Washable air conditioner filters, also referred to reusable air filters, are a great alternative to disposable filters if you’re looking to change to an eco-friendly filter. Reusable air filters offer excellent filtration that’s comparable to that of disposable filters. In addition, they are great if you have sufficient back yard space to clean them and are willing to take the time to clean them.
Washable Filter Basics
Standard air conditioner filters must be changed every few months, but washable air conditioner filters can last longer than that. Reusable filters are a viable option if you’re looking to save time and a trip to the store when you need a clean air filter. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of using a washable air filter.
There are many advantages to using a reusable air filter. First, they are cost effective. Your savings from purchasing several one-time use filters throughout the year can add up, making a reusable option more affordable in the long run. Another reason why these filters are a smart economic option is because they do not require any special or expensive cleaning products, just water. Other types of filters create continued waste, but you can feel good about the environment when using reusable filters because you are not creating the same level of waste. Lastly, washable filters are just as easy to install and can fit into your existing unit.
As with all purchases, there are always some disadvantages to using the product. First, Cleaning the filters requires time, usually more time than it takes to change out a typical air filter. This is not a big issue if time is not a big concern for your home. Probably the biggest downside is that reusable air conditioner filters do not provide the absolute highest level of filtration. Most reusable filters come with a MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, of 4 or 5. This rating is on the high end of the standard residential rating range, meaning they will help trap dust, dirt and pollen. However, if you have pets or if you have severe allergies or respiratory problems you might consider getting a higher rated disposable filter.
Reusable air conditioner filters are typically made from two different materials:
Hog hair reusable filters are durable, washable, and come with a metal frame. They have a MERV rating of 4, making them a standard option for the home.
Polypropylene filters are a durable and sophisticated option for reusable air filtration. This option, which some may think of as plastic air conditioner filters, use webbing and mesh to create an egg crate-like design. The egg crate design increases the amount of surface that the filter is able to capture particles. Polypropylene filters also include several layers that are textured and irregular, meaning that it is capable of capturing and holding onto particles that flow into it. Unlike some other reusable options, this type of filter does not have foam within it, meaning it will not easily break down and will survive prolonged usage. They come with a MERV rating of 5 and are a high-quality option in reusable air filtration.
Other options, like cloth filters or canvas filters, are primarily used for highly industrial environments that require much stronger filtration than is ever needed in a residential setting.
Cleaning Reusable Filters
Reusable air conditioner filters do not require frequent replacement but do require regular maintenance. This type of filter should be checked approximately once every few months and cleaned. Use cold water to rinse them off from front to back. Using a hose in the backyard is the best option. It is important to make sure the filter is completely dry before being put back in the unit, especially to prevent dirt trapped in moisture from entering into the system. No other product or special maintenance routine is required. For full cleaning instructions read our post How to Clean a Reusable Air Filter.
Buying Your Filter
The final question many people ask is “Is a Washable Air Filter for Me?”. The answer to that depends. We see a lot of landlords and renters using washable air filters due to the cost and convenience. There are also a lot of older people that don’t want the hassle of disposable air filters. You may fit into these categories, or you may have your own reasons to want a washable air filter. Either way, we are here to help find the perfect filter for you.