water if it needs a deeper clean. 
  • Wash your HEPA filter with warm water and allow it to dry if your model specifically states that water cleaning is safe. You can also soak your filter in hot water if it is extremely dirty. 
  • Clean non-washable, permanent HEPA filters using a vacuum to remove dust and debris. These types of filters are not designed to come into contact with water. Cleaning these permanent HEPA filters with water can cause damage.
  • Return your clean HEPA filter to the air purifier, and put the front grill back in place if you removed it for cleaning. Wipe down the outside of the air purifier with a dry or lightly damp microfiber cleaning cloth. You can now begin using your clean air purifier again.

Tip: Use compressed air dusters for light cleaning sessions. You can do this with washable and non-washable permanent filters.

How to Clean an Air Purifier with a Disposable Filter
A person removing a filter from an air purifier.

Not all air purifiers come with washable filters or permanent filters that can be cleaned with a vacuum. These models can still be among the best air purifier products available, and many consumers find them easier to use since old filters can simply be replaced with new ones. Here’s how to clean an air purifier with a disposable filter:

  • Turn off and unplug the air purifier. If necessary, move the air purifier to a place where you can access all sides.

  • Clean the filtered air outlet using a soft-bristled cleaning brush. Depending on your air purifier model, this is typically located on the top and back of your product.

  • Remove the front grill on your air purifier following the manufacturer’s instructions. In many cases, there’s a pull tab quick and easy removal. You can wash the front grill of your air purifier using soap and water if necessary.

  • Locate your disposable air filter or air filter set. Many air purifier models use multiple filters at once. Replace dirty filters with a manufacturer-approved filter or filter set.

  • With your new filter or filter set in place, replace the front grill on your air purifier. Wipe down the outside of the air purifier with a dry or lightly damp microfiber cleaning cloth. Then you can begin using your clean air purifier again.

Tip: If your air purifier has a carbon filter inside, remove odors by placing it in the sunlight for about two to three hours. Avoid getting carbon filters wet or attempting to clean them with a vacuum or compressed air.

Air Purifier Filter Replacement
A couple cooks in a kitchen with an air purifier.

Ideally, you ought to be cleaning an air purifier or replacing its filters on a regular basis to keep the machine working well. 

Read the manufacturer’s instructions for your purifier model, but in general, the following is a reliable schedule based on filter types.

Carbon Filters: Replace every three months.

HEPA Filters: Replace every 12 to 18 months.

Permanent Filters: Clean every three months; replace when appears worn or damaged.

There are some factors that will influence how often you’ll have to clean and air filter or replace it. Poor air quality inside the home or a purifier that runs 24/7 will need maintenance more often. If you have hard water, this can be tough on washable filters over time. Occasionally rinsing the filter with purified water after cleaning can help extend the lifespan of a washable filter.

After any damp cleaning, be sure to thoroughly dry the filter to guard against mold or mildew growth inside the air purifier.

Learning how to clean a HEPA filter, whether it’s a washable model or a permanent version, doesn’t have to be difficult. Use the step-by-step instructions here during routine cleaning sessions. If you’re in the market for a new air purifier, shop our selection to find the best air purifier for your home today. The Home Depot delivers online orders where and when you need them.