Handling a filter can damage its integrity, so instead of cleaning a disposable air filter, it's best to discard it and replace it with a new one. First, you need to remove the filter safely from the air conditioning unit. Rinse it in a sink or tub with water and use a soft brush and mild detergent to remove sticky particles. Shake off excess water to drain through the drain holes in the rack and reinstall the air cleaner to the system.
The system air flow will completely dry the clean filter. Homeowners should know that both reusable and disposable air filters are available. Reusable air filters can be cleaned and replaced in the air conditioner, but careful and thorough cleaning is a must. Make sure that the filter is reusable before attempting to clean it, as guessing games can be disastrous.
To keep your reusable air filter clean, remove it every one to three months and wash it thoroughly to remove accumulated dust, irritants, and contaminants. Check if a washable filter is dirty - usually they are covered by a layer of dirt or dust. Cleaning reusable filters is a simple process, but neglecting this can lead to a restriction of air flow as dirt accumulates inside the filter. Disposable air filters are made of soft mesh and other flexible materials that simply can't withstand the wear and tear of a good wash.
They work best for filtering particles that are visible or invisible to the naked eye; 0.5 microns or more. When a filter becomes so clogged that it is difficult for air to pass through it, hot air can cause the heat exchanger to overheat. Over time, air filters become so clogged with smaller particles captured that their efficiency will decrease. New air filters can be purchased at home improvement stores or your local HVAC contractor, and if you're not comfortable with home maintenance, you can even have your HVAC repair technician do it safely for you.
Even if you're lucky and mold doesn't form, a damp air filter isn't exactly good at trapping contaminants. Keeping an air conditioning filter clean and functional is one of the keys to keeping any commercial building safe from dirty air.