Are Air Filters Recyclable? (And Are They Washable?)

No doubt, the air is important to everyone for survival. But what is more important is not the availability of air, but the quality of the available air. As humans, we can’t control how the air around us is polluted or left free of particles, what we can do is to filter the air that we make available for ourselves.

In a bid to filter air and have only quality air available to us, air filters were created. Since its creation, it has helped to improve the quality of air available to humans by filtering dust, toxic chemicals, and other air particulates. While this is commendable, one thing that should concern everyone is these air filters’ effect on the environment.

Generally, since they help to improve the quality of air, they are preferred by many people. But this also creates a problematic concern about what happens to them when they are no longer in use.

In this light, this post will address air filters’ issues and what effects they might be having on the environment. To gain insight into all of these, please follow through with every step. This post promises to be great and filled with quality information!

Can You Recycle Air Filters?

One caution comes with having air filters, and that is, if you want to get the best from it, you should change the air filters every three months. Going by this, in a year, this leaves you with at least four air filters.

Disposing of these air filters may not be the best solution, so you need to find out if the air filters are recyclable or not. Well, you don’t have to look any further; in the following paragraphs, we will let you know the true position.

Generally, air filters are not recyclable. This may not sound like what you want to hear, but it is the true position. But then, why is this so?

Air filters, especially disposable ones are a product of woven fibers, which are often fiberglass or polyesters. These materials have proven difficult to recycle. So many recycling stations often remove them from the list of their recyclable materials.

Apart from this, there is a reason you are advised to change your air filters every three months. This is because of the health risks involved. Usually, air filters filter particulates like dust and some toxic chemicals from the air. When this is done over time, the air filters become unhealthy because of the particulates they have filtered and absorbed.

If you recycle this kind of thing that has gathered dust and other toxic particulates, you may just be putting people’s health at risk. Even many recycling stations would not accept your air filters because of these reasons.

So, next time you find out that you have gathered many air filters in your home and offices, don’t think of putting them in the recycling bin.

If you are not sure where or how to dispose of your used air filters, hang in here. Below, we will touch on what you can do with your old air filters.

Are Air Filters Universal?

There are some pertinent questions that need to be answered with regards to air filters, and one of them is whether air filters are universal or not.

The correct answer is that air filters are not universal. Air filters have been made to have different sizes, porosity levels, and shapes. This means that you have to always know the right air filters to use for your homes, offices, or even cars.

The result of not using the right air filters is that the ill-fitting air filters will give room for unfiltered air, which will affect the quality of the air you are breathing in. This could lead to many health issues for you or those around you. This is why, in all situations, you should get the right air filters for your homes or offices.

Are Air Filters Washable?

Having to change your air filters multiple times in a year and buy new ones may have you thinking of other sustainable ways to manage your air filters. The idea of washing them may be the first to pop in your mind, but can you do this?

When it comes to washing air filters, you need to understand that there is more than one type of air filter. There are reusable and disposable air filters.

Generally, you cannot wash the disposable air filters, because it is made for a single-use, and may not be durable for use again after washing it. On the other hand, however, the reusable air filters or electrostatic filters can be washed and reused.

This kind of air filter is washable since it has been made with static electricity that has been generated through the floatation of air in the crevices of the filters. This way, particulates in the air are trapped in the air filter until you wash them off.

For this kind of washable filter, it is recommended that you wash them every three months. By doing this, you can be sure that your air filters will last for up to three years or more.

So, yes, you can wash your air filters. You only have to know what type of air filters you are dealing with. If you wash the disposable ones and use them again, you are only exposing yourself to health risks and reducing the quality of the air you are breathing in. 

Are Air Filters Hazardous Waste?

In the real sense, air filters might not be considered hazardous waste, but this does not mean you can deal with them anyhow. If you consider the purpose for which these air filters are used, you will understand better.

Air filters are used to trap dust, toxic chemicals, and harmful air particulates, so treating them properly is especially important for you. If you think, because it is not considered hazardous waste, you can litter it in your environment, you may just be creating a health hazard for you and your loved one.

At this point, you may be confused about how to deal with air filters. If it is not classified as hazardous waste but is just as dangerous to your health as hazardous waste, so what is the right way to dispose of them?

The next segment on whether you can trash your air filters touches this. So, follow through to learn more.

Can You Throw Away Air Filters In The Trash?

Since air filters are not recyclable, and due to the air particulates in them, you can’t use them for other things; the next thing to consider is whether you can throw away your air filters in the trash can.

Well, the short answer is yes. But then, behind this short answer is a long explanation of how cautious you should be when dealing with air filters. When deciding to throw away air filters, you have to follow some processes to ensure your safety and that of your loved ones. Below, we have explained the steps to take in trashing your air filters.

Note that you should only take the following steps to remove the air filters from the HVAC unit all by yourself. If you can’t, you might have to require an expert’s service before taking the following steps.

1. Carefully Remove The Air Filters

The first step is to carefully remove the HVAC unit’s air filters. This process is important because of the nature of the air filter. Remember that it has been used to filter air particulates, dust, and some harmful substances.

If you don’t carefully remove the air filters, you might spread the dirt and toxic waste to other areas in your home or offices, which might be harmful to your health.

2. Bag The Air Filters In A Plastic Bag

After carefully removing the HVAC air filters, the next thing is to bag it. To make the process safer, you might want to get a plastic bag ready and opened. Because what is contained in the air filters are easily airborne particulates, you should be careful about shaking them when you want to put them in a plastic bag. This is so that you don’t transfer the particulates to other areas of the homes or offices.

3. Tape The Plastic Bag And Dump It

The next and final step is for you to tape the plastic bag so that the air filters do not fall off it. After taping it, you can then take the taped plastic bag outside and trash it. This way, you have saved yourself and your loved ones from the health risks that the air filters may pose.

Taking all these steps would ensure that you properly dispose of your air filters without causing any health or environmental hazards.

What Can You Do With Old Air Filters?

If you have been following our blog posts for a while, you would have noticed that we always encourage you to make creative things out of your old stuff. Well, air filters seem to create an exception to that. And the reason this is so is not far-fetched.

We don’t advise people to do anything with old air filters because of the constituents. Air filters are always filled with a lot of dust and toxic air particulates. Dealing with air filters when used will create another problem for your health and the environment.

The best thing to do is to dispose of the old air filters. The right way to dispose of them has been explained above. Like we stated earlier, it is important you follow those steps to have a safer environment.

The only thing you can do with an old air filter is to rewash them. And this is only possible if you are dealing with reusable air filters. If what you have are disposable air filters, don’t nurse the idea of washing them because you will be creating more environmental and health issues for yourself and the people around you.


Air filters are one of the best innovations that the world has seen. They have helped us in many ways by purifying the air we breathe and indirectly raising our health quality. As good as they are, they can also cause problems for us if they are not properly taken care of. You have seen that recycling them may not be impossible because of the risk associated with such a process.

The only available option is for you to properly dispose of them in the trash can. Above, we have explained how you are to go about this to prevent causing problems for yourself or the environment.

As long as we wait for a more sustainable means of filtering the air, we all have to consciously deal with the current air filters to save ourselves from avoidable health hazards and save the environment.


Share on:

About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.