How Long Do Air Purifier Filters Last? Here’s A Complete Checklist!

The function of an air purifier heavily relies on the quality of its filters. If it’s clogged and dirty, the collected debris will recirculate in the air, which will defeat the purpose of using an air purifier. With this, it’s essential to answer this question: how long do air purifier filters last?

In this post, we discuss the lifespan of air purifier filters based on type, so you’ll know when to replace yours. This post serves as your checklist, so you’ll never have filthy filters anymore.

How long will my air purifier filters last?

Air purifier filters vary in lifespan, depending on the type that your unit uses. This is because each one has varying materials, filtration rate, and durability. Here’s a quick look at air purifier filters, how they work, and their approximate lifespan.

1. HEPA filters

how long do air purifier filters last - photo of air purifier in living room
Photo Credits – MD Anderson Cancer Center

HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air filter, which is the gold standard among air purifiers. It has the most intensive filtration prowess used even in hospitals and commercial establishments.

Overall, a true HEPA filter can filter 99.97% of airborne pollutants that are as small as 0.3 microns. Most HEPA filters can last for two to three years. Still, the permanent HEPA filter type can be used for five years or more.

The longevity of a HEPA filter is highly dependent on the extent of use. If you live in an area with high levels of pollution, HEPA filters will have a shorter lifespan. On the dirtiest air conditions, HEPA filters may only last for 12 months.

Compared to other air scrubber filter types, HEPA filters require more replacements within a period of time. Nevertheless, this additional expense is worth it for the benefits it brings.

2. Media filters

Another filter type used in air purifiers is called ‘media filters’. These filters are made of paper-like material with a deeply pleated design. Through this, particles like dander, pollen, and dust will be trapped.

Overall, media filters use a layer of shredded material, sand, crushed glass, foam, textile, activated carbon, and other materials compressed together. It’s so compressed that a single media filter can have as much as 75 sq. ft. of material when stretched out.

So how long does a media air filter last? Unfortunately, this filter type is only good for 6 to 12 months, mainly due to its fragile material. Still, media filters can trap small airborne particles while retaining their excellent airflow.

Modern air purifiers are either equipped with media filters as a cheaper replacement for HEPA. In fact, a standard quality media filter can be 15 times cheaper than a high-quality HEPA.

3. Electrostatic filters

Unlike most HEPA and media filters, electrostatic filters are reusable. It uses paper fibers and cotton to trap particles through static electricity. If you want an air purifier that can reduce allergens, you should consider getting one with an electrostatic filter.

Overall, electrostatic filters can last for three to five years. However, you should check the type well as this filter comes in reusable and disposable versions. Most of the time, disposable versions may not last for less than two years, depending on the pollution level in your home.

As much as electrostatic air purifier filters work well, it struggles in filtering out larger particles. As a result, it doesn’t improve air quality too much when faced with mold spores, dust, and pet fur. Nevertheless, you can find air purifiers that come with electrostatic filters and another type paired in one unit.

4. UV filters

how long do air purifier filters last - photo of honeywell air purifier
Photo Credits – Wikimedia Commons

UV air filters aren’t really physical filters. Basically, there’s a UV lamp installed inside the air purifier, which will produce short-wave ultraviolet rays. This filter is intended to kill viruses and bacteria, not to trap particulates like dust or dander.

This type of filter can last for up to 9,000 hours of burn time. However, this depends on the quality of the lamp and the wear and tear it experiences while in use.

Aside from that, UV filters can transform oxygen into ozone, which can be harmful to your health. Continuous exposure to large amounts of ozone can cause respiratory distress and worsening asthma.

Overall, UV filters help in alleviating pathogens in the air, but they don’t really perform any substantial filtration. This is why we consider this filter totally optional and not really necessary at all times.

5. Fiberglass filters

Fiberglass or spun glass filters is a very common filter type used on HVAC systems. You can also find this on a few air purifier models in the market.

Overall, fiberglass filters are cost-effective and easy to come by should you need replacements. However, you should know that fiberglass filters are only made to last for 30 days. Those with advanced filtration can be used for up to three months. After that, its efficiency will start to decline.

Unlike HEPA or media filters, fiberglass filters are only suitable for removing allergens and dust. It’s not the most reliable when it comes to smaller particles and gasses.


Signs that you need to change your air purifier filter

Air filters, whatever the type is, aren’t designed to last forever. It will soon reach the end of its lifespan, and a replacement is needed. Basically, here are some of the signs that your air purifier needs a new filter:

  • You’re sneezing too much. If you’re suddenly having sneezing fits for no reason, it’s best to check your air purifier filters. It might be clumped with dust and dirt that’s already being recirculated in the air.
  • Your energy bill is increasing. Unfortunately, an escalating energy bill is also a sign that your air purifier compensates for the clogged filter. The worst part is that the air purifier isn’t improving air quality despite the increase in energy consumption.
  • Dusty surfaces. Is your countertop or bedside table dustier than usual? If so, your air purifier filter might be overflowing with filtered dirt.
  • It’s been too long. If you can’t remember the last time you checked your air purifier filter, it might be time for a replacement. You should also check if the filters have already lapsed the period that the manufacturer recommended.
  • Strange smells. Funky odors coming out of nowhere are also a sign that your air purifier needs a new filter. This smell means that the filter is clogged with dirt and in need of a replacement. Also, it means that the activated carbon filter is already used up.
  • The purifier overheats fast. When the filter is clogged and dirty, the air purifier would have to work harder to push air into the filter material. This can cause the unit to overheat fast and fail to promote good indoor air quality. A filter replacement is probably all you need.

How to make your air purifier filter work better

blueair air purifier in a living room
Photo Credits – Blueair

While air filters still require replacements at some point, there are things you can do to make them last longer. Here are a few simple hacks that will help you maximize your air purifier:

  • Get the right filter. We always recommend getting the air filter that your air purifier is rated for. This will ensure seamless function and a long-lasting filter lifespan. Most of the time, air purifier manufacturers will also sell replacement filters for your convenience.
  • Get the right purifier size. To ensure that your air filters will last long, you should get an air purifier with a size that matches the floor space to where it will be used. This will also prevent the purifier from overcompensating and consuming too much electricity.
  • Clean your home. Just because you have an air purifier doesn’t mean you’ll no longer clean your house. Vacuuming your home will reduce the workload of the purifier, thus the filter will last longer.
  • Don’t block the airflow. It’s important to place the air purifier away from walls, furniture, and other items that could block the airflow. This way, the device can filter the air properly.
  • Utilize the child lock feature. If your air purifier has a child lock feature, you should use this to prevent accidents at home. It will also protect the purifier from damages in case your child or pet fiddles with it.
  • Place it on a stable surface. Whether you’re using full-sized or portable air purifiers, you should always place them on a stable platform. This is to prevent the device from falling or tipping.
  • Use electric fans. Electric fans will make the indoor air circulate better, which can help air purifiers absorb more airborne particles. In this case, an oscillating fan is a good choice for optimal air movement.
  • Close the windows. Whenrunning your air purifier, ensure first that all windows and doors are closed. This way, the outdoor dirt will not enter your house and make the air purifiers dirtier than it should be. This is very important, especially if you live in an area with high levels of outdoor pollution.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long does a Honeywell air purifier filter last?

A: Most Honeywell air purifiers use filters that can last for a few months. Depending on the extent of use, the filter can last for a few more years. Just make sure that you’re using authentic Honeywell filters for the best results.

Q: How do you know if your air purifier needs a new filter?

A: An air purifier needs a new filter if the current one is already black or covered with debris. It’s important to dispose of the dirty filters so that the irritants won’t recirculate into your home again. You should also follow manufacturer directions to ensure that your air purifier is in tip-top shape.

Q: Can you wash air purifier filters?

A: Not all air purifier filters can be washed. Most of the time, washable filter types don’t offer stringent filtration and are often used as a complementary filter only. Also, I don’t recommend washing HEPA filters as it will affect the filtration efficiency of the filter.

Q: Is a HEPA filter necessary for air purifiers?

A: You don’t really need a HEPA filter to remove dust and other particles in your home. However, this filter type is ideal if you want to reduce pathogens, spores, and minuscule particles in the air. Unlike other filters, HEPA types can sift particles as small as 0.3 microns. For medical-grade types, it can be as small as 0.1 microns.

Q: How will I know if my HEPA filters are dirty?

A: If there are clumps of dirt and widespread discoloration on your filter, it’s a sign that you need a replacement or cleaning. If you leave it as is, the dirt will be expelled back into your home, which can cause respiratory irritations.

Final words

How long do air purifier filters last? It depends on the type, extent of use, and quality of the filter. Overall, HEPA filters can last for up to five years, and media filters can be used for up to 12 months. In the end, the best judge of the filter’s longevity is how dirty it gets. With this, inspecting your unit is crucial to know if it’s time for a replacement.