How To Clean A Vacuum Filter?

Vacuum cleaners are one of the most commonly used appliances for cleaning homes. They work hard to capture dirt particles, crumbs, and dust from various surfaces such as carpets, floors, baseboards, upholstery, and mattresses.

To keep your vacuum functioning at its best, it is important to clean it regularly, especially the filters.

Some vacuums come with one or multiple filters that are designed to capture even the smallest dust particles.

By trapping dust in the filter, it is less likely to be released into the air and settle on surfaces in your home. If your vacuum is not performing as well as it used to, it’s time to check and clean the filter.

Cleaning a vacuum filter is an efficient one, so it’s crucial to prevent it from becoming clogged and dirty. Besides emptying the bag or canister, you should also inspect the filter regularly.

You can clean a vacuum filter depending on the type of material they are made of. Foam filters can be soaked in soapy water, while paper filters can be brushed lightly to remove dust.

However, HEPA filters should not be washed unless the manual specifies that it’s safe to do so.

Don’t overlook this important task while you’re busy with other chores. Keep your vacuum filter clean to ensure optimal performance until it’s time to replace it.

How to clean a vacuum filter

Most vacuum cleaners come equipped with a washable filter, which should be checked regularly for cleanliness.

First, locate the filter(s) in your vacuum, then remove and tap it against a hard surface to dislodge any clumps of dust. Be sure to do this outside to avoid creating a dust cloud indoors!

If the filter is washable, rinse it under lukewarm water and leave it to air dry for at least 24 hours before putting it back in the vacuum.

However, other filters in your vacuum may not be washable, so make sure to consult the instruction manual.

If they are not washable, simply tap them against a surface to remove any clumps of dust and put them back in the vacuum.

Related: How To Clean A Dyson Vacuum?

How to clean vacuum brushes

To maintain your vacuum cleaner’s optimal performance, it’s crucial to keep the brush head free of hair and threads.

If it becomes stuck, avoid pulling and instead cut any threads that are preventing it from rotating. Take care to avoid cutting the bristles, as this could damage the brush.

Some brush heads may have indents running the length of the head. These are designed to help guide scissors through hair and threads without harming the bristles.

Once all hair and threads have been removed, if the brush head has no electrical components, you can clean it in warm water.

Massage the bristles to remove any embedded dust or fibers, and ensure it is thoroughly dried before refitting them to your vacuum cleaner.

How to clean a foam vacuum filter

A foam filter is very simple to clean. You’ll need:

  • Hot water
  • Dish soap or a mild detergent
  • Microfibre cloth

First, mix a cleaning solution by adding two drops of dishwashing liquid or an all-purpose cleaner to two cups of hot water in a sink or small bowl.

Submerge the filter and gently squeeze it to work the cleaning solution through the foam’s pores. If the water turns black due to excessive dust, prepare a fresh cleaning solution and continue to gently squeeze.

Rinse the filter under running water until the water runs clear and no more suds appear. After rinsing, roll the filter gently in a microfiber towel to remove excess water. Finally, place the filter on a drying rack and allow it to air-dry completely, which may take up to 24 hours.

Once the filter has soaked for a sufficient time and the water runs clear, remove the filter and rinse it thoroughly to remove any remaining suds.

Next, use a microfiber cloth to gently pat the filter and remove any excess moisture. Allow the filter to air dry completely for up to a day before returning it to your vacuum.

How to clean paper or synthetic vacuum filters

Although paper and synthetic cartridge filters are designed to be disposable, it is possible to clean and reuse them if they are not heavily soiled.

To do so, use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub any dirt or debris from the surface of the filter. Once you have removed as much dirt as possible, you can return the filter to your vacuum cleaner.

How to clean HEPA filters

It is generally not recommended to clean a HEPA vacuum filter, as washing can potentially damage the filter system and fiber matrix. If you notice that your HEPA filter is dirty, it’s best to replace it with a new one instead.

However, if your vacuum cleaner model specifically states that the accompanying HEPA filter is washable, you can rinse it under cool running water without scrubbing it.

After washing, be sure to let the filtered air dry completely before replacing it with your vacuum cleaner.

How to Clean a Roomba Filter

It’s easy to forget that even robot vacuums have filters that require maintenance to ensure peak performance.

If you own a Roomba or another robot vacuum, be sure to clean and replace its filters regularly.

To start, remove the dust container and empty its contents into the garbage. Next, locate the filter (often blue in color) and press the release catches on either side to remove it from the bin.

Gently tap the filter against the side of the garbage to remove any loose dust, and use an old, soft toothbrush or paper towel to brush away any remaining debris. Avoid rinsing the filter, as this could damage the fibers.

If the filter is particularly dirty, you can use a handheld vacuum to gently suck up any trapped dirt. With regular cleaning, your robot vacuum’s filters will stay in top condition, ensuring that it continues to clean effectively.

How often to clean a Roomba filter?

If you have pets or use your Roomba daily, it’s recommended to clean it once or twice a week. However, if you use it less frequently, cleaning the Roomba once every 2-3 weeks should suffice.

What You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sink or small bowl
  • Microfiber towel
  • Drying rack
  • Soft-bristled nylon brush
  • Trash can
  • Materials

Dishwashing liquid or an all-purpose cleaner

Instructions: Replace or do not replace the filter.

Unplug and Disassemble the Vacuum

To prevent accidental shocks, always unplug the vacuum before disassembling any components. Empty the collection canisters or dispose of the collection bag before proceeding. Locate and remove the filter(s).

Once the filter is dry, replace it

To extend the life of a pleated paper filter:

First, unplug the vacuum and remove the filter. Then, use a soft-bristled brush (such as an old toothbrush) to gently brush off any visible debris. Next, tap the filter against the side of a trashcan or an outdoor handrail to loosen any remaining dust. Finally, replace the filter back in the vacuum.

To extend the life of a synthetic fiber filter:

You can use the same process for cleaning a foam filter as you would for cleaning a paper filter. After tapping out any loose debris, hold the filter under a steady stream of water to flush out any remaining dust.

Wrap the filter in a microfiber towel to absorb excess moisture, being careful not to compress the filter. Allow the filter to air-dry on a drying rack for a minimum of 24 hours.


First, remove the vacuum bin from the vacuum body. Use a screw to separate the filter section from the rest of the bin, and then take out the filter.

Brush off any dust or fluff that’s stuck to the outside of the filter. Once you have removed the filter from the vacuum, you can check which areas require cleaning.

Usually, the inside of the filter will be clean, so you can focus on cleaning the outside. Keep in mind that different vacuums may have different ways of disassembling, so don’t force any parts that don’t come apart easily.

You can refer to your manual to learn how your vacuum comes apart.


If your filter is washable, the cleaning process is much simpler. Unscrew your vacuum to access the filter and remove it. Wash the filter using a mild detergent and rinse it with water until it’s clean. Make sure to leave it to dry completely to avoid any issues with its functionality.


If you’ve attempted to clean your vacuum and found that the filter is damaged, torn, or worn out, it may be more efficient to simply order a replacement instead of spending time cleaning it.

To order the correct replacement, you’ll need your model number. You can find this number on a data plate or sticker located on the sides or base of the vacuum.


It’s important to let your filter air dry naturally for 24 to 48 hours, which may be too long for those who vacuum frequently.

However, taking the time to let your filter dry completely will ensure optimal performance once you reinstall it.

If you’re in a hurry, you can speed up the drying process by using a hairdryer on low heat. Hold the dryer about 4 inches away from the filter and move it back and forth to prevent overheating.


The lifespan of most filters is typically between 24 to 36 months, although this may vary based on how frequently you use your vacuum.

Why Clean Vacuum Filters?

Vacuum cleaners operate by suctioning dirt particles, requiring effective suction power and a reliable filtration system to clean various surfaces.

In order to preserve the suction power of your vacuum, it’s necessary to clean it frequently. This involves cleaning the following components:



These vacuum filters are the most common type and are designed to function as both a filter and a dust container.

They are typically made of paper or cloth, which allows air to flow through them unobstructed, optimizing the suction power. Instead of constantly emptying the dust container, you can simply remove the bag and dispose of it.


Having a foam filter in your vacuum is crucial to prevent any large particles from damaging the motor or clogging the vacuum’s filters.

Typically, the foam filter serves as an extra layer of filtration and is located in front of the primary filters. It can be easily cleaned for reuse.


A dust filter looks similar to a coffee filter and is typically made from cloth or paper, serving as a slight variation of the bag filter. These types of filters are commonly found on cordless or robotic vacuums.


“These are the most commonly used filters with an efficient design consisting of synthetic material plates or folded paper.”

Cyclonic action

Although not classified as a filter, cyclonic action is a popular technology used in many vacuum cleaners that helps prevent dust from escaping the vacuum.

By creating circular air currents in the dust container, dust particles are forced toward the container’s sides before reaching the filters.

This results in a reduction in the amount of dust that ultimately enters the filters.

HEPA filter

Frequently, standard filters are not effective at trapping very small dust particles, which can easily slip through the filter fibers or sponge material.

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are designed with micro-size fibers and an electrostatic field that can capture up to 99.97% of dust particles, even the tiniest ones.

Keep in mind that HEPA filters are usually not washable and require special care for cleaning.

Activated Charcoal

If you are bothered by unpleasant smells, using filters with activated charcoal layers in your vacuum cleaner can help keep the air clean and fresh.

These filters are particularly useful if you have pets or are sensitive to odors. However, you need to replace them regularly to ensure their effectiveness.

Tips for Maintaining Your Vacuum Cleaner

It’s important to stay on top of replacing your vacuum filters, especially if you use your vacuum frequently.

Even if your vacuum comes with extra filters, it’s a good idea to keep track of your supply to ensure you don’t run out.

In addition to replacing filters, it’s important to clean your vacuum regularly to keep it running at maximum performance and suction.

This includes untangling hair and fibers from the brush and beater bar, checking the drive belt, and wiping down the cartridge and exterior.

Proper maintenance is key to ensuring that your vacuum is efficient and effective.

It will also make it easier for you or a professional cleaner to clean all surfaces in your home, including floors, ceilings, blinds, and furniture.

Conclusions: Clean A Vacuum Filter

We have created a complete guide on how to clean vacuum filters for different models and designs, so you can easily and safely maintain your vacuum.

Our instructions will ensure that you don’t damage your vacuum filter while cleaning it. Thank you for reading, and be sure to check out our future posts for more useful information.

We have also compiled some frequently asked questions regarding cleaning vacuum filters on popular models.

For example, on the Dirt Devil UD70115, you can wash the foam pre-motor filter with water, but it’s important to dry it before using it again.

However, for the pleated HEPA filter, tapping the dust out is recommended, and washing it with water can damage the filter’s complex structures.

FAQs: Clean A Vacuum Filter

Why might cleaning a HEPA air filter be a bad idea?

HEPA filters are designed with tightly woven fibers that are highly sensitive to external factors. Any attempt to clean them could cause irreversible damage to the mesh and render the filter ineffective. Unless your filter is designed to be washed, you should never try to reuse it.

When should I replace Shark vacuum filters?

It’s important to refer to the instruction manual that comes with your vacuum or the packaging the filter came in, as they will indicate when a good time to replace your filter is. It’s also a good idea to check the filter regularly to ensure it’s not becoming too full or damaged, which could cause it to lose its effectiveness.

Where can I get filters and replacement parts for my Shark products?

If you need filters or replacement parts for your Shark products, there are various options available. The most convenient way is to visit the official Shark website. This enables you to speak to customer service experts who can provide guidance and answer your queries about their products. Additionally, by purchasing through Shark’s website, you can enjoy various benefits such as their product registration and customer loyalty program.