Owning a pool is a fantastic way to increase the level of enjoyment you get out of the property. Whether you own a small, shallow saltwater pool or your own a larger pool that allows for diving and additional recreation, there is no shortage of fun to be had with the pool. To keep everyone safe within the pool and to extend its life though you need to make sure and clean the pool filter periodically.

The exact method of doing this will differ slightly from one model of pool filter to the next, so always keep the filter user's manual on hand (if you don't have it, you can look it up online and download the manual in PDF form through the manufacturer's website). With the help of these simple 10 steps, you'll learn how to clean pool filter in just 10 steps.

Types of Pool Filters

When it comes to how to clean pool filter, there are three different kinds of pool filters used for in-ground pools. These different filters are cartridge based, sand based and DE, or diatomaceous earth. Each of these filter types come with different benefits and drawbacks, so make sure you know what kind of filter you have before gearing up to have it cleaned.

The sand filter is one of the longest used forms of pool filters. It is also the least expensive of the three. These filters are made up of 75 percent sand and 75 percent free space within the tank (designed to hold on to the debris it absorbs). Water moves through the tank from the top down to the bottom. As the tank fills with water it allows debris to fill in and then collect in the sand. If you have a sand filter, you need to replace the filter every three to five years or so as the 25 percent free space will fill up and there won't be any additional room to collect debris.

Cartridge filters have grown in popularity and there is a number of different kinds and variations now. The size and shape of the filter may also differ depending on the shape of your pool (and its size). The filter does need to be cleaned two or three times a year to ensure it works properly and continues to remove debris and bacteria from the pool. The filter also needs to be de-greased annually due to the amount of oils (both from sunscreen and the body), not to mention algae and hair particles that collect within the filter. As long as the filter is taken care of it can last anywhere from four to eight years.

The third option is the DE filter. The DE filter is similar in functionality to the sand filter. Instead of sand though it comprises DE powder, which itself is constructed from crushed seashells and a few other microscopic sea creatures (these particles are referred to as "fingers"). When the water runs through the filter it will collect and trap debris. However, it is able to collect much smaller debris than a sand filter, which is what makes it so desirable.

These kinds of filters do an exceptional job cleaning the water, but it does need to be cleaned more often. These are also the most expensive of the three filters long term due to the frequency it needs to be cleaned and replaced.

pool water filter

Preparation & Supplies

Before picking up supplies always check with the owner's manual to see if there are specifics or recommendations in terms of cleaning supply brands and material. The exact equipment often differs from one brand to the next, so look into this and adjust what you purchase accordingly.

First, you must pick up a TSP powder. Short for trisodium phosphate, this is the heavy cleaning powder used to clean your filter. This kind of cleaner is superior to standardized soap as it doesn't create soapsuds. Soapsuds will require you to constantly rinse the filter down, otherwise, you'll end up with a soapy filter that may not remove bacteria as well as it should. You can use dishwasher detergent if you have no other option, but whenever possible, when it comes to how to clean pool filter, the TSP powder is the way to go.

Pick up Hydrochloric Acid (also known as Muriatic Acid). This is used to remove the algae and mineral buildup on the filter. Typically you'll want to pick up a few gallons of this to clean off the filters completely.

You'll want to grab something you can fit the filter in for cleaning. Total submerging makes it easier to allow the filter to soak and clean. Inexpensive plastic trash cans are perfect for this, or if you have an old cooler, you no longer need this can work fine. The size of the cleaning "bucket" depends on the size of your filter. When at the pool supply store you may want to consider picking up a silicone paste as well.

Replacing the rubber gaskets and seals begins to add up and might cost you $ a pop thanks to the chlorine (which deteriorates the material). With silicone paste, you can apply it around the gaskets to help recondition these o-rings.

To remove the filter you'll also need a rubber mallet, drive ratchet and a torque wrench, socket wrench, nitrile gloves, safety glasses, and a measuring cup. The exact drive ratchet and torque wrench will vary depending on the pool and filter you have.

A hose is needed for the job but you'll also want to have a multi-function nozzle as well to give it some pressure.

How to Clean Pool Filter

pool water filter

1. Collect the Supplies

Pick up and collect all of your pool cleaning supplies. Don't begin the process until you have everything readily available.

2. Check the Gauge

Instead of randomly cleaning the pool check the cartridge filter's gauge. If the pressure is between 8 and 10 PSI (or higher) you need to clean the filter. You may only need to clean the filter every few years or several times a year.

3. Open Filer Housing and Remove Filters

Power down the filter and pool then open up the housing (this is where the wrenches come in). Remove the filters. Chances are, you have multiple filters in place. If you haven't cleaned the filters in a few years, they will probably look brown.

4. Hose Them Down

Begin by hosing the filters down. This will rid the top layer of grime from the filters. Use moderate water pressure from your garden hose. Anything above moderate garden hose water pressure will damage the filter.

5. TSP Solution

Combine the TSP solution with water in your cleaning bucket (follow the instructions on the box for the amount of water and TSP you need. Let your filters soak overnight. As the filters soak, you can rinse out and clean the filter housing. Use TSP inside the housing as well. If you want, you can soak the filters in a TSP solution for a second time (use clean water and fresh TSP).

6. Muriatic Acid

Make sure to wear gloves and safety glasses for this. Remove the filters from the TSP and rinse the bucket out. Now add in the Muriatic Acid and combine with water (follow the recommended instructions on the container). Let the filters sit overnight.

7. Hose It Down Again

Once out of the acid bath hose it all down again. By now the filters will look a brilliant white.

8. Back Into the Housing

With the filters clean and hosed down you can now put the filters back into the filter housing and assemble the housing together. The filters should work as good as new now.

9. Cleaning Seals

Before you lock everything back down remove the seals and apply the silicone paste to help lubricate. This little extra step will save you a good amount of money long term over replacing these seals. If the seals are completely cracked you will need to change the seals.

10. Close Off the Housing

You're all done with the process of how to clean pool filter. Reassemble the filter housing to complete the process. This is also a good time to clean the pool and the pool pump. This way, you not only have clean water moving through the filter but you'll also have an accurate pump reading as well. Measure the pressure of the pump. Give it time to push all excess air out of the pump before taking the reading.



When it comes to taking care of your pool, you need to know how to clean pool filter. Once you know how to clean pool filter, you'll only need to repeat the cleaning process likely every few years (although in some occasions you might need to clean it a few times annually). But as you can see, it doesn't take long, nor is it complicated to learn how to clean pool filter.

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