How To Clean A Pool Filter Cartridge

How To Clean A Pool Filter Cartridge - Step By Step Guide

Pool filter cartridges are different from media filters in that they consist of many fine-mesh filtration panels folded up tightly against each other. Unfortunately, cleaning a pool filter cartridge is not as easy as running a simple backwash cycle on your pump system.

In this guide, we will review when you should clean your pool filter cartridge and also provide a step-by-step guide for how you can clean this cartridge yourself.

When To Clean Your Pool Filter Cartridge

Cleaning Your Pool Filter Cartridge Regularly

Typically, pool filter cartridges should be cleaned on a regular basis. Most sources suggest that you clean your pool filter at least once a month, but there are some exceptions to this.

If you’ve had plenty of swimmers using your pool, or a lot of debris blown into your pool, it may be time to give the cartridge a clean.

Signs That Your Pool Filter Cartridge Needs Cleaned

There are other signs you can look for to see if your pool’s filter needs to be cleaned. To begin, check the amount of pressure on your filter canister.

If your filter’s pressure gauge is reading more than 8 psi above your normal filter pressure, this is a sign that your filter needs to be cleaned.

Additionally, if you are experiencing low pressure with the water return jets in your pool, this can often be a sign that your filter needs to be cleaned.

Occasionally, clogged filters can also prevent water flowing properly through the skimmer box. You may notice more leaves and other debris floating on your pool than usual.

How To Clean Your Pool Filter Cartridge

Gather Supplies

Before cleaning your filter, gather supplies. This includes any tools needed to disassemble your filter, a spray nozzle for a garden hose (not a pressure washer), a bucket large enough to submerge your filter in, a lid for your bucket (recommended), and a filter cleaning and degreasing solution.

If you have an air compressor handy, you may want to use this for part of the cleaning process, but this is not necessary.

Remove The Filter Cartridge

To begin, shut off your pool’s pump entirely. Carefully disassemble your filter housing, being careful to avoid damaging delicate parts of the unit such as gaskets and water-seals. Gently remove your filter cartridge from the machine.

Look For Signs Of Damage

Immediately upon removing your filter cartridge, inspect it for signs of damage. This can include broken plastic framework, bent or torn filter gills, or similar puncture related damage.

It is important to inspect your filter for damage upon its removal so that you do not waste time and resources cleaning a filter that instead needs to be replaced.

During this step, it is important to be brief. You should avoid letting the filter become dry while debris is still stuck to it, as this will make it increasingly difficult to remove.

Spray The Filter With Fresh Water

Next, hose off the filter with fresh water using a spray nozzle on your garden hose. This should not be a power wash nozzle, which could actually damage your filter cartridge. Remove as much large debris as possible during this step.

Afterwards, let your filter cartridge dry out completely. Avoid placing it in the sunlight to dry as this can accelerate wear on plastic elements of the filter.

Remove Fine Particles

Once the filter is completely dry, work to remove fine particles of dust and debris. This can be done by shaking your filter and lightly tapping it.

If you would prefer a more detail-oriented approach, you may use an air compressor to force tiny particles out of your filter cartridge. If you don’t have one, no need to worry; more of this debris can be removed in the following steps.

Soak The Filter Cartridge In A Cleaning Solution

Next, you will soak your filter cartridge in a cleaning solution and degreaser. These are available from a variety of brands, and can be purchased online or through your local pool supply store.

If you do not have a cleaning solution, dishwashing soap can be used as an alternative, but should be used in very small amounts.

Following the instructions on your filter cleaning solution, fill your bucket most of the way up with water and then mix in the appropriate amount of cleaner. If you are using dish soap, use no more than one teaspoon.

Once the solution is prepared, submerge your filter, trying to knock as many bubbles out of it as possible. Place the lid over your bucket and leave your filter cartridge to soak in the solution.

It is typically recommended that you let your pool’s filter soak for 24 hours if you are hoping to achieve a deep-clean. This time frame may also be dependent on the product that you’ve used, so it is important to check the instructions provided on your filter cleaning solution.

Rinse And Replace The Filter

After your filter has soaked for an adequate amount of time, it can be removed from the bucket of cleaning solution.

This bucket of cleaning solution does not need to be discarded; despite any debris that may have accumulated in the bucket, this cleaning solution can be re-used multiple times if you so desire.

Rinse your filter thoroughly with fresh water. If you used a small amount of dish soap to clean your filter, it is especially important that your filter gets washed out adequately, or else you’ll start to see foam build up on the surface of your pool once you switch the pump back on.

Once your filter has been rinsed of the cleaning solution, you can restore it to its original housing inside your pump system and turn your pump back on.


Cleaning a pool filter cartridge may not be as easy as backwashing a sand or glass media filter, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. By following these simple steps, you can restore your filter to a like-new condition that will clean your pool more effectively for weeks to come.

Do you have any questions about pool filter cartridges or how to clean them? Leave us a comment down below, we’d love to help!

Louis from Pool Advisor


A chemical engineer by trade, Louis is committed to debunking myths in the pool industry by explaining the underlying chemistry and making it accessible to all.