How to Clean a K&N Air Filter: A Simple, But Long Process

11:37 PM April 10, 2019

You’ve probably wondered how to clean a K&N air filter if you have this product in your vehicle. Sure, it is one of the simplest upgrades you can complete, but it is often overlooked when it can provide substantial value.

How to Clean a K&N Air Filter – What is a K&N Air Filter?

What is KN air filter

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A K&N air filter is designed to increase horsepower and acceleration while protecting your engine from harmful debris. K&N replacement automotive air filter products are available for most cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATV’s, and other vehicles.

Unlike disposable filters, which require frequent replacement, K&N air filters are washable, reusable, and engineered to last for the life of your vehicle. It is engineered to fit into your factory air box as easily as any other air filter. You can even install it in less than five minutes with no tools necessary.

How to Clean a K&N Air Filter – The Process

KN filter process

Most people install a K&N air filter and completely forget about it. As time passes by, the once new air filter collects thousands of miles worth of dust and filth, damaging airflow and obstructing optimal operation. However, the million-mile warranty on K&N air filters doesn’t mean it will perform optimally without occasional maintenance and cleaning. This is where learning how to clean a K&N air filter comes in handy.

How to Clean a K&N Air Filter – When To Clean?

KN filter check

How do you clean a K&N air filter, you ask? Well, first you have to know the basics. For about every 15 thousand miles of regular highway driving, you should do a visual inspection of it. However, if you live where there is a lot of dust or dirt roads, you should inspect your filter more frequently.

K&N air filters that fit into the factory air box can go up to 50,000 miles before cleaning is required, and large conical filters on a K&N air intake system can go up to 100,000 miles before needing to be cleaned, depending on your driving conditions.

The environment you’re driving in does impact  the amount of service your filter requires. You should also clean it more often for the best appearance as an exposed element air filter.

The filter should be cleaned and refreshed when you are not able to see the aluminum mesh that encases the filter. To do so, take it out from your vehicle and gently pat it out to get rid of the heavier dirt from it, before spraying it with the K&N cleaner.

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How to Clean a K&N Air Filter – Start Cleaning

KN filter clean

Next, spray your air filter with the K&N cleaner generously, and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before rinsing. Wash the element from the inside first with low pressure water, then wash it from the outside. Repeat the cleaning procedure and wash again for filters that are extra dirty. Never use a brush to clean your K&N air filter, as this will damage its filtering material.

Remove excess water by shaking the filter out, and allow it to air dry for a few hours. Want to speed up the drying process? Use a hair dryer to dry it out, but make sure it doesn’t cause excess heating to avoid damaging your filter.

Furthermore, do not use high pressure air, because it will damage the filter’s microfibers and invalidate the warranty.

How to Clean a K&N Air Filter – Oil

KN filter oil

Once the filter is dry, you can now spread on the oil. If you’re applying the aerosol type oil, spray the filter with one good coat of oil, and let it soak for about 20 minutes. Then, if necessary, touch up any parts that need it until the oil forms an even coating.

If you’re using the squeeze bottle oil, apply the oil on each pleat, moving length-wise along the pleats to fully cover them. Then, let it saturate for about 30 minutes before installation.

How to Clean a K&N Air Filter – Conclusion

KN filter summary

With these simple steps, your K&N air filter is now as good as new, which in turn will result in better performance from your vehicle. Try to make it a habit to check the filter whenever you open the hood; Optimal airflow for engines allow the machines to function with max power, fuel efficiency, and overall maintenance health. Learning how to clean a K&N air filter is a valuable skill.

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