Here I go firing up an old thread...Well I play around with the Forester and spend time with it, modding, cleaning, etc. I use this forum a lot to find info, and searched this to take out my cabin air filter. Well I got it out, and it was jam packed with crud, both of large and dust sized items. Anyhow I blew it out with the air compressor and that got it relatively clean, but smelled putrid yet, like a rancid dish rag. I found out the element is highly washable, and I would DEFINITELY recommend it. I just filled up my utility sink with dawn dish soap and forced water through it by pumping the filter up and down through the water. I did this 2x and rinsed it well and have let it air dry and it is a safe deal, and came out stunningly white and clean, and no smell. Just thought I'd share my find.