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Facts About Washable Air Filters

Air Filters

Your HVAC system's air filter is in place to capture airborne particles to keep them from collecting on and harming sensitive components. The importance of the filter can't be overstated, so make sure you use the most efficient type recommended for your HVAC equipment, and always keep it clean.

Unless you've had system modifications made for using an electrostatic filter, you probably now use a disposable mechanical filters. If you've recently heard about washable air filters and you're curious if they're a better option, here are some facts worth knowing about how they compare to disposables:


Both washable and disposable filters are given a MERV rating to describe their filtering efficiency. Three commonly-used filters are:

  • Flat-panel fiberglass disposables with MERVs between 1-4. These filters can trap particles 10 microns and larger, like pollen, dust mites and lint.
  • Basic washable filter with the same low MERVs of 1-4 that are effective at capturing large airborne particles.
  • Pleated media disposables with a MERV rating range of 5-13. These can filter out particles as small as one micron, which can include mold spores, dust mite droppings and pet dander.


You can reuse washable filters, but you must clean them monthly and let them dry thoroughly beforehand. If you put a damp filter back in the HVAC system, you're creating a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. In comparison, there's no care necessary for disposables — you just discard the old filter and put in a clean one as necessary.


Even with regular cleaning, washable filters can get clogged up over time. The debris that stays caught in the filter can block vital HVAC system airflow and degrade your equipment's efficiency, performance and reliability.


Washable HVAC air filters are designed to last for several years, but they also cost more upfront than good-quality disposables that offer higher MERV ratings and better filtration capabilities.

To learn more about washable air filters, contact us today at Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical. You can also visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics or just give us a call at (408) 868-5500.

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