Alternatives To Clean K&N Air Filter: Is Soap & Water Enough?

By December 16, 2022Air Filter

Cleaning your Air filter is very important, a dirty air filter will affect your engine performance. K&N provides a Cleaning kit for their Air filters that helps you to clean and maintain the air filter from time to time. 

However, most people (including myself) prefer using alternatives to cleaning because they are cost-saving and easy to get.

There are 2 most effective alternatives that you can use:

  1. Dish soap and water
  2. All purpose cleaners like Super clean.

I have used both of these methods and I was very surprised to see the results. I was satisfied with the cleaning so thought these alternatives were worth sharing with you guys as well. Let’s look into them in detail.

Alternatives To Clean K&N Air Filter

1: Dish Soap And Water 

The most common and widely known alternative is the dish soap and water method. You can use a liquid soap mixed with mildly warm water to clean your K&N or any reusable air filter.

  1. Take out the air filter and wash it with soap and water solution
  2. Leave the air filter in water for 5 minutes
  3. Take out the air filter and leave it outside the water for another 5 minutes
  4. Keep in mind that while washing the air filter you do not need to rub or scrub the filter with any kind of brush
  5. Put the filter under any water tap and rinse out the dirt
  6. Do not use a high-pressure washer or any high-pressure water tap, just the regular tap pressure is good enough
  7. Let the air filter dry for a couple of hours
  8. Once the air filter is dry you can now apply the oil before installing it again
  9. You can use transmission oil if you don’t have K&N oil that comes with their cleaning kit.

2: All-Purpose Cleaner 

The second and most effective way to clean the K&N or any reusable AIr filter is by using all-purpose cleaners like Super Clean. Super clean can do the job without damaging air filtration layers.

  1. Take out the air filter and put it in a container or inside the sink
  2. Spray a good amount of all-purpose cleaner outside the air filter
  3. Leave the filter for 10 minutes and let the cleaner do its job
  4. Once again, don’t rub or use any kind of brush
  5. After 10 minutes rinse down the dirt inside out from the air filter
  6. Use regular water tap, avoid using pressure water
  7. If the air filter is still dirty then repeat the process as per need
  8. After giving a nice wash let the air filter completely dry for a couple of hours
  9. Don’t forget to apply oil before reinstalling the air filter
  10. You can use transmission oil as an alternative to K&N Air filter oil. 

Can You Clean a K&N Air Filter Without Oil?

Oiling K&N air filter

You can clean the air filter without oil by just using soap and water. However, skipping the oiling process is not recommended because oiling a K&N air filter is a process to prevent dust particles from going inside the engine.

If you don’t have the K&N air filter oil then as an alternative you can also use transmission oil. I have personally used and tested this method and it works fine. Although the oil won’t stay as long as the K&N oil would, still instead of skipping the oiling part you can use this alternative.

Also Read: What Happens If I Don’t Oil My Air Filter?

Is Soap & Water Good Enough To Clean K&N  Air Filter?

Soap and water can be good enough to clean your K&N air filter but the results may not be as good as you will see after using the cleaning solution from the K&N – it’s a personal preference.

Any kind of soap will work in removing the dirt, just make sure that you don’t scrub the filter with any kind of hard brush. Scrubbing the wet air filter will damage the filter plates.

Make a water and soap solution and let the air filter soak for about 5 minutes and then take it out and leave it for another 5 minutes. Put the air filter under the water tap and rinse the air filter with water. Water should flow from the clean side of the filter so that the dirt will come out easily from the other side.

Avoid using high-pressure water to rinse out the air filter, pressure water will more likely damage the air filter so regular water tap pressure is good enough for this job.


Can I Use WD40 to Clean K&N Air Filter?

WD40 is not the right substance to clean your K&N air filter. Once applied, WD40 will leave a thin layer behind which will restrict the air filter flow.

WD40 is suitable for many other purposes like cleaning surface rust from bolts and lubricating the hinges. WD40 contains a blend of special solvents that works as an anti-corrosion lubricant. However, despite being used all around the world for removing soil and dirt, WD40 is not the right choice for your air filter.

K&N or any air filter generally has a paper filtration layer that filters the dirt and small particles from the intake air. Using WD-40 on an air filter will ruin the filtration layers.

Also Read: Can I Use WD40 On My K&N Air Filter?

Can I Clean a K&N Air Filter With Gasoline?

You can not use gasoline to clean the K&N air filter. K&N air filters are only designed to wash with cleaning soap solution and any other chemical will harm the filter layers.

Gasoline will degrade the Air filter structure and filter life will decrease. Avoid using any kind of chemical substance on the air filter. The only thing that you can use to clean the K&N filter other than their own cleaner is soap. A mixture of soap and water will do the job,

Can I Clean My K&N Air Filter With Degreaser?

You can use any mild degreaser that contains a low amount of chemicals to clean your K&N air filter. Use mild degreasers like Dawn.

Please avoid using strong degreasers, they can ruin your air filter and damage the filtration layer. My recommendation is to use Dawn because it’s a mild degreaser that works fine on air filters, especially K&N.

Ifandi L.

Ifandi L.

Passionate about everything mechanical. Ifandi has been involved with motorcycles and cars since the old days - in his family's auto parts shop. Want to keep in touch? Scream "STRAIGHT PIPEEEEE" at the top of your lungs and Ifandi will show up.

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