Can You Use a Vacuum Without a Filter + Other Filter Tips!

The filter in your vacuum cleaner is needed for it to function correctly.

Without a filter, two things happen.

  1. Your vacuum is spitting out what it sucked up.
  2. You run the risk of damaging the vacuum motor.

If you have no filter, all the debris you’re vacuuming gets put back in the air and floor. This defeats the point of vacuuming if you’re only spreading the debris again.

Also, not every vacuum cleaner has a pre-filter for the motor and relies on the main filter to protect the motor. The motor sits behind the filter to suck air in and vacuum up the debris, and the filter stops the debris but allows the air to flow through. Without the filter, the motor is getting hit with debris that can clog and destroy it.

Pre-Filter Needed

Just like the main filter, you should not run a vacuum cleaner without a pre-filter.

Pre-filters are more common on certain vacuums like Dyson, and to run without one is not recommended.


You can replace your vacuum cleaner HEPA Filter with a standard filter, but you can’t run it without some kind of filter.

The HEPA Filter is not a pre-filter or a second filter; it’s sometimes the only filter on the vacuum cleaner. Therefore, removing a HEPA Filter from your vacuum cleaner means you removed all filters.

So you must keep some type of filter on your vacuum cleaner for it to run correctly.


Running your vacuum cleaner without a filter will void the warranty with most manufacturers.

The filter is not only there to clean the air but also to protect the motor.

I Accidentally Vacuumed Without My Filter!

If you accidentally vacuumed without a filter, then re-install the correct filter and continue.

A couple of times won’t be the end of the world; just don’t make it a common practice.

Don’t Vacuum Wet Floors

You should not vacuum with a wet filter unless that filter is made to get wet like the foam ones for shop vacuums.

If your home vacuum cleaner filter is wet, you need to let it dry out before using it.

A wet paper filter causes a vacuum cleaner motor to overwork, and a wet paper filter doesn’t work as well at stopping dirt when wet.

Tip: A wet filter can keep certain model vacuum cleaners from working. If the vacuum cleaner doesn’t turn on after letting the filter dry for 24 hours, try drying out the filter with a hairdryer. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need a new filter as something is not correct.

Never Change, This Happens

If you never change the filter in your vacuum cleaner, it will eventually burn up the motor, and the vacuum cleaner will stop.

You need to regularly change your vacuum cleaner filter to keep your vacuum running the best.

Overtime filters collect dust, and for every collected particle, it stops airflow and makes your vacuum cleaner not work as great as it used to. A too clogged filter will have the motor work harder and stress it out until it gets to a point where it stops working.

Note: If you start to notice a loss of suction, it would be wise to replace the filter in your vacuum cleaner.


I’m seeing a trend of people who make their own filters for their vacuum cleaners.

While this is an interesting idea, I suggest you don’t DIY your vacuum cleaner filters.

A vacuum cleaner is made to run with the manufacturer’s specs; when you make something that the manufacturer did not plan, you risk damaging the vacuum cleaner.

I’ve seen people use sponges, paper towels, to coffee filters, and I’ve just got to say stop. You’re doing more damage while making something that is not as effective as the HEPA Filters you get from the store.

Vacuum cleaner filters are not that expensive and well worth the cost for what they do, especially the HEPA Filter.

Do They Make Vacuum Cleaners Without Filters?

They make vacuum cleaners that don’t use paper or foam filters and instead use water.

I know it sounds crazy, but it’s probably the best kind of filtration you can get.

These water-filtration vacuum cleaners are not new and are super effective at cleaning. They’re so good that many air filters are also moving to the water filtration process.

Quantum X (Amazon Link Ad) probably has the most exciting water filtration vacuum cleaner as they have an upright version which is rare to see.

The more common style is a canister, like Sirena’s water filtration vacuum cleaner (Amazon Link Ad).

I go into more details about water filtration vacuum cleaners here.



Hello, I'm Lee from ""! Launched in 2016, my site addresses the online information gap about "robot vacuums" and "vacuum cleaners," areas where I have hands-on experience. Got questions about a post or topic? Feel free to comment or contact me (contact)!

Leave a Comment