Washable Vs Disposable Air Filters: Which Is Better?

AC filter check

If you’ve owned a home for any length of time, you know that air filters are essential to the indoor air quality of your home and the overall efficiency of your HVAC system. When your filters get clogged up with dust and debris, it can create issues for your household. Typically, we recommend checking your filters every 30 days and changing them before they reach this stage.

Most people will opt for disposable filters as they don’t have to do any cleaning. But some may opt to go with washable filters to save on frequent trips to the store. The question is, which is better: washable or disposable? To begin to answer this question, let’s breakdown how the two compare in three key areas: price, performance, and maintenance.


Let’s be honest, price plays a key factor in your decision making process. Thus, your household budget may determine which filter is best for your family.

On average, washable air filters costs $75–$100 each. Upfront, this might seem like a hefty investment but remember you don’t need to buy these often—as most last several years with proper care. Disposable filters, on the other hand, cost $15–$20 each on average. And there are also ways to save on the average cost if you purchase in bulk or catch them on sale. In the beginning, it may seem that disposable filters are the best bang for your buck. However, long term, the overall cost for washable filters will likely be the same or even lower than the cost of disposable filters.


Both washable and disposable filters are reliable options for your HVAC system. However, disposable filters are often considered to have superior performance overall. This is because washable filters tend to have a much lower minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). What does this mean? It means that hey are less efficient at capturing indoor pollutants such as dust mites, pollen particles, and carpet fibers. Disposable filters come in a much wider range of MERV ratings, allowing you to choose the level of efficiency that is best for you. There are some disposable filters that can capture up to 95% of the large pollutants circulating in the air.


This might seem pretty straightforward based on the descriptions of the filters. Technically, both washable and disposable filters require regular maintenance to ensure your HVAC system runs at peak performance. The difference comes in the maintenance process. The Air Hawk team recommends that you check your air filters every 30 days.

If you’re using washable filters, your monthly maintenance will require more of your time. You will first need to remove the filter, wash it thoroughly, allow it to dry completely, and then replace it. This process could take 15 to 20 minutes. Disposable filters on the other hand, take no time at all as all you need to do is remove the old filter and replace it with a new one.

Determining which air filter is better really depends on your family’s needs and the amount of time you’re willing to spend on maintenance. Each option has its pros and cons—so we recommend taking the time to consider price, performance, and maintenance before making a decision.

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