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9 Filters in Your Home You Don’t Know About — and How to Clean or Replace Them

Did you know there are filters in your house that you’re probably not changing often enough? Our infographic shows how to clean or replace filters on a range hood vent, water dispenser and more.

After a big cleaning frenzy, your house might look spotless, with no corner left unpolished and not a speck of dust in sight. But despite your home’s shining outward appearance, you may have missed some crucial areas while cleaning.

Hiding inside your now dust- and smudge-free appliances are filters that are often neglected. You may not even be aware of some of these filters — and those you do know of are easy to forget about. For example, when’s the last time you cleaned your dishwasher’s filter or replaced the filter in your fridge’s water dispenser? What about your HVAC filter? Find out how often these filters need to be changed or cleaned.

Home Filters

9 Filters in Your Home You Didn’t Know About

1. HVAC

Your HVAC system should get a thorough checkup twice a year, but what about its filter? A dirty filter means the system will have to work harder to cool or heat the space, which could cause your HVAC to break down or, worst-case scenario, require it to be replaced entirely.

Additionally, skipping regular filter replacements could lead to a dustier home and affect air quality, dispersing potentially hazardous airborne particulates throughout your house.

Most HVAC filters should be replaced every two months or so. If you have pets, have a large family, smoke, suffer from severe allergies, live in a windy area or are undergoing a home renovation, you’ll want to replace your filter every month.

Tip! Make sure you note your HVAC filter’s size before buying a replacement. An ill-fitting filter can cause the same issues as a dirty one.

2. Range Hood Vent

A greasy hood vent may not seem like a big inconvenience — after all, you don’t see it every day — but without regular maintenance, it can turn into a mess for your cooktop.

Ideally, you should be cleaning your vent every one to three months to avoid your range hood from losing effectiveness due to grease and gunk. If you’re an avid cook, you may want to give it a good scrub more often.

Thankfully, cleaning it is simple. All you need to do is slide the filter out of the range hood, put it in boiling water — be careful! — along with a squirt of degreasing soap and 1/4 cup of baking soda. Let it soak for at least 10 minutes, then scrub any remaining grease. Once it’s dry, slide it back in, and you’re good to go.

3. Fridge Water Dispenser

If your water or ice is starting to taste a bit funky, a dirty filter may be the cause. A clogged filter can’t fully remove lead, chlorine and other impurities that cause bad tastes or odors. To avoid this, you should aim to replace your filter every six to 12 months, depending on frequency of use.

Some fridge models will indicate when it’s time, but a taste test is a surefire way to diagnose a dirty filter.

Consult your owner’s manual for directions on how to change the filter, as each model is slightly different.

4. Dishwasher

Cleaning your dishwasher may seem redundant. Shouldn’t it just clean itself when it washes your dishes? Well, unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Some dishwashers do have a self-cleaning automatic filter that grinds down food so it rinses away with the wastewater. But many use a manual filter since it’s quieter. You should clean it every week or so — whenever you see food accumulating.

A dirty filter can affect your machine’s performance. To get the most out of your dishwasher, remove the filter and clear out any debris left behind. Then, hand-wash the filter with warm, soapy water. Use an old toothbrush to get to any tough-to-remove food particles. Then put the filter back in your machine.

5. Built-in Microwave

A microwave positioned over the stove can collect grease in its filter, resulting in a fan that can’t exhaust properly or capture cooking fumes. To avoid this, wash the filter once or twice a year in warm, soapy water.

Tip! Some microwave filters are dishwasher safe.

6. Humidifier

A humidifier is a great addition to your home: Not only does it add moisture to dry air, it can help prevent airborne illnesses. However, humidifiers can also circulate mold, fungi or bacteria if the filter isn’t cleaned or replaced consistently.

You should replace or clean the filter every month or two. While you can attempt to clean the wick filter, it can be time-consuming and difficult to remove all the buildup. It’s often easiest to replace the filter instead.

If you choose to clean it, submerge it in hot, soapy water and do your best to scrub off the residue. If that doesn’t do the trick, try a vinegar and water solution.

7. Air Purifier

You can’t have clean air with a dirty filter. In fact, a clogged filter can cause an air purifier to choke or stop working entirely. Reference your device’s manual to see how often the filter should be changed, as there are a variety of options available. In general, replace HEPA filters every 12 to 18 months, carbon filters every three to six months, wick filters every two months, and mineral absorption pads every two to three weeks.

Many air purifiers have an indicator that will tell you when to check the filter — though keep in mind, they’re hardly foolproof.

8. Pool

Maintaining a pool can be tough, but taking care of its filter doesn’t have to be. In fact, it may be one of the easiest aspects of pool maintenance.

Pool filters have a long lifespan, anywhere from one to two years, depending on how often you use your pool. The filter’s effectiveness can drop dramatically from contact with body oils, suntan lotion, deodorant, hair products and other chemicals.

Cleaning the filter regularly helps, though. Every week, rinse off the filter with water and brush it to remove any buildup.

9. Dryer

If you remember to swipe the lint from the dryer filter after every use, bravo! Regularly removing the lint from the dryer improves how efficiently the machine can dry clothes.

However, there’s some lint that you’re probably forgetting about. You should also inspect the dryer duct regularly to avoid lint buildup, which could be a potential fire hazard.