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How Often Should You Clean Your Vacuum’s Filter?

Written by James Hall |

how often should you clean your vacuum filter

Not sure how often to clean your vacuum’s filter? Here’s our simple guide to filter cleaning to help keep your vacuum in top condition.

Along with emptying the canister, cleaning filters is probably the most important maintenance task for your vacuum.

How often should you clean your filters though? And why is it important that the filter isn’t allowed to become blocked? Keep reading to find out.

How Often Should You Clean a Vacuum Filter?

As a general rule, washable filters should be cleaned once per month. You may need to adjust this depending on whether you have pets and how heavily you use your vacuum though. Make sure you check your vacuum’s manual for specific instructions on cleaning your filters.

Why is Cleaning Your Vacuum Filter Important?

When you use your vacuum cleaner, the majority of dirt and other debris ends up inside the dust canister (or bag). Some of this debris gets caught in the filters though, leading to a layer of grime and dust building up over time.

As all the vacuum’s airflow must pass through these filters, any blockage can reduce suction power.

This makes maintaining your vacuum’s filters is an essential maintenance task. Some of the most important reasons for a clean filter include:

  • Maintain performance. A clogged or blocked filter is one of the most common causes of poor performance in a vacuum cleaner. We’ve known people throw out their vacuum and buy a new one, when cleaning the filters probably would have restored its cleaning performance!
  • Reduce motor strain. Blocked filters force a vacuum’s motor to work harder to generate the same airflow. This can cause strain on the motor and reduce its lifespan.
  • Reduce noise. A consequence of causing the motor to work harder is that the vacuum may become louder or make strange noises. Cleaning the filter often fixes these issues.

The good news is that most vacuum filters are easy to clean. Washable filters can usually be rinsed until the water runs clear, while non-washable filters can be tapped to remove loose debris.

Tip: Always make sure your vacuum’s filter is completely dry before re-fitting it. A wet filter can cause water to enter the motor when it’s switched on, which can cause serious damage. Damp filters also allow mould to grow inside your vacuum cleaner.

How Often to Clean a Vacuum Filter

Every vacuum cleaner is different, so you should read your vacuum’s instruction manual to find out how to maintain your filters.

As a general rule, if your vacuum has washable filters, we recommend washing them around once a month.

Monthly cleaning is usually enough to make sure that the filter doesn’t become blocked, while also not being too time-consuming. You may also want to tap off loose dirt and dust when you empty the vacuum.

Keep in mind that your vacuum may have more than one filter. Most bagless vacuums have at least two filters, so check the instruction manual for your machine’s filter locations.

There are situations where you’ll need to clean the vacuum’s filter more often though. If you have a pet who sheds a lot, then you may want to clean the filter more frequently. We also recommend cleaning the filter immediately after a tough cleaning job, such as vacuuming sawdust or other fine particles.

Tip: Check your vacuum’s manual before you wash the filter. Every manufacturer, model, and type of vacuum is different, so the instruction manual should give you specific filter cleaning advice. The manual will also show you how to safely clean the various filters on your machine.

Can All Filters be Cleaned?

You should only wash a vacuum filter that’s labelled as washable. Some filters are not designed to be washed, so liquid could damage them.

A common example is HEPA filters. Many HEPA filters are not washable, as water can affect the internal fibres that remove particles from the air. While the filter may look cleaner after washing, it’ll be less effective.

Considering many people buy HEPA vacuums to protect family members with allergies, a filter that you think is effective but actually isn’t is the worst case scenario!

Some cylinder vacuums also come with non-washable filters, such as the Henry series. These filters are designed to be replaced rather than washed.

In most cases, you can still remove the worst dust and dirt from non-washable filters by tapping it off into a bin. You can also use a dry cloth to get rid of extra dirt from non-washable filters.

When Should You Replace a Vacuum’s Filters?

Some vacuum’s filters are designed to last the machine’s lifetime, but most need to be replaced occasionally.

For washable filters, it’s best to buy a replacement when the filter looks clogged even after washing it, has developed a bad odour, or if there are signs of damage. The instruction manual should also tell you how often the manufacturer recommends buying replacement filters.

For non-washable filters, you should replace them whenever the filter still looks blocked after tapping off loose debris.

How Often Should You Clean the Rest of Your Vacuum?

Filters aren’t the only part of a vacuum that needs to be cleaned. The vacuum’s hose, brush bar, dust canister, and tools also need to be maintained.

We recommend a deep clean of your vacuum cleaner at least once per year. You may need to clean it more frequently if you have pets, children, or use your vacuum more than the average person.

Summary

Cleaning your vacuum’s filters is vital for maintaining its performance, as even a thin layer of debris can make it less effective.

We usually recommend cleaning washable filters once per month. Check your vacuum’s instruction manual, however, as the manufacturer may provide different recommendations for maintaining your model’s filters.

You can tap off dirt from non-washable filters whenever you empty the vacuum cleaner. These filters need to be replaced when they become too clogged though.

Do you have any questions about how often you should clean your vacuum’s filter? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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