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How to Properly Dispose of a Dirty HVAC Filter


One of the most crucial—and frequently overlooked—parts of your HVAC system is the air filter. An old or clogged HVAC filter can be blamed, at least in part, for many of the problems that could cause your system to slow down or cease working. This makes replacing it every 30 to 60 days an important element of home upkeep.


This raises the issue of how to properly discard a used, filthy air filter. Can it just be tossed in the outside garbage can?   


Our HVAC pros at Frank Gay Services explain the best practices for disposing of an HVAC filter the right way. 

Disposing of a Dirty Air Filter  


First, you need to find out if your filter is disposable or not. If it is, then you can simply throw it away in the garbage. However, if it is not disposable, then you need to clean it and reuse it. 


To clean a reusable HVAC filter, simply remove it from the unit and rinse it off with warm water. You can also vacuum it with the hose attachment of your vacuum cleaner. Be sure to let the filter dry completely before putting it back.  


Follow the tips below to properly dispose of your air filter. Your home’s air quality will be better for it!  


#1. Put Your Old Filter into a Plastic Bag  


The most important thing to do first is to trap the old HVAC filter in a plastic trash bag.  


  • Wear gloves and a mask to avoid inhaling any debris.  
  • When changing your air filter, have a plastic trash bag at the ready.  
  • Once you remove the filter, immediately put it into the bag to prevent dust and particles from getting shaken off of the filter.  
  • Do your best not to shake or bump the filter in the bag too much, and make sure to tie up the garbage bag before tossing it.  


#2. Never Shake a Dirty Air Filter  


If you shake or hit your air filter against something, the majority of the dirt inside will likely become unsettled. Try your best not to do this!


Microscopic particles including mold spores, viruses, and germs may also be released back into the air in your home along with dust and debris.


If your air filter is dirty on the outside, what you see is only 

 a portion of the dirt and debris that the filter contains.  


Do yourself a favor; once the old filter is in a garbage bag, avoid any sudden movements until the bag is completely shut. More on that below!  


#3. Taping the Bag Shut  


The trash bag’s drawstrings can be tied to close the opening, but this won’t entirely seal the bag and keep all the debris and contaminants inside.


To go the additional mile, seal the trash bag with tape. This stops it from opening again.


Use additional tape if necessary to completely secure the bag. The quality of the seal will determine how clean the air inside your home is!


Dispose of Dirty Filters Outside  


Now that the filter is secured in a bag, don’t throw it away in the kitchen garbage. Take it outside and throw it out there.  


Even though you may have placed the soiled air filter in a garbage bag, objects in the trash can have a way of poking holes or puncturing bags. A little opening can let dust and other particles return to your indoor air.


Never Leave Your System Without a Filter  


This should go without saying, but we’ve seen and heard everything in our line of work. Be sure to completely shut off the HVAC system before changing the air filter to prevent forced airflow of contaminated air through your system.


Never change your air filter without replacing it.  


Replace the dirty air filter with a new one right away to ensure that your system is protected from dust and debris at all times 


Learn More > Ways Your HVAC System Affects Your Indoor Air Quality  


Enhance Your Indoor Air Quality 


If you want to improve your home’s air quality, make sure that you are changing your air filter every 30-60 days. And if you need help with indoor air quality issues like dusty air vents or high humidity, or your HVAC system needs a tune-up, call the pros at Frank Gay Services! 


Schedule HVAC service at (407) 329-5145. And remember, we are available 24/7 for HVAC emergencies!  


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