Are you looking for the best washable furnace filters available today?
Awesome – you’ve landed in the right spot!
In this proHVACinfo guide, you’ll learn:
- What are washable furnace filters (and what are their benefits?)
- What are the different types of washable air filters?
- What to look for in the best washable furnace filters? (don’t buy without checking these 4 things!)
- How to clean your air filter
And much more!
Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
January 2, 2022
K&N HVAC Furnace Air FilterCheck on Amazon
K&N is probably the biggest name in air filtration worldwide, and their furnace filters definitely live up to the hype.--break--Why?--break--This is a brand with decades of experience in high performance air filtration in the automotive world, and they’ve brought all of that know how and famous quality over to their line of home filter solutions.--break--These filters are guaranteed to last a lifetime, and the cleaning process couldn’t be easier.--break--We loved the sturdy build quality, the superior engineering, and the confidence that comes with owning a product from a world-renowned brand.
Below is a quick list of our top recommendations, keep scrolling to learn more!
Our Top Pick
Our Top Pick
K&N HVAC Furnace Air Filter
|View on Amazon|
Carter mERV 8 Lifetime HVAC & Furnace Filter
|View on Amazon|
Best Budget Pick
Best Budget Pick
Venti Tech Washable Furnace Filter
|View on Amazon|
All-Filters Electrostatic Washable A/C Funrace Filter
|View on Amazon|
Trophy Air HVAC Furnace Filter
|View on Amazon|
What Is A Washable Furnace Filter?
A washable furnace filter (also called a washable air filter) is a reusable version of the traditional disposable paper filters contained in your HVAC system.
They typically use an electrostatic material like polypropylene as the filtration media.
Polypropylene is non absorbent, and takes advantage of static electricity to attract and capture airborne particles.
As with all furnace filters, the goal of a washable air is to prevent the passage of dust, mold and other allergens through the HVAC system.
While disposable air filters need replaced every month or two, washable filters simply need to be rinsed with fresh water at least once a month.
The benefits to a washable filter quickly become clear.
First, they’ll save you money in the long run.
While washable air filters are generally more expensive at first than their replaceable counterparts, that investment pays off (and then some!) over time because you aren’t purchasing new paper filters every month.
Second, they’ll save you hassle.
Paper air filters are prone to problems; they can rip, tear, and warp in your HVAC system.
This is especially true if you’re prone to forgetting to replace your filter frequently enough.
While washable filters do need cleaned every once in a while, you’ll find they are generally lower maintenance than disposable filters.
How do Washable Furnace Filters Work?
As previously mentioned, the majority of washable furnace filters make use of woven electrostatic fibers, typically made from materials like polypropylene.
The fibers themselves are static prone, so, as high flow air passes through the filter media, large particles are attracted to the fibers, where they become trapped.
The filter is fitted at the intake end of your HVAC system, meaning that dust and debris from your home is trapped at the earliest opportunity, limiting the amount that can be recirculated through the ducts and back into your home.
Washable filters can be reused over, and over, making them both economical and environmentally friendly.
To clean them, simply remove them from their slot, and rinse with water at low pressure.
Some companies, like K&N also offer furnace filter cleaning solution to help you deep clean the filter with ease.
Washable filters must be thoroughly dried before being reinstalled, so we tend to recommend having a second unit in standby so that you can replace your furnace filter immediately when removing the dirty one.
The key difference between a washable and a disposable filter is that the disposable filters use a paper media.
Paper is effective, but cannot be washed and reused, meaning they have to be replaced every few weeks.
What Do You Look For In The Best Washable Furnace Filters?
Washable furnace filters are relatively simple items, so the core differences between them are few, but there are still some things that separate the best filters from the rest.
Before we get into what really separates the best from the rest in terms of furnace filters, let’s be sure we’re on the same page about the size of your furnace filter.
Why? If you don’t get the right size filter when shopping around, nothing else matters.
A filter that’s too small lets dirty air escape into your home. A filter that’s too big simply won’t fit into your casing.
Determining the right size is easy. Just look at your current filter – the size will be printed right on the frame.
Alternatively, you can grab a measuring tape and measure the length, width, and height of the filter.
As most washable furnace filters are constructed with aluminum housing, they are inherently quite sturdy, but not all filters are created equal.
Good reusable filters will have no movement or play in the frame, and the corners will join up nicely.
There should be no sharp, exposed edges – something that is often found on low quality filters.
The main risk here – too often seen with paper filters – is that filters of low quality construction can warp after repeated use and, in extreme instances, can actually get partially sucked into the HVAC system!
This not only means the filter isn’t working properly (or at all), but it can damage the ductwork in your HVAC system.
The MERV rating – or (“Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values” rating) is the standard metric for gauging your filter’s ability to capture particles.
In short, the MERV rating is a single-digit number ranging from 1 to 20.
The higher the rating, the more effective the filter is.
“Great!” you might think, “I’ll be sure to get a MERV 20 filter”.
But not so fast.
While it’s true that every incremental point on the MERV scale increases filtration, it also decreases air flow through the filter.
What this means is that if you get a filter with too high a MERV for your system, your system has to work much harder to pump air though the filter.
This can also be bad for your HVAC system.
In fact, MERV filters 16 or higher are typically only found in extreme settings (such as hospital rooms).
Look for the highest MERV rating that your system is rated for (we recommend sticking to the MERV 7 – 12 range).
Warranties And Guarantees
Because washable furnace filters are intended to be used repeatedly, having a guarantee of service life is a tremendous benefit. If you purchase a reusable filter and it fails or falls apart after just a few months, naturally you’ll want a refund as the product was clearly not fit for purpose.
The best washable furnace filters come with lifetime guarantees, which provide assurance that the manufacturer will replace the unit if it fails prematurely.
How to Clean a Washable Furnace Filter
Good news! Cleaning an air filter is an easy process.
Simply remove the furnace filter from its casing (this may require unscrewing it).
If the filter’s been in use for any significant period, you should be able to immediately see the accumulated dust and dirt on the filter.
To clean it all you have to do is remove that dust.
Most people find the quickest way to do this is by taking the filter out back and spraying it down with a hose (just be sure not to use too much pressure or you risk damaging the filter).
No access to a hose?
You can accomplish the same thing by simply running the filter under water in your sink or tub.
If the filter is really dirty you may need to scrub it with a soft bristle brush.
Make sure your filter is completely dry, then put it back in its casing.
Our Reviews Of The Best Washable Furnace Filters
K&N HVAC Furnace Air Filter (Our Top Pick)Check on Amazon
The K&N HVAC Furnace Air Filter is a revolution in washable air filters.--break--This MERV 11 rated filter provides a direct replacement solution to disposable paper media, and it offers amazing performance as well.--break--For these reasons, it took the number one spot in our list.--break--The lifetime guarantee is one you can rely on with K&N products.--break--With over 50 years in the business, this is a name that’s been around for decades, and will be around for many more years to come.--break--It’s very easy to clean, and is one of the lightest filters on test, making it extremely easy for anybody to replace, even in ceiling vents.
- Lightweight--break--Well known brand name--break--Excellent particle capturing ability
- Requires K&N Cleaning Spray--break--Slightly smaller than standard disposable media
Carter MERV 8 Lifetime HVAC & Furnace Filter (High End Pick)Check on Amazon
While your furnace filter isn’t typically something you can see on a day to day basis, it shows real craftsmanship and attention to detail when it is built in such an aesthetically pleasing way.--break--The Carter MERV 8 filter stands out from the crowd with its hard wearing, gold anodized aluminum frame.--break--This is a premium filter made with the best materials around. It features two layers of anti-microbial polypropylene fibers surrounding an extra capacity, self charging electrostatic sheet.--break--Carter have built a high performance filter than can trap more contaminants and continue operating at close to full capacity.
- Looks great--break--Standard 1” depth--break--USA Made
- Premium price--break--Can be difficult to clean
Venti Tech Washable Permanent Electrostatic Furnace Filter (Best Budget Pick)Check on Amazon
This washable furnace filter from Venti Tech is simplicity done right.--break--There are no bells and whistles, and you simply can’t argue with the price.--break--It provides a good, solid air flow, while capturing a lot of airborne contaminants, exactly what you want to have in your system.--break--It’s built well, and while Venti Tech aren’t a big name, they offer great customer support, and are quick to replace any defective items with no questions asked.
- Great value--break--Easy to clean--break--Galvanized frame resists corrosion--break--Reliable customer support
- Not MERV rated--break--Rough handling can bend frames
All-Filters Electrostatic Washable Permanent A/C Furnace Air FilterCheck on Amazon
This is another super simple washable furnace filter.--break--It’s made in the US by All-Filters, and it offers a lifetime guarantee against defects.--break--It’s nice and easy to install, and it’s free of burrs and sharp edges, which is definitely a plus.--break--Like all of the filters on test, it uses an electrostatic polypropylene mesh to capture particles as they flow through.--break--To clean, it only requires a backwash with a low pressure hose, so it couldn’t be easier.
- Super easy setup--break--Great price--break--Traps up to 95% of airborne particles
- Blue mesh isn’t discreet--break--No official rating or certification
Trophy Air HVAC Furnace Air FilterCheck on Amazon
Trophy Air have produced a quality product here.--break--This reusable furnace filter boasts a dual electrostatic layer for great performance, while still allowing high volumes of air to flow for exceptional HVAC efficiency.--break--It comes in standard sizes, making it a straight forward drop in replacement if you’re already used to disposable paper filters.
- Strong, quad layer aluminum frame--break--Low resistance design
- Less dust capture than other filters on test--break--Requires some force to insert/remove
Final Thoughts On the Best Washable Furnace Filters
Moving to a washable filter does have both pros and cons.
Paper filters may capture more dust and particles, but they restrict air flow and can lead to higher energy bills as your HVAC system struggles against a component that is supposed to help it.
A good quality washable filter provides all the protection you need against large airborne contaminants, while allowing large volumes of air to flow, making them a great choice if you’re looking to overall extend the life of your system.
As well as the furnace and HVAC performance benefits, you’ll save money in the long run, too.
Yes, buying one or two washable furnace filters initially costs quite a lot more than an equivalent disposable unit, but because you don’t have to purchase a new unit every month or more, this investment will pay for itself quickly.
You’ll save money over time, and you won’t be sending dirty paper filters to landfill – a win-win!.