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There are no doubts about it – air purifiers are extremely popular these days and may soon outweigh other appliances in your life. Air pollution is extremely high these days, regardless of where you live. For this reason, people experience all kinds of affections and allergies.
An air purifier is no longer a caprice, but an actual necessity. There are more types out there and there are plenty of considerations to keep in mind before buying one. The most overlooked aspect? Longterm maintenance. Air purifiers come with filters and they require maintenance.
Learning how to clean air purifier filter ensures your unit will work at the highest quality standards. So, what should you know before spending your money?
Understanding the types of air purifier filters
A clean filter ensures a high air quality, so make sure you keep an eye and take good care of it.
UV light filters are some of the most popular ones out there because they are designed to kill fungi and bacteria. They do not necessarily eliminate elements and pollution, but the intense UV light will alter the DNA of living microorganisms. In other words, they can no longer multiply, so this filter ensures a safer environment.
The activated carbon filter is just as common. Again, such filters have no effects over pollution or harmful contaminants. However, they are excellent at eliminating odors. Whether it comes to cooking or smoking odors, they will become history. Since they are inefficient against other issues, they are often used in conjunction with other types of air filters.
HEPA filters are the most popular options out there – great for dust, particles, chemicals, fungi, bacteria and so on. They are excellent for clean air and are also used in industrial facilities. The true HEPA filter is what you need to look for, yet you will also find other filters using this name – such as like EPA filters. Those are nothing but marketing gimmicks.
A HEPA filter can eliminate particles smaller than 0.3 microns, which means it will trap particles that you cannot even see. The good news is that many air purifiers with washable filters these days rely on HEPA filters.
Now, how do you clean these filters? What is the best way to keep them efficient?
Deciding whether or not you can clean an air purifier filter
Learning how to clean the air filter may not always be a solution. Some filters can be cleaned, while others must be replaced. You need to check the manual of instructions or the type of filter you have. If it is labeled to be permanent or washable, it means it does not need replacement, but cleaning and maintenance only.
Depending on the air purifier you use, you will have to clean a HEPA by removing it first. You will find lots of excess dust around, so this operation should be done outdoors. Get the dust out with a vacuum cleaner, but do not get too close. Getting too close can ruin the fiber mesh. A damaged fiber mesh will not show obvious signs of damage, so just because it looks good, it does not mean it works.
What keeps HEPA filters in such an efficient state is the glass fiber. There is a consistent weave of fibers. Whether you stretch them too much or you tear them apart, there will be a bunch of gaps within the weave. At this point, larger particles can crawl through, so the purification is no longer efficient. The frame should also be in perfect condition. If there is a gap between the frame, the filter and the gaskets, air can go around the filter instead of passing through.
Keep in mind that despite being labeled as permanent or washable, a washable filter for air purifier is not guaranteed to be 100% efficient once the cleaning procedure is done. In other words, you must be extremely careful when you clean a HEPA filter.
How to clean a HEPA filter on your air purifier
Ideally, if you can afford it, replacement is recommended. If you have to clean it, there are a couple of different ways to do it. Choosing the right method depends on the type of filter you got.
You can clean your filter with nothing but cold water. Simply take it out, place it in the sink or your bathtub, then rinse it with cold water. Be careful when you handle the filter, as you should not touch the filter material. Just let it come in contact with water. You should use the shower if you can, as the pressure should not be too high.
Make sure the filter is thoroughly dry before reinstalling it.
The other option depends on the filter – some manufacturers label their filters to be washable or permanent, meaning they do not really require replacement. Simply check the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning.
To give you an example, canister type vacuum filters should not be washed on the inside. Instead, they require cleaning on the outside only. You have to be careful about wetting the middle part of the canister, so tap water is not always a good idea. Sometimes, a soaked cloth could do the trick.
Things are different for HEPA filters. You can clean your HEPA filter with a vacuum cleaner. Suck away all the dust and debris, but make sure you do it outdoors. Otherwise, all the dust might end up back into the air. Water should be avoided on HEPA filters.
What to pay attention to when cleaning an air purifier filter
An air purifier with washable filter should be advertised, while maintenance instructions should be included in the manual. You can clean your HEPA filter too, but without water. Now, there are some potential issues that may arise in the process. Knowing what could go wrong can prevent such problems from bothering you.
Always perform such a procedure outside. Otherwise, airborne pollutants will be released back into the air. Basically, you clean the filter, only to fill it up with the same pollutants, so perform this cleaning procedure away from open windows and doors – a decent distance from your house.
Some of these particles will inevitably be in the air around you. It helps using a mask while doing it, especially if you are vulnerable to allergies and respiratory problems. Even if you are outdoors, the air around you will be severely polluted and dangerous.
There are more reasons wherefore water is not recommended on HEPA filters. If you do have to do it, most manufacturers recommend more than 24 hours to dry the filter. After all, you cannot really purify the air with water in the filter. Furthermore, while wet, the filter is exposed to mold and mildew, which may form on its surface.
Finally, some models of air purifiers come with pre-filter parts, which also require maintenance.
Frequently asked questions
Learning how to clean air purifier filter is not that hard if you follow the instructions. Whether they are not always clear or you do not have any instructions, there will inevitably be some question marks in the process.
How to clean a HEPA filter?
The best way to clean a HEPA filter is to use a vacuum cleaner from a safe distance. Try not to touch or disturb the fabric materials in its composition and be careful when you unmount and mount it. Also, it might be wise to avoid cleaning it with water.
How long does a HEPA filter last?
In a typical residential environment, a HEPA filter will last anywhere between two and three years. Normally, the filter will get relatively full before requiring replacement. You can also vacuum it for maintenance and cleaning, but avoid doing it too often. Handling it too much might alter the fibers in its composition, so it will lose its efficiency.
Do HEPA filters remove mold?
HEPA filters will remove mold spores – airborne particles that multiply and spread. They are also dangerous as you inhale them. However, if the damp cannot be removed from a surface, its smell will be quite stingy and persist. HEPA filters can remove these unpleasant odors, especially if you also have an air purifier with activated carbon.
What are HEPA filters made of?
HEPA filters are made of plastic fibers or borosilicate glass fibers. They are stuck together with 5% acrylic binder or less. The compound is also used to help latex paint stick to surfaces. As for the plastic fibers, they can be more diversified – polypropylene is one of the most popular types out there.
Bottom line, some experts recommend replacing a HEPA filter once it is full. Obviously, this is the better and more efficient option. If you really have to clean yours, be gentle and careful with it, as there is a good chance you can ruin its efficiency.
Stick to vacuum cleaners and while water will not ruin it, it is contraindicated, so avoid it. Remember – cleaning the HEPA filter is a temporary solution.