How To Clean K&N Air Filter Without The Kit

High-performance air filters like the ones manufactured by K&N are meant to be reusable. But this means that you will have to take the time to clean it regularly.

If your air filter is due to be cleaned, but you no longer have the kit, you'll find that this task can be done without it. We researched this filter from multiple professional sources, so you'll know how it's done.

You can clean a K&N air filter without the kit by taking these steps:

  1. Fill a sink basin or wash tub with warm, soapy water.
  2. Let the K&N air filter soak in the water for five minutes.
  3. Remove the filter and let it sit for an additional five minutes.
  4. Gently rinse the soapy solution from the filter.
  5. Let the air filter dry.
  6. Oil the filter and reinstall it.

Now that we know how to clean a K&N air filter without the kit, we'll look into these steps in greater detail. You might also wonder if you have to oil a K&N air filter or how long one of these filters will last.

For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post to see what our research has uncovered.

A step-by-step guide to cleaning your K&N air filter if you don't have the kit

Car open air intake filter with diy heat shield

While the kit makes cleaning your K&N air filter easier, it's not necessary to use it to clean it. In a pinch, you can do this on your own, using items you most likely have in your kitchen.

Follow these steps in order, and you'll soon have a clean and dry air filter that is ready to be reinstalled in your vehicle.

Fill a sink basin or wash tub with warm, soapy water

After you remove the air filter, you'll be able to see just how dirty it can get. Take a moment to marvel at all the dirt and debris this little filter has kept from flowing into your engine.

Your engine's performance relies on many things to work, and the air filter is an important part of why your engine will run smoothly and cleanly.

Fill your kitchen sink or a tub with warm water. You'll want some suds to help remove the dirt and grime, so add just a bit of dish soap. Set the air filter inside as soon as the water is nice and soapy. 

Let the K&N air filter soak in the water for five minutes

You'll want to let the filter sit in the warm, soapy water for around five minutes. This will give the solution time to go to work on all the filth that the K&N air filter has spared your engine from receiving.

No need to use a brush or anything, but if you feel the need to, just be sure that it is one with soft bristles.

Remove the filter and let it sit for an additional five minutes

After five minutes, remove the air filter from the soapy water and let it sit on a clean cloth. This gives the filter additional time for the soap to work away at the dirt. As soon as you wait another five minutes, it will be ready for the next step in the cleaning process.

Gently rinse the soapy solution from the filter

Now it will be time to rinse the soapy water and the remaining grime off the K&N air filter. This should be done very gently. The water from your tap will work. Just make sure that it is pretty warm. Let the stream of water remove all traces of soap. 

If there are remnants of grime on the filter, it's okay to use a soft brush to help. If it's been a long time since the filter has been cleaned, you might need to repeat the last two steps. Sometimes dirt can be pretty stubborn.

Let the filter air dry

You won't want to reinstall the K&N air filter while it's still wet. Place the now-clean air filter on a cloth or towel and let it air dry. As soon as there isn't any trace of moisture left, you'll be almost ready to pop it back into place under the hood.

Oil the filter and reinstall it

Oil the filter and reinstall it, How To Clean K&N Air Filter Without The Kit

Before you put the air filter back in place, you'll need to ensure it has been properly oiled. Ahead in this post, we'll discuss why this is so important. For now, just know that the K&N air filter oil should be put to good use.

Once the filter has been oiled, pop it back in, and you're good to go until the next time it is due for a cleaning!

These maintenance tips will help your K&N air filter last

You know that cleaning the air filter is crucial to its efficiency. But making your K&N air filter last means taking certain precautions throughout its useful life. It doesn't take much, but knowing how to treat and respect this part will help you get the most out of it.

Never use a stiff brush when you're cleaning this filter. Doing so could damage it, leading to tears that will ruin it. If you use a brush, only employ one that has soft bristles. Gently scrub with it, avoiding vigorous movements.

You'll also want to avoid rinsing this part with a powerful, sharp stream of water. A strong jet of water can also tear the filter, leading to you needing to replace it prematurely. 

Do you have to oil a K&N air filter?

Technician is changing new air filter for car

We mentioned earlier in this post that you will need to oil the K&N air filter before reinstalling it. This is a crucial step, and a failure to take it will damage your engine significantly.

Air filters are designed to keep bits of dirt, debris, bugs, and other elements from being sucked into your engine. In a traditional filter, you'll find that these disposable units will not need to be oiled at all. But the reusable variety, like K&N manufactures, is a different story. 

The layer of air filter oil you use on the filter serves two purposes. First, it adds a barrier that helps keep debris from being sucked into the engine. Second, the oil will help secure the air filter into place so that it will not move and allow debris to enter the engine block.

How long will a K&N air filter last?

K&N high flow air filter on an isolated background
a broken car without a driver

The high-performance air filters manufactured by K&N are built to last. If you take good care of this reusable part, you'll find that it will last as long as your engine. 

These air filters are also made to go an estimated 50,000 miles between cleanings. Of course, how you drive and where you drive your vehicle could impact that estimate one way or another.

If you spend a lot of time on dirt or gravel roads, you might expect to need to clean this filter sooner.

What happens if you drive without an air filter?

Broken car on the street with the hood

The air filter keeps a lot of debris from entering your engine. And though you should NEVER drive without one, you might be curious about what might happen if you did. We can assure you that nothing good would be in store.

The particles your air filter keeps out will invade your engine, making a mess. The many moving parts inside the engine need clean lubrication to operate effectively.

You'll find your engine oil gets contaminated quickly without an air filter, damaging your engine greatly over time.

The fuel economy will suffer without an air filter, as the engine will need to expend more power to operate. Additionally, the vehicle will run rougher and be prone to misfiring. In extreme cases, it can also overheat. So keep that filter clean and in place!

Final thoughts

K&N air filters are meant to last the life of your vehicle's engine, but you'll need to be sure to take proper care of them along the way.

Give them a thorough cleaning every 50,000 miles, so your engine continues to keep the harmful debris from entering it, and don't worry if you don't have the K&N cleaning kit on hand.

No matter what filter you use, know that it serves a useful purpose and is essential to the health of your engine. Drive safe!

We hope this post on K&M air filters answers your questions. For additional information, we recommend reading the following posts:

11 Toyota Camry Cabin Air Filters That Will Make Your Car Smell Fresh

Are K&N Filters Bad For Your Engine?

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