How to Clean a Charcoal Filter

Charcoal filters, sometimes known as activated carbon charcoal filters, absorb and trap particles, chemicals, and other debris from dirty air or water. Charcoal filters—whether dry or wet—aren't long-term, reusable filters. Once all of the pores in the charcoal completely absorb pollutants, you must replace the filter. As a result, cleaning a charcoal filter only requires that between replacements you remove accumulated debris from the surface of the filter that can block air or water from flowing through the entire filter and clean the filter housing.

Dry Filters

Step 1

Remove the charcoal filter from its filter housing.

Step 2

Slide a crevice tool attachment onto the hose of your vacuum and vacuum one side of the filter to remove dust and dirt using a side-to-side, horizontal motion. Start at the top of the filter and work your way to the bottom. Repeat on the other side.

Step 3

Vacuum the filter housing. If the filter housing has an intake or outgoing air grate, grille and/or vent, wipe all surfaces with a damp, lint-free microfiber cloth and dry thoroughly with another cloth.

Step 4

Return the filter to the filter housing.

Wet Filters

Step 1

Remove the charcoal filter from the filter housing.

Step 2

Place the filter in a container of cool distilled water or aquarium water, if dealing with an aquarium, soak for five minutes and then swish the filter around in the water for three to five minutes to dislodge any debris from the filter surface.

Step 3

Pour out the dirty water and run fresh distilled or aquarium water over the filter for 30 seconds.

Step 4

Return your charcoal filter to the filter housing.