How to Clean K&N Air Filter? – The Ultimate Guide [2023]

As humans, we need oxygen to breathe. A vehicle needs oxygen for a good combustion process; the air filter keeps the fuel and air mixture in good condition. That is why knowing a proper answer for how to clean K&N air filter can make a huge difference. Before we discuss the main topic, you need a good understanding of how the K&N air filter works; So let us talk about that for a moment.

Use of a K&N Air Filter

As mentioned in the introduction, an air filter can maintain a good mixture of fuel and air; also, it prevents dust, insects, particles, debris, or sand from reaching your engine; the air filters come in different shapes like circular panels or cylindrical.

Difference Between Ordinary Air Filter and K&N

K&N air filters are available for cars, motorcycles, trucks, ATVs, and other vehicles; most of the air filters in the market are not reusable; you will need to replace them regularly.”

On the other hand, K&N air filters are reusable, washable, and designed to last for a long time; these air filters are designed to fit perfectly into your vehicle’s airbox. So you do not need to make any adjustments. Unless you ordered the wrong model, the installation would only take five minutes.

Why Do I Have to Clean My K&N Air Filter?

Most people do not realize that even the K&N air filter needs a good cleaning once in a while; they will install the air filter and forget about it entirely. But, as mentioned above, you need to clean the air filter properly to get the maximum performance out of it.

“Even though K&N air filters have a million-mile warranty, that does not mean it’s invulnerable. With every mile your vehicle travels, air filters collect dust and filth nonstop; so, to keep the air filter in good shape, you need to clean it.”

When to Clean the K&N Air Filter?

You should know when to clean the K&N air filter before finding the answers to how to clean the K&N air filter; So, let us discuss that.

First, follow the basic procedure; Every 25000 miles, you should check your air filter; This visual inspection will help you understand any issues with the K&N air filter. However, if you are driving on a dust or dirt road, this might change; you will have to check the filter regularly; because there might be more dust and dirt in the air filter.

Also, some K&N air filters might not need cleaning until 50000 miles, and filters like the K&N large conical filter will need cleaning after 100000 miles. These numbers can change depending on your driving skills and conditions.

Symptoms of a Dirty K&N Air Filter

Apart from the above point, some common symptoms suggest an issue with your air filters. So, if you encounter the following symptoms, you should examine the vehicle with the help of a professional.

  • Misfiring engine
  • Check engine light on or blinking
  • Reduced power from the engine
  • Higher fuel economy
  • Unusual sound from the engine
  • Dark and black smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe
  • Engine pulling, lagging or tugging

If you ignore these symptoms, the results can be disastrous, hence you should act immediately.

Cleaning the K&N Air Filter

“Even though the K&N air filter is famous for its durability and long lifespan, you should clean it regularly; Also, its reusable quality is very beneficial for you.”

All you need to do is clean your old K&N air filter, and it will be ready for you to use again. This section will discuss how to clean a K&N air filter and follow the below steps correctly to get the best performance for your K&N air filter.

Removing and Cleaning the Filter

Step 1: Remove the Filter

Open the hood of your vehicle; now, you can see all of the engine compartments; find the air filter usually located in a large plastic box. You can identify the air filter quickly; if it is attached to any ring clamps or latches, disengage them and separate the air filter; now lift it outside.


  • Depending on the model and make of your vehicle, the air filter might be circular, flat, or conical in shape. However, this will not affect the cleaning process at all. You can use the same cleaning method for any shape.
  • After lifting the air filter, make sure to cover the intake port with a towel to protect the engine from any debris.

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Step 2: Examine the Filter

K&N highly recommends that you should only clean the air filter if any one of the filter’s folds covers with dust and debris. If you can see the pleats on the filter clearly; you do not need to clean the air filter. Sometimes, it might look dirty, but, you do not need to clean it.


  • If the filter looks fuzzy or clogged or no longer has the reddish oil coat, you need to clean the air filter.

Step 3: Shake off Loose Dirt and Dust

Shaking your filter can remove a lot of loose dirt and dust. So, give it a gentle shake, and it will dislodge the debris on the outer surface. While doing this, we recommend that you use eye protection and a face mask; do not inhale the dust or the dirt; Also, do not shake the air filter too hard; this could damage the pleats.


  • Use a soft bristle brush instead of shaking; it will not harm the air filter.
  • If you do this procedure outside, it will make less of a mess.

Step 4: Using a Cleaning solution

Find an aerosol cleaner that comes with your air filter. Spray the solution to both sides of the air filter. Make sure to spray inner and outer surfaces properly and spray each of the pleats with the cleaning solution.


  • Do not leave the air filter half sprayed; Spray much as needed for both sides of the filter.
  • If you do not have a cleaning solution for your K&N air filter, you can buy it online or from stores without any trouble.

Step 5: Let the Cleaning Solution Soak Up the Air Filter

After spraying the cleaning solution, let the solution sit on the air filter for at least 10 minutes. This time will give the cleaning solution to break through the grime, making your life much easier while rinsing. While this is happening, you should place the filter on a towel or a sink; that way, you can collect the separated grime and other junk. Otherwise, it will ruin your workplace.

Rinsing and Drying the Air filter

Step 1: Use Cool water to Rinse

In this step, we will describe the cleaning process. As mentioned earlier, after the cleaning solution breaks down the grime, now use a tap or a hose to direct water to the air filter. Use cold water for this process and use a light waterline. Make sure that the water goes through both the inner and outer sides of the air filter; if done accurately, water will carry through broken-down dirt and dust nicely.


  • Do not rinse the outside of the filter. This will force the dirt and dust further into the air filter.
  • You will need to repeat the rinsing process when you deal with an old and filthy air filter that has lots of dirt and dust attached to it.

Step 2: Removing Excessive Water

After the rinsing, there will be some excess water in your air filter. To remove this excess water, let the filter lay on another object at an angle; try other methods to remove this remaining water, and remember not to damage the filter during this process.


  • Cover or set the filter on a clean towel; this will absorb the remaining water more quickly.
  • Placing the filter in a well-ventilated area will speed up the drying process.

Step 3: Let the Air Filter Dry Completely

It will take six to eight hours to dry the air filter. So, if you plan to service your air filter, pick a time that you do not need to drive anywhere.


  • You should never apply oil while the filter is still wet
  • Install a temporary disposable air filter until the K&N air filter’s cleaning process is completed if you cannot wait.

Oiling the Air Filter

oiling air filter

Step 1: Apply the Oil Section by Section

This is the last section about cleaning a K&N air filter topic. After drying the filter, now, you are ready to apply the oil. First, ensure that the filter is not wet; then find the oil bottle. Usually, the KN air filter recharge kit comes with a separate oil bottle or spray; then, spray or apply the oil directly onto the wrinkles.

“If you are using a spray, hold the filter a few inches away from the spray bottle’s nozzle; this makes sure that the oil coats properly.”

On the other hand, if you are using an ordinary squeeze bottle, apply the oil parallel to the pleats.


  • Usually, K&N oil comes with subtle red dye, and the dye will help recognize the already applied area of the air filter.
  • If there is any excess oil on the filter, wipe it out with a paper towel.
  • While applying the oil, do it in a well-ventilated area; doing this outside is the best option.

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Step 2: Wait For At least 20 Minutes

After applying the oil, wait for 20 minutes; this will make sure that the oil is wick into the surface of the air filter properly. Usually, the oil acts as an external barrier against dust and dirt.


  • The oil collects the dirt and dust that enter the filter; And, at the same time, prevents dust and dirt from entering the engine.

Step 3: Replace the Air Filter Correctly

If you did everything accordingly, now you can place the air filter back in the engine compartment. First, remove the towel from the intake port you have placed at the beginning of this cleaning process. Place the K&N air filter inside the large plastic box and reattach any clamps and clips that you had to disengage earlier. Finally, close the hood and if you follow this process correctly, your K&N air filter is ready for another 50000 miles.


  • You should check the K&N air filter every 25000 miles. Otherwise, you never know when it needs a service. If you are driving on a dirt road regularly, you need to check the filter more often.


How Often Should I Clean My K&N Air Filter?

how often should i clean my k&n air filter

It entirely depends on your driving condition. Even though K&N is recommended to clean the air filter after 50000 miles, you should check it at least every 25000 miles. This will change if you are driving under a harsh condition like a dirt road; then, you will have to check the air filter more often.

“Also, understanding the maintenance interval is crucial; so, check your manual and find out about the maintenance intervals.”

At every maintenance interval, you should clean your air filter. After all, K&N air filters are reusable; so, cleaning them would not be a problem. The more you clean the filter, it will get better. Several factors can affect the air filter’s cleaning interval. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • How often do you use the vehicle?
  • The weather condition of your living area
  • Particles types in the air
  • Any modification that you have done after purchasing the vehicle

The above factors will impact the cleaning interval. However, for K&N air filters, 50000 miles is the recommended cleaning interval. But make sure to check it at least after 25000 miles.

Wrap Up: How to Clean K&N Air Filter

If you are still having trouble finding answers to how to clean the K&N air filter, we suggest going through the above cleaning process one more time. Cleaning the K&N air filter can increase the lifespan of the filter to a great extent; hence make sure to check the filter regularly when you have the time to do it.

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