How To Clean an ATV Air Filter

  • atv
  • 7 mins read

Cleaning the air filter on your ATV is one crucial maintenance measure a rider should take. The presence and function of the air intake in a vehicle are so vital that once it gets damaged, the vehicle engine potentially becomes exposed to all manner of things.

If you don’t have enough information on how to clean an ATV air filter, below is a compiled essential tips to follow to achieve a great result with little or no cost.

Why You Need to Clean Air Filter

The air filter on your ATV carries out an essential function of preventing the accumulation of dirt. Hence, if you fail to clean the air filter, the piston could damage, and the carburetor blocks up.

Besides, failing to clean the air filter allows dirt, debris, small sticks, sand, sand, and pebbles, which the air intake prevents from gaining access to the engine, leading to engine malfunction. In the same way, the engine won’t cool, and breakdown is inevitable.

Steps To Clean ATV Air Filter 

Cleaning your air filter after every ride is unnecessary. Needless to say that it’s essential you check the air filter during routine maintenance.

Besides, the hour meter is a great device to check the standard hourly intervals to clean or replace your air filter.

Alternatively, read through the owner manual to know the general and specific recommendations about your ATV air filter.

It’s essential to find out where the air filter is located around the ATV. Typically the air filter sits right under the seat. It comes in the form of a foam or paper filter. The method of cleaning the air filter depends on the type of air filter on the ATV.

Wear all safety gear, that is, the gloves when cleaning your air filter, especially the foam and HEPA types. Some of the cleaning solvents, including toxins and other carcinogens, are harmful to your skin.

Generally, there are three steps to clean an air filter. Each of these steps comes with proper care and should be taken seriously.

Step 1: Cleaning ATV Air Filter

Cleaning Paper Air Filter

If the air filter on your ATV is the paper type, you can use only a combination of water and cleaning agents to clean it. Paper filters cannot withstand the harshness of abrasive brushes or compressed air drying. They are harsh on the material of this type of filter. To prevent damage to your filter and potential harm to your ATV engine, always go for thorough air dry on a paper filter.

Cleaning ATV Air Filter

Unlike the paper air filter type, the foam filter comes with a solid material capable of resistance to hard washing. Hence, rather than the easy-way-out kind of work you’ll put in when cleaning a paper ATV, the foam type requires some more work and steps. Yet, you can wash it by hand. Don’t use any soap or detergent. Don’t scrub the material. Use a safer, compatible, and recommended solution.


  1. Get a bucket filled with water
  2. Mix with an appropriate cleaning agent
  3. Start to hand wash. This step requires serious care and caution. This is because any hand washing can cause unseen damage.
  4. Gently wring and rub out the dirt solution from the filter.
  5. Rinse with clean water   
  6. Air-dry the filter completely. Do not put the air filter under any other unnatural drying device, such as laundry dryer, hairdryer, or heat gun. This tells you that it takes some time after cleaning before you fix the air filter for use on your dirt bike.  

Step 2: Cleaning the Air Box

After cleaning the air filter, you’ve only completed one part of the process. The second part is to also attend to your ATV air box. The box is the part of your ATV that houses a lot of gunk, debris, sticks, and pebbles. It requires thorough cleaning so that it doesn’t return residual dirt and dust to the filter.

Just as you clean the air filter, use a solvent with water to get rid of the dirt. Although you’ll need to exert some energy because it’s sticky, that shouldn’t discourage you from carrying out a thorough cleaning on it. To prevent the airbox from taking in a lot of water, solvent, or retaining residual gunk and debris, use airbox lid when cleaning it.

Step 3: Oiling the Air Filter

The last but not the least of the three-step cleaning of your ATV air filter is to oil the filter. Failing to carry out this step is taken as not cleaning the air filter at all. So, it’s essential. Don’t forget, after cleaning and air drying the air filter, it’s now a dehydrated item and will require that you lubricate it before replacing it to the engine.

You can massage the oil around the filter, but don’t forget to put on your gloves. Alternatively, you can pour some oil into a bag while you roll the air filter inside it to cover all parts of its body. It is essential to ensure even oiling of the elements of the filter. Otherwise, it’ll affect the proper functioning of the material.

The process continues with the wringing out of excess oil that may have found its way into the air filter. Allow the filter to air dry for at least 30 minutes until it gets gluey. Apply rim grease around the filter’s rim before replacing the air filter to the ATV.

There’s an alternative way out of the air filter oiling procedure. Using a pre-oiled air filter will save you all the sometimes messy option of having to clean and oil the filter around. This means that as soon as your oil filter is blocked, you’ll need to remove and replace it immediately. Many riders prefer this type of air filter. If that suits your budget, why not go with it?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you clean an air filter with brake cleaner? No, you can’t. I’ll say you shouldn’t. Break cleaners are too harsh and hard on the skin of ATV air filter. It’ll scratch away the excellent material that the filter is made of and wash them away. The result is that your air filter becomes useless.

Instead, use the blend of mild soap and warm water to clean your air filter. The excellent air filter cleaner is the K&N. When drying the filter after cleaning, it’s not advisable to use compressed air. This is because it’s capable of creating tiny holes into the filter through which debris and dirt can enter and cause damage.

Can you wash an air filter?

There’s no direct answer to the question. It depends on the type of air filter your dirt bike or ATV is using. If it’s a paper or disposable air filter, you can only replace it. However, permanent or foam cleaners are washable and can be cleaned. The best way to wash your permanent reusable air filter is by vacuuming. The time vacuuming can’t correctly work when your filter has accumulated so much grime or gunk.

Can I wash a HEPA filter?

Sure, you can. But don’t use water on a HEPA filter except it’s the washable type. You can rinse this type of filter using cold water. However, a permanent HEPA filter should be cleaned by using the vacuum method.


You’ll be surprised by the amount of money you’d have saved by going the DIY way of cleaning your ATV air filter. There are things you need to do and put in place as a rider. It’s not just enough to ride; you need to listen to the sound of your ATV engine.

Before and at the end of every trip, carry out a random inspection on your ATV to ensure that your air filter is in good condition. You can have as many as possible air filters in your garage. When installing the air filter, make sure you follow every detail of the procedure for doing that. Please let me say that the health of the air filter is the health of your ATV, and a sturdy ATV guarantees a fun ride.

Share 0
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments