Cellulose vs Synthetic Oil Filters: A Side-by-Side Comparison

As a car owner, you may already know the importance of changing the engine oil filter. It improves engine health by removing contaminants and particles from the engine oil. Thus, you can find two main types of oil filters available on the market: cellulose and synthetic.

These filters are also known as filter media like cellulose oil filter media and synthetic oil filter media. You can use any of them for filtering oils. Still, their traits, like materials, construction, and overall effectiveness, differ.

In this blog post, I will discuss cellulose vs synthetic oil filter. You will see a side-by-side comparison of these two filters. After reading it, you will know which oil filter is suitable for your vehicle. So, let’s take the plunge and find out more about them.

Cellulose vs Synthetic Oil Filters – the Comparison Table*

VariableCellulose Oil FilterSynthetic Oil Filter
Basic StructureMade from natural materials such as wood pulp, cotton, and other cellulose fibersConstructed using a blend of synthetic materials, including glass, nylon, and polyester
FunctionFilters oil as it passes through the filter media, capturing contaminants and particlesTraps contaminants using a combination of mechanical filtration and electrostatic attraction
EfficiencyTypically have a 40-60% filtration efficiency, with some higher-end models reaching up to 98% efficiency.More efficient than cellulose filters, with filtration efficiency ranging from 90-99%
FiltrationFilters small particles like 10-20 microns in sizeFilters smaller particles than cellulose, like 5-10 microns size
CapacityGenerally, have a lower holding capacity than synthetic filters, requiring more frequent replacement.Have a higher holding capacity than cellulose filters, allowing them to last longer before replacement.
DurabilityNot as durable as synthetic filters, with a shorter lifespan for the natural breakdown of cellulose fibersMore durable than cellulose filters, with a longer lifespan due to the synthetic materials used
MaintenanceRequire more frequent maintenance, with more frequent replacement and cleaning needed.Require less frequent maintenance, with longer replacement intervals
CostTypically, less expensive than synthetic filtersGenerally, more expensive than cellulose filters, but may be more cost-effective in the long run due to their longer lifespan and higher efficiency
*The specific performance of each filter type often varies due to the manufacturer and specific filter model. I have shown you a general comparison between these filters.

Cellulose Oil Filters

According to Frantz Filters, cellulose filter media contains natural polymer or fiber that efficiently filters oil. Cellulose has fantastic strength and random fiber size.

The Rig Team also defines it similarly: “….is constructed of wood pulp and is a very economical means of filtration.

In short, cellulose fibers derived from wood pulp or cotton are used in making these filters. The fibers are tightly packed together to create a maze-like structure. It allows the oil to flow through while filtering unwanted particles.

Cellulose filter for engine oil is the most common thing in car parts store for their availability and affordability. However, it may not be as efficient at capturing small particles as synthetic filter media.

Still, it can trap 10-20 microns of small particles like dirt, debris, and other contaminants. This level of filtration protects the engine from wear and damage caused by contaminants in the oil. Also, you can consider its biodegradable and environment-friendly nature.

You must replace the filter media as it gets saturated with contaminants over time.

Pros and Cons of Cellulose Oil Filter

High filtration efficiencyLimited lifespan
Capable of trapping particles of 10 micronsNot recommended for high-performance engines
Relatively inexpensiveLimited temperature range
BiodegradablePotential clogging or flow restriction issues
Environmentally friendly
Widely available

Synthetic Oil Filters

Nowadays, these oil filter media are getting more popular day by day. They are made of synthetic fibers, like glass fibers, or a blend of glass fibers and synthetic resin. These fibers make the gear more durable and efficient at trapping engine oil contaminants. Consequently, the rate of trapping contaminants is more than in traditional cellulose filter media.

According to Plurator, these filters have improved mechanical strength to last longer. Also, they can resist water, chemical and temperature. Even they can trap 5-10 microns or smaller particles. So, your car engine and parts stay more protected from wear and tear.

You can certainly use it in high-performance engines or extreme operating conditions. Like cellulose, you must replace the synthetic oil filter regularly to keep its performance at peak.

Pros and Cons of Synthetic Oil Filter

Higher filtration efficiency and dirt-holding abilityHigher cost compared to cellulose filters
Improved engine performanceMay not be biodegradable or environmentally friendly
Better fuel efficiencyMay not be widely available or easy to find
Better durability against the oddsSome may not be compatible with certain types of oil
Longer lifespanMay require modifications to fit specific car models
Resistant to temperature and chemical damage
Reduced risk of clogging or flow restriction issues

Cellulose vs Synthetic Oil Filter – Which is Better for Your Car?

Before any suggestion, you should know that preference depends on some factors. They can be your driving habits, budget, and compatibility with your vehicle. However, know about these differences to decide yourself which one you will pick:

Filtration Efficiency

Compared to cellulose, synthetic oil filters generally have higher filtration efficiency. They can catch tinier contaminants from the engine oil. It gives the engine a longer life. Also, you can save money on repairing the engine or other parts.


In terms of durability, synthetic filters for engine oil are more durable. They have a longer service life as they are less likely to break down or become clogged. As a result, your engine will have fewer oil flow problems and damage. That’s why owners of high-performance cars use these filters.

Environmental Impact

Cellulose filters are made from natural materials. You can choose them as a more environmentally friendly choice for the biodegradable feature. Alternatively, synthetic filters may not be biodegradable. They can have a higher environmental impact if you do not recycle them properly.


You need to count more money generally to use synthetic oil filters. But the added cost may only be necessary for some car owners. Likewise, the increased cost is these filters’ superior filtration and durability. For a money-saving idea, you can choose cellulose oil filters.

Vehicle Manufacturer Recommendations

Following what the car manufacturer recommends for your vehicle engine is ideal. Often, they recommend a specific type of oil filter. You can void your warranty using a different filter. So, you should check the owner’s manual first. Otherwise, contact the car dealer to confirm the recommended filter for your vehicle.


Cellulose vs synthetic oil filters are an ongoing debate. Still, I suggest you choose a synthetic oil filter if you have no money-saving crisis. Otherwise, cellulose oil filters would be a better, environment-friendly choice.

I have included all the factors relevant to the topic of oil filters. I hope you have understood the differences well. Now, choosing the right oil filter for your vehicle is up to you.

Thanks for coming here.

Leave a Comment