How Often Should You Clean or Replace a HEPA Filter?

You can usually clean replaceable HEPA filters about once a month and replace them every four to six months. However, there are certain situations where you may need to change your filter more often. If you notice a musty smell, for example, it could indicate that the HEPA filter is faulty and you need to change it. You should also inspect your air purifiers regularly, and if the HEPA filter appears to be damaged, you should replace it immediately.

The EPA states that studies show that portable air filters (or air purifiers or disinfectants) can achieve small improvements in cardiovascular and respiratory health by reducing indoor pollutants. Some models tell you when it's time to wash, vacuum, or replace filters. In general, a HEPA filter needs to be changed every year, prefilters last 30 days, and carbon filters can last three to six months. Clean permanent filters every three months and replace them when damaged.

Our guide will save you hours of online research to find the best air purifier for your room. Many of the best air purifier brands on the market come with a HEPA filter that is washable, allowing you to clean and reuse it. The HEPA (High Efficiency Air Particulate) filter, often found in air purifiers, is designed to remove at least 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in size or larger. HEPA filters can also be found in your home air treatment system, and some vacuums have them too.

Generic “HEPA” filters may also need to be cleaned every several months, especially the smaller filters used in bar vacuums and similar models. If the manufacturer tells you that you can clean your HEPA filter, follow their instructions to the letter to avoid damaging the filter. As part of an advanced air purification system, a HEPA filter can remove 99.97% of airborne particles down to 0.1 microns. HEPA filters are very good at capturing particles of all sizes and, in theory, they remove at least 99.97 percent of particles with a size of 0.3 microns.

This is because HEPA filters are generally made of delicate materials, so any type of cleaning could easily damage them. HEPA filters have become an increasingly common option in smart homes for those who really want to make sure they remove all allergens or potentially infectious particles. Not all air purifiers come with washable filters or permanent filters that can be cleaned with a vacuum. Learning how to clean a HEPA filter can reduce the pressure on the overall air purifier and help it last longer in the home.

So you'll need to change commercial or healthcare HEPA filters much more often than if you were at home. In some vertical and larger drum vacuums, you can find a HEPA filter, which is usually combined with an advanced seal to trap as many dust particles as possible, but don't confuse this with a certified HEPA filter. However, time isn't always the best indicator since the real reason to replace a HEPA filter is based on the amount of particles that accumulate which can vary a lot in different environments.