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How to Clean a Shop Vacuum / Wet Dry Vac Filter – Simple Guidelines

There has been an advancement in equipment and machinery for household and professional purposes in recent years. The gadgets and equipment have become way more convenient and utilitarian than ever before. One very common example is the vacuum cleaner. Gone are the days of bulky vacuum cleaners, which have now been replaced with Shop Vac vacuums. They are handy, light, sturdy, and way more efficient. But it is important to undertake proper maintenance. Even the cleaning devices require them to be cleaned thoroughly. Thus, vacuum filter cleaning requires sound knowledge about the proper ways to clean and maintain it. Let’s see why is it important and how to clean a Shop Vac filter correctly.

What is a Shopvac Filter?

A Shop Vac is an advanced version of traditional vacuum cleaners. It is a faithful partner with dry dust. One can also use Shop Vac for cleaning water, other spilled liquids, soggy carpets, dirty floors, etc. It is a piece of more efficient equipment with better performance than traditional vacuum cleaners. A Shop Vac can be used with or without filters, but for better performance, the safety of the equipment, and convenience, it is imperative to use it without filters.

Shop-vac filters are designed to suck in the tiniest of particles and dust. But for optimum usage, it is recommended to use quality Shop Vac filters and clean them timely and properly. This increases their lifetime.

Why Should One Clean Shop Vac Filters?

Every equipment or device which is used for cleaning purposes requires maintenance. But can you wash a Shop Vac filter? Yes, you can and of course it is necessary to clean the Shop Vac filters because the accumulation of dirt and debris after a point of time can lead to inefficiency and depreciation of the machinery. Regular cleaning of filters is important for longevity and performance. If one doesn’t consider cleaning the Shop Vac filters, there might be a situation when a bad odor might occur even after cleaning the room. This might happen due to the dirty filter in the Shop Vac. Dirty filters in Shop Vac can breed germs and lead to allergies and illness. The dust particles can also reduce the suction intensity, thereby putting pressure on the motor.

Materials Needed for Cleaning a Shop Vac Filter

It is crucial to have the right set of tools and materials to clean the Shop Vac filters. The required materials are-

  • For the air compressor- a hose
  • To keep eyes safe from dust- safety glasses.
  • To prevent inhalation of dirt particles, dust, and toxic chemicals- N95 mask or P100 respirator.
  • A plastic lid with a handle attached to hold it to cover the container in which the filter will be placed
  • A container, bin, garbage bag with a lid or zip to store the debris
  • Removable wooden caps to be placed on both ends of the filter
  • A rod or wooden stick to pass through the filter. It will help support the filter and turn it while being exposed to the air compressor.

How to Clean Shop Vac Filter?

Following steps should be followed meticulously to clean the Shop Vac filter-

  1. The power cord should be unplugged. The Shop Vac should be turned off to prevent electric shock or accidents.
  2. Use the Shop Vac manual to disassemble the machine and take out the filter from the inside of the Shop Vac.
  3. Put the filter in a big container/ trash can/bin, covered with a plastic lid, and tap the filter thoroughly to get the dust-out.
  4. Be careful to cover your eyes and mouth while tapping the filter in the container. A lot of dust will fall out during this process.
  5. Keep repeating the process of tapping the filter by moving it now and then in different directions to get the dust out properly.
  6. It is important to do this process outdoors because a lot of dust will fall off, which might not be a suitable scenario inside your house.
  7. The plastic lid should have a handhole for you to grab the filter while the container is mostly covered to prevent dust from flying in the surrounding.
  8. Put the temporary wooden/plastic lids on the end of the filter and then put the rod through the filter.
  9. Connect the air compressor with a hose and blow the filter with the help of the air compressor. This will remove the stuck dust particles.
  10. This process requires a lot of time and precautions. Keep your face covered throughout the process since there will be dust clouds blowing the filter.
  11. One can use a stick or a soft brush to run through the filter to remove the stubborn debris, which might not come out through air pressure.
  12. Finally, reinstall the filter back into the Shop Vac.

How Often Should One Change the Shop Vac Wet or Dry Filter?

Keeping the Shop Vac filter as clean and tidy as possible is important. One should look for certain situations to decide when to clean the filters.

  • If there is a trail of dust left behind after using the Shop Vac
  • Check if dust fumes are rising from the Shop Vac
  • If the suction of the Shop Vac is not strong enough

However, even after being meticulous with the maintenance of the Shop Vac and cleanliness of its filters, if

  • The problem of dust clouds, trails of dust, and the foul smell persists even after cleaning
  • If there is a tear, breakage, cuts in the filters, which hampers the machinery
  • If the Shop Vac produces noises

One should consider changing the Shop Vac filters.

Normally it is recommended to check the cleanliness status of the Shop Vac filter every once a month. However, if one maintains the Shop Vac properly, the filter can be used for more than 3 months very conveniently.


Can you use a Shop Vac without a filter?

You can use Shop Vac without a filter in some cases, like while cleaning outdoors or open spaces. But using it without filter in the enclosed places to clean dry or wet messes is not recommended.


It is imperative to be very particular about the cleanliness of the Shop Vac filters to prevent the accumulation of dirt and dust, which might clog the machinery and the performance of the motor of the Shop Vac. Simple yet effective strategies like the one mentioned above can help in improving the longevity and durability of the Shop Vac. It is also necessary to wear a preventative to protect your lungs and eyes while cleaning the filters. These little precautions go a long way.

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