• November 25, 2016

How to Clean your Car’s Air Filter!

How to Clean your Car’s Air Filter!


A car’s air filter has the job to prevent any unwanted particles into the engine and only allowing clean airflow through. The more you drive the car, the air filter becomes more and more clogged with dust, dirt and other fine particles. This prevents it from doing the job effectively, an air filter is recommended to be changed every 10,000 km. Although everyone’s driving conditions are different, some go off-roading, some highway and others city driving. A visual inspection of the filter should be done when unsure.

Image credit: Ryan Gsell
Image credit: Ryan Gsell

For most people, having a stock standard air filter is enough, but for those that enjoy modifying their car, the air filter or air intake system is usually the first to change. This cheap and easy mod can be easily done at home. This mod claims to draw in more air, this high flow promotes more combustion rates, ultimately leading to a bit more power.

There are many aftermarket manufacturers that have just as many air filters in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types. As you may notice some being cone-shaped, cylinder-shaped, mushroom-shaped, panels and more.

To properly clean your air filter, you need to figure out which one of these filter types you have.



Oiled filters consist of a cotton media that is coated in oil to capture even finer particles. It is more resilient than the dry, lasting longer and being reusable. These filters require an additional step when cleaning.


Dry flow filters are made of cotton, paper or gauze and do not have the oil coat. These filters are faster to clean but do clog faster.


The most popular and proper way to clean oil-based filters is with the K&N kit, it consists of the cleaning agent spray and oil spray. There are many other filter cleaning kits available that do equally well. These inexpensive kits would last several cleans and are one the healthiest, safest car service you could possibly do to your automobile. Using warm soapy is another method if you absolutely do not want to purchase the kit, although it is not as effective.

Follow these easy steps to get a cleaner air filter. Though each car’s setup may differ.

  1. Firstly, remove the housing and take out the filter disconnecting it from the intake arm. Depending on your system you may require a screwdriver. Be extra cautious, make sure you cover the exposed intake so nothing gets into the engine while you are cleaning.
  1. Go outside and gently tap the filter multiple times against a hard surface to rid of any excess dust and debris.

Additionally, for a dry filter, you can quickly vacuum it on a medium pressure from the outside.

  1. For the oil-based cotton filter, spray the K&N cleaning agent on the inside and outside of the filter generously. Let it soak for 5-10 minutes but do not let the agent dry on the filter. This cleaning agent protects the oil-based media while loosening up the stubborn particles making it easier to clean.

For dry filters, you can also use the spray or use warm soapy water in a bucket and rinse.

  1. With a tap or hose, set the flow to low and simply just wash out the filter from the inside-out. This is done to dislodge the dust, particles and anything else that is stuck in between the fins and weave. Note, if you wash it from the outside in, you are forcing the particles into the weaves.
  1. You can repeat steps 3 & 4 if the air filter is extra filthy. Run the water through until it comes out clean and clear.
  1. Shake off any excess water and let it dry naturally.
  1. This is only for the oil-based filters. After the filter is completely dry, spray it with the K&N Oil 7 cm from the filter until the cotton cleats and weaves are getting an even coat. Let it sit for 20 minutes and reapply if there are any spots untouched. Leave this to set again for another 20-30 minutes. Reapplying the oil coat to the media prevents it from becoming brittle down the line.
  1. Once the filter is ready, re-install it into the arm and housing, and make sure that all nuts and bolts are tight, that it is properly mounted and in the correct position.


  • Do not use high-pressure water and compressed air whatsoever. This would potentially damage the weaves of the filter.
  • Do not steam clean, or use caustic-based agents, strong automotive or household detergents as they can harm the filter media.
  • Do not use excessive heat, as this may shrink the cotton media.


If you damage these weaves, it will affect the filter’s job of catching any unwanted particles, potentially letting those particles pass the intake and into the engine.

Cleaning the car’s air filter twice a year is more than enough, providing that it is not exposed or outside of the engine bay. This is the best way to clean a car’s air filter, and a great way to effectively and efficiently care for your car at home besides the regular oil change.

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