Things to Know About Washable Air Filters

May 25, 2017

Things to Know About Washable Air Filters

The air filter you choose has a direct impact on the performance of your HVAC system, since it's responsible for trapping all kinds of airborne particles that can harm your costly system components.

While some HVAC systems have been modified to use electrostatic filters, most take mechanical filters that are available in both washable and disposable versions. If you're one of the many homeowners who uses disposable filters, you might be wondering if it's beneficial to switch to washable air filters. To help you decide, here's how the two types compare in different areas:


Both washable and disposable filters are given MERV ratings that tell you their efficiency at trapping particles. Some of the most commonly-used filters are:

Flat-panel fiberglass disposables

These throw-away filters have MERV ratings of 1-4, which means they can only capture particles larger than 10 microns.

Washable mechanical HVAC filters

These have the same 1-4 low MERV ratings, so they can only catch bigger particles like pollen, dust mites or lint.

Pleated media disposable filters

These filters can have MERV ratings from 5-16, so they're able to trap particles as small as one micron, which can include mold spores, dust mite dropping and pet dander.


While washable filters can be reused, you have to clean them once a month and let them dry thoroughly. If you put a wet filter back into the HVAC system, it can provide an ideal environment for mold and bacteria growth. Disposable filters don't need any routine care because you can just throw them away and put in a clean filter when they get dirty.


Even if you clean a washable filter every month, it's going to start clogging up with debris with use and time. The particles that stay lodged in the filter can slow essential HVAC system airflow over time, which can cause costly problems.


While washable filters can last for several years, they're more expensive than disposables versions with higher MERV ratings and better filtering capabilities.

To learn more about washable air filters, contact the Des Moines home comfort pros at Lozier Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).