Can You Clean and Reuse an Oil Filter?
Cleaning and reusing an oil filter is not a good idea, because you probably have a disposable oil filter in your machine that’s designed for one-time use only. You're better off buying a new oil filter.
Types of Powersports Oil Filters
There are two basic types of oil filters you’ll come across with a powersports vehicle. The first is a spin-on oil filter, which is what you’re likely to find on a larger ATV, UTV or street motorcycle when you do an oil change.
A spin-on oil filter is essentially a steel housing with a paper medium inside that catches small particulates as the oil passes through. The canister also contains a couple of valves to control flow through the filter, and a gasket to seal the outer housing to the engine to prevent leaks.
The other common type is the cartridge oil filter. It’s essentially the same setup, minus the steel housing. Instead, there’s a small housing built into the engine that must be opened before the old filter is removed and a new one is inserted. What’s critical here is that the filter be placed in the correct orientation inside the housing so that it works properly.
Reusing an Oil Filter
There are reusable oil filters, and they’re pretty clever. These oil filters are a lot more expensive than disposable filters. The medium is steel instead of paper, and also includes magnets to catch particulates suspended in the oil. The housing and internal components are more robust than a disposable oil filter, and they’re built to be used over and over again, as long as they’re cleaned regularly.
To be clear, a disposable oil filter can’t be cleaned. The paper filter traps fine particles that can’t be removed during a cleaning process without damaging the filter. What this means for your engine is that during the next use cycle, the filter won’t catch those fine particulates. Instead, it’ll allow them to circulate into the engine, which causes severe damage over time.
The more straightforward reason not to reuse disposable oil filters is that they’re inexpensive. For what little you’ll save not buying a new filter like you should, you’ll waste time and effort trying to clean a filter that’s meant to be tossed in the trash after one use. The bottom line is the potential engine damage you’ll cause by being cheap will cost you a lot more than simply buying a new oil filter.