How to clean an air purifier for easy breathing

Allergy gals, this one's for you!

A cut out of an air purifier on a green swirly background with white diamonds on either side.
(Image credit: Future / Amazon)

I am the OG allergy gal. I am allergic to (almost) everything including dust and pollen, so an air purifier is totally non-negotiable in my house. 

Now, a question for you, besties. Did you know how quickly purifiers get icky? I’ll let you in on a li'l secret: I didn’t, and mine got srsly gross (srsly fast). Lesson learned. It’s super important to keep your air purifier clean. Otherwise, it’s just circulating all the air pollution (think: dust, pollen, and other particles) around. Yep, really. 

That's why (it turns out) keeping your air purifier clean and well-maintained is SO important. This means changing the filters frequently and cleaning it regularly. Don't sweat either, because the cleaning process is actually surprisingly quick, easy, and not that much effort. 

Wondering what steps you need to take to clean your air purifier? We’ve got the lowdown. 

Good to know

Time: 20 minutes (excluding any machine washing or drying time for the pre-filter)

Difficulty: Easy — the whole process is quick and simple

Helpful hint: Make sure to read the manufacturer's instructions before you start taking your device apart to avoid any accidental damage or voiding the warranty.

Here’s what you’ll need

How to clean an air purifier

Step 1: Turn off the air purifier 

Totally basic but also super important. Turn off the air purifier and unplug it from the power outlet. 

Step 2: Remove the filter 

Next, you will want to remove the filter (and pre-filter if your device features a pre-filter) from the purifier. If you’re not sure how to remove the filter, consult the manufacturer’s instructions (most filters can be removed by sliding off the cover but it's always best to double-check).

Step 3: Clean the filter 

The next step is to clean the filter. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a vacuum cleaner (on a low setting) with a soft brush attachment. Or, if you don't have a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush, you can wipe the filter using a microfiber cloth.

Step 4: Vacuum inside the purifier 

If the air purifier design allows you to, use the vacuum (set to a low setting) to remove any excess dust or dirt from inside the purifier. 

Step 5: Clean the exterior of the air purifier 

The next step is to focus on the outside of the air purifier. To remove any dirt, dust or debris, using the vacuum nozzle to vacuum the entire exterior of the purifier. Then, follow by wiping the device with a damp (not wet) microfiber cloth. 

Step 6: Replace the filter 

Once the entire air purifier has been cleaned and no dust or debris remains, the next step is to replace the filter (and pre-filter if there is one), setting the air purifier up to be used once again. 


How should I clean a pre-filter?

While some air purifiers only have filters, others contain both pre-filters and filters. If your purifier comes with a pre-filter (as mentioned above) you can clean it by vacuuming it on a low setting to remove any dust or lint, before placing it in the washing machine with a mild detergent on a gentle cycle. Then, air dry it completely before re-attaching it to the air purifier. Before cleaning your pre-filter, it’s always a good idea to make sure that you check the manufacturer’s care instructions. 

How often should you change your filter?

Most manufacturers recommend changing your air purifier’s filter every three to six months to ensure optimal performance. However, if you suffer from allergies or asthma, it's recommended to change your filter more frequently.

Is it safe to wash an air purifier filter?

Some filters are reusable and can be washed safely, as can some pre-filters. If you’re unsure whether your filter or pre-filter is washable, make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for further guidance. 

How do I know if my air purifier needs cleaning?

A good indication that your air purifier needs to be cleaned is noticing visible marks, black spots, or dust and debris build-up on the exterior or interior of the device or on the filters. 

Beth Mahoney
Staff Writer

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a Staff Writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.