How to Clean a Shop Vac Filter

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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.

How To Clean Shop Vac Filter

To clean a shop vac filter, you can use either the dry method or the wet method, depending on your needs:

Dry Method:

  1. Remove the filter and tap it on a hard surface outside to remove loose dust and debris.
  2. Check if the shop vac is working properly; further cleaning may be needed if not.

Wet Method:

  1. Begin with the dry method, tapping the filter outside to remove loose dust and debris.
  2. Rinse the filter under running water without using cleaning agents to avoid damage.
  3. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear, addressing stubborn spots with gentle rubbing.
  4. Ensure the filter is completely dry before reinstalling, and never machine wash or dry it.

Additionally, for shop vacs used for wet messes with a foam sleeve:

  1. Shake off dirt from the foam sleeve and tap it outside.
  2. If necessary, clean the foam sleeve under running water, washing from the inside out.
  3. Keep washing until the water runs clear, and ensure the foam sleeve is completely dry before use to prevent damage.

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

Related Article: Best Shop Vac: Top 10 Choices for You to Consider

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