Can You Use a Vacuum Without the HEPA Filter?

Updated byPenny
Can You Use a Vacuum Without the HEPA Filter?

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A lot of vacuum cleaners come with a HEPA filter nowadays. They are a godsend. When I have one in my vacuum, it stops me from sneezing. Plus, the house smells fresh, and the air is cleaner than before I started vacuuming.

If you took the HEPA filter out of your vacuum because it was clogged, you might be wondering whether your vacuum will work without the HEPA filter.

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Should you use your vacuum without the HEPA filter?

Miele vacuum filters

I thought I was being clever when I took out my HEPA filter. Suddenly the vacuum had amazing suction. It seemed to work so much better than before!

Is it really necessary to use a HEPA filter in your vacuum?

I may have saved money by not replacing the HEPA with a new one, but in fact, I was paying for that saving with a smelly and dusty house.

When I finally realized it was the lack of a HEPA filter in my vacuum that was causing all these problems, I wasted no time in getting a new filter.

What is a HEPA filter?

HEPA is a type of air filter. It stands for ‘High-Efficiency Particulate Air’. Vacuum cleaners, particularly those designed for cleaning up after pets, often contain HEPA filters. If you have allergies, you will want to look out for a vacuum that contains this type of filter.

What makes a HEPA filter so good at filtering air?

A HEPA air filter comprises thousands of fine fibers that can trap tiny airborne particles. All HEPA filters will have been tested and approved against a standard that ensures close to 100% of air particles are removed.

If your vacuum cleaner contains a HEPA filter, you can be confident that any air pushed out by the vacuum is clean air. In fact, it can make the air cleaner than it was before you started to vacuum.

If you have family members who are sensitive to airborne dust and pollen, a HEPA filter will help tremendously when it comes to cleaning up.

What happens when you remove the HEPA filter?

teddybear wearing a mask

Provided your vacuum continues to work without its HEPA filter (the Shark Duoclean does not), removing it will result in fine dust circulating in the air when you vacuum your floor.

You might see your carpet or hard floor getting cleaner as you vacuum, but the tiny dust particles that you can’t see will end up in the air around you until eventually, they settle on other surfaces in your home. Before that happens, you will most certainly have suffered an allergic reaction if you are sensitive.

I noticed a big difference when I ran my Miele without the HEPA. I found myself sneezing and blowing my nose. It wasn’t very nice at all. The effect was made worse because we have a dog.

Can you use a Shark vacuum without HEPA filter?

My particular Shark vacuum (the DuoClean) does not work if you remove the filter. Fortunately, the filters can be washed, so there is no need to wait for an order to arrive. I can simply wash them, let them dry and then put them back in the vacuum.

I bought a second set of filters so that I could switch them out quickly without having to wait for them to dry.

Colorfullife Replacement Filters for Shark ION Flex DuoClean X30 X40 F60 F80 IF200 IF201 IF202 IF205 IF251 IF252 IF281 IF282 IF285 UF280 IC205 IR70 IR100 IR101, Replace XPREMF100 XPSTMF100
Colorfullife Replacement Filters for Shark ION Flex DuoClean X30 X40 F60 F80 IF200 IF201 IF202 IF205 IF251 IF252 IF281 IF282 IF285 UF280 IC205 IR70 IR100 IR101, Replace XPREMF100 XPSTMF100
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Can you use a Miele vacuum without the HEPA filter?

I have a Miele vacuum and I found it can be used without the HEPA filter which is what I did before I realized what an essential part of the vacuum the HEPA filter is.

On the plus side, I found that the suction level on my vacuum went up considerably after I removed the HEPA filter. What didn’t help is that the HEPA filter I removed was very clogged and was actually stopping the vacuum from working.

I ran my vacuum without the HEPA filter for a few days before I got a replacement filter. I definitely noticed how much more I was sneezing. Also, the dog smell coming from my vacuum was a lot worse.

Once the new HEPA filter arrived, the dog smell vanished immediately, the air felt so much cleaner, and the suction level on the machine was high.

Can you use a Dyson vacuum without the HEPA filter?

woman vacuuming

Yes, you can use your Dyson without its HEPA filter. However, it isn’t a great idea because the dust you suck up from the carpet will circulate in the air and then rest on other surfaces, so you will have more to clean up later. If you have allergies then you might find yourself having an allergic reaction whilst cleaning.

How to clean a HEPA filter

How you clean your filter will depend on your particular vacuum. Always check the manual. Cleaning your HEPA filter by vacuuming it or washing it could damage the fibers inside making them less efficient at filtering out the tiny particles.

In some cases, it might not be possible to wash your HEPA filter, if not you will need to replace it.

For my Miele Cat and Dog vacuum, the HEPA filter cannot be cleaned it can only be replaced. Fortunately, replacement filters can be bought easily online. There are cheaper pattern versions available to buy which may or may not do an effective job.

My tip would be to find the model number for your HEPA filter and search online for that. You should find both original and cheaper copies. I bought both an original and a copy for my Miele and found that both worked very well. It’s difficult to say for sure how effective the copy is but they both cured my smelly vacuum.

Sometimes you can wash HEPA filters. This is very handy because it means you don’t have to keep shelling out for a new filter. The downside of this is that you are exposing yourself to the dust as you take it out to wash it. This would not be the case for a self-contained HEPA that has to be replaced.

My Shark DuoClean vacuum has a washable HEPA filter. The filter and the outer foam can be washed in cold water. I found it useful to buy a second set of filters, so I could quickly switch them out when required.

How to wash your HEPA filter

  1. Remove it from the vacuum.
  2. Tap it on a hard surface to remove as much dust as you can.
  3. Wash it in cold water.
  4. Allow it to dry naturally before you put it back in your machine.

Pro-tip: The manufacturer of my vacuum (Shark) says to use only water for washing the HEPA filter, but I use laundry detergent. This does a much better job of cleaning it, plus the vacuum smells fresh when I use it.

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Sparkling Penny

Penny | Sparkling Penny

Penny’s expert cleaning advice has been featured repeatedly by Homes and Gardens Magazine, and also at wikiHow, The Daily Express Newspaper, and Glam Magazine to name a few! was founded in 2019 and has since helped millions of people achieve a cleaner living space.

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Sometimes vacuum's can still work when you remove the HEPA filter. But should you do it? Plus, the best way to clean your vacuum's HEPA filter. I cover Shark, Dyson and Miele.