How to use Air Filter Cleaner

Cleaning a fabric air filter is simple but there are a few ways you could damage your engine air filter or ultimately your engine if you do it incorrectly, so keep reading!

In this article, we’re going to talk about how to clean your fabric air filter like a panel filter you might find on your street bike or a cone filter you have for a custom application.  These types of filters are often associated with the K&N® Brand filters but can encompass any filter that has a fabric filtering medium rather than a paper or foam.

Biggest Mistakes Made Using Air Filter Cleaner 

  • Scrubbing the filter
  • Not cleaning the filter media well enough
  • Not letting the filter dry

Scrubbing the filter

The biggest mistake you can make when cleaning your air filter is scrubbing the filter.  Whether you’re using an old toothbrush or a stiff bristle scrub brush you’re risking doing a lot of damage to your air filter.  If you look closely at your filter there is a final metal mesh that is holding the filter fabric in place.  It’s extremely easy to damage this mesh just by handling your air filter, never mind scrubbing it.  Damaging the mesh will allow the fabric to lose its shape.  This will certainly cause a loss in filtering area and therefore efficiency but it could also cause a tear in the fabric allowing the fabric or metal mesh to get sucked into your engine.  A tear will also allow sand and debris to get sucked into your engine causing permanent damage.  Using a good air filter cleaner will dissolve both the old filter oil and any dirt and grime caught in it eliminating the need for scrubbing.

Not cleaning the filter media well enough

Besides causing you to scrub, a poor air filter cleaner will leave residue on your air filter.  This residue will block part of the filtering fabric reducing the usable surface area of the filter.  Did you know the air filter in your engine is sized specifically to provide the correct airflow for your engine’s needs?  A loss of filter area will starve your engine causing inefficiencies and possibly an incorrect air-fuel ratio.

Not letting the filter dry

After you let PJ1 Air Filter Cleaner sit for 15 minutes you should thoroughly rinse your air filter and let it dry.  2 dangerous things can happen here if this step is done incorrectly.  First, if the filter isn’t rinsed thoroughly then your engine will breathe in a bunch of filter cleaner fumes on startup.  The fumes being highly flammable could cause a backfire or incorrect air-fuel ratios damaging your engine.  On the other hand, if you don’t let the water dry from your filter your engine could breathe that water in as well causing other issues in your motor.  So don’t forget to rinse and dry your air filter before re-oiling it and installing it.

If you care for your fabric air filter correctly, it should last you for miles to come and may even outlast your ownership of your bike!

Photo by Ben Lei on Unsplash