Best Washable Furnace Filters

Best Washable Furnace Filters Guide

Besides heating or cooling, central HVAC systems are also equipped with the air filtration function designed to increase your home’s air quality. The best washable furnace filters offer an alternative to the standard disposable filters with a very limited lifespan.

Rather than having to stock up on disposable air filters that bend easily under the pressure of high airflow volume, washable filters are built from sturdy materials. These filters are capable of trapping microscopic particles that can create strong allergic reactions or pollute the air in your home.

In this article, we’re going to help you understand the benefits of washable furnace filters and assist you in choosing the best model for your furnace. You should check out our guide to furnace types if you need more information about these heating systems.

At a Glance – The 5 Best Washable Furnace Filters

Model Size  MERV rating Price range 
Trophy Air Furnace Air Filter 16 x 20 x 1 inches Not MERV rated $$
Carter Air Filter 20 x 25 x 1 inches 8 $$$
K&N Furnace Air Filter 20.38 x 20.06 x 1.18 inches 11 $$
AIRCARE Furnace Air Filter 24 x 30 x 1 inches 8 $$$
AirThread Furnace Air Filter 16x 20 x 1 inches 8 $$$

Carter MERV 8 Lifetime HVAC & Furnace Air Filter | Amazon
$56.99

Carter Gold Frame filters are made in the USA and washable. They're made with two layers of woven polypropylene, self-charging electrostatic fibers. 

Buy at Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/22/2022 12:03 am GMT

Selection Criteria

Filter 2

The process of replacing a disposable furnace filter with a washable one isn’t overly complicated, as there are only a handful of parameters you need to take into account to find a model that is compatible with your furnace.

Nonetheless, the properties of these filters are not the same, and the efficiency of the filter you choose depends on its features. Let’s go through some of the parameters we used to select the best washable furnace filters.

  • Materials – Reusable filters for furnaces are made of various materials that include aluminum, fiberglass, or synthetic polymers. We selected the models that have rigid metal frames and filter media made of durable materials.
  • Particle retention rate – The minimum size of particles these filters can trap is 0.3 microns, enabling them to remove more than 90% of all pollutants, odors, or chemicals from the air.
  • MERV rating – The efficiency of washable furnace filters is measured with the MERV rating, but models with high MERV ratings can obstruct the movement of the air through the ducting. That’s why filters we featured in the articles have MERV ratings recommended for residential use.

Read our guide to ventilation systems to explore different ways of keeping the air in your home fresh.

How do washable furnace filters work?

Protection of the furnace blower from hair, dust, and other particles that can cause it to malfunction is the main purpose of furnace air filters. Disposable furnace air filters usually remove up to 95% of air pollutants, but they rarely last longer than a month.

On the other hand, some washable furnace filter models have electrostatic properties that collect dust, allergens, and other particles that affect the air quality. They also have rigid metal frames that ensure they won’t bend under pressure.

Also, some of these filters are pleated, which simply means that they contain ridges and folds that extend their length. Consequently, they can trap more particles than non-pleated models because of their large filter area.

It is worth adding that almost all washable furnace filters are manufactured following HEPA standards, which makes them highly efficient at collecting microscopic particles. Go through our guide to the best inline duct fans if you’re searching for a way to maximize the efficiency of your ducting.

Components of washable furnace filters

The construction of this part of HVAC systems is simple as they contain the filter media and the frame that supports it. Filters that contain media made of metal mesh feature multiple layers of vented metal that form a pad.

An electrostatic filter can also have layers, but its filter media is composed of woven polypropylene that acts like a magnet that attracts air pollutants.

Models equipped with electrostatic filter media don’t lose their properties over time, and they remain equally efficient at filtering air regardless of how many times you wash them or how long you use them.

In addition, polypropylene filament doesn’t absorb moisture, and it can’t be damaged by bacteria, mold, or fungi. Both metal mesh and electrostatic furnace filters have rigid frames that prevent bending when exposed to high airflow volumes.

Read our guide to HVAC thermostat systems if you need a new thermostat for your HVAC system.

Sizing of washable furnace filters

Furnace

The simplest way to check which size of a washable furnace filter you need is to look at the dimensions of the disposable filter. Although washable and disposable filters come in various sizes, the most common dimensions of these filters are 16 x 20 x 1 inch.

Most manufacturers offer the same model in multiple sizes spanning 12 x 20 to 24 x 30 inches. The thickness of reusable furnace filters varies from 1 to 4 inches, but most furnaces utilize air filters that are 1-inch thick.

An undersized air filter will create a rattling sound every time you switch on your HVAC system. More importantly, the air moving through the system will be able to go around the filter.

To avoid this, the air filter slot needs to be tightly sealed with an HVAC tape or metal cover, even if you get a model that has the right size for your HVAC system. Check out our guide to the best HVAC capacitors if your HVAC system isn’t functioning properly.

Cleaning washable furnace filters

Instead of installing a new air filter every time an old one gets clogged by the accumulated dirt, you can replace a disposable filter with a washable model. The frequency at which reusable furnace filters should be cleaned is directly related to the frequency you’re using your HVAC system.

If you opt for an electrostatic model, the recommended cleaning frequency is once every two weeks, while other versions of these filters should be cleaned monthly. The cleaning process is very simple since you just need to wash the dirt using a garden hose or submerging the filter in water.

You shouldn’t reinstall the filter before it dries because it may damage the system. Our guide to the best heat pumps can help you find an alternative to a central HVAC system.

The most important factors to consider while choosing a washable furnace filter

Besides being eco-friendly and eliminating the need to replace the furnace air filter every month, washable furnace filters can also improve the air quality in your home.

Other than the filter’s size, there are just a few factors you need to consider while deciding which model is the right choice for your HVAC system. Nonetheless, each of these factors can make it easier to find the right washable air filter for your furnace.

Let’s go through some of the most important aspects you should bear in mind while searching for a new reusable furnace filter.

Filter construction and materials

One of the biggest downsides of disposable filters is their flimsy construction that often cannot withstand prolonged exposure to high amounts of pressure. In addition, their filter media is usually made of fiberglass that has a limited particle retention capacity.

Washable air filters have a sturdy metal frame that prevents the filter media from bending while dealing with large airflow volumes. Depending on the model, these filters can collect up to 99,9% of particles that can clog the furnace blower or pollute the air in your home.

MERV and MPR ratings

Furnace Air Filter

The efficiency of these air filters is measured with the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value or MERV and Microparticle Performance Rating or MRP. The MERV rating indicates the filter’s ability to trap particles, and it ranges from 1 to 16 on models designed for residential use.

Ideally, you should opt for a filter that has a MERV rating between 8 and 13 because models with higher MERV ratings can obstruct the flow of the air and cause the HVAC system to work harder than it has to.

The MPR shows you how efficient the filter is at trapping particles smaller than 3 microns, and the model you choose should have an MPR between 1,000 and 1,900.

Electrostatic properties

Only models equipped with the woven polypropylene filter media have electrostatic features that attract the particles from the air and attach them to the metal. Also, they don’t lose their electrostatic properties over time, and in some cases, they’re as durable as the furnace.

They’re more efficient than filters with metal mesh filter media, and you can use them in combination with high-efficiency disposable filters. Exposure to high levels of humidity doesn’t affect these furnace air filters.

Sizing and furnace compatibility

These filters are compatible with all types of furnaces as you can use the same filter on a single-stage, two-stage, or multi-speed furnace. The only limiting factor is the size since you won’t fit an air filter on your furnace if it is too big or too small.

All filters are available in multiple sizes, so you don’t have to get a different model if its size isn’t suitable for your furnace. Moreover, after you install a washable furnace filter, you need to seal it to prevent the air from going around it.

Price and warranty

Reusable furnace filters are affordable, and you won’t have to spend more than $60 to get a high-end model. Despite their low price, these air filters are incredibly durable since some models can last for more than 10 years if they’re cleaned regularly.

The warranty length depends on the manufacturer, and you may get a 1-year or a lifetime warranty depending on the brand you choose.

The advantages of washable furnace filters

Air Filter

Lower HVAC upkeep costs

Disposable furnace filters aren’t expensive, but you may still have to spend more than $100 every year on them. Getting a washable furnace filter is a one-time investment that will reduce your furnace upkeep costs.

High particle retention rates

A washable furnace filter can improve the air quality in your home because most models can trap particles with sizes of just 0.3 microns. They’re made in accordance with HEPA standards, and they can help you get rid of allergenic particles in your home.

The quick and easy cleaning process

Keeping these filters clean isn’t a difficult task since you just have to take them out of their frame and wash them. Some models are even machine washable, and you can use a dryer to shorten the waiting time before you can use them again.

The disadvantages of washable furnace filters

Some models can slow down the airflow.

Filters with MERV ratings higher than 14 can limit the volume of air that can move through the duct. In doing so, washable filters can force the HVAC system to work harder and use more energy to achieve the selected room temperature.

Top 5 washable furnace filters

Trophy Air Furnace Filter – The most affordable washable furnace filter

Trophy Air

The low air resistance design ensures that the Trophy Air furnace filter isn’t going to disrupt the air flow. The frame contains four aluminum layers and is capable of withstanding high amounts of pressure.

The filter media has two layers of electrostatic media, but it’s far from being the most efficient furnace filter on the market. The installation process is straightforward, and it takes only a few moments of your time to complete it.

Pros

  • Sturdy and durable construction
  • Enhances the HVAC’s airflow
  • Available in multiple sizes
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • No warranty
  • Low particle retention rate

Trophy Air Washable Electrostatic HVAC Furnace Air Filter | Amazon
$47.95

Crafted to help improve your home’s ventilation efficiency, proper airflow can help reduce airflow resistance for less HVAC stress.

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We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/22/2022 12:02 am GMT

Carter Air Filter – The most durable washable furnace filter

Carter

Besides a furnace, you can use the Carter Air Filter with air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and other devices. This filter has a 0.12 WG air resistance rating, and it isn’t going to disrupt the normal functioning of your furnace.

In addition, it’s capable of trapping 94% of particles it encounters due to its electrostatic properties, and it can hold up to 165 grams of dust. Its frame is made of gold anodized aluminum that isn’t affected by frequent exposure to high volumes of airflow.

Pros

  • Simple installation process
  • Quick and easy installation
  • Woven polypropylene filter media
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Might not respond well to frequent washing
  • Low MERV rating

Carter MERV 8 Lifetime HVAC & Furnace Air Filter | Amazon
$56.99

Carter Gold Frame filters are made in the USA and washable. They're made with two layers of woven polypropylene, self-charging electrostatic fibers. 

Buy at Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/22/2022 12:03 am GMT

K&N Furnace Air Filter – The best synthetic polymer washable furnace filter

Filtro

The 11 MERV rating is an indication that the K&N Furnace Air Filter is capable of improving the air quality in your home significantly. Besides the dust, mold, or mites, this filter can help you get rid of pet dander and cigarette smoke.

Its multilayered structure includes synthetic filter media and several layers of galvanized steel mesh. The frame is made of ABS plastic that isn’t affected by exposure to high air temperatures.

Pros

  • Pleated filter media
  • High air contaminants retention
  • Affordable price
  • Durable construction

Cons

  • It doesn’t have electrostatic properties
  • Requires a special cleaner

K&N HVAC Furnace Air Filter | Amazon
$39.99

Washable furnace filter for long-term home HVAC filter savings. 

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We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/22/2022 12:03 am GMT

AIRCARE Furnace Air Filter – The best electrostatic washable furnace filter

Filter 1

The ability to trap up to 95% of air pollutants makes the AIRCARE furnace air filer one of the best electrostatic models you can get. The filter has an antibacterial finish that prevents the growth of mold or bacteria on its surface.

You won’t have to do anything other than rinsing this filter once per month to keep it clean. The AIRCARE’s model comes with a lifetime warranty and a cashback guarantee that enables you to return it if you’re unhappy with its performance.

Pros

  • Improves air quality
  • It doesn’t slow down the airflow
  • Electrostatic filter media
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Low MERV rating
  • Some components are not durable

Aircare Furnace A/C Filter | Amazon
$56.99

Washable, Permanent, Reusable. Electrostatic - Traps dust like a magnet.

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We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/22/2022 04:25 am GMT

AirThread Furnace Air Filter – The best machine washable furnace filter

AirThread Filter

Unlike most furnace filters, the AirThread Furnace Air Filter is machine washable, so you just have to toss it into your washing machine once per month to keep it clean. The filter is made of polyester 3D mesh with electrostatic properties, and it is durable enough to replace 36 disposable filters.

Even though it has a relatively low MERV rating, the AirThread’s model still traps more than 90% of particles it gets in contact with.

Pros

  • Innovative design
  • Filter media has antibacterial properties
  • Low upkeep requirements
  • Wide selection of sizes

Cons

  • More expensive than most washable furnace filters
  • It doesn’t last more than three years

AirThreds Air Filter for AC HVAC Furnace | Amazon
$59.99

100% polyester 3D mesh, made for maximum durability and longevity for increased filtration efficiency. 

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We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/22/2022 11:35 am GMT

Frequently asked questions about washable furnace filters

Question: What happens if a washable furnace filter gets clogged?

Answer: A clogged washable air filter will limit your furnace’s heating capacity. Cleaning the filter will restore the furnace to its full capacity.

Question: Are washable furnace filters installed horizontally or vertically?

Answer: Installing these filters horizontally or vertically won’t affect their efficiency.

Question: What to do if I can’t remove the dirt from a washable furnace filter?

Answer: Try adding a detergent to the water you’re using to clean a washable furnace filter if you’re struggling to remove the dirt from it.

Question: Do washable furnace filters have antiallergenic properties?

Answer: Yes, they do, and they can be a great choice if one of your family members is suffering from allergies.

Our verdict: Deciding which washable filter is the best choice for your furnace

Switching from disposable to reusable furnace filters may help you improve the air quality in your home and lower the annual furnace upkeep costs. These filters are usually designed to last for years, and most models can replace 48 or more disposable furnace filters.

Their particle retention capacity depends on the model, but most models are capable of trapping more than 90% of air pollutants that go through the filter. We recommend the Carter Air Filter because of its efficiency and high dust storage capacity.

A model like the K&N Furnace Air Filter might be a good option for you if you don’t want a washable furnace filter that contains electrostatic filter media. Which model are you going to choose?

Product Image / Primary Rating / Price Primary Button
Most Affordable
Best Overall
Best Synthetic Polymer Washable
Best Electrostatic Washable
Best Machine Washable

05/22/2022 11:35 am GMT

Let us know in the comments, or continue reading our guide to the best furnace kind of cement or best propane conversion kits if you want to change the fuel you’re using to power your furnace.

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