K&N HVAC Filter Cleaner Alternative – What Can You Use?

Not only the wrong cabin air filter flow direction, but the dirty filters also affect your driving experience.

To deal with the cleaning issue, you can find a K&N HVAC filter cleaner alternative available around you.

To protect your and your passengers’ respiratory health, have a look at the list of K and N air filter cleaner alternatives below. We’ll also explain how to get the job done.

Scroll down for more details!

What Are Some K&N HVAC Filter Cleaner Alternative Options?

k&n hvac filter cleaner alternative
K&N HVAC Filter Cleaner Alternative

How do I clean K&N air filters? 

Besides the kit, you can use a synthetic cleaner, all-purpose cleaner or dish wash and water to do the job.

They are easy-to-find, cheap, and effective alternatives commonly used among drivers to restore the filters’ performance.

Keeping the engine air filters free from germs, allergens, and pollutants is important, and regularly cleaning the air filters is a must, as air pollution exists inside your car, too.

Complete Kit

Before learning how to clean a K and N air filter with alternative options, let’s look at the complete kit to see what it includes and whether you can find something to replace them.

You may find in the kit:

  • Complete cleaning instructions
  • Cabin filter cleaner (12-ounce)
  • Cabin air filter refresher (8-ounce)

Though some drivers find it convenient to have a kit, it’s not always affordable for others. There are some other ways to deal with the dirty filters that will be listed below.

Synthetic Cleaner

Another ready-made product to restore filters’ condition is a synthetic cleaner and degreaser.

It does not only help cars but also other vehicles such as off-road, street cruisers, street sport, touring motorcycles, etc.

Yet, again, it’s possible to have clean K&N filters with homemade alternatives.

All-purpose Cleaner

If you don’t know how to clean a K&N reusable air filter, a home product like Simple Green or Super Clean all-purpose cleaner can help you out.

It helps loosen dirt particles and road grime, remove clogged buildup, and restore normal airflow.

It obtains a biodegradable, nontoxic, non-corrosive, nonflammable, and nonabrasive formula, causing no harm to the fragile material inside the filters.

The product is suitable for both heavy and light cleaning processes since you can dilute it according to the proportion you want.

You can apply it on other automotive surfaces, such as high-tech alloys, titanium, aluminum, chrome, plastic, rubber, carbon fiber, painted and gel-coated, and anodized and electroplated parts.

Dish Wash And Water

Can you clean a K&N air filter with water? The answer is yes. The combination of water and soap or dish detergent (Dawn, for example) makes a great solution to deal with the issue.

Though some people may say it’s not as effective as the specialized cleaning kit, it’s a matter of personal preference.

Many car owners still evaluate it as a helpful method to refresh the component.

This homemade K&N filter oil can remove dirt, grime, and grease without leaving a sticky residue behind. Moreover, you can find the materials easily in your house.

One minus is that it may take longer to finish the job, but it’s still worth trying.

How To Clean K&N Filters Without Cabin Filter Cleaning Kit?

homemade k&n filter oil
Way To Clean K&N Filters

Things You Need

  • warm water
  • dish detergent or all-purpose cleaner depending on what alternative you have
  • shock absorbers oil or engine oil
  • a quite large container
  • a brush (to apply oil)

Step By Step Guide On How To Clean K N Air Filter

How To Clean K And N Filters With Dish Wash?

Step 1. Remove the detail from its place and prepare the list of things above

Step 2. Pour hot water into the container, and then pour the detergent. Stir until the detergent dissolves.

Step 3. Dip the air filter into the solution, and let it stay there for around five minutes.

Step 4. Take the component out and dip it back in again

Step 5. Repeat the process until you see your filter is free of dirt. After cleaning, the water may look kind of cloudy.

Step 6. Once you think it’s clean enough, leave the filter under the shade to dry.

Remember not to dry the detail with pressurized wind or under the sun to avoid causing damages to it.

How To Clean KN Air Filters With All-purpose Cleaner?

Step 1. Take out the part and put it in the container.

Step 2. Spray the all-purpose cleaner on the outside of the detail.

Step 3. Leave it for 10 minutes. Remember not to touch or brush it at all.

Step 4. Use regular tap water (but not pressure water) to rinse the dirt out.

Step 5. Repeat the process if needed until you have a desirable cleanness. Shake it to remove excess water.

Step 6. Let it dry for a couple of hours.

Apply Air Filter Oil

It doesn’t matter what solution you use; you should apply light oil types, such as shock absorbers oil or transmission oil, on the clean K N filter before reinstalling the detail.

Use a soft brush and place the oil on the component.

The purpose of this step is to keep all impending dust and purities on the outer part without being stuck inside the engine combustion chamber.

Thus, you only need to brush the oil on the outside of the filter.

Now, you’ve completed the process. If the part can’t be cleaned, consider changing to a new one.


can you clean a k&n air filter with water
Question Of Clean k&n

Is It Ok To Clean Filters Without Oil?

Yes. Not using oil during the cleaning process is ok, but it’s not recommended. Oiling the part protects the engine from dust particles that can come inside it.

You can use transmission oil as a replacement. Though it can’t stay long as the K&N oil does, it’s still better than skipping.

Can You Clean Air Filters With Gasoline?

No, you can’t use gasoline or any other similar kind of chemical substance as it will degrade the air filter’s structure, harm the layers and shorten its lifespan.

Don’t clean the K&N air filter with other solutions than those we’ve mentioned above to properly maintain the detail’s performance.

How To Know If Your Air Filters Are Dirty?

There are some common signs indicating your filters need a cleaning process. They include:

  • A strong odor of petrol or diesel when starting your vehicle
  • The AC smells like pee
  • Abnormal engine sounds
  • Decreased fuel efficiency
  • Intermittent flashing check engine light
  • Weak power delivery
  • Black smoke emitted from the exhaust
  • A faulty internal combustion engine

Some of them can be symptoms of other malfunctions, but you should check the filters when you can’t detect the problem from elsewhere.


Some people tend to overlook regular maintenance for air filters, yet it’s recommended to refresh the component once per year, every 12000 miles, or when you feel a stale or moldy smell inside your vehicle.

If you don’t have the kit, you can choose a K&N HVAC filter cleaner alternative from the list above and wash the component to enhance its performance.

It’s also a good way to save money as K&N home air filter cleaner includes cheap and easy-to-find materials.

Follow the instructions above to clear the clog, keep your filters fresh, and maintain the air quality.

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