How to Recharge a Carbon Air Filter

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Things You'll Need

  • Soft cloth

  • Bowl, baking pan or tub

  • Salt

  • Air filter cleaner

  • Hose

  • Air filter oil

Carbon air filters are used to filter dust, impurities and residue from water and air. Commonly used in aquariums, water filtration systems, air purification systems and cars, the carbon traps and stores the impurities. As residue accumulates in the filter, the filter slowly loses efficiency. Cleaning the filter recharges and reactivates the carbon. Only reusable air filters should be cleaned and reused.

Reusable Aquarium, Air Purification and Water Purification Carbon Air Filters

Step 1

Remove the carbon air filter from the product it's used in.

Step 2

Run the filter under cool to room temperature running water under the water running from the filter is clean. This removes dirt, dust and buildup. Dampen a soft cloth in the water. Wipe away any remaining spots or residue.

Step 3

Fill a bowl, baking pan or tub with enough water to submerge the filter. Add 1 tsp. of salt per gallon of water.

Step 4

Submerge the carbon air filter in the salt water. Allow it to soak for one or two days, depending on the size and age of the filter. The older and bigger the filter, the longer it should soak.

Step 5

Remove the filter from the salt water. Rinse under cool running water. Allow the filter to air dry.

Reusable Car Air Filters

Step 1

Remove the air filter from the vehicle. This process varies based on the year, model and make of your vehicle. Most air filters are either rectangular or circular.

Step 2

Gently shake the filter to remove accumulated dirt and dust. Wipe with a dry cloth to remove large residue.

Step 3

Spray the filter with a generous amount of an air filter cleaner. Allow the cleaner to work into the filter for 30 minutes.

Step 4

Rinse the dirt, dust and cleaner away from the filter using a hose.

Step 5

Allow the air filter to air dry. Once dry, spray a thin, even layer of air filter oil over the filter. The oil protects the filter and deters residue and dust from building up.


Carbon can be recharged by baking it in an oven. However, this should never be attempted when the carbon is housed in a cartridge or filter. The filter fibers or plastic used in a cartridge can melt or catch fire.