As we've discussed, cleaning a HEPA filter will almost certainly cause damage to the extremely fine mesh of fibers that allow the filter to do its job. But even if you could be 100 percent sure that the filter wouldn't be damaged when you clean it, there are other reasons why cleaning a HEPA filter isn't a good idea. Regular washing of the HEPA filter will damage the fiber density of the filter, reducing its efficiency in capturing all microscopic particles. And even if you clean it with the utmost care and gentleness, the HEPA filter may not work as well as it did before cleaning it because it may have degraded its quality.
Yes, some HEPA filters can be cleaned. But can a HEPA filter be cleaned with water? Yes, you can if you choose to. However, it's not a good idea to wash them with soap and water. In most cases, washing them like this decimates their effectiveness.
Because the HEPA filter has a very narrow opening, contaminants passing through it will be trapped in the fiber in Direct Impact, Diffusion, Screening, and Interception. HEPA filters are commonly used in hospitals, research, industrial facilities and now in residential properties due to the increased awareness of good air quality. A HEPA filter is usually accompanied by a pre-filter that traps large particles such as dust and an activated carbon filter that removes smoke, odors and chemical gases. Vacuuming HEPA filters can offer some benefits, but they're not small benefits at best.
HEPA filters are made of a variety of materials, such as plastic polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), nylon, wool, metals, foil, vegetable fibers, or fine glass fibers. Adjunct Professor Talhelm asked one of his technicians to test how washing, vacuuming or using an air compressor affected the performance of a purifier. When cleaning a HEPA filter, dust, debris, or other contaminants will inevitably escape from the filter. As you have seen, washing or compressing HEPA filters with air significantly decreases their ability to remove pollutants from the air.
HEPA filters are basically folded paper with very narrow openings that trap contaminants passing through them in Direct Impact, Diffusion, Screening and Interception. Myatt says that on one level a HEPA filter may work best when it has a thin clumped layer of accumulated particles but at some point air will struggle to get through the filter which means the filter needs to be replaced. The results of washing the filters were extremely discouraging compared to vacuuming and even compressing the filters with air. Some manufacturers produce HEPA filters that can only be used once and others make them washable and reusable. At best follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning the HEPA filter including any additional instructions but if you can't find anything in the packing box you should discard and replace a True HEPA filter instead of cleaning it.