shop vac filter

How to Clean a Shop Vac Filter

Shop Vacs are extremely useful and can be used for a variety of things. They’re easy to cart around and are short so they are easy to fit into smaller spaces. Large bulky vacuums make it difficult to clean enclosed spaces. Shop vacs make cleaning a car or big messes a breeze. All the dust and debris that is getting picked up with a shop vac might make your shop vac filter very dirty. Your shop vac will begin to lose suction, spit out dust, and stop working efficiently if the filter is dirty. Luckily, cleaning a shop vac filter is very easy and you can go back to cleaning in no time. Here is a description of the easiest way to clean a shop vac filter.

When to Clean Your Shop Vac Filter

There is not a recommended time that you should clean your filter. It doesn’t necessarily have to be cleaned every couple of weeks or months. It depends entirely on how often you use it and what you suck up with your shop vac. A shop vac that only gets used every couple of weeks to suck up some cobwebs isn’t going to need to be cleaned as often as one that gets used every day for serious messes. The hose on your shop vac will seem like it’s jammed if the filter needs to be cleaned. Most of the suction will be gone and the vacuum will start to puff out dust every time it is turned on. Don’t worry, your shop vac isn’t broken, it can be fixed with a simple cleaning of the filter.

shop vac filter

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Different Kinds of Filters

There are lots of different kinds of shop vac filters. There are pleated filters, foam sleeve filters, and bags. However, most shop vacs that you’ll find will have the pleated filters. Pleated filters are relatively inexpensive and it would be easy just to buy a new filter if you wanted to do so. Cleaning them is also very easy to it might be better to save some money and just clean the filter instead of buying a new one. Pleated filters are made of pleated paper that is wrapped around a ring. The paper traps fine dust and other particles that your shop vac sucks up.

Different Shop Vac Filter Cleaning Methods

Dry Method for Pleated Filters

Sometimes all your shop vac filter needs is to have the dust knocked out of it. Simply take out the filter and hit it a couple of times. You’ll want to do this outside because a lot of dust and debris will go everywhere. It’s a lot like shaking out a dirty rug. Tap the filter on a hard surface or give it couple of good smacks and see how clean it gets. It might require further cleaning if there is dust or debris caked on the filter. Try your shop vac after you’ve used the dry method to see if it’s working properly again. This might be all it needed. You might need to try another cleaning method if your shop vac is not working properly again.

Wet Method for Pleated Filters

This method is also fairly easy and can be done quickly. First, you’ll need to do the dry method of cleaning. Hit or tap the filter outside to get rid of all the loose dust and debris. Next, rinse off the filter under running water. Do not use any cleaning agents. Cleaning agents can damage your filter. Then continue to run the filter under running water until the water runs clear. You might need to use some effort if there are some particularly stubborn spots on the shop vac filter. Rub your hands over the stubborn spots to see if you can get them to come off. Try not to be too rough otherwise you might create a hole. Then make sure your filter is completely dry before you put it back in your shop vac. Never machine wash or dry your shop vac filter. 

shop vac filter

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Foam Sleeve Cleaning

Some shop vacs are only used for dry messes like dirt, dust, and cobwebs. Other shop vacs can also be used for wet messes like spills or floods. Part of your shop vac filter will have a foam sleeve if the shop vac can be used for wet messes. You’ll need to start by shaking off all the extra dirt and dust off of the foam sleeve. Tap it gently outside to get the majority of the dust out. You may need to also use water to clean the foam sleeve if shaking the filter is not getting it clean enough. Put the foam sleeve under running water, washing the sleeve from the inside out. Keep cleaning the sleeve until the water runs clear. Then make sure that the foam sleeve is totally dry before you use it. A wet foam sleeve could damage your shop vac. 

When to Replace Your Shop Vac Filter

Sometimes cleaning your shop vac filter won’t get your shop vac working properly again. In this case, it might not just be the dirty filter that was a problem. You’ll need to check the integrity of the filter. Maybe it’s clean but does it have any rips or tears? Your shop vac will not work properly if there are any holes or tears in the filter. A hole in the filter will cause damage to your shop vac. You will need to replace your filter if there are holes in it. Don’t bother cleaning a filter that looks worse for the wear. Most filters can be bought online, or at a store that sells shop vacs. Make sure you get the appropriate filter for your specific type of shop vac. Hopefully, this will get your shop vac working like new again. 

Summing Up

Shop vacs can last for years if you take care of them. For the most part, shop vacs are low maintenance. However, you will need to pay close attention to the filter and when to clean or replace it. Sometimes a simple cleaning will get your shop vac working perfectly again, while other times you might need to buy an entirely new one. Cleaning a shop vac filter isn’t hard and it only takes a couple of minutes. The dry and the wet method of cleaning should help get your shop vac back to working efficiently. There might be another problem if a clean filter doesn’t get your shop vac working properly. Pay attention to the filter and you’ll be able to use your shop vac for many years to come.

Image Source: The Wire Cutter

Denali Gillen

I am a farmer’s wife living a farmer’s life. I love having wide open spaces and plenty of space to raise a family. Making the most out of outdoor spaces is something I never get tired of!

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