Guide to Cleaning Your Furnace Filter

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Homeowners looking to save money on their heating bills should consider cleaning their furnace filter regularly. It’s an easy and cost-effective way to improve indoor air quality and reduce energy consumption. In fact, a clean furnace filter can lower heating bills by 5 to 15 percent.

If you reside in a colder climate, chances are your furnace is a significant source of energy usage throughout the winter season. That’s why it’s essential to inspect your heater’s filter each month during this time. If you’re still using disposable fiberglass filters, consider investing in a reusable one. They’re environmentally friendly and more efficient than their disposable counterparts. You can purchase a decent reusable filter for under $50, making it a worthwhile investment.

How to Clean Your Furnace Filter

Start by turning off the power to your furnace. Look for the service panel, and open it using a screwdriver if necessary. Locate the furnace by the intake-outake blower. The filter looks like a sponge. Pull it out and inspect it. If you can’t see through it, it’s time to clean it. Even if it doesn’t look that dirty, it’s best to clean it anyway.

Take the filter to a utility sink or bathtub and rinse away the dust. Alternatively, you could take it outside and rinse it off with a hose or rain barrel water. Once it’s clean, wait for it to dry before putting it back into the furnace. Congratulations, you now have a clean, energy-efficient furnace filter.


1. What is a furnace filter and why is it important to clean it?

A furnace filter is a device that captures dust, dirt, and other airborne particles that pass through your heating system. Over time, these particles accumulate on the filter and reduce its efficiency. A dirty filter can cause your furnace to work harder and use more energy, leading to higher utility bills. Cleaning or replacing your furnace filter regularly can improve indoor air quality and extend the life of your heating system.

2. How often should I clean my furnace filter?

The frequency of furnace filter cleaning depends on several factors, including the type of filter, the amount of use, and the level of air pollution in your home. As a general rule, it’s recommended to check your filter every month and replace it every 3-4 months. However, if you have pets, allergies, or live in a dusty environment, you may need to clean or replace your filter more frequently.

3. What tools do I need to clean my furnace filter?

You’ll need a few basic tools to clean your furnace filter, including a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment, a soft-bristled brush, and a bucket of warm water mixed with mild detergent. You may also need a screwdriver or pliers to remove the filter from your furnace. Be sure to read your furnace manual for specific instructions on how to access and remove the filter.

4. How do I clean a reusable furnace filter?

To clean a reusable furnace filter, start by turning off your furnace and removing the filter from its housing. Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove loose debris from both sides of the filter. Next, use a soft-bristled brush and warm soapy water to gently scrub the filter. Rinse the filter with clean water and let it air dry completely before reinstalling it in your furnace.

5. How do I replace a disposable furnace filter?

To replace a disposable furnace filter, start by turning off your furnace and removing the old filter from its housing. Check the size and type of the filter and purchase a replacement that matches these specifications. Insert the new filter into the housing with the arrow pointing towards the furnace. Be sure to dispose of the old filter properly and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the new filter.

6. What are the signs that my furnace filter needs cleaning or replacement?

If you notice reduced airflow from your vents, increased dust or debris in your home, or unusual noises from your furnace, it may be time to clean or replace your filter. You may also notice higher energy bills or a decrease in indoor air quality. Be sure to check your filter regularly and address any issues promptly to avoid further damage to your heating system.

7. Can I clean my furnace filter with a pressure washer?

No, it’s not recommended to clean your furnace filter with a pressure washer. The high-pressure water can damage the filter and reduce its effectiveness. Stick to using a vacuum cleaner, soft-bristled brush, and mild detergent to clean your filter.

8. Can I reuse a disposable furnace filter?

No, disposable furnace filters are designed for one-time use only and should be replaced regularly. Attempting to reuse a disposable filter can reduce its efficiency and lead to increased energy costs and poor indoor air quality. Invest in a quality replacement filter and change it regularly to keep your heating system running smoothly.

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