How To Clean a Dirt Bike Air Filter

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Left side of a dirt bike showing the clean dirt bike air filter installed in the air box

A regular cleaning and oiling of the dirt bike air filter extends the lifespan of the dirt bike engine and the foam air filter itself. It’s something you can easily do by yourself without any hiccups.

Cleaning the dirt bike air filter involves 6 steps. You need to remove the air filter and submerge it into a cleaner solution, squeeze off the excessive cleaner, rinse the air filter with water, let it air dry, apply new filter oil, and reinstall.

Next, we will explain a quick and easy way to clean the dirt bike air filter. By following these instructions, you can save a ton of time and money.

Let’s dive in and go through the steps in detail.

What Is a Dirt Bike Air Filter?

A dirt bike air filter covers the air intake of your dirt bike. It removes dirt from the air and prevents dust and dirt particles getting past the air filter and into the engine.

In addition, a dirt bike air filter improves the airflow to the engine. Without an air filter, the debris in the air would land up in the engine causing unwanted damage. A better air quality increases performance and helps the engine from overheating.

A dirt bike air filter also increases speed and horsepower. When the air quality is higher, there is more oxygen (that the engine needs to burn fuel), the combustion is better, and the engine performance is improved.

When there is a correct mixture of air, oxygen, and combustion, the engine is able to perform at higher levels. This results in more efficient use of fuel and improved fuel economy. If the air filter is dirty, your dirt bike doesn’t get all the oxygen it needs which results in sluggish engine performance and poor fuel economy.

Most dirt bike air filters are foam air filters that are reusable. You can simply clean and degrease them and then oil the air filters again with a specific air filter oil. They will last several years in normal use when properly cleaned.

Read also: How To Clean Leaking Fork Seals On a Dirt Bike

Tools Needed for Cleaning a Dirt Bike Air Filter

All in all, the cleaning process is very simple and straightforward. Yet we have developed a unique process that makes the cleaning process even easier.

These are the tools and items that you will need to clean the dirt bike air filter:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Air filter degreaser or cleaner
  • Air filter oil
  • Bucket for soaking the air filter
  • Water for rinsing the air filter

6 Steps for Cleaning a Dirt Bike Air Filter

When you clean the dirt bike air filter, the goal is to get all sand, dirt, and other debris out of the air filter so that it doesn’t travel into the engine. At the same time, the old air filter oil will be removed and replaced with new one that performs better.

The cleaning process will take about 20 minutes or so, depending on how dirty the air filter is and how well you have practiced degreasing and oiling the air filter.

Check your dirt bike owner’s manual for the recommended air filter cleaning interval. We recommend performing a visual inspection each time you wash your bike and decide if it’s time to clean the dirt bike air filter.

Different conditions like dusty and muddy conditions can quickly dirty the air filter, so it is important to regularly check the air filter condition.

Let’s get started on how to clean the dirt bike air filter.

1. Remove the Dirty Dirt Bike Air Filter and Submerge It Into a Cleaner Solution

Remove the air box cover. It is typically located on the left side of the dirt bike or sometimes under the seat.

After removing the air box cover you can access the air box and remove the dirty air filter. It’s held in place by a rubber clamp or similar.

Use rubber gloves and remove the dirty air filter from the air box. Be careful so that no loose dirt comes off the air filter or surrounding areas and find its way into the intake.

Remove the air filter cage that supports the foam filter and holds it in place.

A hand holding a dirty dirt bike air filter above a bucket filled with a cleaner solution
Put the dirty air filter into a bucket and submerge it fully in the cleaner solution.

Place the air filter into a bucket with a degreaser or a cleaner solution. For best results, submerge the air filter fully in the degreaser or cleaner solution by using the air filter cage or similar and hold it there. You can place multiple air filters in the bucket at the same time.

Let the air filter sit in the bucket while you wash your dirt bike or at least for 10 to 20 minutes. If the air filter is very dirty, leave it in the bucket overnight.

If you are washing your dirt bike at the same time, insert an air box cover in place to prevent water and dirt entering the intake area. It is important to keep the air box clean.

PRO TIP: Buy a big 4 liter Twin Air Filter Cleaner (click to check the current price on MotoSport.com) and dump it in a bucket with an airtight lid (like a paint bucket). This way, you can reuse the solvent several times and save a ton of cleaner. When the cleaner gets dirty, you can pour it through a coffee filter to remove sand and debris and keep reusing it!

2. Squeeze Off the Excessive Cleaner Solution

After soaking the air filter in the cleaner solution, gently squeeze it to remove the excessive cleaner solution and to inspect if the air filter is clean of the air filter oil. Do not twist the air filter. This way, the glued joints will not get damaged.

Hands squeezing a dirty dirt bike air filter above a bucket filled with a cleaner solution
Gently squeeze the dirt bike air filter with your hands to remove the excessive cleaner solution.

The goal is to remove the air filter oil, not to fully clean the filter yet. The cleaner solution breaks down the air filter oil so that rinsing it with water will completely clean the dirt bike air filter.

Avoid shaking the bucket and dipping the air filter to the bottom of the bucket. This will only get more sand in the air filter. Submerge the air filter few times into the solution and squeeze the cleaner out of the air filter until you see desired results.

3. Rinse the Air Filter With Water

After degreasing the air filter, rinse the air filter off with a water hose.

Start pushing water from the inside out. This will push any remaining sand and debris out of the filter and not deeper into the air filter.

Hands holding a dirt bike air filter and rinsing it with a water hose with the air filter cage laying on the ground
Rinse the dirt bike air filter off with a water hose.

Avoid scrubbing, brushing, or spraying the air filter with high pressure. This will only damage the foam material and shorten the lifespan.

Rinse the air filter thoroughly until water is clean and not cloudy.

After the air filter appears to be clean, fold or roll the foam air filter and squeeze out any water. If the air filter still produces any old filter oil or the water looks dirty, keep rinsing or repeat the degreasing process in the bucket until the air filter is completely clean.

4. Air Dry the Air Filters

Let the cleaned air filters to air dry in a place away from direct sunlight.

It’s important to dry out the air filters properly before oiling them.

Two clean dirt bike air filters and an air filter cage on a bucket
Let the dirt bike air filters air dry before adding the new filter oil.

If you must oil the air filters directly after washing them, roll or squeeze the air filter together with paper towels and let the paper towels absorb the water. This will work most of the time and dry the air filter enough for it to absorb the new oil without major issues.

5. Apply New Filter Oil to the Cleaned Air Filter

Once the air filter is dry, it needs new filter oil.

The air filter oil helps trap dust and dirt by closing the small air holes in the foam filter. It does this by binding itself into the dust particles and thus increasing the air filter performance while minimizing air flow resistance.

Oiling the air filter can be messy as the air filter oil is usually very sticky, so wear rubber gloves.

Air filter oil comes in spray bottles or in normal pour over containers. The spray bottles are much easier to use for getting an even oil coating and a proper amount applied evenly on the air filter.

A hand holding a dirt bike foam air filter that is being sprayed with air filter oil
Apply new air filter oil to the cleaned dirt bike foam air filter.

Spray a light, even coat on the outside of the air filter. With rubber gloves on, work the oil evenly into the filter foam material.

Do not use too much oil. A light and even coating will work much better that using too much oil.

If you have an air filter container that doesn’t have a spray function, use a clear plastic bag and pour a spoonful of oil directly into the bag. Smear the air filter oil inside the bag evenly and then insert the clean, dry air filter into to plastic bag. Then work the oil into the air filter—only on the outside.

Once the outside of the air filter is evenly coated, apply some air filter oil on the inside lip that connects to the air box. This ensures a better seal against the air box and prevents dust traveling between the housing and the air filter.

6. Reinstall the Clean Air Filter

Once the air filter is oiled, you can reinstall it in place.

Remove the air box cover and inspect the air box for any dirt or dust. It’s important to check the intake area and clean it before installing the fresh air filter. Any dirt inside the air box behind the air filter will travel to the motor.

A cleaned and oiled dirt bike air filter installed in the air box
Reinstall the cleaned and oiled air filter in the air box.

Clean the air box and specifically the area where the air filter presses against the air box. You can use a rag or a paper towel to wipe the air intake. Do not use air pressure or anything that will push the dirt inside the air intake.

Insert the air filter cage inside the air filter and make sure it aligns properly making a good seal against the air box.

Push the air filter in place and attach it with the mounting bracket. Check around the air filter and push the edges in place to ensure a good seal.

Then you can reinstall the air box cover.

You are now completed with the cleaning process!

Read also: How To Wash Your Dirt Bike

What to Avoid When Cleaning a Dirt Bike Air Filter

When you clean the dirt bike air filter properly, it helps to extend the dirt bike engine life and to increase the air filter performance.

Here are few things to avoid when cleaning the dirt bike air filters:

  • Do not use a power washer. The high pressure will easily damage the foam material.
  • Do not scrub or brush the air filter. Instead, use a good air filter cleaner solution.
  • Do not use an air compressor to dry the air filter. The high air pressure will easily tear the air filter material.
  • Do not use excessive oil. A light, even coat of air filter oil works best.
  • Do not wash the dirt bike without covering the air box. Otherwise, water and dirt will travel inside the air box.

Read also: How To Replace Wheel Bearings On A Dirt Bike

Extra Dirt Bike Air Filter Cleaning Tips

  • Air filters are relatively cheap so buy an extra air filter. Each time you wash your dirt bike, you can replace the old air filter with a clean one and wash the old and dirty one. This way, you don’t have to wait for the air filter to air dry.
  • Inspect the air filter every time you wash your dirt bike. If the air filter needs cleaning, it is convenient to do at the same time as washing the bike.
  • Never leave the air filter in when washing the dirt bike. Use an air box cover instead. Twin Air – Air Box Cover (click to check the current price on MotoSport.com) is great for protecting the air box from dirt and water when washing the dirt bike.
  • Use a bucket with a lid for the air filter cleaner solution. You can reuse the cleaner solution several times, usually years, if you run the solution though a coffee filter every now and then to remove the sand. Use a paint bucket with a lid to store the cleaner solution. We recommend to get the large 4-liter Twin Air Filter Cleaner (click to check the current price on MotoSport.com).
  • Drop the air filter cage in to the bucket with the air filter to help submerge the air filter fully in the cleaner solution.
  • Buy an extra air filter (click to check the current price on MotoSport.com) and store it in a closable plastic bag. You can take the plastic bag with you when you go riding and swap the air filter quickly trail side if needed.

Read also: Top End Rebuild Process On A Two-Stroke Dirt Bike

Conclusions

Cleaning the dirt bike air filter is one of the most common maintenance tasks for dirt bikes.

A regular cleaning and oiling of the air filter will ensure that no dirt will travel inside the air box and engine. This will greatly improve your dirt bike’s engine life.

Our step-by-step instructions make it very easy to clean the dirt bike air filter. It’s so easy that practically anyone can do it!

This way, you can spend more time twisting the throttle out on the trails and less time maintaining your dirt bike on the shop floor.

Keep the engine running!

Last updated: May 12, 2022