How to Clean Vacuum Filter (A Complete Guide)

A clean vacuum will clean your home better and make it spotless. As we rely on our vacuums for daily cleaning, it's natural for the filters to collect dirt and debris over time. However, excessive dirt buildup can lead to clogged filters and a decrease in the vacuum's suction power. But don't worry, you don't need to rush out and buy a new vacuum.  A simple and easy clean-up of the filter can restore its performance and ensure your vacuum continues to operate effectively.


Before cleaning your vacuum filter, you must identify the type of filter in use and follow the correct guide to clean it. This post explains each type of vacuum filter thoroughly and the steps on how to clean a vacuum filter of each type. Continue reading to discover the best techniques for cleaning your vacuum filter.


Types of Vacuum Filters

There are three kinds of vacuum filters that are commonly available: HEPA, foam, and paper vacuum filters. Now, let's understand what they are and learn more about the differences among them.

HEPA Vacuum Filter

A HEPA vacuum filter, which stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air, is a highly effective air filtration system designed to trap small particles and allergens, such as dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and other airborne contaminants. Inside a HEPA filter, densely packed layers of fiberglass fibers create a maze-like structure, allowing air to pass through while effectively trapping particles and allergens.


It's important to note that the HEPA filter's primary function is to improve indoor air quality by capturing tiny airborne particles during the vacuuming process. While it does not directly impact the overall humidity of the air, its efficient filtration helps create a cleaner and healthier environment by reducing the presence of airborne allergens and dust.

Foam Vacuum Filter

A foam vacuum filter is a type of filter made from foam material, designed to capture dust, dirt, debris, hair, paper, and larger particles. As air passes through the filter, it traps these contaminants, preventing them from being released back into the air. Foam filters are commonly used as pre-filters, positioned in front of the main filter (often a HEPA filter) to protect it from larger particles, extending the primary filter's life and optimizing the vacuum cleaner's performance.


One of the advantages of foam filters is their washable and reusable nature, making them easy to clean and cost-effective. Regular cleaning of foam vacuum filters helps maintain their efficiency. While foam filters are proficient at trapping larger particles, they may not be as efficient as HEPA filters when it comes to capturing smaller particles and allergens.

Paper Vacuum Filter

A paper vacuum filter typically refers to a filter with a cartridge made of pleated paper. This type of filter is designed to capture small particles, dust, germs, and powders in the air during the vacuuming process. The pleated design allows for a larger surface area, enhancing the filter's efficiency in trapping contaminants and keeping the air cleaner.


Paper vacuum filters are commonly used in various vacuum cleaner models and are often relatively inexpensive and disposable. Users need to replace them periodically to maintain the vacuum cleaner's performance and ensure effective filtration. Additionally, some paper filters are made from a non-woven synthetic material, similar to a dryer sheet, making them washable and reusable, which can be a cost-effective and eco-friendly option for users.

How to Clean a HEPA Vacuum Filter

There are washable and non-washable HEPA vacuum filters. Cleaning a non-washable filter with water may reduce its effectiveness or damage it. Please refer to your owner's manual to determine the type of filter you have. Then follow the step-by-step guide to clean a vacuum filter. 

Steps to clean washable HEPA vacuum filter

Step 1. Unplug the vacuum cleaner.

Step 2. Unscrew and disassemble the HEPA filter.

Step 3. Rinse it under running water to remove any remaining dirt and debris.

Step 4. Leave the HEPA filter to air dry completely.

Step 5. Reinstall the filter, and clean the vacuum body and other components.



Steps to clean non-washable HEPA vacuum filter

Step 1. Turn off and unplug the vacuum cleaner.

Step 2. Remove the HEPA filter following the owner's manual.

Step 3. Gently brush away debris and dust clogs from the filter's surface.

Step 4. Optionally, use low-pressure compressed air to dislodge finer particles.

Step 5. Check for any damage or wear on the filter; replace if necessary.

Step 6. Clean the vacuum cleaner's body and components.

Step 7. Reinstall the cleaned or replaced HEPA filter following the manual's instructions.

Step 8. Turn on the vacuum cleaner and ensure proper functioning.


Remember that non-washable HEPA filters have a limited lifespan, and regular replacement is necessary to maintain the vacuum cleaner's efficiency.

How to Clean a Foam Vacuum Filter

Foam vacuum filters are usually washable and reusable. If you perceive that the foam filters are clogged with dust, hair, or particles, follow the tutorial below to clean a vacuum filter.


Step 1. Unplug the vacuum cleaner for safety.

Step 2. Remove the foam filter from the canister or designated compartment.

Step 3. Prepare a sink or bowl with warm water and add a small amount of mild dish soap.

Step 4. Place the foam filter into the water and gently agitate it to ensure the soap covers the entire filter.

Step 5. Allow the foam filter to soak for a few minutes to loosen dirt and debris.

Step 6. After soaking, rinse the foam filter thoroughly under running water, squeezing it gently to remove any trapped particles.

Step 7. Air-dry the foam filter completely before reinstalling it back into the vacuum cleaner.


How to Clean a Paper Vacuum Filter

Paper vacuum filters are typically disposable and not meant to be cleaned or reused. Once they become filled with dust, dirt, hair, debris, and particles, it's better to replace them with new filters instead of attempting to clean them several times. However, if you want to try cleaning the filter before replacing it, follow these steps:


Step 1. Turn off and unplug the vacuum cleaner for safety.

Step 2. Locate the cartridge that contains the paper vacuum filter. This cartridge is usually located near the dust collection area.

Step 3. Remove the cartridge from the vacuum cleaner to access the paper filter.

Step 4. Take off the paper vacuum filter from the filter compartment in the vacuum cleaner and gently tap it to dislodge any loose dust.

Step 5. After most of the loose dust has been removed, reinsert the paper filter back into the filter compartment of the vacuum cleaner.

Step 6. It's important to note that cleaning paper vacuum filters may not be as effective as using a new one, and it may impact the vacuum's performance. For optimal cleaning and suction, it's recommended to replace the paper filter with a new one as needed.


How Frequently Should You Clean Your Vacuum Filter?

Regularly cleaning your vacuum filter is essential to maintain optimal vacuum performance and indoor air quality. The recommended cleaning frequency depends on the type of filter and how often you use the vacuum in different room sizes.


In most cases, it's recommended to clean HEPA filters every 1 to 3 months, and foam and paper filters every 1 to 2 months. The exact cleaning frequency will depend on how often you use the vacuum and the size of the room. While regular cleaning can extend the filter's lifespan, eventually, filters may need replacement.


HEPA and foam filters are more durable and can be cleaned many times. However, if you notice a decrease in the vacuum's suction power or notice significant damage to the filter after multiple cleanings, it's time to replace it with a new filter.


Usually, when you buy a satisfying product like the MACH V0 Ultra Steam Vacuum and Mop, the seller will provide you with an extra filter. You can find the replacement filter in the product box. Even if the product you bought didn't come with a replacement, you can easily buy a new one from the store where you bought the vacuum cleaner.


As for paper filters, they are less durable and it's best to replace them with a new one after cleaning them once or twice.

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Now that you've learned how to clean a vacuum filter effectively, it's time to take charge of your cleaning routine. Check which type of filter your vacuum uses, and follow the detailed tutorials above to achieve a thorough cleaning. Remember, a clean filter is key to efficient room cleaning and improved indoor air quality.


If you find yourself cleaning the filter frequently or notice reduced suction power, it's advisable to consider a replacement for optimal performance. Stay proactive and keep track of your filter's maintenance to ensure your vacuum operates at its best.

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