Types of Vacuum Cleaner Filters

The primary purpose of a vacuum cleaner is to clean the surface. Sucking the dust particles by air pressure and storing them into a bag. There are filters in every vacuum cleaner to purify the air because it releases air back to the environment, which may contain allergens. Therefore, it is essential that you not only know how filters work but also understand the various types that we have out there.

There are various types of filters in the market now with different features. We will be discussing the types of filters available for vacuum cleaners in detail.

What are the Primary and Secondary filters?

Primary filter 

Most of the vacuum cleaners come with only more than one filter. One of them works primarily, and others function secondarily. The primary filter’s job is to collect the dirt and put it into the bag.

Secondary filter 

A secondary filter backs up the primary filter in the filtration process. This secondary filter captures the smaller dust particles that were missed by the primary filter.

Different type of Vacuum Cleaner filters

Cartridge filters

It is one of the most commonly used filters in vacuum cleaners. They come in a circular design and are usually made with synthetic materials or folded paper. This enhances the filtration process by increasing the surface area.

Though some cartridge filters can be washed, others need to be replaced from time to time. The filter sizes are different for every different model, so make sure to look for the measurement of your old cartridge filter before buying a new one. Here are the few featured cartridge filters that are well known:

  • HEPA filter
  • ULPA filter

HEPA filter 

HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. These filters are made of glass fibers. Researches have shown that a HEPA filter must trap 99.97% of particulates 0.3 microns or larger. This does not mean that HEPA filters cannot capture particles smaller than 0.3 microns because some of the HEPA filters can. It blocks every dust particles, allergens and in the end, it releases back purified air to your home environment.

Although HEPA filters are unable to remove any bad odor or smell, you cannot wash these filters, nor can you reuse it. After a specific time, you have to replace these HEPA filters. These are ideal for people who have allergies or asthma.

ULPA filter 

ULPA stands for Ultra-low penetration air. ULPA filter can remove at least 99.99% of particles 0.12 ?m in diameters, such as dust, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles. These filters are specially designed for use in classrooms and precision assembly areas. The filter consists of fragile and dense material. This material catches particles of dust from the air that penetrates it.

It is necessary to fold the filtering material to achieve sufficient airspeed through the face of the filter. It is proven that ULPA filters work more efficiently than HEPA filters. The ULPA filters have the advantage of avoiding previous deficiencies in HEPA units.

FiltersMaterialWhat it can captureReusable or washable
HEPAGlass fibersIt can capture particles of size 0.3 microns in diameter.Most of them are non-washable.
ULPAGlass fibersIt can capture particles of size 0.12 microns in diameter.Most of them are non-washable.
Cloth filterClothIt can capture large size particles.Most of them are washable.
Foam filterFoamIt can capture small size particles.Most of them are washable.
Disk filterCloth or paperIt can capture small size particles.Most of them are non-washable.

Foam filters

The foam filters are placed after the canister or primary filter. This is why it is more like a secondary filter. The purpose of the foam filters is to filter the dirt after the whole thing has passed through the primary filtration method.

Read the manual to make sure that these foam filters are washable, so you can clean it properly and reuse it again for as many times as possible. The only major con of these filters is that it gets clogged easily.

Cloth filters

The vacuum cleaner you use at home does not come with these cloth filters. They are usually found in industrial models of vacuum because they are used to filter large-sized dust, dirt particles. They are sturdy and can withstand heavy cleaning. Although they are unable to remove small particles of dirt. They usually need to be used alongside a secondary filter. Also, they can be washed and reused if done carefully.

Disk filters

As the name suggests, these filters come in the shape of a disk. They are the most popular choice when it comes to cordless vacuum cleaners. They are usually made of cloth or paper. These filters are capable of capturing low to moderate levels of dirt particles.

It needs to be changed frequently than the other filters. The ones made with cloth are usually washable, but paper one isn’t.

Standard features to Consider

Micro fresh filters

The micro fresh filters contain a chemical that will help to prevent fungi, bacteria from building up in the filter. The non-toxic chemical sterilizes the air output effectively before it is released back in the air. This chemical is not harmful to humans. People with an allergy will benefit from this.

Allergen filters

These filters are designed in a way to capture even the tiniest particles. The air that comes out of it will be allergen-free. It is very healthy for you and mainly for people with asthma.

Washable filters

These filters are the ones that last longer, can be washed as many times as you want and reuse it. They increase the efficiency of the vacuum cleaner. Be sure to check that it gets dried out properly before putting it back in the machine. Also, check the manual of your vacuum cleaner to make sure it is made of cloth before you wash it.

Water filtration

These filters are designed to remove dirt from the air. It is an effective way to capture dust and dirt particles of varying sizes. There’s no need to empty or replace the water filtration every time it is used.

Scented filters

Sometimes the room environment is contaminated by odor or bad smell. This scented filter is an effective way of making that odor go away from the environment. Once the vacuum cleaner has sucked the air, it will release the pleasant smell back to the atmosphere. There are many scented filters available in the market to choose from.

Pet filters

These filters are designed to pick pet hair from the air of your room. If you add baking soda to the filter, it may also be used to get rid of pet odor.

Wet/Dry Filters

This is to be used only with wet/dry vacuum cleaners. Many people make a mistake by fitting such a vacuum cleaner with standard filters. In such a case, its efficiency is watered down.


These are the various types of filters of a vacuum cleaner. If you know about your filter, you will not find any difficulty removing them or washing them in the future. I hope this article helps you find what you seek.


Megha Kothari

Megha leads the content strategy and oversees an amazing team of writers, editors, and designers, all having one goal in mind – to create brilliant content that helps people make the right purchase investment. When she is not working, you can find her enjoying making delicious food and planning her next travel.

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