How to Clean Pool Filter – 3 Easy Ways for Different Filter Types

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You can swim as a fun activity, or as a workout routine. Many swimmers own their own pool. If you do have your own pool, it’s important to maintain it well. Among the many pool maintenance activities, knowing how to clean pool filter is a priority.

how to clean pool filter

You want to always have dirt-free water in your pool for your own safety and that of other swimmers. Apart from filtering water, the job of a pool filter is to evenly distribute chemical components throughout the swimming pool keeping the overall flow consistent.

It’s also important to clean the filters regularly to ensure that they can be used long-term. A clogged filter results in an overworked pump. All the more reason why you need to clean it regularly.

Although professional filter cleaning services are available, they are quite expensive. You can save a lot of money by learning to do this yourself. On that note, this article will give you an overview of effective methods on how to clean pool filter.

How to Clean Pool Filter Based on Filter Type

Before getting into the methods of cleaning a filter, you need to understand the three main types of pool filters. How to clean a pool filter varies based on type. The popular types are sand filter, cartridge filter, and DE filter. In all three filters, while the filtering mechanism is by and large the same, the filtering medium is different and hence each filter needs a different treatment.

1. Sand Filter

As the name suggests, a sand filter is one in which water flows through fine sand where dirt and debris get trapped, and finally, clean water is pumped into the pool. You may have to replace the sand as and when required. Typically it is recommended that the sand filter is backwashed every month and cleaned once a year.

For cleaning a sand pool filter, you would first backwash the filter for about five minutes. Then switch the pump off and open the pump lid. From here on you may follow either of the following options.

    • Option A — Sand filter cleaner: You can pour the required amount of sand filter cleaner into the strainer basket (as per instructions by the manufacturer) and then pump water for a few minutes so that the cleaner reaches the sand filter. Then turn the pump off, leave the cleaner for about 8-10 hours. Backwash the filter again to flush out any dirt and debris brought out by the cleaner. The filter system is ready to be turned back on again and used.
    • Option B — Replacement of Sand: Using a sand extractor, pump out all the sand along with the dirt and debris collected in the canister. Be careful not to damage the filter fingers while doing so. Clean the filter with a sponge and then fill the filter housing with water and add the new sand gently.

2. Cartridge Filter

A cartridge filter consists of a long cylindrical set of filters made of polyester fabric arranged in a folded, pleated design. Water flows through these folds where even minute particles are arrested, and as a result, clean water is pumped into the pool.

Typically, it is recommended that cartridge filters are cleaned once every 4-6 weeks, and deep cleaned at least once a year.

To clean a cartridge filter, you will have to dismantle the set of manifold fabric and clean them manually. You can place each cylindrical filter, one next to the other on the ground. With a gentle brush, scrub each filter with a soap and water mixture lightly until the dirt comes off. Then you can wash each filter clean with a garden hose up and down until they look as good as new.

You may also use a store-bought cleaner for this purpose, which makes your job much easier. All you need to do is spray the cleaner evenly on every filter, leave it on for some time and wash it down with a garden hose. If the cartridge cleaner is in powder or tablet form, dissolve it as per the instructions in some water and soak your filters. Hose them off after. Once your filters are clean, put them back in the canister, and you are ready to use them again.

Note: Cartridge filters are designed in a way that they cannot be backwashed. The only way to clean them is by dismantling the filters and scrubbing them clean. A cartridge filter is considered a “green filter” for this reason, as the absence of backwashing saves a lot of water.

3. DE Filter (Diatomaceous Earth Pool Filter)

The concept of DE Filters is more like a combination of cartridge and sand filters— it takes the best factors from both types. This makes it an ideal choice for a residential pool filter. It has cylindrical pleated filters just like the cartridge filter, however, it uses DE powder instead of sand as the filtering medium.

The Diatomaceous Earth powder, popularly known as DE, is a fine white powder made out of the fossilized remains of microscopic, aquatic organisms called diatoms. The skeletons of these organisms contain silica. Silicia is an essential component of DE power. This filtering medium can capture filth that is as small as 3 microns. Typically, the DE filter needs to be backwashed at least once in three months and cleaned thoroughly twice a year.

To clean a DE filter, first, backwash it for about 5-10 minutes. Then turn the pumping system off. Dismantle the manifold filter, just like you would in a cartridge filter. After cleaning each filter you can put it back in the canister.

As a final, additional step, you need to first prepare your DE plus water slurry. In a large bucket of water, empty the recommended amount of DE powder. Pour the mixture into the nearest skimmer within sixty seconds of turning the pumping system back on.

For all these methods, ensure to turn the pumping system on and off at relevant instances. Ensure that along with cleaning the filter based on its type, you also lubricate the O-ring for best results.


When it comes to cleaning filters, you must understand how to backwash a pool filter. Backwashing is the first step for sand and DE filters. Backwashing is a process in which water is pumped back through the filtering medium. This flushes out dirt and debris collected in the filter.

It’s like regurgitation —  Backwashing is flushing out dirty water by pumping it backward and is a quick way to clean sand and DE pool filters as and when needed.

There you go! That was a quick guide on how to clean pool filter depending on the type of filtering medium used. Go ahead and practice these steps in order to keep your pool clean and healthy.

Can I soak my pool filter in bleach?

No. Soaking your pool filter in bleach could damage the filter fabric. It is not recommended. Use a special cleaning product meant for pool filters or scrub it gently using water and a gentle soap mixture.

What can I soak my pool filter in to clean it?

A mild soap solution made of dishwashing soap and water should be ideal for you to soak your pool filter in.

If you are wondering how to clean pool filter by yourself, here are some quick DIY tips. Sand pool filters can be cleaned by using a sand pool filter cleaner or by replacing the sand.

Cartridge filters require you to dismantle the filter set and clean every cylindrical filter manually before you put it together again.

For DE filters, right after you clean the cylindrical filters and put them back together, you need to pour a DE powder plus water slurry into the nearest skimmer, for the DE powder to coat the filters.

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