The 10 Best Furnace Filters of 2022

The Filtrete Dust, Pollen & Pet Dander Air Filter is our top pick

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The 9 Best Furnace Filters of 2022

The Spruce / Chloe Jeong

For the sake of air quality and to keep your HVAC ductwork clean, you should install a home furnace filter. The filter can capture dust, dirt, pollen, and dander particles that would otherwise flow through your HVAC system and circulate in the air inside your home.

With the exception of permanent filter furnaces, you need to regularly replace the filter. Michael Rubino, a mold and air quality expert and founder of the non-profit organization HomeCleanse, points out that factors such as the home’s location, the age of the HVAC system, and the state of the air quality can influence how often air filters need to be replaced.

"A few signs to look out for," Michael says, "include discoloration of the filter, odd odors, higher electricity bills, a decrease in airflow, or dust around the vents or condenser coils. Chronic health issues can also point to poor indoor air quality."

We researched the top furnace filters on the market, evaluating filter type, MERV rating, filter life, and overall value. Our top recommendation is the Filtrete Dust, Pollen & Pet Dander Air Filter. This disposable filter is easy to install, efficient, and traps many of the most common air quality contaminants.

Here are the best furnace filters.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Filtrete Dust, Pollen, & Pet Dander Air Filter

Filtrete Dust, Pollen, & Pet Dander Air Filter

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • MPR rating of 700

  • App reminds you to replace filter

  • Easy to install

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t capture smoke, smog, or aerosols

The Filtrete Dust, Pollen & Pet Dander Air Filter is designed to capture most common contaminants in your home’s air supply and carries an MPR 700 rating. MPR is a proprietary rating system of 3M company, the parent company of Filtrete. According to 3M, this means it is designed to capture dust, mold, and pollen, and may be effective capturing pet dander and smoke.

The product balances performance and affordability, making it a good choice for most households. Plus, the electrostatically charged filter attracts and holds particles to the filter media, increasing the effectiveness. This filter has a MERV 8 rating, meaning it is also designed to capture mold spores, dust mite debris, and lint. However, it isn’t equipped to capture very fine particles or aerosols such as smoke, droplets from a sneeze or cough, or viruses and bacteria. Still, it meets more than the bare minimum of filtration requirements and should reduce the airborne particulates that are most likely to cause visible dust or trigger common allergies. 

For maximum effectiveness, you should change the filter every 90 days—or sooner if you see evidence of heavy debris collection.

Price at time of publish: $45

Dimensions: ‎16 x 25 x 1 inches | MERV Rating: 8 | Filter Material: Electrostatic charged filter media

Best Budget: Filtrete Clean Living Basic Dust Air Filter

Filtrete Basic Dust and Lint Air Filter

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Low cost of replacement

  • Won’t place a strain on HVAC systems

  • Better capture rate than non-electrostatic filter media

What We Don't Like
  • Only meets minimum recommended MERV rating for household use

  • Needs to be replaced at least every 90 days

You can save on furnace maintenance without cutting corners when you buy affordable but effective furnace filters. You should consider an air filter with a MERV 5 rating at a minimum, but there’s no reason to overspend if you don’t have allergies or specialized air filtration needs.

The Filtrete Basic Dust Air Filter is an economical choice that uses electrostatically charged filter media to capture lint, dust mite debris, and household dust. It has an MPR rating of 300, which is considered a sufficient base level when shopping for residential air filters.

Changing the filter every 90 days can reduce the amount of dust and small debris circulating through your home’s HVAC system. However, this filter may not be effective enough if you’re specifically targeting mold spores, or allergens such as pet dander and pollen. 

Another reason to consider this affordable furnace filter is its reduced resistance and strain on your HVAC system. Some filters with a higher MERV rating have thicker, tighter-woven filter material to trap fine particles. While that does increase the filter’s effectiveness, it also can make the HVAC system work harder as it intakes air. If you have an older HVAC system, minimal air filtration needs, or just want to save a few dollars every time you replace your air filter, then the Filtrete Basic Dust Air Filter is the way to go. 

Price at time of publish: $35

Dimensions: 16 x 20 x 1 inches | MERV Rating: 5 | Filter Material: Electrostatically charged filter media

Best for Homes with Pets: Arm & Hammer Enhanced Allergen and Odor Control Air Filter

Arm & Hammer Enhanced Allergen and Odor Control Air Filter

Courtesy of Home Depot

What We Like
  • Offsets odors using baking soda

  • Captures most large particles

  • More surface area for debris

What We Don't Like
  • May need to replace before 90 days

  • Filter frame can be flimsy

Go on the offense against pet dander and odors by equipping your HVAC system with an air filter designed for homes with pets. For this purpose, we recommend the Arm & Hammer Enhanced Allergen and Odor Control Air Filter. It combines effective filtration of large particles, using pleated, electrostatic filter material, with the odor-eliminating properties of baking soda and carbon. 

We like that this air filter for homes with pets uses the neutral properties of baking soda to offset odors without adding an artificial or chemical scent to the air. It has a MERV rating of 8, and the manufacturer claims it removes up to 75 percent of large particles from the air circulating in your home’s HVAC system. The filter material's pleats are designed to capture pet dander, pollen, and mold spores so they are not blown through your air ducts.

We note that the filter frame can be somewhat subject to crushing or tearing, so insert it gently into your air handler. 

Price at time of publish: $33

Dimensions: 20 x 25 x 1 | FPR Rating: NA | MERV Rating: 8 | Filter Material: Synthetic

Best for Allergens: Filtrete Advanced Allergen Reduction Air Filter

Filtrete Advanced Allergen Reduction Air Filter

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Filtration comparable to MERV 12

  • AAFA certified to reduce allergens

  • May capture viruses and bacteria

What We Don't Like
  • No smart app monitoring available

Regularly replacing your AC filter with a high-quality option is a key strategy for reducing the amount of allergens in your home’s air supply. We recommend that allergy sufferers pick an air filter with a minimum MERV 9 rating, which places the filter in the "Superior Residential" category, according to ASHRAE standards. There are many options for air filters that meet or exceed these filtration requirements. The Filtrete Advanced Allergen Reduction Air Filter is a popular choice. 

This option has been certified as asthma and allergy-friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). To earn the certification, products must be proven to capture common household triggers, like cat allergen, dust mite allergen, pollen, and general small particles. The Filtrete Advanced Allergen Reduction Air Filter also has a 3M proprietary 1500 MPR rating, which the manufacturer says compares to MERV 12. This is well above the MERV 9 threshold that is commonly recommended for air filters to trap allergens. 

Depending on your home’s air quality, you may find it necessary to change the filter more often than the Filtrete-recommended 90-day replacement schedule. The manufacturer doesn't include a sensor to monitor air flow and alert you when performance drops significantly. So you need to visually inspect the filter periodically to keep tabs on when it’s ready to be replaced.

Price at time of publish: $19

Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 1 | MERV Rating: 12 | Filter Material: Electrostatic pleated

Best for Odor: Filtrete Odor Reduction Air Filter

Filtrete Odor Reduction Air Filter

Courtesy of Lowe's

What We Like
  • Uses activated carbon to freshen air

  • Filters out smoke, smog, pet dander

  • MPR 1200 rating

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t filter viruses or bacteria

  • More expensive than similar options

We recommend the Filtrete Odor Reduction Air Filter because it uses activated carbon to naturally clean the air of smells from cooking, pets, mildew, cleaning chemicals, and more. 

With a MERV 11 rating, this air filter is effective at capturing contaminants such as smoke, environmental pollution, and pet dander. These particles can contribute to a stale or unpleasant odor in your home, but the electrostatic filter material holds on to the particles while the activated carbon reduces the odor they emit. In combination, this air filter for odors reduces particles in your air supply while contributing towards a more neutral smell.

Each filter lasts up to 90 days.

The price per filter is slightly higher given the filtration limitations (it doesn't capture viruses or bacteria). But we consider it an efficient choice if you want to filter and deodorize your home’s air supply. 

Price at time of publish: $19

Dimensions: 16 x 25 x 1 | MERV Rating: 11 | Filter Material: Electrostatic pleated

Best Smart Filter: Filtrete Smart Air Filter

Filtrete Smart Air Filter

Courtesy of Best Buy

What We Like
  • Monitor filter life using an app

  • MPR 1500 rating

  • Certified asthma & allergy friendly

What We Don't Like
  • App reports not your-home specific

  • Bluetooth pairing problems

Installing a new air filter is easy, but remembering to change it regularly can be more challenging. In addition, while most disposable air filters can be used for up to 90 days, air conditions within your home may cause the filter to become clogged more quickly and require replacement sooner.

To keep you on track with your filter replacement schedule, we recommend the Filtrete Smart Air Filter. This MERV 12 furnace filter traps contaminants such as pollen, dander, smoke, viruses, and bacteria. And a small integrated sensor monitors air flow efficiency and gives you up-to-date information on air filter status. You also can enable auto-reorder through the app, which ensures that you have a new filter ready to when your current filter expires. 

The Filtrete Smart app also offers air quality information, but these are just generalized air quality reports based on your area. While detailed information about the air inside your home might be nice, the biggest benefit of the app is the ability to check your filter's life status at a glance using your smartphone. We believe this is much more convenient than remembering to regularly open your HVAC unit to visually inspect the filter. 

Price at time of publish: $15

Dimensions: 14 x 25 x 1 | MERV Rating: 12 | Filter Material: ‎Electrostatically charged filter media

Best for Air Flow: AIRx Air Beast

AIRx Air Beast

Courtesy of Discount Filters

What We Like
  • Near maximum rated velocity

  • Captures mold, bacteria, and smog

  • Electrostatically charged filter material

What We Don't Like
  • Ineffective for odors, chemical vapors

To be effective, an air filter needs to be efficient at capturing airborne particles without overly restricting air flow to your HVAC unit. Michael Rubino, a mold and air quality expert and founder of the non-profit organization HomeCleanse, points out that every HVAC system is different. “Before purchasing a filter, it’s important to check with the manufacturer to see the highest-rated filter the particular system can handle and then purchase that option.”

The AIRx Air Beast is our recommendation if you’re looking for a filter to trap many of the most common contaminants without straining most HVAC units, which can lead to the need to replace the furnace. It has MERV 11 filtration and a rated velocity of 295 feet per minute (FPM), which is within range of the maximum recommended 300 FPM for air filters

The AIRx Air Beast has pleated synthetic filter media. This translates into more surface area to collect particles such as dust, smoke, mold, and dander when compared with furnace filters with flat filter surfaces. This filter is also electrostatically charged, which assists in drawing these contaminants into the filter and trapping them there.

As most other disposable filters, this product lasts up to 90 days but should be replaced sooner if it becomes very dirty. If you fail to replace the filter on time, air flow is restricted, and you risk damage to your HVAC system. 

Price at time of publish: $13

Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 1 | MERV Rating: 11 | Filter Material: Electrostatic synthetic media


Best Long-lasting: Honeywell Home Pleated Air Filter, 4-inch

Honeywell Home Pleated Air Filter FPR 8

Home Depot

What We Like
  • Captures more contaminants

  • More surface air for filtration

  • Captures large and small particles

What We Don't Like
  • Can’t be used in air handlers with a 1-inch boot

  • Not effective at filtering odors, smog

It can be hard to remember to regularly change your air filter as part of routine home maintenance. If that describes your situation, consider a long-lasting furnace filter. While most air filters should be replaced at least every 90 days, the Honeywell Home 4-inch Pleated Air Filter lasts up to 12 months. It pairs this long life with a MERV 8 filter rating, meaning it is designed to be effective against particles that are 3 to 10 microns in size. 

You may notice that this furnace filter is significantly thicker than 90-day furnace filters. The extra depth is filled with pleated filter media to maximize the surface area available for capturing contaminants. This is an electrostatic filter, so the charge helps to draw in particles such as dust mites, mold, and smoke. 

Because of this furnace filter's 4-inch depth, you need to make sure it fits into your HVAC's filter opening.

Price at time of publish: $66

Dimensions: 20 x 25 x 4 inches | MERV Rating: 8 | Filter Material: Polypropylene

Best for Dust: FilterBuy Dust Defense Pleated AC Furnace Air Filter

FilterBuy MERV 8 Pleated AC Furnace Air Filter

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Electrostatically charged

  • 12 pleats for increased surface area

  • Made from recyclable materials

What We Don't Like
  • MPR 600 rating

  • Not as effective for smoke, viruses

Reducing household dust is a key benefit of using a high-quality air filter. By trapping small dust particles rather than blowing them through your home’s ductwork, you should notice less surface dust. We recommend the FilterBuy Dust Defense for a disposable product that captures circulating dust and other particles. The 12 pleats per foot give this filter increased surface area when compared with flat fiberglass furnace filters. 

When shopping for a furnace filter for dust, choose one with a MERV rating of 5 to 8. Filters in this range are designed to capture 80 to 90 percent of particles from 3-10 microns in size, which includes most dust particles. The FilterBuy Dust Defense carries a MERV 8 rating and further enhances its ability to capture dust and other particles by using electrostatically charged filter media.

It lasts for up to 90 days before needing replacement and is an affordable option for a disposable furnace filter. However, it’s not as effective at filtering out smaller particles such as smoke and viruses or bacteria. 

Price at time of publish: $24

Dimensions: 16 x 20 x 1 | MERV Rating: 8 | Filter Material: Synthetic

Best Permanent: Air-Care Permanent Electrostatic Air Filter

Air-Care Permanent Electrostatic Air Filter

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Electrostatically charged filter

  • Lifetime warranty

  • Rinse every few months maintains efficiency

What We Don't Like
  • May be noisy when installed

  • Filter must dry before being reinstalled

Instead of replacing a disposable furnace filter every 90 days, you can install a permanent furnace filter. These washable options eliminate the need to purchase and replace your air filter frequently. The Air-Care Permanent Electrostatic Air Filter is a popular option for a low-maintenance, long-lasting furnace filter. It is designed to capture large particles 3-10 microns such as dust, pollen, and mold. It carries a lifetime warranty and only requires rinsing every 1 to 3 months to clean. This product has a MERV 8 rating, placing it in the "Better Residential" category for air filters.

The filter's electrostatic charge is responsible for its particle capture capabilities, and it contains an EPA registered antimicrobial material to protect against mold and mildew growth.

Because it doesn’t capture particles measuring 2.5 microns or less, such as smoke, viruses, and bacteria, it may not fit the needs of every household.

Price at time of publish: $50

Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 1 inches | MERV Rating: 8 | Filter Material: Polypropylene, polyester

Final Verdict

Final Verdict

Our top recommendation for a furnace filter is the Filtrete Dust, Pollen, & Pet Dander Air Filter. With a MERV 8 rating, it’s a popular pick for general household use and reduces large particles in the air along with visible dust on flat surfaces. A very economical option is the Filtrete Clean Living Basic Dust Air Filter. This filter has a MERV 5 rating, and is effective at keeping large particles from clogging your HVAC unit, as long as you regularly replace it at least every 90 days. 

What to Look For in a Furnace Filter

Size 

You should buy a furnace filter that corresponds to the requirements of your HVAC system. Check your system’s specifications for the recommended furnace filter dimensions, including height, width, and depth (thickness). A single type of air filter is usually manufactured in a variety of sizes to accommodate the needs of different HVAC systems. 

The most common furnace filter thickness is 1 inch. However some air handler boots are designed for 4- and 5-inch filter options, which usually offer a longer useful life span and may put less strain on the HVAC system, ensuring good ventilation. 

Filtration Level

The filtration level of a furnace filter is largely determined by how tightly woven the filter material is and what-size particles it can trap. A more tightly woven filter material translates into a higher capture rate of smaller-size particles. There are various ways of classifying the filtration level of a furnace filter, including MERV, MPR, and FPR. 

MERV (Minimum Efficiency Rating Value), is a national standard, set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). It classifies which particles a filter can capture. A MERV rating of 8 means the filter is designed to capture pollen, dust, and mold. A rating of 11 adds large dust particles and auto emissions. A filter rated MERV 13 may be capable of trapping particles emitting from sneezes, as well as all bacterial.

You should choose a filter with a MERV rating that matches your objectives. If you’re only concerned with preventing dirty ducts and keeping your HVAC system clog free, then a filter with a MERV rating of 1 to 4 is sufficient. However, it’s not as likely to improve your air quality. For that, choose a MERV 5 to 8 filter, which can remove some of the most frequent airborne allergens and reduce household dust. For more acute allergies or to ensure a higher standard of air quality, use a filter with a rating of MERV 9 or above.

A higher MERV rating means the filter material is more tightly woven, requiring the HVAC system to work harder to draw air through the filter. This can restrict air flow, so it is important to check the filter specifications of your HVAC system or get advice from a technician.  

The 3M Company and The Home Depot have created similar systems. The 3M Microparticle Performance Rating (MPR) system, for products it sells under the Filtrete and other brands, runs from 100 (lint and household dust) all the way to 2800. Filters rated that high are designed to trap viruses, the manufacturer says. Home Depot applies its Filter Performance (FPR) Rating to products it sells. Ratings run from 4 (dust, pet dander) to 10 (bacteria, mold spores, odors and more).

Media

A furnace filter's media can be made from different materials. Filters made of fiberglass are among the cheapest and most basic options, but are quickly being replaced by filters with synthetic media because of their affordability and improved filter life. Furnace filters may also utilize a cotton filter material, which offers a tight weave to capture particles. 

Permanent furnace filters are usually made from long-lasting polypropylene and only require rinsing every few months to maintain performance. A galvanized metal frame around the filter makes them easy to install. Disposable furnace filters usually have cardboard frames that can sometimes become crushed, torn, or bent during installation.

One other thing to note is whether the filter material has an electrostatic charge. It uses this charge to attract particles floating in the air and draw them into the filter media. The charge also helps ensure that the particles aren't passed through to the HVAC system as easily. 

FAQ
  • Is there a big difference in home air filters?

    Air filters differ in how effective they are at filtering contaminants from the air. When comparing a filter with a minimum filtration rating to an option with a high-level filter rating, there is a significant difference in the size of particles the filter captures.


    As Michael Rubino, a mold and air quality expert and founder of the non-profit organization HomeCleanse explains: “All filters are designed differently and have varying capacities for eliminating pollutants from the air. The most common way to determine the effectiveness of a filter is by using a grading system called MERV. The more effective the filters are at eliminating contaminants from the air, the higher the rating will be. For example, some are only equipped to deal with large particles like dust, while others can eliminate bacteria and allergens.” 

  • Can you clean a furnace filter?

    Disposable furnace filters cannot be cleaned and used effectively beyond their expected lifetimes. However, washable furnace filters can be cleaned. The specific maintenance required varies by type and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, low-pressure water and perhaps a mild cleanser are all that is necessary to clear contaminants from the filter. 

  • Are furnace filters recyclable?

    In most cases, a furnace filter is not recyclable due to the fiberglass or synthetic filter media commonly used. The best way to dispose of a used furnace filter is typically in the garbage. If you’re concerned about reducing waste, consider a washable or permanent furnace filter.

  • How long should a furnace filter last?

    You can expect disposable furnace filters to last for up to 90 days. However, if you have a high level of contaminants in the air, the filter may become dirty faster than expected, perhaps within 30 days.


    Permanent furnace filters can last years, when regularly cleaned. You need to regularly remove the filter, rinse it with water, and allow it to dry before replacing it. 

  • What is the difference between a HEPA filter and a MERV filter?

    HEPA and MERV are two different standards for measuring air filtration. “All HEPA air filters must meet a minimum efficiency of 99.97% at 0.3 microns," Michael Rubino says. "So, the difference is that HEPA filters have a higher performance than filters with a MERV 16 rating or below.” He adds that most residential HVAC systems can’t force air through HEPA-grade furnace filters. 


    If you’re looking for HEPA air filtration, Michael advises considering a whole- home air purifier. “These systems are installed at the home’s point of entry and will effectively remove contaminants from the air so that the HVAC system can run efficiently," Rubino says.

Why Trust The Spruce?

Erica Puisis researches the best home improvement and lifestyle products that make life easier and better. Her areas of expertise include home appliances and systems. For this roundup of the best disposable, washable, and permanent furnace filters, Erica considered the most popular products from leading brands such as 3M-produced Filtrete, as well as FilterBuy, AIRx, and Honeywell Home. All filters in this roundup have at least a MERV 5 rating.

Erica also interviewed Michael Rubino, a mold and air quality expert, author of The Mold Medic, and founder of HomeCleanse, a non-profit with a mission to improve poor air quality and toxic indoor environments. He explained the difference between air quality standards and the importance of choosing an air filter that meets your health needs and HVAC system requirements.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. What is a MERV Rating?U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

  2. Understanding MERV. (2020, January 15)—National Air Filtration Association

  3. Turner, T. (2018, November 5). Filter fundamentalsACHR News

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