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How To Clean A Vacuum Filter

by | Dec 14, 2022 | Cleaning Tips

A clean vacuum is an efficient one, so don’t let your vac become clogged and dirty! Besides emptying the bag or canister, you should also check if the filter is dirty, because yes – you can clean vacuum filters too!

How to clean a vacuum filter will depend on the material. Foam filters just need soaking in soapy water, while paper filters can be lightly brushed to remove dust. HEPA filters, meanwhile, should not be washed unless stated in the manual.

Don’t get so sucked into other chores that you forget this one, too! Clean your vacuum filter to keep your gadget at peak performance – until you need to change it, that is.



Why Clean Vacuum Filters?

Vacuum cleaners work by sucking up dirt particles. They rely on strong suction power and a good filtration system to keep your floors and other surfaces clean. To maintain your vacuum’s suction power, you’ll need to clean your vacuum frequently – including the filter.



How Often to Clean a Vacuum Filter

Dirty dust filter of the vacuum cleaner after cleaning

This will depend on how often you use the vacuum and how much dirt it suctions. For high-traffic areas, clean your filter weekly. But in most households, you’ll only need to clean the vacuum filter every 3–4 weeks.



When to Clean a Vacuum Filter

If you notice a stale smell when you switch on the vacuum, and reduced suction while working, that means your vacuum cleaner’s filter needs cleaning.

Always make sure to replace your vacuum filter every 3–6 months depending on usage.



Types of Vacuum Filters

Not all vacuums are built the same – depending on the model, there are foam, HEPA, and cartridge filters. Each is made out of different materials, which will determine how to clean them.


1. Foam filters

A bagless vacuum will usually have a foam filter, which catches dust underneath the canister. This is where the air passes through.


2. Cartridge filters

These are usually made of paper or non-woven synthetic material plates. A paper cartridge filter is meant to be disposable, which makes it inexpensive.


3. HEPA filters

Dust HEPA Air Filter Cartridge in vacuum cleaner

A HEPA filter (or High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter) is an interwoven fibre matrix that lets air pass through while filtering out even the smallest dust particles and other dirt. You can also find it in air filters.

This is usually a non-washable vacuum filter due to its structure.



Cleaning a Vacuum Cleaner Filter

It’s important to note that not all vacuum filters are washable. Your cleaning method will depend on the filter’s material – not on the brand. Whether you’re cleaning a Dyson filter, Shark filter, Bissell filter… As long as you know the type of vacuum filter, you’ll know what to do!



How to clean a foam vacuum filter

A foam filter is very simple to clean. You’ll need:

  • Hot water
  • Dish soap or a mild detergent
  • Microfibre cloth

Add a few drops of soap or detergent into a bowl of hot water. Submerge the filter and squeeze it so it absorbs the cleaning solution. If the water becomes dirty, empty the bowl and refill with more soapy water.

Once the water runs clear after soaking the filter, take it out and rinse the suds away. Then pat it with a microfibre cloth to absorb excess moisture. Let the filter air dry for up to a day before you put it back in your vacuum.



How to clean paper or synthetic vacuum filters

Paper and synthetic cartridge filters are meant to be disposable, but you can clean and reuse them if they’re not too dirty. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub off any dirt from the filter, then return it to the vacuum.



How to clean HEPA filters

Ideally, you do not clean a HEPA vacuum filter. If you notice that your vacuum cleaner’s HEPA filter is dirty, you should replace it with a new one instead. Washing most HEPA filters can damage the fibre matrix and filter system.

If your vacuum model states that the accompanying HEPA filter is washable, then simply rinse it under cool running water. Do not attempt to scrub the filter. Let it air dry afterwards.



How to Clean a Roomba Filter

Woman in protective gloves taking out container and filter to clean it from dirt and debris.

It’s easier to forget that robot vacuums also have filters, but they’re there. If you own a Roomba (or any other robot vacuum), you’ll also need to clean and replace vacuum filters to maintain your vac’s performance.

Start by removing the dust container and emptying it into the rubbish. Then look for the filter (usually the colour blue) and press the release catches on the sides. This will remove it from the bin.

Gently tap the filter on the side of the rubbish to remove dust. Then use an old, soft toothbrush or paper towel to brush the rest of the debris off. Don’t rinse it – that’ll ruin the fibres.

If it’s particularly dirty, you can use a handheld vacuum to gently suck up any dirt trapped in the fibres.

How often to clean a Roomba filter? About once or twice a week if you have pets or run the Roomba every day. If you use it less frequently, you can get away with cleaning your Roomba once every 2–3 weeks.



How to Clean a Vacuum Bag

Check your manual for instructions on cleaning a vacuum bag. In most cases, you can wash the bag in soap and water, then let it air dry. Some models come with a bag that is machine-washable.



Tips for Maintaining Your Vacuum Cleaner

Make sure you order replacement filters regularly, especially if you vacuum often. Many vacuum cleaner models will have extra vacuum filters included, but keep track of your stock so you don’t end up without one!

Clean your vacuum often to ensure maximum performance and suction. This includes detangling hair and other fibres from the brush and beater bar, inspecting the drive belt, and wiping down the cartridge and exterior.

The best vacuum cleaners are most efficient when they’re properly maintained. It’ll also make it easier for you or your hired expert cleaner to work around your home and vacuum all the floors – and ceiling, blinds, furniture, you name it!


About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.


About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.