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How to Clean Shark Vacuum Filters

Written by James Hall |

How to clean Shark vacuum filter

Has your Shark vacuum lost suction? Or is it just not cleaning as effectively as it once did? If so, the filters probably need cleaning.

Shark vacuum cleaners can rival the best for suction power and cleaning performance – but only if the filters aren’t clogged. Once the filters become blocked, airflow is reduced and the vacuum will lose suction.

Fortunately, cleaning a Shark vacuum filter is an easy process. While the exact method varies depending on your model, the basic method is the same for most Shark vacs.

How Should You Clean Shark Vacuum Filters?

  1. Switch off the vacuum and unplug it.
  2. Remove the pre-motor and post-motor filters (check the manual for model-specific instructions.)
  3. Tap off excess dirt, then gently rinse the filters under cold water. Don’t use soap.
  4. Allow the filters to air dry for at least 24 hours.

How to Clean Your Shark’s Filters

Step 1: Switch Off and Unplug the Vacuum

Never clean a vacuum’s filter when the vacuum is switched on or plugged in. You also shouldn’t use the vacuum with the filter removed, as this allows dust, pet dander, and other particles to clog the motor and escape into the air.

We always recommend washing filters outdoors if possible. Any loose dirt or other particles on the filter will escape into the air when it’s removed.

Step 2: Locate and Remove the Shark Vacuum’s Filters

Most Shark vacuums have a pre-motor filter and a post-motor filter. The pre-motor filter is typically a combination of foam and felt, while the post-motor is either a foam or HEPA filter.

Shark vacuums vary in design, so you should consult the user manual to find out where the removable filters are located. Keep in mind that not all filters are washable, so check which ones are safe to clean.

Shark filter diagram

As an example, the Shark NV702UK series has three washable filters: a foam filter, felt filter, and a post motor filter.

  • The foam and felt pre-motor filters can be removed after taking out the dust canister.
  • The post motor filter is accessible via a filter door at the front of the machine.

This configuration is common to many Shark upright vacuums, but you should still check the manual. Some post-motor filters, for example, have an extra frame that you need to remove before cleaning.

If your Shark has a HEPA filter, this may come in two sections: a pre-HEPA foam filter and the HEPA filter itself. These can both be rinsed in cold water.

Tip: Don’t panic if you’ve lost your Shark vacuum’s manual. Search on Google for “Model Name + user manual” to find a digital version.

Step 3: Rinse the Washable Filters

Start by tapping off any excess dust and dirt into a bin bag. Then gently rinse the pre-motor filters with cold water, before repeating with the post-motor filter.

You won’t be able to remove all the staining and you shouldn’t scrub the filter – the goal is to get rid of dirt and other debris that could block airflow. Discolouring is completely normal for a vacuum filter.

Be extra careful when cleaning felt filters, as these are delicate. You should never use soap when cleaning any of a Shark vacuum’s filters, as this could affect the filtration.

Step 4: Allow the Filters to Fully Dry for At Least 24 Hours

You shouldn’t put the filters back inside the vacuum until they are fully dry. Damp filters are the perfect environment for mould to grow, especially when sealed inside the vacuum cleaner. Any moisture will also cause dust and dirt to stick to the filter, ruining your hard work.

It typically takes around 24 hours for a vacuum filter to air dry. HEPA filters may take longer, so make sure these are fully dry before replacing them.

Once dry, replace the filters before vacuuming. If the filters were blocked, you might be surprised by how much extra suction power your Shark can now generate!

Tip: In a hurry? Just tap off excess dirt without washing the filter with water. This allows you to immediately use the vacuum without waiting for the filters to air dry.

Step 5: Consider Replacing Worn Out Filters

Shark vacuum filters are designed to last a long time, but they may still need to be replaced if they become worn, torn, or caked in excessive amounts of dirt.

Make sure you buy the right filters for your Shark vacuum model. Not every Shark filter is compatible with all of the company’s vacuums.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should You Clean Shark Filters?

You should check the manual to find out exactly how often to clean your Shark vacuum’s filters. The guidelines vary depending on the type of filter that your vacuum uses.

As a general rule, Shark recommends cleaning pre-motor filters on a monthly basis. This might seem like a lot, but pre-motor filters are the first line of defence against debris clogging the motor. Post motor filters should be cleaned yearly.

What Do Shark Indicator Lights Mean?

A green light shows that the brush roll is turning correctly, while red lights indicate an error. Take a look at our guide to the lights on a Shark vacuum for more information.

What Does a Vacuum Filter Actually Do?

Vacuums work by generating airflow to suck up dirt and other debris. This airflow must then exit the vacuum after dirt has been deposited in the dust canister.

Without a filter, some of the dust, pet dander, pollen, and other allergens would be pumped back out into the room via the exhaust air. That’s why Shark vacuums typically have two (or more) filters, to capture these particles before they are released.


Cleaning your Shark vacuum’s filters isn’t a glamorous job, but it’s vital for maintaining your vac’s performance. A blocked filter can reduce airflow, which makes the vacuum less effective at sucking up dirt.

You should always check the manual to find specific instructions, but most Shark filters can be cleaned by running them under cold water. Make sure you allow the filters to fully dry before placing them back inside the vacuum cleaner.

Once you’ve washed the filter, why not clean the rest of the vacuum to help improve performance even further? Check out our guide to cleaning a vacuum for more information.

Do you have any questions about cleaning a Shark vacuum filter? Let us know in the comments section below. You may also want to read our guides to emptying a Shark vacuum and cleaning a Shark cordless dust cup.

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