How to Clean a Dirt Bike Air Filter (Ultimate Guide)

how to clean a dirt bike air filter

Are you wondering how to clean a dirt bike air filter? In this post, I’ll describe the process on how to clean various types of dirt bike air filters.

An air filter is an item made of porous material that prevents dirt from entering the bike’s engine and is located in the bike’s airbox usually under the seat.

Cleaning the air filter regularly is essential as a dirty filter prevents the entry of sufficient air into the engine, which causes sluggishness and is ineffective in preventing dirt into the motor.

As a result, some components of the engine such pistons in the cylinder’s smooth movement is affected.

What Do You Need to Clean Your Dirt Bike Air Filter?

A filter cleaning kit. You can either choose;

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Ensure the air filter clean is compatible with your air filter to avoid damaging it.

You can consult your dirt bike owner’s manual on the best air cleaners for your air filter.

Alternatively, you can use a material that is readily available at your home;

  • Clean rag
  • Grease
  • Air filter oil
  • Dish soap

For both methods, you need clean water to rinse the filter and a wrench when loosening and tightening the bolts on the seat.

A dirt bike manual is also necessary for locating the airbox and air filter.

There are three common types of air filter, and it is essential to learn how to clean each one of them differently. They include;

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  • Paper filters. Air paper filters are made of dense material and have numerous pores
  • Foam filters. A foam air filter uses sticky oil to trap dirt as it goes through it.
  • Cotton filters. Cotton air filters are made of thick cotton material with pores and have an oil layering to suspend the filtered materials away from the fibres.

After some time, the air filters filled with dirt particles and can be ineffective. It is, therefore, necessary to clean them. Cotton and foam air filters are permanent while paper air filters are disposable hence temporary.

How to Clean a Foam Air Filter

  1. Remove the foam air filter from the airbox and its housing.
  2. Cover the air inlet with a clean rag to avoid dust particles from entering.
  3. Put on a pair of gloves and take out the loose dirt from the filter. Do not use a brush to brush off the particles as it can damage the air filter.
  4. Spray air filter cleaner on the filter and spread it gently. If you are using dish soap, you can cover it using the clean rag. Do not wring or squeeze the air filter.
  5. Rinse the filter in a bucket using warm water.
  6. Repeat the process at least three times to ensure all the dirt is cleaned. Rinse thoroughly to avoid clogging the air filter with soap.
  7. Leave the air filter to dry and check to see if the air box is clean. If it is dirty, use mild soap and warm water to clean then wipe it with a clean rag.
  8. When the filter is dry, fill it with fresh filter oil and squeeze out the excess fat. Apply a little grease to the flange and return the filter in its housing and back to the airbox.

How to Clean a Cotton Air Filter

  1. Take out the cotton air filter from the airbox and its housing.
  2. Wear a pair of gloves and remove the excess loose dirt from the filter.
  3. Use an appropriate air filter cleaner or mild soap and spread it gently on the cotton air filter.
  4. Leave it for a few minutes then rinse it in a tub using clean, warm water.
  5. Put the filter into a bucket and fill it with warm water and dish soap, swishing it gently to remove the remaining dirt.
  6. Rinse it with clean, warm water and repeat a couple of times.
  7. Leave the filter to dry and do not attempt to use a compressor to dry the filter as it may cause it damage. Apply fresh filter oil and distribute it evenly on the cotton filter, then wipe off excess oil and put it back to its housing.

Paper filters are usually replaced rather than cleaned since they are disposable.

Cleaning a paper air filter could lead to clogging. They can also tear and hence become ineffective.

Replacing a Paper Filter

  1. Locate the airbox under the seat and take out the air filter.
  2. Take out the wing nut that mounts the air filter
  3. Take the air filter out of its housing carefully to avoid damaging the house.
  4. Clean the airbox with warm water and soap. Clean and dry it with a clean rug.
  5. Apply filter oil on the new filter if it is not pre-oiled.
  6. Smear grease at the base of the air filter
  7. Place it into the housing carefully.
  8. To hold the filter, tighten the wing nut and return it into the airbox.
  9. Dispose of the old paper filter.


For every ride, an air filter collects dirt, and it is necessary to clean the dirt to avoid accumulation leading to clogging.

Cleaning the air filter regularly increases its efficiency in preventing dirt entry and to allow air to get in the engine.

It is advisable to clean the air filter after every ride.

Cleaning the air filter also allows you to change the filter oil and replace it with fresh filter oil as it loses its efficiency over time.

Filter oils help to move the filtered particles from the air filter to avoid saturation.

Cotton and foam air filters are reusable and washable while paper filters are disposable.

The paper filters should be replaced regularly.

Daniel Mose

Daniel is a big fan of dirt biking. I own KTM 250 SX-F. I love learning how to maintain this dirt bike and ensure it lasts long while serving me without any issues. Join me in this journey as I document stuff that we, as dirt bike lovers, ought to know.

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