I know some air filters like the ones from K&N can be washed and reused. But what about oil filters? Can I wash them too? I should be able to save some money if I can reuse them…

Is that also in your mind? If yes, then you are in luck, because I am about to save your time and share all the information I was looking for. 

Turns out, oil filters are not reusable and cannot be cleaned. Oil filters use a filtering medium that can trap the finest particles that you can’t even see.

You cannot fully wash them off once the particles are embedded in the oil filter. 

Do not risk engine failure by trying to wash oil filters and save $8 – it’s not worth the time, effort and risk. 

That was the TLDR version. Now let’s get into more details about oil filters and why you shouldn’t waste your time trying to wash them.

Exactly Why You Shouldn’t Clean Oil Filters

Earlier I said oil filters trap very fine particles that you cannot simply wash off by using soap or water.

That’s still true but you could argue that you don’t have to wash off 100% of the dirt – just clean enough to reuse. 

But there’s more to consider than that. The effort and risk from trying to clean and reuse an oil filter is simply not worth the money you are saving.

That’s what I want to focus on here – price vs effort vs risk.


Keep in mind a new oil filter costs about $8 and this is what you are trying to save. You also don’t need any installation fee because it’s easy to install. You can install it yourself and mechanics usually don’t charge extra for this.  



To clean an oil filter, you will need to take the filter off and use a combination of toothbrush, soap water and pressurized air or water. (more on this later)

You should be gentle with it to ensure the filter medium is not enlarged or damaged. And not to mention the mess you will have from all the dirt and oil coming off the oil filter.


Washing and reusing an oil filter will definitely enlarge the filter medium. This means the oil filter is not going to trap as many dirt particles anymore. You risk dirty engine oil that can cause engine failure or wear and tear damages on your engines. 

For a saving of $8, you are potentially damaging your engines in the long run. In the worst case scenario where your engine fails, the cost to fix it is going to be massive. I wouldn’t take that chance and stick with new oil filters every time. 

Let me talk more about the risks of dirty engine oil next. Understanding all the risks is important before you decide on reusing an oil filter.

Risks Of Dirty Engine Oil

Remember, engine oil is used throughout your entire motorcycle engine as lubricant – which is extremely important whenever there’s any metal to metal contact. 

Without proper lubrication, metal to metal contact can quickly generate heat – the number one enemy in any motorcycle engines. 

Here’s a list of things that could happen when your motorcycle engine operates with dirty engine oil. 

  1. Extra wear and tear damages (potentially engine failure). Dirty engine oil contains a lot of particles that could cause wear and tear damages throughout all your engine components. Prolonged usage can cause engine parts like pistons to fail. 
  2. Overheating engine. Dirty engine oil is thick. It will not reach the right places on time – which means there will be a lack of lubrication for your engine parts. And when that happens, your engine parts will operate with more fiction – causing it to overheat. 
  3. Reduced gas mileage. Related to the point above. Dirty engine oil is thick and does not provide enough lubrication. This means your engine components need to work harder to operate – causing reduced gas mileage. 
  4. Knocking noises. Knocking noises from your engine could come from the metal-to-metal contact between pistons. This is usually caused by dirty engine oil with lack of lubrication. 

These are just some risks from dirty engine oil. I am sure there are more of them. Especially if you consult a specialist.  Still think reusing an oil filter is worth it?

Ways To Clean Oil Filter

You should only clean an oil filter if it’s meant to be reusable. Disposable oil filters should not be cleaned and reused –  the risks and efforts are not worth it. But if you want to try it for the sake of trying and learning. Then sure, go ahead. 

Things you need:

  1. Tissue. Lots of them
  2. Pressurized water hose
  3. Soapy water

Steps to clean oil filter:

  1. Remove oil filter from engine.
  2. Place tissues on your working space. Or clothes – whatever fabric that you can throw away.
  3. Remove residual oil from the filter by letting them flow out.
  4. Use pressurized water hose to spray water into the oil filter. The water pressure should be minimum. We just want to pump out the oil from inside the oil filter. 
  5. Soak oil filter in soapy water
  6. Let it dry

Here’s a YouTube video showing you how to do this.

Does Reusable Oil Filter Exist?

A reusable oil filter exists but at a much higher price (and for good reason). 

A reusable oil filter costs about $60 and it’s usually made from high quality material like stainless steels.

A reusable oil filter should last the lifetime of your vehicle. It can be washed again and again without much risk because the filter medium is made of steel – it will not degrade or have larger pores.

resuable oil filter

Resuable oil filter


I hope this article has been useful to you. Here are the key takeaways from this article:

  1. Cleaning a disposable oil filter requires some effort and lots of risks. It’s not worth it. 
  2. A reusable oil filter made of stainless steel exists in the market. If you want to reuse oil filters, this is the way to go. They are more expensive at about $60 but can last a lifetime. 

Thanks for reading!

Ifandi S.

Ifandi S.

Passionate about everything mechanical. Ifandi has been involved with motorcycles and cars since the old days - in his family's auto parts shop. Want to keep in touch? Scream "STRAIGHT PIPEEEEE" at the top of your lungs and Ifandi will show up.

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