Maintenance Practices

May 11, 2023 by 

If you’re a pool owner, you know that maintaining your pool’s cleanliness is essential for safe and enjoyable swimming. One of the most critical components of this maintenance is understanding how to clean a pool filter effectively. A clean pool filter ensures that water is adequately filtered, keeping it sparkling and healthy for all who dive in. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the steps involved in cleaning your pool filter and the benefits of maintaining it regularly.

Understanding Your Pool Filter

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of how to clean a pool filter, it’s crucial to understand the different types of pool filters and how they work. There are three main types: sand filters, cartridge filters, and diatomaceous earth (DE) filters. Each has its own cleaning procedures and schedules, so identifying the type you have is the first step in understanding how to clean your pool filter effectively.

How to Clean a Sand Pool Filter

Sand filters are popular due to their ease of use and relatively low maintenance requirements. Here’s how to clean a sand pool filter:

  1. Turn Off The Pool Pump: Always start by turning off the pool pump to prevent any accidents. Safety should be your priority.
  2. Set The Filter to Backwash: Find the filter settings and set it to ‘backwash.’ This reverses the water flow, effectively flushing out the trapped debris.
  3. Turn On The Pump: Once you’ve set your filter to backwash, turn on the pump. The water in the sight glass will start to turn dirty as it pulls out the debris. Continue backwashing until the water in the sight glass is clear.
  4. Rinse and Repeat: After backwashing, set the filter to ‘rinse’ and turn on the pump. This ensures any remaining debris is cleaned out. Repeat this process as needed.
  5. Reset Your Filter: Once the filter is clean, reset it to its regular setting.

How to Clean a Cartridge Pool Filter

Cartridge filters are more efficient than sand filters but require a bit more maintenance. Here’s how to clean a cartridge pool filter:

  1. Turn Off The Pool Pump: As always, safety first. Ensure the pump is off before starting the cleaning process.
  2. Remove The Cartridge: Open the filter housing and carefully remove the cartridge.
  3. Rinse The Cartridge: Using a garden hose, rinse off the debris from the cartridge. Make sure to clean between the pleats. Never use a pressure washer as it could damage the cartridge.
  4. Soak and Rinse Again: For a deeper clean, you can soak the cartridge in a filter cleaner solution, then rinse again.
  5. Dry and Replace: Allow the cartridge to dry before replacing it in the filter housing.

How to Clean a Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Pool Filter

DE filters offer the highest level of filtration, but they also require the most maintenance. Here’s how to clean a DE pool filter:

  1. Turn Off The Pool Pump: Once again, ensure the pump is off before you begin.
  2. Backwash The Filter: Similar to a sand filter, you’ll need to backwash a DE filter to remove debris. The process is the same: set to backwash, turn on the pump, and run until the sight glass water is clear.
  3. Open The Filter and Remove DE Grids: DE filters have a set of grids covered in DE powder. After backwashing, you’ll need to open the filter and remove these grids.
  4. Clean The Grids: Rinse off the grids with a hose. For a more thorough clean, you can also soak them in a filter cleaner solution.
  5. Replace The Grids and Add New DE: Once the grids are clean and dry, replace them in the filter. Then, add fresh DE powder according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

The Importance of Regular Pool Filter Cleaning

Now that you understand how to clean a pool filter, it’s essential to recognize why regular cleaning is necessary. A well-maintained pool filter helps keep the water crystal clear, reduces the strain on your pool pump, extends the life of your pool equipment, and ultimately saves you money on repairs and replacement parts.

A dirty filter can’t effectively trap debris, leading to cloudy water and potential damage to your pool’s pump and heating system. Regular cleaning helps prevent these problems, ensuring your pool remains a safe and enjoyable space.

When to Clean Your Pool Filter

While cleaning your pool filter is a important part of taking care of your pool, you might wonder when to do it. Generally, it’s best to clean your filter every few months during the swimming season. However, if you notice signs like decreased water flow, dirty water, or an increased pressure gauge reading, it may be time for an immediate cleaning. Remember, the frequency will also depend on your specific filter type and how often your pool is used.

Pool Filter Cleaning Tips

Here are a few additional tips to help you in your pool filter cleaning journey:

  • Know Your Filter: Understanding your filter type and its specific cleaning requirements is crucial. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for best practices.
  • Regularly Check Filter Pressure: The pressure gauge on your filter is a handy tool. If the pressure rises above the manufacturer’s recommended level, it’s time to clean the filter.
  • Have a Spare Cartridge: If you have a cartridge filter, having a spare can be beneficial. This allows you to swap them out for cleaning without downtime on your pool usage.
  • Don’t Neglect Regular Maintenance: While this guide focuses on how to clean a pool filter, it’s part of a broader pool maintenance routine. Regularly checking your pool’s chemistry and performing other necessary maintenance tasks will help keep your pool in top shape.



Cleaning your pool filter is a vital task for any pool owner. Understanding how to clean a pool filter effectively not only ensures a more enjoyable swim but also extends the life of your pool equipment and saves you money in the long run. Whether you have a sand, cartridge, or DE filter, regular maintenance and timely cleaning will keep your pool sparkling clean all season long. With this comprehensive guide in hand, you’re now equipped with the knowledge you need to tackle your pool filter cleaning with confidence. Happy swimming!