There are many types and brands of air purifiers on the market for homeowners seeking a reliable solution to pollutants in their homes. Air purifiers are proven to be able to capture air pollutants such as dust, pollen, mold, smoke, odor, allergens, and several other forms of pollution.
The most active component responsible for this purifying capacity is the filter, which often comes in different forms.
In recent times, many brands have begun the inclusion of washable filters in their units to give users more value for money, in terms of long-term usage and reduced running cost.
A typical air purifier filter lasts for about 3 months. Some may go on for another month, depending on how well they’re used. However, washable filters can go on for the lifetime of the unit because they can be washed and reused multiple times.
All it takes the most time is flowing tap water (as long as your tap water doesn’t leave mineral residues). That said, there are still certain misconceptions as regards the effectiveness of washable filters.
Some people seem to suggest that air purifiers with washable filters are not as effective. Is this true?
We’ll get to the bottom of that question in due time, but first, we’ll consider HEPA filters and see whether they fit in the category of washable filters.
Can HEPA Filters Be Washed and Reused?
The answer is Yes and No, and we’ll explain why. HEPA filter, which means High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter, is the most popular type of purifier filter on the market.
In fact, it has assumed the status of industry standard when it comes to choosing a unit for your home. However, not all HEPA filters are washable and reusable.
Manufacturers will often advertise a filter as washable and reusable if it can be rewashed and reused. Basically, we can deduce three different categories of HEPA filters;
- Standard Replaceable HEPA filter – This should be used between 6 and 12 months. They are not reusable multiple times.
- Washable and Reusable HEPA filter – This type is washable and can be cleaned by rinsing in cold water and reused multiple times. They typically last between 24 and 36 months or longer.
- Permanent HEPA filter – This is the third category and it refers to HEPA filters that can last upwards of 3 years to a lifetime. Some can be used for as long as 6 years or more. They can be vacuum cleaned gently to avoid damage.
Cleaning Your Washable HEPA Filter
One question that often pops up in the use of air purifiers with washable filters is whether the filters maintain their integrity after a wash.
While this is still a subject of controversy, depending on the product, we can show you how to wash your HEPA filter without ruining it.
First of all, it depends on the type of filter. Check the label or package to find out if it is a permanent filter or just a washable filter.
1. Using a vacuum cleaner
For permanent filters, use a vacuum cleaner by setting the speed to the lowest. Run the vacuum gently across the surface of the filter without applying any pressure, ensuring that it sucks away mites, hair and dust. Do this continuously until all particles are washed away.
2. Rinsing with cold water
This is another method and is most effective for washable filters. All trapped particles can be loosened and washed away using this method. Some permanent HEPA filters may also be cleaned this way.
It is best to allow the filter to air dry after washing before re-inserting it. You can shake off excess water as well to reduce drying time. The bottom line is to follow the instructions of the manufacturers as each product may have peculiar features to watch.
Can You Clean Non-Washable HEPA Filters?
Although not advisable, this is possible. You can clean a non-washable HEPA filter, but you need to be sure the fiber isn’t peeling off or chopping off when you run water over it.
Non-washable filters are not designed to be washed and could be damaged if subjected to cleaning. However, if done carefully, you may clean it and reuse it not more than once and for a period not longer than 60 days before replacement is done.
You must be observant as well, and be sure the filter can still trap particles when reusing it. Otherwise, you may be putting your health and that of your family at risk.
Are Washable HEPA Filters as Effective?
Washable HEPA filters are very effective. They have a purification accuracy of up to 99.97% in many cases, just like their replaceable counterparts. This includes particles as tiny as 0.3 microns, which is the industry standard for air filters.
Whether the level of potency reduces over time is another matter altogether. The jury is still out to decide that as there is not sufficient evidence at the moment to suggest that washable HEPA filters will maintain the same level of effectiveness even after they’ve been washed multiple times.
However, it is important to note that washable HEPA filters are as effective as standard non-reusable HEPA filters. There are several air purifier brands on the market and, as long as the label has the word ‘washable’, you shouldn’t have a problem cleaning and reusing it.
How Long Does a Washable HEPA Filter Last?
This has been mentioned earlier, but just to emphasize, washable HEPA filters last for 2-6 years. Overall, a washable filter can be cleaned as many times as required; there is no limit to the number of times you should wash it.
This exercise should be done every 3 to 6 months, depending on the air quality in your area and how often you run the unit. On the other hand are permanent HEPA filters.
These ones should not be washed with water or could get damaged. Use a vacuum cleaner instead. A permanent filter is exactly what the name suggests. It lasts for the entire lifetime of the unit.
This is a highly cost-effective option for anyone looking to invest in air purifiers because the cost of replacement filters will be saved and used for other things.
Are Air Purifiers with Washable Filters Effective?
We already established that washable filters are effective. It is also safe to say that air purifiers that use these washable filters are effective too, as long as durable and high-performance washable filters are used.
A good example is the Hamilton Beach TrueAir Air Purifier which has a rating of 4.6 stars on average from more than 12,000 buyers. It is unlikely that verified customers will rate the unit highly if it is not effective.
There are several other very effective air purifier products out there with washable filters. As long as you carefully clean the filter as frequently as recommended, you shouldn’t have any troubles.
What To Look for While Selecting an Air Purifier with Washable Filters?
1. Cleaning Percentage
This is our own way of describing how much dirt the unit is able to remove. You should lookout for an air purifier that can remove 99.97% of air particles, as this is the standard to beat.
2. Cleaning Accuracy
Here, you must know the size of particles the filter can remove from the air. We advise you to go for air purifiers which can remove very tiny particles, down to 0.3 microns.
3. Ease of Assembly
Seeing that you’ll be removing the filter of your air purifier quite often, it’s best to settle for units that are very easy to assemble, so that filter removal and reinstallment will be hassle-free.
Now you can do away with the myths and unsubstantiated claims that washable filters are not effective. They’re not true. As long as you find a trusted brand with great reviews and reputation, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Good air purifiers with washable filters are effective, the same way air purifiers with non-washable filters are effective as long as it’s a good product.