How to Clean Cold Air Intake Filter? [DIY Work]

Cold air intake is a great way to increase the engine’s efficiency. It intakes a lot of oxygen with it inside the engine. And more oxygen means more fuel burning which escalates the horsepower and torque.

Like all the other parts in the engine, you need to clean the cold air intake filter periodically to ensure the best performance. Cleaning k&n air filter is a very easy job if you know how to. In this article, I’m going to include how to clean cold air intake filter and all the other things you need to know along the way. 

What Is A Cold Air Filter?

A cold air intake filter is an element made of breathable material which sucks in cool air, full of oxygen into the engine compartment. While bringing in the air inhibits the contaminants and microscopic particles to go inside. So it is natural for the filter to get dirty often in order to make the engine work efficiently. 

How to Clean Cold Air Intake Filter? (Step by Step Guide)

Generally, it is easy to notice when you need to clean the cold air intake filter. When it is full of dust and debris there will be a loss in horsepower and you will notice Poor fuel economy. It depends on the weather how often you will need to clean but it is suggested to clean the washable filter four times a year or end of every season. 

There are two types of filter – one is oiled and another one is dry. There is not much of a difference when it comes to how to Clean Oiled Cold Intake Filter and how to clean dry cold air intake filter. You just need one extra step when it comes to an oiled filter. 

Now let’s see the step-by-step guide on how to clean cold air intake filter:

Step 1: 

Open the hood of your car and use a screwdriver to set the filter free from the intake or the housing area. The filter can come with a round or rectangle shape. 

Then shake the dirty filter and clean it as much as possible. You can also use a vacuum hose to pull out any loose dirt. 

Step 2: 

You can use a mild dish soap or dish detergent soap to clean the filter. But my suggestion is that buy a cleaning kit with instructions from an auto parts store. You can find a clean air filter k&n kit which is very handy and easy to use. 

If you get the k&n filter cleaning kits, it comes with a power cleaner and oil. In this step, all you need to do is spray the cleaner thoroughly all over the filter and let it sit for 10 minutes. 

If you choose to use the detergent then use a few drops in a gallon of water and set it for 10 to 15 minutes. But never let the cleaner dry with dirt particles with it. You will not be able to clean it properly if you do so. 

Step 3: 

Take a garden hose with a small amount of pressure and rinse the filter. In this step rinse the oil and dirt from the inside; so that all the filth came out of the filter.

Step 4: 

You may need to repeat the step 2 and 3 one more time according to the dirt built upon it. After that, air dries it until the filter is completely dry. 

Step 5: 

If you own a dry cold air intake air filter, then your cleaning is complete here. But if you have an oiled filter then you have to take one more step which is to oil the filter. Air filter k&n cleaning kit comes with an oil sprayer too. You just need to spray it thoroughly on the filter. And you are done. 

These are the basic ways to clean a cold air intake filter. Almost all the brands out there provide the same kind of filters. So if you own Roush or Moper do not worry. The answer to the question of how to clean Roush cold air intake filter or How to clean Mopar cold air intake filter is same. 

Do You Need a Cold Air Intake Filter in Your Car? 

Imagine, you caught a bad cold and it blocked one of your noses. You run one kilometer in this situation. After that, how would you feel with your breathing system? Not good as far as I assume. 

This is exactly what happens to your vehicle set-up with the internal air intake system which gets clogged so often. The horsepower of your modern vehicle and the overall performance gets affected with it just like your clogged nose affected your breathing. 

In this situation, a cold air intake filter works as an oxygen mask for your car. I think now you can easily decide whether you need one of these in your car or not. There are plenty of dry air filter cleaners as well as oiled air filters cleaner on the market. You can choose according to your need. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should you clean your cold air intake filter?

It depends on the weather where you live in. But cleaning it at the end of every season or four times a year is recommended. 

How often should I clean my s&b filter? 

12,000 miles is the minimum after which you should clean your S&B filter. 

How to clean cold air intake filter k&n?

K&N have their own oiling kit with instructions which is a generic oiling kit for cleaning the filter. First, apply the power cleaner to clean the oil and dirt from the filter and air dry it completely. When I dry apply the oil that comes with it. And that’s the easiest way how to clean cold air intake filter at home.

Oiled vs Dry filter?

To be honest there is not much of a difference. Dry filter catches up to 99% dirt and oiled filter 98% approximately. 

Can a cold air intake filter get wet?

Yes, but only a slightly damp level. 

What happens if you get water in your air filter?

It can harm the engine by choking or running rich. You should be careful about it because if the filter is wet enough for a long time the water can go into the engine and mixed up with the oil, which you do not want. 


If you have read the full article there may not be any confusion about how to clean cold air intake filter. Follow the instructions mentioned above and clean the filter periodically and it will last a longer lifespan than it was supposed to. 

And a cleaned and good conditioned cold air intake filter can give you some extra horsepower and overall performance of your vehicle.