How to Clean a Lifetime Car Air Filter

Written by dale yalanovsky
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How to Clean a Lifetime Car Air Filter
Automotive air filter (filtre à air image by Philippe BERNARD from

Even though lifetime car air filters, also known as reusable air filters, are approximately double the price of throwaway air filters, they will literally, if taken care of properly, last the lifetime of your car. Some brand-name filters offer specific cleaning kits to go along with the reusable filter, and these can be found at any auto shop. You can just as easily clean the filter yourself with no special kits or tools.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 2-gallon bucket filled with hot water
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Vacuum cleaner with hose and crevice cleaning attachment
  • Spray lubricant
  • Clean water

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  1. 1

    Remove the air filter from your car.

  2. 2

    Vacuum out the air filter pleats with the vacuum's hose or a crevice cleaning attachment. Get as much of the top grit and dirt as possible from between the pleating.

  3. 3

    Add 1 cup of dishwashing detergent to a bucket containing 2 gallons of hot water. Mix thoroughly.

  4. 4

    Put the air filter directly into the bucket and agitate it roughly. The soap must penetrate through all of the pleating to remove the gunk and oil on the filter medium. Swish the filter around in the bucket for at least five minutes.

  5. 5

    Completely rinse the filter with clean water; a hose works best. Do not use a lot of pressure on the filter, just rinse it with plenty of water to remove the leftover soap residue.

  6. 6

    Shake out the filter and allow it to dry.

  7. 7

    Coat the reusable air filter with spray lubricant. Be sure to cover the entire pleated surface.

  8. 8

    Re-install the air filter in your car.

Tips and warnings

  • Spray lubricant is the secret to keeping the filter reusable. The oil acts like a magnet, trapping dirt and dust and keeping it from getting into your engine, while keeping the filter medium flexible and resilient.

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