Every air conditioner or HVAC system has an air filter to trap dust, pet dander, pollen, and other airborne contaminants. Over time, these contaminants will build up on the filter and can restrict airflow.

This means that regularly changing the air filter is important to improve airflow and ensure other dust and pollen can be trapped in the filter instead of entering into your home. Filters will normally need to be changed every 30 to 90 days.

how to dispose of old air filters

This leads to the question of how to dispose of old air filters. You obviously don’t want up to 90 days worth of collected dust and dander breaking free of the air filter and getting back into your home. Try these simple yet effective methods to quickly get the filter and its collected contaminants out of your home.

Keep it Contained

Before you start to remove the air filter, have a bag large enough to fully enclose the filter nearby. That way, as soon as you remove the filter from the HVAC unit you can put it in the bag and prevent any collected dust from breaking free.

You can also tape the bag shut to ensure all small exit points are secured. If your filter is a HEPA style that collects bacteria and other micro contaminants, ensuring it is very well contained will help keep your indoor air quality high.

Keep it Outside

After removing the air filter and placing it into a bag for disposal, put the bag in an outdoor trash can. Keeping it in an indoor trash can will give more chances for the dust, pollen, bacteria, and other contaminants a chance to get back into your indoor air.

If you must keep the air filter in an indoor trash can, try to move it around slowly and don’t shake or jostle it. When placing the filter into the trash can, move slowly and try not to thump it against the side walls of the container.

Always Use a Filter

When changing the filter, it’s best to have your HVAC or window air conditioner turned off. Running it without a filter can lead to dust being caked on internal components such as the heat sink and compressor tubes.

Over time, this collection of dust on the internal components can also lead to poor heat dissipation and poor cooling from the compressor. It might also eventually cause frozen pipes and an excess of moisture inside the unit.

Recycling a Filter

There are some sources for recycling certain types of HVAC or air conditioner filters. Normally, air filters are made from disposable materials such as cardboard and fabric mesh. Others may be made from metal screening or heavy plastic recyclable components.

Depending on the style of the filter, you may be able to contact an HVAC company and see if they have a recycling program. Additionally, you may be able to send your used filter to a company that offers a mail-in recycling program.