How to Clean a Washable Furnace Filter

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.


Vacuum any dust that may have fallen from the old filter onto your floor. suggests that if you can, try to vacuum out the filter housing area on your furnace, too.

Label a sticky note with the date you have cleaned the filter, and stick it onto the filter access door. This will remind you three months later to wash the filter again.


Do not operate your furnace without a filter installed.

Most furnaces use disposable filters; you just throw them away and buy replacements. But some filters are actually designed to be washed and reused, time and time again. These "permanent," washable filters have metal housings rather than the flimsy cardboard that surrounds disposable filters. Energy Star recommends that you check your furnace filter monthly. Clean it every three months at a minimum, according to the American Lung Association.


Step 1

Set the dirty filter down onto the floor with the dirty side facing up; try to avoid dumping debris.

Video of the Day

Step 2

Plug in your vacuum cleaner and turn it on. Carefully vacuum the filter to pick up as much dust and debris as possible. Turn off the vacuum.

Step 3

Pick up the filter and carry it to a large utility sink or bathtub.

Step 4

Turn on the faucet and rinse the filter thoroughly in warm running water. If you have a sprayer attached to your faucet, this is best, as it allows greater water pressure. Rub the filter with your hands or a soft brush to help wash away any remaining debris. Do not use soap. Turn off the faucet.

Step 5

Allow the filter to fully dry before returning it to the furnace.


references & resources

Dave Baker NYC

Dave Baker is an editor and writer based in New York. He has more than a dozen years of experience in the media industry, including work for "The Nation" magazine, the "New York Times" and the "Times-Picayune" of New Orleans, where he shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes after Hurricane Katrina.