How to Clean a Swimming Pool Cartridge Filter

Swimming pool filters in the 21st century have never been easier to use or maintain. There are three types of swimming pool filters: sand, diatomaceous earth (DE) and cartridge, with a cartridge filter being easiest to clean. In most cases, pool filter cartridges only need cleaning about every six months. Remove and clean your pool's cartridge filter any time the filter's pressure reaches 8 to 10 psi above standard operating pressure.

Cleaning a swimming pool's cartridge filter unit should be done on a regular basis and as needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose

  • Straight flow nozzle

  • Bucket

  • Commercial filter cleaner

  • Pliers

  • O-ring lubricant


Step 1

Assemble your filter cartridge cleaning tools and have them close at hand.

Step 2

Hook up your garden hose and attach a straight flow nozzle. Never use a pressurized nozzle when cleaning a pool's filter cartridge.

Step 3

Fill a bucket with clean water and add a commercial pool cartridge cleaner according to instructions on the container.

Remove Filter Cartridges

Step 1

Turn off your swimming pool's pump. Open the cartridge filter's top half by hand-loosening the retaining band assembly that joins the two halves of the filter's housing. Use pliers if the retaining band is stuck.

Step 2

Lift off the top half of the cartridge filter's housing and place it to the side.

Step 3

Reach in and remove the filter cartridges from the pool filter housing. Inspect them for dirtiness and damage.

Clean Cartridges

Step 1

Hose down the pool filter cartridges, using your garden hose and straight flow nozzle. Hose filter cartridges by running water against them from the top to the bottom only.

Step 2

Place dirty filter cartridges in a bucket of commercial filter cleaner and water. Let them soak for at least an hour.

Step 3

Hose off filter cartridges after they've soaked in the cartridge cleaner.


Step 1

Reinsert the clean filter cartridges back into the filter unit.

Step 2

Inspect the pool filter housing's O-ring gasket before sealing it up. Apply a lubricant to create a tight seal.

Step 3

Replace the top half of the filter housing and hand-tighten its retaining band. Use pliers to tighten the retaining band, if needed.

Step 4

Turn your swimming pool cartridge filter unit back on and inspect for any air or water leaks from the reassembled housing.


Always consult the filter manufacturer's instructions before cleaning any cartridges. You can skip cleaning your cartridge filters with a filter cleaner if simple hosing with fresh water cleans them well enough.

You can make a homemade cartridge cleaning solution by adding 1 cup of dishwashing liquid to 5 gallons of water.


Never apply too much water pressure to your filter cartridges as you're cleaning them, because you can tear the folded-paper filter media.

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