How to Clean a K&N Air Filter at Home: Quick Rinsing, Drying & Oiling 2023

In this article, you will learn about how to clean a K&N air filter. That K&N filter in your vehicle, you need to know how best you can maintain it.

The H&N air filter is known for its durability and how long it can last in terms of usage and performance.

When compared to its counterpart; “the paper filter,” the K&N air filter is miles ahead in terms of maintenance and performance.

For instance, the K&N air filter can cover thousands of miles or reused when properly cleaned from time to time, something the paper filter lacks.

When you make use of the K&N filter, the need for constant replacement of your air filter is eradicated.

The K&N air filter is easy to maintain, all you need is to get it sprayed with a cleaning solution, get it rinsed, and it is important you oil it as well.

When you invest your time to get your K&N filter properly cleaned, it keeps it in perfect condition which in turn has a great influence on the mileage of your vehicle and the general performance.


Step By Step Process: How To Clean A K&N Air Filter

In this section, we will talk about various approaches and steps that you can adopt to effectively clean your air filter.

The following are some of the steps to follow:

01. Take out the filter

The air filter of your vehicle is in the engine section. In case you do not know where exactly the air filter is in the engine section of your vehicle, we will explain it here.

On most occasions, the air filter is kept in a big box. The big box is made of plastic. The way this plastic box is designed makes it very easy to identify it.

In case anything is holding down the air filter, make sure you detach it and pull out the filter at once.

The appearance of the air filter may vary from one vehicle to another. You should not expect all models of vehicles to have the same air filter in terms of appearance or shape.

In some vehicles, the air filter may have a flat shape, a circular shape, and it may be conical.

No matter the shape and design of the air filter in your car, the cleaning process remains the same.

Once the air filter has been removed, to make sure your engine is kept safe and free from debris or dirt, it is advised to make use of a towel or other suitable object to cover the air intake port.

02. Find out if your air filter is dirty

The next thing to do after you must have removed your air filter is to verify if it needs to be cleaned.

When it comes to the K&N air filter, the manufacturer advised vehicle owners to service it only, when any part of the filter’s folds are excessively covered with dust.

By “excessively,” this means you can only consider cleaning or servicing of the air filter when any part of the filter’s folds can no longer be seen.

After you must have removed your air filter, if the pleats can be seen clearly, there may not be any need to get the air filter cleaned, even when it looks like it is dirty.

In a situation whereby the filter appears blocked, and you can’t see any traces of the oil coat, it is evident that you have to get it cleaned. The oil coat is red.

03. Take out the dust and dirt

While shaking out the dust and dirt, make sure you are gentle at it. When you gently shake your air filter, the dust and dirt that are on the surface are removed.

Before you commence with the cleaning of your air filter, make sure you put on a mask to cover your nose and make sure your eyes are also protected from being affected by dust particles.

When the air filter is shaken so hard or you directly hold on the pleats, this approach could damage it instead.

In case you do not know how best to shake the air filter, to avoid any form of damage to it, you can make use of a brush to get rid of the dust. Make sure you make use of a soft brush.

We always advise that your air filter should be removed outdoor to avoid any form of untidiness.

04. Get the air filter sprayed with a cleaner

Here, you need to spray the air filter with a solution. This is simple. Your K&N air filter comes with a bottle of cleaning solution.

For an effective application, make sure you apply the solution abundantly on the two sides of the air filter.

While cleaning your air filter, the focus should be on the inside surface and the outside surface of your filter.

In most situations, we see a lot of vehicle owners focusing on the outside surface only.

While cleaning the exterior pleats, make sure you focus on each pleat by spraying them individually.

When spraying the filter, make sure you make use of adequate solutions on the two sides.

The filter must be well coated with the solution.

From time to time, you can easily purchase the cleaning solution for your K&N filter online and you can also visit any auto accessories store around you.

05. Leave the solution on the Filter for a few minutes

Once you have adequately applied the spraying solution on your air filter, make sure you leave it for up to ten (10) minutes before you rinse the solution away.

The advantage of allowing the cleaner to stay on the filter for that long is to support the easy removal of stubborn dirt.

After ten minutes, you can clean off the solution using a towel, and you can as well wash with water. Make sure you do not forget to clean it up as fast as possible.

It is advised that you do not allow the cleaner to dry off while still on the filter.

Effective Rinsing and Drying K&N Filter

This section tells you about how best you can rinse the cleaning solution off your filter, and how you can dry it.

The following are effective steps you can follow:

Rinse with cool water

The interior and exterior parts of your filter must be properly rinsed. To start with, make sure the flow of water from your tap is regulated. The flow must not be heavy.

Once you have your tap running, place your filter directly under the water. Make sure the water passes through it from the inside to the outside.

This allows the water to easily wash away the dislodged dirt and dust from the application of the cleaning solution.

When you rinse from the inside, it will flush out the dislodged particles against rinsing from the outside which may push the dislodged particles more inside the filter.

If your air filter is excessively dirty, cleaning and rinsing may need to be carried out more than once to ensure it achieves a sparkling clean appearance.

How to Clean a K&N Air Filter at home

Photo credit: Wikimedia, c.c

Get rid of the excess water

Before you re-install the air filter back to its position, make sure there is no excess water stored in it.

You can get rid of excess water that may be stored in the filter by resting it against an object that can support its weight.

Make sure the filter is positioned in a way that allows excess water to get off. While at this, make sure the filter is well handled to avoid damage.

Once you are convinced that the excess water has been removed, the next step is to dry the filter.

You can achieve this by making use of a dry towel.

Make sure your choice of towel is clean. To support the drying process, you can place the filter in an area where air can easily penetrate and where the temperature is not too hot.

Don’t be in a rush

If you are air-drying your filter inside the house, it takes up to eight (8) hours before it becomes completely dry.

We always advise vehicle owners to clean their air filters during the period when they won’t make use of their vehicles.

For instance, you can choose to clean the air filter late in the evening and leave it to dry while you are asleep.

In case of emergency, after you must have removed and cleaned your K&N filter, pending the time it dries, you can make use of a disposable air filter.

Also, ensure you do not engage in oil applications when your filter is still in the drying phase. You can only apply oil when it is dry and free from excess water.

Oiling K&N Air Filter

Once you have successfully cleaned your filter and it’s free from excessive water, the next thing to do is application of oil.

The following are effective means of oil application on your air filter:

Make sure that the pleats in the filter are coated with oil individually

When you purchase the K&N air filter, it also comes with a bottle or can of oil. During application, make sure you aim directly at each pleat while applying the oil.

Whatever the application method you adopt; this is determined by the type of oil container that comes with your air filter, make sure the oil is applied uniformly and adequately.

In some cases, the oil comes in a squeeze can or bottle, and it can also come in a spray bottle or can.

For the squeeze bottle, you should apply the oil over the pleats by squeezing out the content and placing the tip of the bottle on the pleat one after the other.

For spray, make sure the filter is placed a few distances away from the spray’s nozzle to achieve a uniform coating.

To know if you have sprayed the filter with adequate oil, K&N filter oil has a color that is different from the regular oil, the color is slightly red.

With the red dye that is contained in the oil, the areas sprayed are covered in red. So, to ascertain uniform application, the filter must be completely covered in red.

After application, make sure you clean off surplus oil. To avoid wastage, you can direct excess oil from the edges of the air filter to the pleats. Ensure even distribution.

The application should be done in a place where there is adequate air, preferably outside the house.

And make sure you keep away your eyes and nose from being affected by possible spillage.

Give the oil a few minutes before re-installation

When the oil is adequately and uniformly applied across the surface of your air filter, it enables the filter to hold the particles that may try to force their way into the air intake during installation.

Asides from that, the oil as well acts as anti-rust, thereby improving the lifespan of the air filter.

Re-install the filter back to its position

Now, it’s time to insert the air filter back into the engine compartment. Once installed, do not forget to clip back the parts that secure the filter.

With proper maintenance of your air filter, the engine of your vehicle is enhanced. You can confidently cover up to 50,000 miles of fun rides.

FAQ’s About How to Clean a K&N Air Filter

What type of oil can I use for my K&N filter?

Just as we have discussed in this article, the K&N filter comes with its specified oil.

In case you exhaust the oil that comes with it, and you can’t find the actual replacement, you can alternatively make use of the power steering fluid.

What happens if the air filter is not properly oiled?

If you fail to oil your air filter properly, it may reduce the sensitivity of the mass airflow.

Where should I spray the oil?

You can spray the two sides of the filter. Makes sure you only spray upon confirmation that the filter is dry and free of excess water.

When do I know if my air filter is due for a cleaning?

We advise that you should always have a check on the filter for every twenty-five thousand (25,000) miles you cover.


The K&N air filter is built to last for a very long time. Although it is durable, you should never abuse it.

So, we advise that you should always have a check on the filter of your vehicle for every twenty-five thousand (25,000) miles you cover.

Also, if you had inserted any object inside the air intake after the removal of the filter for cleaning, do not forget to take it out before you re-install the filter.