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How to Clean a K&N Air Filter

How to Clean a K&N Air Filter

Typically, air filter maintenance only takes removing the filter, throwing it away and putting in a fresh new one. But for those who choose a reusable air filter like those made by K&N, there is actual maintenance of the filter itself. Luckily, cleaning K&N air filter elements is easy to do and well worth the time investment. These same steps work for how to clean a K&N motorcycle air filter. Check out this video and then follow along below to get your K&N filter ready to hit the road again!

Gather Your Supplies

Before you begin cleaning a K&N air filter, you will need to gather a few supplies. Regardless of your kind of filter, you will need a water supply to wash and rinse. A garden hose is perfect and probably already handy. Pick an area to work that can get wet. You will hose down the filter and flush it with lots of water. A sink or driveway works nicely.

You will also need the appropriate K&N air filter cleaner products for your filter type. You should only use official K&N cleaning products or else you risk damaging your air filter. The easiest way is to get a K&N air filter cleaning kit for your filter type.

How to Clean K&N Air Filter Elements

Rinsing a K&N engine air filter

This is the type of filter most people think of when they picture cleaning a K&N washable air filter. For this job, you will need a K&N Filter Care Kit. This kit includes the special Power Kleen industrial strength degreaser safe for use with K&N filters, as well as the special red K&N air filter oil to refresh the filtering capability.

  1. Remove the air filter from the vehicle.
  2. Give the filter a few gentle taps to remove any loose debris.
  3. Spray both sides of the air filter thoroughly with Power Kleen degreaser. Set the filter aside and let it soak for roughly 10 minutes, but not too long as you don’t want the cleaner to dry.
  4. Using a water hose or faucet (you want low water pressure), rinse the filter from the clean side to the dirty side. Do not use any sort of pressurized sprayer, which could damage the filter. You want the water to flow the opposite direction of the air passing through the filter. This ensures dirt is carried away by the water and not embedded further. Rinse the filter until the water coming out is clear.
  5. Shake the filter gently a few times to remove excess water, then let it dry naturally in a safe place. It is important that the filter is completely dry before moving to the next step. Do NOT use any sort of pressurized air or heat to speed up the drying process. That means no compressed air, vacuums or heaters. A good spot in the warm sun works just fine.
  6. Apply a bead of air filter oil across the top of each pleat of the filter on both sides. Let the filter sit for 20 minutes while the oil soaks into the filter. After 20 minutes check the filter for any light-colored areas that need more oil. The goal is an even red color across the whole filter.
  7. The filter is now ready to reinstall.

How to Clean K&N Cabin Air Filter Elements

Rinsing a K&N cabin air filter

To clean a K&N cabin air filter, you will need a Cabin Air Filter Cleaner Kit. This kit includes the special cabin air filter cleaning spray along with the cabin air filter refresher spray. Do not use cleaners, oil or other products meant for engine air filters. Use only K&N products designed for use with their line of washable cabin air filters.

  1. Remove the cabin air filter from the vehicle. The cabin air filter is usually located behind the glove box door inside the dashboard.
  2. Give the filter a few gentle taps to remove any loose debris.
  3. Spray both sides of the cabin air filter with cabin air filter cleaning spray making sure that the dirty side is thoroughly coated. Set the filter aside and let it soak for roughly 10 minutes, but not too long as you don’t want the cleaner to dry.
  4. Using a water hose, rinse the filter from the clean side to the dirty side. Do not use any sort of pressurized sprayer, which could damage the filter. If necessary, you can cover the hose outlet with your thumb to create a gentle spray. You want the water to flow the opposite direction of the air passing through the filter. This ensures dirt is carried away by the water and not further embedded. Rinse the filter until the water coming out is clear.
  5. Shake the filter gently a few times to remove excess water, then let it dry naturally in a safe place for half an hour. A good spot in the warm sun works just fine.
  6. Spray the entire filter thoroughly on both sides with cabin air filter refresher.
  7. The filter is now ready to reinstall.

Now that you know how to clean a K&N air filter, you need to know how often to clean K&N air filter elements. Engine air filters need inspected every year and cleaned when the wire mesh is covered. Cabin air filters need cleaned once a year.

The best way to clean K&N air filter elements is with a little more money in your pocket! Sign up for NAPA Rewards and start earning Points immediately. You’ll get one Point for every $1 you spend at NAPAonline.com or your local participating NAPA Auto Parts store. Once you get 100 Points, you will get $5 off your next purchase!

Brian Medford View All

With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of his many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible, BMW E46 sedan, and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.

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