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How to Clean Electronic Air Filter: A Guide for Noobs

Indoor air quality is often a matter of concern, especially when spring hits. Air filtration systems are very useful in such scenarios.

But, like any other physical device, it needs proper cleaning.

And if you don’t have any idea what you’re doing, then you may end up sacrificing the integrity of your entire air conditioning system.

That’s something no one would want.

So, to make your jobs as DIY users easier, we will share the steps that will answer your question on how to clean electronic air filter. It may seem like an easy job. But there’s always a catch.

We would advise you to stay with us until the very end of this guide. Our main goal would be to provide as much information as we can.

And your job would be to use that information to the best of your ability.

Electronic Air Filter: The types and function

Electronic air filters or electronic air cleaners are devices that are integrated into your air conditioning or HVAC system. But they can come as standalone units as well. It’s one of the many types of HVAC systems available today. 

The primary function of these filters is to capture foreign particles like pollen, dust, and cigarette smoke contaminants.

Electronic air filtration systems can be of 3 types:

Duct System

These filters are integrated systems that come with an air conditioning system. Engineers use this system for large scale buildings or other commercial structures.

These systems work by purifying the air before it enters a certain space.

Furnace System

Electronic filters can be a part of a furnace system.

Individual Units

These are the standalone or individual units we mentioned a while back. Such systems are part of individual housings. They do need an external power source for operation.

Also, they need an external housing for the individual parts. You’ll often find an external switch for better operating capabilities.


An electronic air cleaner works in the following manner:

  • There is a negatively charged collector plate within the air cleaner.
  • A static charge gets created within the filter.
  • The air flows through the charged area. The foreign particles have a positive charge.
  • The collector plate possesses a negative charge.
  • As the foreign particles move through the static charge, an attraction occurs between the negative plate and the positive external particles.
  • The plate traps the pollen, viruses, and tobacco micro-particles.
  • The clean air then reaches the predetermined space.

That’s more or less the basic functionality of an air filter or EAC.

Electronic air filters offer a good deal of convenience, no doubt about that. Still, if the filters don’t get proper maintenance, then the efficiency will collapse.

Fortunately, we will be taking you through the cleaning process. After all, that has been the goal of this guide this entire time!

How to clean an electronic air filter: The approach

Truth being told, cleaning an electric filter is far more complicated than cleaning your concrete driveway or indoor upholstery. Before getting started, there’s one main step that’s crucial. And that is to disconnect the power.

The general rule of thumb is to disconnect the main power from the filtration unit and wait for at least 30 seconds.

After that, you need to bring out the pre-filters and the cells. A first look should reveal what you’ll be dealing with here.

There are 3-standard ways you could make to clean your air filter.

Using the Dishwasher

This is the typical case for any homeowner. If you want to get started, then the dishwasher is the first thing most people think about.

Here are the steps you should follow:

1.   Before doing anything, check the packaging of the air filter and see if the manufacturer allows the use of a dishwasher for cleaning purposes. It will ensure that you don’t cause any unwanted harm to the parts.

2.   Placing the cells on the dishwasher needs a technical touch. A quick solution can be to place the cell on drinking glasses rather than the spikes on the dishwasher. It’s a safe approach.

3.   Place the pre-filters in the dishwasher. Try to use a similar approach shown in step 2.

4.   You should only use the cleaning phase. Don’t allow the cells and pre-filters to roast in the washer.

5.   Avoid the sharp edges of the cell while bringing them out.

6.   Wipe down ionizing wires with a fine cloth.

Using a plastic tub

You could also use plastic tubs for cleaning the cells and the pre-filters.

Here are the things you need to do:  

1.   Take 4-cups of regular dish washing detergent on a medium plastic tub.

2.   Let the parts immerse for around 20 minutes.

3.   Give the parts a good jerking before taking them out.

A word of caution- don’t use any harsh chemicals for such a task. The aluminum parts, if damaged, could be catastrophic if we talk about the overall integrity.

Using the garden hose

It is the easiest process of them all. Just do the following:

1.   Place the cells and filters vertically.

2.   Attach a spray nozzle to the garden hose.

3.   Set the pressure to medium.

4.   Wand over the cells and filters.

5.   Finally, let the parts dry for around 15-20 minutes.

It’s now time to reinstall the cells and prefilters.

Often people don’t let the parts dry out properly. And that is a huge error which should be avoided at all costs. Because it may lead to parts damage as well as electrical failure.

One more observation can be pointed out. And that is the use of heavy chemical cleaners.

The aluminum parts are very delicate and require gentle cleaning. If somehow you use anything too strong, then the parts may get damaged. As always, such a mistake may impact on the overall filter integrity and usability.

Potential cleaning failures

Imperfect cleaning may lead to several issues.

Cell Damage

Among such issues, cell damage is a potential. Broken wires often cause such an issue.

During the cleaning process, the ionization cables may get tangled or broken. While you could deal with a tangled wire, a broken wire is a completely different thing. In such cases, you don’t have anything to do but call for repairs. 

Wrong installation

The air needs to hit the prefilter first before going through the plates.

If there are any leaks, then the air filtration will not be up to the mark. But if the installation is done backward, then the air filtration will not be proper. It may result in a system failure as a worst-case scenario.

New Technologies

Modern filters have a lot of complex parts and integrated systems. One of the more modern options is the activated carbon filter.

The activated carbon filter can hold on to odorous gases and micro-particles. It’s very effective, with a relatively smaller lifespan.

Such filters need regular maintenance. Without it, the inefficiencies become substantial.

Final Thoughts

We do hope you find proper answers to the question of how to clean electronic filter.

The human mind finds ways to get rid of problems. And cleaning an electronic filter is one of those problems. Other than the tips we’ve shown you, we do believe you could come up with more useful ways.

If that happens, then kudos to you.

Still, the guide should cater to newbies and power users alike. And it will imply that we have succeeded to deliver something that works!