How to Clean a K&N Filter

Updated June 29, 2018

Automobile air filters clean the air prior to its travelling through the air intake. Driving in dusty environments pulls dust into the engine compartment. An air filter ensures it does not enter the air and gas mixture for engine combustion. Disposable air filters require purchasing a new filter at recommended intervals by the auto manufacturer. K&N air filters are permanent filters that require occasional cleaning but never need replacing. K&N sells filter recharge kits with a cleaner and oil for lubricating the filter.

Place gloves on your hands to prevent solvents and oils from touching your skin.

Hold the edge of the air filter in one hand so that the pleats in the filter are all visible.

Press the nozzle on top of the air filter cleaner can with the other hand. Start spraying the solvent at the top on one side of the filter moving down in vertical strokes. Spray the entire filter by making additional passes on one side of the filter.

Turn the air filter over and spray the second side entirely in the same manner.

Let the cleaner sit on the filter for at least ten minutes so that it penetrates deep into the pleats.

Turn a garden hose valve counterclockwise two revolutions. This will supply a low-pressure stream of water.

Hold the clean side of the filter so it faces you. Trickle the water from the top of the filter down the pleats to rinse it. Continue rinsing until all of the cleaner runs off the filter and the water runs clear.

Shake the filter back and forth gently to remove excess water from the pleats. Set the filter aside and let it dry completely for 24 hours.

Place gloves on your hands and pick the filter up in one hand. Depress the spray nozzle on top of a K&N aerosol oil can with the other hand while holding the can about three inches from the filter.

Spray the filter starting at the top in one corner and working down to the bottom of the filter. Direct the oil onto the peak of each pleat working up and down in passes to cover one side of the filter. Repeat this process on the other side of the filter.

Let the oil soak into the filter for twenty minutes before installing it into the vehicle.


K&N liquid oil is available in a squeeze bottle to lubricate the clean filter. Squirt the liquid oil onto the top of each peak to apply. K&N oils are red to allow visibility of any areas without adequate lubrication. Fill in any areas that are not red with additional passes of the spray or liquid lubricant so the entire filter is red.


Use spray lubricants in a well-ventilated area to avoid harmful fumes. Do not use hot water or a strong stream of water to rinse a permanent filter. The heat and water strength can damage and tear an air filter and render it useless.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • K&N air filter cleaner
  • Garden hose
  • K&N aerosol oil
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article


About the Author

Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.