Why a Washable Air Filter Is the Worst Filter You Can Buy

man changing HVAC air filter

Air filters keep your heating and air conditioning units working efficiently and safely, trapping particles like dust, pollen and tobacco smoke that might otherwise circulate around your home. So outfitting your HVAC system with air filters is something of a “no brainer.”

Choosing the best air filter for your HVAC system, however, isn’t always an easy decision. There are lots of choices out there, and they don’t all deliver the same benefits.

For everyday use, a disposable air filter, like the kind you’d find in most home improvement stores, will do the job well. But one style of air filter is the worst you can buy: the washable air filter.

Four Reasons Not to Choose a Washable Air Filter

  1. Their performance is limited. An air filter’s performance in trapping particulates is expressed in the MERV rating. These ratings range from a low of 1 up to 16. A washable air filter typically has a MERV rating of 1 to 4. This may be effective for larger particulates like dust and soot, but if your house is exposed to smaller particles like pet dander, cigar smoke or hair spray, a washable air filter may not be as effective as a higher-rated disposable filter.
  2. They need maintenance. They don’t call it washable air filter for nothing. These filters need regular maintenance, and once you’ve washed them, you’re not supposed to simply dump the water out. Because that water was exposed to bacteria and other particulates, it’s considered a wastewater hazard and should be disposed of appropriately — creating extra work for you.
  3. They can collect fungus. If a washable air filter is put back into use while still wet or damp from the wash, it’s prone to collecting bacteria and fungus – which can then escape and start circulating through your home.
  4. They cost more. If you wish to avoid the risk of fungus growing on your washable air filter, you’d likely need to buy two filters at a time, swapping out one for the other. Even if you buy just one at a time, each washable air filter costs more than an equivalent disposable filter (which may do a better job in your home than the washable one).

Want to learn more?
Give us a call at (806) 454-9332 or send us your question online. A member of my trained HVAC crew will gladly help you determine the best air filter for your home.

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