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If you’ve noticed bad smells coming from your home or an accumulation of pet hair, it could be time for you to change your air filter.
But do you want to settle for a filter that must be thrown away after a short period? Doing this consecutively can see your expenses add up. So why not look for a more permanent solution?
Washable furnace filters are easy to clean and have even simpler installation instructions. Many brands can last well over a year, with high-grade aluminum being one of the primary materials they’re made out of.
Listed below are five of the current best, picked for their durability and setup time.
Reviews of the Best Washable Furnace Filters
Best all-around: Trophy Air HVAC Furnace Air Filter
This washable filter has an all-aluminum construction that makes it easy to clean. You'll also notice increased airflow over disposable filters.
The Trophy HVAC Furnace Air Filter is made for ACs and Furnaces. The filter itself is mesh wire, which is housed on the frame in a wave-like shape.
All edges are very dense and won’t bend, even after you’ve used it for a couple of months. It’s made entirely of aluminum and will trap dirt, so it doesn’t get in the air that you breathe.
It might scare you when you see the number of particulates it picks up versus the rudimentary disposable filters. The noise level is kept down as well, with a frame that takes screws for you to tighten it into place in the slot.
Overall, this filter is highly recommended for anyone with a furnace. You’ll have it around for a long time.
- Frame and filter are all aluminum and very easy to wash
- Notably improved airflow over disposable filters
- Stays quiet, even when dirt buildup has developed on the filter
- May not get rid of strong pet odors
A washable MERV-8 filter: CARTER MERV 8 HVAC & Furnace Filter
This MERV 8 filter has a fine aluminum mesh that blocks out small particles while maintaining airflow in your furnace.
The Carter MERV 8 Filter has an edge that almost gives it the appearance of something you would put a picture in, with its golden-colored frame. The mesh filter itself has small holes that’ll keep dust and odor away from your home.
Because of such small openings, it might come as a surprise to some that this has no burden on a furnace’s flow rate. It’ll remain the same as it did with your previous filter.
When you’re ready to clean, be sure to do so thoroughly if you have pets. It almost seems to be a magnet for pet hair so make it your choice if you’re a pet owner.
- Easy to fit; no cutting or adjusting necessary
- Doesn’t lower the flow rate of furnaces; stays the same as normal
- Helps at keeping pet allergies at bay
- Must be cleaned regularly to avoid airflow issues
Best for small particulates: K&N 16x20x1 HVAC Furnace Air Filter
This air filter is made out of synthetic material that can capture small particles, such as smoke. However, it can be tough to clean.
The K&N Furnace Air Filter has a white hard frame and beige filtration wall that’s made of synthetic materials. When looking at it, you’ll notice little screws and holes along the ridges. These are for you to hold down the filter when installing, which lowers the noise level and keeps the furnace from rattling it around.
Because of its density and ease of washing (washes easily even after several months of not being cleaned), it’s recommended for homes that accumulate a lot of strong particulates in the air, such as cigarette smoke.
- Fills up all portions of the vent without being difficult to set up from the beginning
- There are tiny screws that go into the filter tips, reducing rattling and shaking (lowers noise level)
- Made from a dense material that’s very strong and holds up for a long time
- Some dirt may stubbornly stick to the filter, making it more tiresome to clean
Easy cleaning furnace filter: Trophy Air Permanent Air Filter
This filter has a light color—so it's easy to tell when it needs to be cleaned. It works best for larger particles such as dust and hair.
The Permanent Air Filter by Trophy is light-colored, making it easy to indicate when it’s ready to be cleaned. It works best for hairs of all kinds, both human and pet.
During your cleaning routine, if you’ve noticed dust bunnies or balls of hair underneath your furniture, try this filter out and it’ll all go away. Cleaning is a breeze; just put it under the tap and watch as the dirt and hair slide right off.
It reverts to a new-like state after every wash and is difficult to bend. However, if you’re in a cool climate, you might want to consider one of the other filters instead.
This one may impede some airflow, making it harder to increase the room temperature. But if this won’t be a problem for you, then use this Trophy product and say goodbye to throwing away filters.
- Does a good job of filtering out pet hair of all kinds, including dogs and cats
- Needs only to be washed with water to clean, which can be done after several months
- Has a strong frame that doesn’t bend easily
- May not allow enough airflow to allow some heaters to raise room temperature
Washable cut-to-fit air filter: NaturalAire SM1006 Cut-to-Fit Synthetic Air Filter
This cut-to-fit air filter material can be washed and reused. However, I wouldn't use it more than a couple of times, since it does tend to lose effectiveness. But it's perfect if you have an odd-size or odd-shaped vent.
The NaturalAire Synthetic Air Filter is the final product and is useful in a unique way. It’s not completely disposable but reusable several times before needing to be thrown away.
The filter is made of synthetic fiber and is completely biodegradable. So long as you wash it every month, you can get the filter to last for up to a year without replacing it.
Under certain circumstances, the filter may not last as long. Regardless, it does a fine job of eliminating odors of all kinds, including smoke and animal smells.
If these things make up your reason for getting something that’ll last longer than a disposable filter, then give the SM1006 a shot.
- Holds in a lot of dirt and debris, including pollen and other allergy-inducing particulates
- Light enough to keep warm air constantly flowing in furnaces
- Clears away pet odors fast
- Reusing may not be possible at times, especially after a late attempt at washing
Getting the Best Furnace Air Filter
Most reusable air filters today are made from the same materials. However, there could be some subtle differences between brands that make one better than the other.
For example, some filters may feature screws that reduce vibrations, lowering the amount of noise from air moving through the vent.
Others could be much easier to push into your furnace’s slot. Always check the dimensions of the filter you want before purchase, comparing it with your furnace’s recommendation or the last filter you used.
Choosing the Correct Size Filter
Furnace filters have a wide array of sizes that range from 10” x 10” to around 25” x 30”. Most brands sold online will sell them in between these sizes, so be sure to know the exact measurement of your filter slot. You don’t want to make the mistake of ordering the wrong size, then finding out only when you’re ready to put it in the furnace.
Some models may require a bit of tinkering to fit, especially if your furnace is old. But for the most part, installing them is about the same as you would expect from a disposable filter.
Dust, Pollen, and Odors
Reusable filters are often preferred due to their ability to block out what their disposable counterparts have trouble filtering. The most common particulates that’ll make it through are small particles and odor.
Aluminum mesh filters use electrostatic energy to capture small particles from the air. This makes them better at capturing some microscopic particles versus disposable filters.
Odors are another big reason to switch. If you have pets, you know how quickly smells can develop on fabrics and rugs. How about preventing this from occurring altogether? Since reusable filters can trap tiny particles, you can expect your home to smell a lot better after installing one.
Semi-Reusable Air Filters
Some furnace filters rest somewhere in between reusable and disposable. They’re oftentimes made of synthetic fibers, which do a good job of trapping in lint and fine particles that cause smell and dust. You might not be able to use them for as long as filters made of metal, but they’ll last a lot longer than the common disposables.
Check with the manufacturer on the product’s description to know how long you can keep them. Like metal filters, they’re usually washable as well.
Why Washable Air Filters are better than Disposable
Filters that can be used after washing are better because of their longevity. Instead of having to throw away something and having to go through the trouble of purchasing more, simply rise the filter with water and that’s it. Most are also rust-resistant, with oxidation being unlikely to occur.
Disposable filters must sometimes be cut or adjusted to fit. This is not a problem with reusable filters. As long as you get the correct size, your filter should go right into the filter’s slot.
How to Clean Washable Air Filters
Cleaning your washable furnace air filter is important to maintain its effectiveness. Most washable air filters need to be cleaned at least once a month.
Don’t wait for too long, however. Failing to clean your filter will cause dirt and particles to build up, impeding airflow. Some filters are harder to clean when the dirt cakes to the vents.
To clean a washable air filter, first, you need to remove the filter from your furnace. Rinse the filter with water in a sink or spray it with a garden hose outside. It is a good idea to scrub the filter with a gentle brush and detergent to clean off sticky residue.
When done scrubbing, rinse the filter with water. Allow the filter to drip off for a few minutes before reinstalling it into your furnace. The filter does not need to be completely dry before reinstalling. The airflow from the furnace will finish drying the filter.
If you need to run your furnace while cleaning your filter, you can keep a spare filter that you use for this purpose.
Weighing all of the factors such as dust/pollen reduction and frame sizing should help determine the filter you decide to purchase.
Due to this, my top choice from the list is the Trophy Air HVAC Furnace Air Filter (the first product that’s shown). It also has a solid frame and a powerful filtration board that blocks dirt, lint, pet hair, and smoke from circulating in the home.
Plus, the Trophy Air filter is easy to clean and maintain. It is made out of aluminum so it will resist wear and corrosion. It can be cleaned with just water, or with a light scrub and some detergent.
The other filters have their uses as well so don’t pass them up if one of the others caught your attention more! But no matter what, your home’s air will be much cleaner when you stick to any of the five filters above.