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How to Clean Pool Filters: Cartridge, Sand & DE Filters

Cleaning Pool Filters

Your pool filter plays an important role when it comes to keeping your pool water clean and free from debris. Many pool owners don't realize just how important pool filter cleaning is, however, skipping this important step just leads to dirty water, reduced water flow and added wear and tear on your pool equipment.

Tools You'll Need:

Cleaning Cartridge Filters


Before cleaning , make sure the pool pump is turned off.  For pool filters that are located lower than the water level, close all valves to prevent the pool from draining once you remove the filter. Next, open up both the air bleed valve and the draining area in the bottom of the unit in order to get rid of the water, and remove the cartridge filter media from the body of the unit.  Be sure to note the placement and orientation of the filter when removing it so that you can easily replace it once it’s clean.

To do a quick routine cleaning, simply hose off the pool filter with your garden hose.  Don’t use too much water pressure or scrub too hard, as this could damage the filter and make it less effective.  Try pointing the spray at an angle, rather than head-on at the filter, and always wash the inside and outside of the filter for the best cleaning.

For filters that need a heavier cleaning, cartridge filters can be soaked overnight, or for a few days, in a commercial pool filter cleaner and then treated with a special pool sanitizer.

Cleaning DE & Sand Filters


Sand filters and DE filters are fairly easy to clean, just remember that these cleaning processes should only be done with a full pool as they do reduce the water level.  To clean a sand filter, turn off the pool pump and restart it while it’s set to the Backwash setting, which will clear out any debris that’s in the sand.  During the process, look for the water to be clean, cloudy and then clear again while it’s being pumped through the filter.  For sand filters with multi-port valves, this is the time to switch it to the rinse setting, or to filter if that is your option, running the water through again until the filter is clean.

When To Replace Your Cartridge Filter

While routinely cleaning your cartridge filter on a regular basis does help to extend it’s life, they do eventually need to be replaced.  Here are some signs that you should replace, rather than just clean your filter:

  • Damaged or flattened pleats and fabric that fraying
    Cartridge filters go through a large amount of wear and tear from the constant flow of water that pumps through them. As a result, the polyester material that theyare made of will eventually start to fray and develop holes and the pleats will begin to flatten. These are all signs that the material is becoming weak and the filter should be replaced.

  • Endcaps that are cracked
    Filter endcaps are susceptible to cracking over time, as the materials become broken down due to exposure to pool chemicals and the water pressure. Cracked endcaps are a sure sign that you should change your filter.

  • Decreased water flow, even after cleaning
    If you’ve owned your pool for longer than two years, or if you notice any of the problems listed above, then it’s time to replace your filter! Manufacturers recommend that pool filters be replaced every 1-2 years, depending on how much the pool is used and how well the filters are maintained.

  • To find the right replacement filter for your pool or spa, search our Filter finder using the part #, Manufacturer code, or filter dimensions & measurements.



    Maintain Your Pool with Regular Filter Cleaning

    When you take the time to keep your pool filters clean, it helps everything run smoothly and more efficiently. Check the pressure on your pool filter regularly to ensure that it’s running at an optimum level and if you start to notice problems, with cloudy water and other signs of poor filtration, take the time to clean your filters.

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