How To Clean Vacuum Filter: Bissell, Hoover, Dyson, Dirt Devil, Eureka, Sponge...

How to Clean a Vacuum Filter: Tips and Tricks Worth Knowing

Jul 09, 2021
For most homeowners, the vacuum filter is certainly a must-have item whenever you need to clean your houses. And most of the time, your filter does a wonderful job of keeping your house spotless and clean.

Still, after all those dirty and dusty tasks, you can’t help but wonder how to clean vacuum filter and maintain its top condition at all times? Since having a dirty vacuum can result in loss of suction, decreased air quality, it’s important to clean your vacuum regularly.

Hence, in this post, we’ll be showing exactly how you can clean your vacuum filters on all models that you’ll currently find on the market. Learn all you need to know about vacuum filters and how to properly take care of them with our complete guides.

Cleaning your vacuum filters are always recommended

Cleaning your vacuum filters are always recommended

About cleaning your vacuum filters

Different types of vacuum filters

To make the cleaning vacuum filter part easier and less challenging, it’s important for you to learn about the design and features of your vacuum filters. This would allow  easy visualizations of the different filtration elements on your machines, and help you better understand what the guide is referring to. This will make the cleaning of parts a lot less challenging.

➜ RELATED: How Often Should You Vacuum? - The Complete Guide to Household Vacuuming


Here are some of the most common designs that you’ll find on most filters these days:

Bag filters – This is one of the standard designs that you would find on your regular canister vacuum cleaners. The bag filters serve as both the dust container and the filter thanks to their clever design. That being said, the bags are usually made of cloth or paper, which would allow air to pass through them while dust particles remain inside. This would optimize the suction power since the air won’t have to travel through many layers of a filter. Plus, whenever you need to empty your dustbin, just take out the bag and throw them away.

Foam filter – To prevent large dust particles, hairs, and other pieces of debris from getting into the inner parts of your vacuum cleaner, it’s important for most vacuum machines to feature one of these. That being said, most of the time, you’ll find your foam filter being used as the secondary filtration system and is positioned in front of the main filters. These are mostly washable vacuum filters and can be cleaned quite easily.

Disk filter – These are shaped like the common coffee filter and are often made of cloth or paper. They’re a slight variation of the classic bag filter and operate in the same way. Due to their small sizes, you’ll often find these types of vacuum cleaner filters on your cordless or robotic vacs.

Cartridge filter – The cartridge filters are rather quite common on most of your vacuum cleaner models. They come with the efficient design of folded paper or synthetic material plates. This would help to increase the surface area of air contact on your filter. Therefore, enhancing the filtration applications, especially on cyclonic vacuum models.

Vacuum filters come in different designs and build

Vacuum filters come in different designs and build


Cyclonic action – While it’s not a type of filter, the cyclonic action is a common technology on most vacuum cleaners as it helps to reduce the amount of dust that could escape from your vacuum cleaners thanks to the clever air movements. The circular air motions on your dust container would force the dust particles into the sides of your container before it enters your filters. Therefore, reducing the amount of dust.

HEPA filter – Most of the time, your regular filters cannot deal with the micro dust particles, as their small sizes would allow them to easily pass through the fibers or sponges. The high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, with their special micro-size fibers and electrostatic field, would help to prevent up to 99.97% of dust particles from escaping your machines. Just keep in mind that these are mostly non-washable filters and they will need special care to clean them.

Activated Charcoal – For those of you who’re suffering from odors, having the activated charcoal layers of filters on your machines would certainly help you with keeping the air fresh and sanitized. They’re great if you have pets or are just sensitive to odors. However, they’ll need regular replacements to maintain their features.

HEPA filters are designed to prevent micro dust particles

HEPA filters are designed to prevent micro dust particles

Why and how you should clean them?

Your vacuum filters work in a relatively simple way, the suction unit inside the machine would work to drive the air from the hose into the dust container and out from the filters. Here, your filters would prevent dust and debris from re-entering the air. On the other hand, if your filter is not functioning well, it would beat the purposes of vacuuming in the first place.

And naturally, with time, your vacuum filter would get dirty, which would make it less effective and functional. Hence, you’ll need to perform certain maintenance on your vacuum filters to make sure that they stay clean all the time. And sometimes, it’s also recommended that you should change your filters if cleaning isn’t doing any good.

The articles below will show you how to perform the complete filter maintenance on your different vacuum models.

A dirty filtration system is the number one cause for suction losses

A dirty filtration system is the number one cause for suction losses

How to clean vacuum filter?

The best vacuum cleaner is currently filled with products from varied categories, and it can be quite difficult to find a universal cleaning guide for your specific model. However, our in-depth guides on how to clean vacuum filters would help to break it down into different articles, so you can easily find the right cleaning instructions for your vacuum filters.

On canister models

For your traditional canister vacuum cleaners, the dust bag itself is a layer of filters. And on top of that, you’ll also have other filters that sit inside the machine, which would require certain cleaning to make them more effective. Here is how you should do the maintenance on your filtration system.

Take out and change the dust bag

To start with, you should take out the dust bag on your canister vacuum by simply opening it up by releasing the hood. Some models will require you to remove the hose first, but they should still work the same way.

Once the dust bag is exposed, you can then slide up the connected board from the assembly unit and take out the bag. Here, some users might be tempted to just empty the bag and put it back into your machines for reuse.

However, it’s recommended that you throw the bag away and replace it with a new one. Keeping the old bag would prevent your vacuum from operating properly, and the new bag won’t cost you too much either. Not to mention that you can risk redepositing the dust inside while you’re emptying the bags.

Remove the hood and expose the dust bag

Remove the hood and expose the dust bag

Clean or replace the motor filter

If you look at your exposed vacuum cleaner, you will notice that behind the dust bag there is also a filter for the motor. Depending on the designs, it could have various shapes and sizes, but most typically, you can find it as a small piece of sponge, foam, or cloth. Simply slide up or pick up the piece of filters as you ready them for cleaning.

For those who’re wondering how to clean vacuum filter sponge, there are two common ways for you to do this: you can either wash them with water and soap then let them dry completely before putting them back. Or to save time, it’s also possible to use compressed air to blow out the dust inside. And sometimes, you can just work them out by beating the pieces of filter on the wall or floor. Just make sure that you do this outdoors to prevent dust from polluting the air again.

One the other hand, it’s not recommended to reuse your foam or cloth filter over and over again. This is because after certain wear and tear, the structures will become unstable and would allow for more dust to pass through. Thus, making your filter less and less effective. And if that’s the case, you should get rid of the old filters and replace them with new ones. Just purchase your new vacuum filter Bissell and the replacement wouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

Clean or replace the motor filter after taking out the dust bag

Clean or replace the motor filter after taking out the dust bag

Clean or replace the exhaust filter

And last but not least, for certain models that feature the HEPA filters, you can often find the filters in the exhaust part of the machines. These are the last defense of your filtration system, which is responsible for keeping most of the fine dust inside your machines. These are micro dust particles that could easily get passed through your normal layer of filters, so it’s important to trap them inside, especially if you’re suffering from allergies or asthma conditions.

You can easily locate the exhaust filter unit on the back of your vacuum cleaner. It often comes with a lid that can be opened up, and inside, you can see your HEPA filter. To clean, simply take out the filter and beat it to force out the remaining dust. And if it’s possible, you can use compressed air to blow on the filter to effectively clean it. However, it’s not recommended to wash your HEPA filter since water can easily damage the fiber inside.

Or alternatively, it’s always recommended to replace your HEPA filter every once in a while to keep your filtration system functional. Take out the old filter and snap in your HEPA vacuum filter eureka. Make sure that the arrow on the side would point toward where the air escapes.

Locate and change the HEPA filter on your canister

Locate and change the HEPA filter on your canister

On upright models

For carpet lovers, the upright vacuums are undoubtedly one of the best machines for cleaning up dust and hairs on your rugs. And of course, like most other types of vacuum cleaners, you also need to maintain a clean filtration system.

While there may be many different designs for your upright vacuums and their filtration system, the general build should stay the same. And on different models, you’ll find certain guides on removing the canister and exposing filter. Hence, you should check the instruction manuals on your particular product first. Once you’re able to successfully disassemble the parts on your filter, it’s time to learn the best way to clean vacuum filter.

Clean the dust tank

As your vacuum operates, dust and debris will be sucked up into the dust tank. And after certain wear and tear, you would find a significant amount of dust and hair inside. If you don’t clean it regularly, both the suction power and the air quality will be affected. You can do  this simply by emptying the filter once you finish vacuuming.

Most of the time, your cyclone would also consist of a cartridge filter that is responsible for preventing most dust and debris from entering your vacuum’s interiors. Hence, it’s definitely the dirtiest part of all your filtration system and would require a lot of attention.

Start by taking out the cartridge filter and beat it on the inside of your garbage can or take it outside if you don’t want to have dust and hair flying all over the air. Use a can of compressed air to force out the remaining dust and dirt before you move on to the next steps.

Make sure the dust tank is always clean

Make sure the dust tank is always clean

Clean the pre motor filter

While it’s not a universal design, on most systems, you’ll also find a layer of premotor foam or cloth filter underneath the dust tank. This is the protective unit for the inner motors and will help you prevent most dust particles from escaping into the interior components. These are typically small pieces of foam or cloth, and most of the time, they’re all washable.

Hence, if you’re wondering how to wash the vacuum filter, you’ll find the task quite simple. Just run your filter under cold water until you don’t see the water turning brown anymore. Squeeze out the water and repeat a few times to ensure the best final results. Place your piece of filter on top of some paper towels and let it dry completely.

Don’t forget to clean your cartridge filter

Don’t forget to clean your cartridge filter

Clean the post-motor filter

And on the exhaust, some models will also feature some post-motor filter to ensure that even the smallest dust particles can’t get out. You’ll see on your upright vacuum a layer of HEPA filter, which would help trap up to 99.97% of dust particles inside. Hence, the air that comes out would be extremely clean and refreshing.

To clean this, simply take out the cover and remove the filter. While it’s tempting to run down the filter with water, you shouldn’t do this. As water enters your HEPA filter, it would easily damage the inner fiber textures and make your product a lot less effective. Instead, it’s recommended that you change your bagless vacuum filter every once in a while.

On robot vacuums

While it’s quite convenient to have your robot vacuum running around and helping you clean the floor, it’s necessary to do some maintenance on the filter and dust tank to keep it functional.

Take out the dust tank

You should start by turning off your robotic vacuums. And on the instruction manual, you’ll find how to safely remove the dust tank, which is quite simple and transparent on most models. And inside the dust tank, there will also be the filter system.

Remove the dust tank for cleaning the filter

Remove the dust tank for cleaning the filter

Empty the dust and clean the filters

Make sure you have all the dust and hair carefully removed from the filter before moving to the filter unit. Read the instruction carefully so you can safely remove the vacuum filter unit without breaking it.

Inside the unit, depending on the product, there should be a mesh filter for eliminating hairs, foam filter for dust protection, and a HEPA filter for extra dust filtration. Simply dust off the foam and mesh filter to get rid of the remaining dust on it. And if it’s possible, you can also use compressed air to blow away the rest or even wash the foam filters with water.

As for the HEPA filter, if it doesn’t get too dirty, there’s no need to change it unless you find the back of your filter is getting quite dusty. Other than that, just give it a few spay of compressed air to blow away the remaining dust.

Empty the dust tank and clean the filters

Empty the dust tank and clean the filters

A few common FAQs for cleaning vacuum filters on popular vacuum models

Can I wash the pre-motor filter on the Dirt Devil UD70115?

Yes and no. As the model comes with two pre-motor filters, one is the regular foam filter and the other is the pleated HEPA filter. That’s said, you can wash your foam filter with water and dry it out before putting it back into the machine. However, for the HEPA vacuum filter Dirt Devil, it’s suggested that you should only tap the dust out. Never rinse it with water since it can easily damage the complex structures inside.

Do products on the Dyson V-series only come with one filter?

If you go online and find your cleaning guides on vacuum filter Dyson, especially products on the cordless V-series, you’ll probably think that the vacuums only feature one post-motor filter. This is because, on your Dyson V-series products, only the pre-filter is washable and can be cleaned with cold water. So most of the guides only show you how to wash and clean your cloth filters. Plus, this is also what the manufacturer often suggests you do when performing your regular maintenance.

And unbeknown to many of us, each Dyson vacuum does feature its own HEPA post-filter on the back of the motor, which would help to prevent fine dust and allergens from escaping into the atmosphere. This, however, cannot be cleaned by rinsing under water. Hence, you should replace it once every six-month.

➜ RELATED: How To Clean Dyson Vacuum Cleaners In Easy Steps

Is the HEPA filter on my Hoover WindTunnel UH70920 washable?

No matter how tempting it is, you should never wash your HEPA vacuum filter Hoover with water. It’s recommended by the manufacturer that you should only tap the dust out. And even with the rinsable filter, you must also let it dry for at least 24 hours before putting it back into the machine. Remember to put a dry towel underneath so it may dry faster and more thoroughly.


To those of you who’re in need of a complete guide on cleaning your vacuum filters, our post will offer  complete instructions for different models and designs. Here, you’ll learn how to clean vacuum filters in the easiest manner without damaging it.

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you in our future posts.

You Might Also Like