Unplug, wipe, vacuum, repeat.
There are many benefits with a clean air purifier besides providing cleaner air, reduce operational hours, and improved filter usage lifespan. However, many people will forget or too lazy to maintain the air purifier because it is a chore. To ease you with that, here is the general guideline of how to clean your air purifier quickly and efficiently.
We also highly suggest you go through the owner’s manual at least once to see what can and can’t be cleaned. You might even find some interesting facts about your air purifier.
How To Clean an Air Purifier
- Turn off and unplug the air purifier from an electrical outlet before anything else.
- For the exterior, use a soft, damp rag preferably a microfiber cloth and wipe any dusty opening.
- For air ventilation, use a soft brush or toothbrush to dust off hard to reach gaps.
- Remove the front panel/ grill by gently pull forward the joint at the side. Clean it with warm, soapy water. If the removable panel or grill made out of plastic, you can soak it in water for swift cleaning. Leave it air dry before reinstalling it.
- For the interior, remove all the filters first and use a dry cloth to wipe off dirty particles.
- For stains that are hard to remove, soak in in water with lemon for 10-20 minutes. Scrub off the dislodge dirt with a dry cloth, rinse it again with water and leave it to dry.
- Repeat the cleaning cycle every 2-4 weeks depending on how dusty your home is.
How To Clean An Air Purifier Filter
- Turn off and unplug the air purifier before cleaning.
- Move the device to an open space area to prevent dust and allergens from escaping back into the room.
- Remove the air inlet grill or panel to gain access to the filter.
- Examine the filter condition before removing it. If there is a significant amount of dust, lint, or particulate accumulation, remove the filter by pulling the tab.
- HEPA filter and carbon filter are not washable. Replace it with a brand new set if is worn or damaged. Remember to take out the protective plastic sleeve first.
- For a washable/ permanent filter like pre-filter, run a vacuum cleaner at low speed with a brush attachment. Gently brush through the filter pleated layers until all visible particles are gone. You can also gently rinse and hand wash it with warm soapy water and a damp cloth.
- Insert back the filters 1 by 1 according to the previous arrangement. Usually, there will be an arrow pointing to which side the filter should be oriented.
- Snapback the front panel/ grill by aligning it properly.
- Turn on the air purifier and let it run at max speed for at least an hour. If the air purifier won’t start or there is a grumbling, weird creaking sound that is previously unheard of, check for any filter displacement.
- If everything sounds normal, congratulations, your air purifier is completely clean. Check on the filter every 2-4 weeks when there is a dip in performance or the filter check indicator light is blinking.
Air Purifier Care and Maintenance
- Before you began, check if you have the right tools, weather, and time. Cleaning an air purifier can sometimes be time-consuming especially on the first try.
- If you have severe allergies, wear a face mask and gloves to protect yourself during the cleaning process.
- Always turn off the air purifier first before unplugging the cord to avoid damaging the motherboard.
- Only clean the air purifier on flat, hard surfaces to prevent it from toppling over.
- Be careful not to drop or insert objects into the opening of the air inlet/ outlet.
- Never obstruct or place clothes on top of the air purifier.
- Do not use detergents, gasoline, glass cleaner, paint thinner, furniture polish, or household solvents to clean the air purifier.
- Do not wash the filter with a washing machine or dishwasher. Do not wash the HEPA and carbon filter.
- Do not dry the filter with a hairdryer. The high heat will damage the filter’s density.
- Do not attempt to disassemble or repair parts that you’re not supposed to.
- Only plug it into a grounded outlet or wall outlet to avoid static charges.
- Air purifiers should be used (and clean) in room temperatures between 40° F (4° C) and 110° F (43° C) unless stated otherwise in manual.
- Do not operate the air purifier with a damaged cord or plug.
- Make sure your hand is not wet throughout the whole cleaning progress.
- If the filter is lightly discolored or yellowish, this is due to oxidization.
How Often Should You Clean Your Air Purifier?
You should clean the air purifier every 2-4 weeks or when there is visible dust on the air intake and outtake. Don't worry about the high frequency as cleaning an air purifier is easy and can be done within a couple of minutes. The only thing you need is a damp cloth with warm water or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment.
An air purifier needs proper care and maintenance. It will not perform its best when it is filled with dirty contaminants like dust, dust mites, mold, spore, pollen, lint, pet hair, dander, smoke, and germs. The airflow delivery rate and CADR will be greatly affected as the motor will work hard to compensate for the losses in airflow. In a worst-case scenario, the contaminants will be dispersed back into the air without being capture. This completely defeats the purpose of owning an air purifier.
Can You Wash a HEPA Filter?
You cannot wash a True HEPA filter as it will damage the dense fiberglass fiber materials. Due to its high 99.97% filtration efficiency on microscopic particles as small as 0.3 microns, True HEPA filter is designed to be disposable and has to be replaced at the interval of 6 to 12 months depending on the manufacturer's recommendation. However, there are washable or permanent HEPA filter air purifiers in the market that can be gently clean with a vacuum cleaner only. These type of HEPA filters are not certified by U.S. Department of Energy and has lower filtration efficiency than a True HEPA filter. Check the instructional manual or manufacturer's website before attempting any cleaning.
Can You Wash a Charcoal/ Carbon Filter?
An activated carbon filter cannot be washed and will have to be replaced periodically. By washing with water, you are degrading the chemically bonded carbons' adsorption ability, rendering them useless against smoke and odor.
Do Air Purifiers Need To Be Cleaned?
HVAC, air purifiers, and air filters require cleaning regularly for optimal performance and improved durability. We recommend a thorough cleaning of the air purifier and air filters every 2 to 3 weeks depending on how dirty is the filtration. The filter will last longer with fewer particulates clogging or damaging it. Always check the device's manual before attempting to clean it.
How Air Purifiers Work
Mechanical air purifiers use a fan that pulls dirty air into its filtration. Harmful pollutants like dust, hair, pet dander, dust mites, mold, mildew, pollen, bacteria, tobacco smoke, and odors will be trapped by a series of filters including pre-filter, HEPA filter, and carbon filter. The filtered air will be circulated back into the room and the cycle will repeat itself until the indoor air is completely cleaned.
Can I Clean Ionic Air Purifiers?
You can clean an ionizer similar to how you would clean an air purifier. Ionic air purifiers are very easy to clean as it has a wide opening that generating static electricity to attract particulates instead of using filters with grill. The only downside is that you will have to clean it more frequently as particulates will quickly pile up on the metal plates.
Why Is It Important To Have Clean Indoor Air?
Air pollution is one of the major health risks that unfortunately many take lightly off. According to EPA, indoor air pollution is up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Not only it will trigger allergy symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, wheezing, shortness of breath, red eyes, itchy throat, headaches, poor memory, dizziness, and fatigue, prolonged exposure can also lead to irreversible health effects such as cardiovascular disease, COPD, lung diseases, and cancer. To make matters worst, Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors. An air purifier can make a big difference in improving indoor air quality.