How To Clean Dirt Bike Air Filter

Knowing how to clean dirt bike air filters is crucial for bike enthusiasts. Air filters in bikes perform the same function as your nose. They filter the unwanted particles in the air before it enters the engine. In this way, only clean and pure air enters inside the bike engine for better combustion. Better combustion results in the smooth and efficient working of your bike.

Bike air filters are responsible for preventing any sand or dust particles from entering the engine. These filters perform better only when they are kept clean. If they are not cleaned regularly, that can affect their performance. It results in a lack of airflow through the breathing holes in the air filters.

It is not possible to clean or replace the air filter after every ride. But if you are riding in sandy areas, then an after-ride cleaning sounds better. If you do not clean your air filter regularly, then you can cause significant damage to the engine of your bike.

How to Clean Dirt Air Bike Filters

It is always advisable that you check dirt bike air filters regularly. They should be part of your regular maintenance routine. Regular checks ensure that the air filters remain clean for smooth and efficient performances.

There are two classes of bike air filters. We have the dry and the oiled models. Dry dirt bike filters feature a foam material designed to block more particles than paper filters. Unfortunately, the high-density material inhibits efficient airflow making them less popular. That’s why oil air filters are more popular since they are made using a cotton gauge for easy flow of air.

A thorough cleaning of your dirt bike air filters is necessary if you want to enjoy excellent and smooth performances. If you are riding over sandy areas, the need for thorough cleaning becomes even more apparent. Below, we will give you ways on how to clean dirt bike air filters properly.

Things required while cleaning dirt bike air filters:

  • A suitable cleanser
  • Filter oil
  • Grease
  • Plastic bag
  • 2 X pair of latex gloves

These steps are necessary for the smooth and better performance of your bike:

If you are cleaning your bike’s air filters for the first time, you need to know their location. They are located under your seat on a dirt bike and also on an ATV. Some bikes have foam, while others have a paper air filter.

  • Start by wiping the airbox with a damp rag before removing the filter. This is because all the bikes have the potential to drop dirt into the intake while you’re removing a dirty air filter. Before starting this process, do not forget to also put on your latex gloves, as they would be helpful.
  • Apply some mineral turpentine on your dirty filter as it will help to break down the existing filter oil.
  • After that, start washing your dirty air filters with warm water and suitable cleaning soap or detergent.

Washing a paper air filter:

While cleaning a paper air filter, only use water and a cleaning solvent. Please do not use any harsh brushes or an air drying compressor. Harsh chemicals and air drying compressors can cause unseen damage to the air filter, which will affect the performance of your bike. After cleaning the air filter, air-dry it thoroughly.

Washing a foam air filter:

  • Cleaning a foam-based air filter requires a lot more work than the paper one. First, wash the air filter using your hands but do not forget to wear gloves while cleaning as it will prevent unnecessary exposure to toxins and other carcinogens.
  • Take a bucket, fill it with warm water and add some appropriate cleaning solution. Some soaps and detergents can be harmful to the filter and can ruin it, so it’s crucial to ensure that you are using a safe cleansing agent while cleaning the air filter.
  • When you have decided which cleanser you will use, wash it with your hands but do not rub it as it will be harmful to the filter. While cleaning, squeeze the excess water out.
  • After cleaning it with the cleanser, rinse it properly 2-3 times, and once you are done cleaning, let it dry completely and avoid putting it in the laundry dryer or using a hairdryer or a heat gun.
  • Squeeze your clean air filter in a clean and dry rag so that it can dry in less time or hang in a dust-free and warm environment. Avoid using a dryer as the heat produced can break down the glues holding the filter together.
  • Now, place your clean air filter in a plastic shopping bag. Tip some new and quality foam filter oil onto it until it has completely changed its color and add some more filter oil. Ensure that no un-oiled or dry areas are left, and the oil is evenly spread to every corner.
  • Now, refit your air filter in its cage, ensuring that it hasn’t collected any dust particles in the meantime. Apply some grease around the surface before refitting your air filter on the bike. Greasing around the filter seat helps create a seal for the filter and improves air suction.

Preventative Care

All motorcycle manufacturers provide a table of Periodic Maintenance in the motorcycle owner’s service manual. It is given so that you can check your air filters using the company’s service manual. It ensures that the air filter works correctly and allows enough air to pass through it for complete combustion.

You will have to clean/replace your air filter more frequently if you are riding in too dusty areas. Mostly, it is crucial to replace the paper element air filter as soon as there is dust buildup. But in the case of foam, mesh, or cotton filters, they can be washed, appropriately oiled and greased, and reused.


Air filter’s maintenance Do’s and Dont’s:



  • Do clean your bike’s air filters regularly. You cannot always know when the filters need to be cleaned by only using a visual check. Tiny dust particles can be trapped inside the air filter, which would not be visible to the naked eyes. Always replace the air filter after riding your bike in highly dusty conditions. Otherwise, it would affect the efficiency of your motorcycle.
  • Always wear latex gloves while cleaning air filters for prevention against harsh chemicals and carcinogens.
  • Always use an air filter-specific oil to prevent the dust and dirt particles from passing through it.
  • It is also essential to clean the airbox because it can contaminate the new, clean air filter reducing its efficiency. Use some soapy water and a clean, dry rug to clean the airbox.
  • Always inspect your air filter while cleaning as it won’t last forever, so be sure to check for tears in the foam, or is it breaking down, and if there is some problem, then replacing it with the new one seems to be the best option.


  • Please do not use any fuel (gasoline, diesel, petrol) to clean your air filter as it breaks down the foam cells and glue that bonds the foam strips together. So, it is always advisable to clean the air filters using the appropriate cleaning agents only.
  • Do not leave the air filters to dry in the sun as the UV radiations will destroy the foam.
  • Covers and skins restrict the airflow and power, although they are popular in dusty areas because if there will be more layers of foam, then there would eventually be more restrictions to the airflow.
  • Please do not twist the air filter as it leads to the tearing of foam. Instead of turning it to eliminate the excess oil, squeeze the extra oil with a firm grip after applying filter oil.
  • Always wash the air filter with warm water ensuring that all the contaminants have been removed properly.
  • Hairdryers are not recommended at all for the drying process. Let the air filters let dry naturally as the heat will break down the seam glue.
  • It is said that the more porous the air filter is, the more power you will get, but it is always not true, so do not trust everything you read and do proper research.


Now you know everything about how to clean the dirty bike air filters properly. Take your time and employ the necessary precautions while cleaning. Replacing bike air filters at regular intervals will help your bike to function smoothly. While cleaning your bike, ensure you use the recommended and safe cleaners. Read widely before picking cleaners to avoid damaging your bike air filters. This guide will be of great help to you in the cleaning process. Also here we have a great guide on choosing the best dirt bike air filter for you. Hope you enjoy it!

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