Should I Use K&N Air Filter Oil Substitute?

Have you ever used dishwashing detergent to clean and motor oil or WD40 to oil the K&N air filter? Then you wonder if they are safe to use?

If you are in that case, Stop doing that! If not, you can ruin your car air filter.
Instead, in this article, I’ll help you find the best substitute for your K&N air filter oil and how to oil the air filter in a simple way!

Let’s get started!

K&N Air Filter Oil Substitute

What Is The Best Substitute For K&N Air Filter Oil?

I know many of you think of using dishwashing detergent to clean the filter and using motor oil, transmission fluid, or even cooking oil for recoating it. You did it as you wanted to save some bucks. However, this doesn’t seem right. Please do not use what is not advisable by manufacturers or dealers for your car. Also, the price of K&N air filter oil is not as high as you think. It is strongly advised that you use K&N air filter oil for maximum performance and engine safety.

The K&N air filter oil is the finest and ideal oil for your K&N air filter. It is made exclusively for K&N oiled cotton filters and is created to enhance air filter performance and efficiency. The oil is suspended on the cotton filter pleats, providing superior contaminants trapping. 

K&N Air Filter Oil

K&N Air Filter Oil

K&N Air Filter Cleaning Kit

K&N Air Filter Cleaning Kit (Cleaner & Oil)

K&N Oil Filter Review

K&N air filters are composed of layers of cotton gauze tucked in between sheets of aluminum wire mesh. This cotton technology generates a robust filtering medium by retaining oil in suspension on the cotton material. The K&N filter oil suspension allows the air filter to trap and hold dust particles that are much smaller than the opening in the fiber itself.

Unlike other conventional filters, which are disposable and must be replaced on a regular basis, K&N air filters are washable, reusable, and designed to last the life of your vehicle. Under normal highway conditions, it may go for 50,000 miles between cleanings. They must, however, be saturated with a specific oil, or their filtering function will be compromised. Air contaminants will inevitably infiltrate your engine unless you re-oil your performance filter.

K&N Air Filter Oil

K&N Air Filter Oil

Highlight Performance

  • Simple to apply
  • Offers superb protection
  • Helps restore airflow efficiency
  • Allows your K&N air filter to perform as if it were brand new
  • Outperforms all other air filter oil in combating contaminants when used in conjunction with the K&N air filter

Can You Use WD40 As Air Filter Oil?

No, please don’t. WD40 is very low and leaves a residue. When dry, this product turns sticky or gummy and collects a lot of dust and dirt. It has the potential to damage your air filter. It is strongly advisable to use K&N filter oil for superior performance and results. You should not use WD40 since it is not suitable for your air filter.

How To Oil K&N Air Filter


You will need an K&N cleaning kit containing a K&N air filter cleaner and air filter oil for this procedure. You will first use K&N filter cleanser to clean the it, followed by complete oiling of the filter. You should never apply oil to a dirty filter. 

K&N Air Filter Cleaning Kit

K&N Air Filter Cleaning Kit

To oil your K&N air filter, follow the steps outlined below.

Step-by-step Guide

How To Oil K&N Air Filter step by step guide
Follow this step-by-step guide to oil K&N filter

Step 1: Take out the air filter

Locate and take out the air filter. You can check your car manual to know the position of the air filter in your vehicle.

Step 2: Clean both sides of the filter with the cleaner

You will notice that the air intake side is dirty because that is where the dirt gets trapped. Spray both sides of the filter with the cleaner. Make sure it’s spread evenly across the surface to dissolve any oil, dirt, or other debris caught in the filter.

Step 3: Rinse the filter by low-pressure water source

Let the filter sit for 10 minutes. Make certain the filter is thoroughly soaked and wait for some minutes. Ensure that the cleaner does not dry on the filter. 

The next step is to get a low-pressure water source to rinse the filter. Clean the filter by rinsing it from the clean side out. If you do the opposite, you will force the dirt and sludge into the filter’s fibers.

Step 4: Gently shake the filter to send out excess water

Gently shake the filter to send out excess water. This will help the filter dry quicker. 

Step 5: Let the air filter air dry naturally

Let the filter sit for 45 minutes to an hour and only dry the filter naturally. Only after you’ve cleaned both sides with the cleanser, rinsed it, and let it air dry can you move on to the next step. 

Step 6: Apply the oil spray carefully along with the filter’s pleats

Apply the oil spray carefully along with the filter’s pleats. If you’re using the air filter oil squeeze, apply it evenly along with the crown of each pleat. Make sure you have a decent amount on the pleats and don’t leave any dry places. Apply the air filter oil lightly to avoid overdoing it. It should only be applied on the side of the air intake.

CAUTION: Do not oil both sides of a K&N air filter.

Only apply oil on the dirty side – the air intake side of the filter that will be exposed to the environment. This will trap the smaller particles while enabling more air to travel through the K&N filter. More than that, if you over oil it, it can pull some oil off the filter and get on your mass airflow sensor when the car is running. This will cause some malfunction. 

Step 7: Allow the oil to be absorbed for 20 minutes and reinstall the filter

Allow the oil to be absorbed into the filter material for 20 minutes before rechecking for any areas that may require additional oil. Wipe away any excess oil that you see on the filter. Be sure it has dried properly before reinstalling the air filter to prevent the oil leak into the engine. 

Final Words

In summary, I’m sure by now you have full knowledge of the best substitute for K&N air filter oil. Never use the dishwashing detergent to clean it or use cooking oil to recoat it.

The best option is using K&N air filter oil for maximum performance and engine safety. K&N air filter oil is specifically formulated for K&N air filters. It improves the air filter’s ability to catch dirt that impedes engine performance and impairs airflow efficiency.

If you have ever tried this product, could you share with us your experience?

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