Reusable Air Filters: What Are The Benefits And Limitations?

Learn about the advantages and limitations of reusable air filters. Find effective HVAC filters and air cleaner filters for your air conditioning system at Sandium.

Updated on Oct 23, 2023
5 min read
Reusable Air Filters: What Are The Benefits And Limitations?

A popular piece of advice that every HVAC professional loves to offer is to change air filters and for good reason too.

Clean air filters ensure that your unit does not have to work hard for regulating temperatures which results in improved efficiency and durability. However, changing the air filter regularly could severely add to your household cost and environmental impact. This is the reason why many homeowners prefer reusable air filters.

Here are the major benefits and limitations of reusable air filters to help you decide better.

Benefits of Reusable Air Filters

Protects the environment

Traditional filters are made of fiberglass filter material and a metal mesh inside a cardboard frame. Separating these materials for the purpose of recycling is time consuming. Fiberglass is non-biodegradable and definitely adds to the clutter at landfills.

Most HVAC professionals recommend changing air filters every six weeks. That could be eight air filters that you toss out every year and more if you have multiple vents. Washable electrostatic filters prevent this waste from cluttering landfills since most are made to last for up to five years.


It can get annoying pretty quickly to run to the hardware store in search of the right air filter. Now think about repeating the process every six weeks. It gets even more difficult to find the right size when you have a rare air filter size, such as 12 x 30 x 1 inch. Having a custom electrostatic air filter made can seriously save time.

Most homeowners find it more convenient and a lot simpler to wash their reusable air filter. All you need to do is flush the filter with water and then spray on a specialized filter cleaner. Rinse it and let dry which is easy to do in the Bay Area since it’s not humid here.

Limitations of Reusable Air Filters

Expensive Initially

Disposable air filters tend to look cheaper than their reusable counterparts. At $35 reusable air filters may seem like an expensive investment. However, if you are in the habit of changing your air filters frequently, then you could just cover up the investment in a few short months.

Poor Air Quality

MERV rating chart is used by manufacturers to rate the effectiveness of air filters. This stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. Basic or cheapest disposable air filters would garner a spot from 1 to 4 on this scale. Micro particle air filters are known to be anywhere upwards of 14 on the MERV ratings.

Unfortunately, reusable air filters are no better than their cheap disposable counterparts. They have been known to measure as low as 4 on the MERV scale. However, air conditioning experts believe that air filter quality is merely a myth. The real job of these filters is to protect the life of the HVAC system and not to improve the air quality.

The Bottom Line

The decision to make a switch to reusable air filters depends upon the kind of air quality you want in your home. You may want to stick to a disposable air filter if filtration and air purity is important to you. However, if going green or saving money is a priority then reusable air filters may just be the thing you want.

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