Cleaning Your Cartridge Pool Filters

A Step-By-Step Guide

Properly cleaning your pool filter is one way to make sure your pool water is always looking its best! Dirt, oils, and debris are just some of the contaminants that make their way into your pool water. If you think about it, your pool filters are probably the dirtiest part of your pool, so it is extremely important to clean them regularly.  

Cartridge Filters

While there are three choices when it comes to pool filters (cartridge, sand, and D.E), cartridge filters remove much more of the smaller particles found in your pool water. Cartridge filters are also better from a hydraulic efficiency standpoint. Most cartridge filters will last up to 3-5 years when cleaned on a regular basis, which is usually at the open and close of the pool season. 


  • Garden hose (Do NOT use a power washer)
  • Spray nozzle attachment
  • Wrench Set
  • Filter cleaner

Additional Items (may be needed):

  • 5- Gallon Bucket
  • Lubricant
  • Replacement O-Ring
  • Replacement Filter

How to Access the Cartridge Filter

  1. The first step is to make sure your pool pump and filtration system are turned off. It is worth the extra energy to cut the power to the entire pool filtration system at the circuit box.
  2. Remove the air from the system by slowly turning the air relief valve to the open position. 
  3. Make sure to remove any plugs that may be keeping the water in the filter container (often located at the bottom of the unit). This step will allow all of the water to leave the housing unit before opening. 
  4. Remove the clamps and other latching items that hold the filter housing unit together. A wrench set may be needed to complete this step. 
  5. Remove the top lid of the filtration tank carefully. 
  6. Slowly remove the cartridge filters from the housing unit to be thoroughly cleaned. If you find any damage such as cracks, tears, or imperfections, it may be necessary to replace the filter. 

How to Clean the Cartridge Filters

  1. Using the spray nozzle on the garden hose, spray each cartridge making sure to get into all the crevasses and cracks. If the cartridge is dirty, be sure to use a spray-on filter cleaner to help remove oils and contaminants (follow the manufacturer’s instructions).
  2. If the cartridge is extremely dirty, you may want to soak the filters in a large bucket overnight in a cleaning solution to remove all of the dirt/contaminants. Make sure to clean/spray the filters thoroughly after they soak — no bubbles or suds should be coming out of the filters. 
  3. Check the O-Ring on the filter tank and lubricate to keep in top working condition. 
  4. Before placing the cartridges back into the unit, remove all the debris that may have settled on the bottom of the system. 
  5. Return the cartridge filters back into the unit and put the top piece back on the housing unit. (Don’t forget to put the plug back in the bottom of the housing unit if it was removed to drain the additional water)
  6. Secure the clamps tightly and turn the system back on with the air relief valve open. 
  7. Once a steady stream of water is coming out of the air relief valve, close the valve and check the pressure. If the air pressure is not correct, you may have put the filters back together incorrectly. 

Helpful Hints

It is best practice to have a visual reminder somewhere near your pool or on an electronic device to help with regular pool filter maintenance. Remember, the first step to having a clean pool and prolonging the life of your pool components is to properly maintain your filtration system year-round. 

Need Help?

If you have a question about the proper running of your pool (or spa), stop by our Fayetteville or Lumberton location anytime! Check out our products, purchase chemicals for your pool/hot tub, or get a specific question answered by one of our experts. Visit us online at www.parnellpoolandspa.com or take a look at our Facebook page.  

Want to Read More About Interesting Pool Topics?

Take a look at the following blogs:

Maintenance Checklist

Take a look at the following blog for some helpful maintenance hints when it comes to opening your pool.

Disclaimer: When working with pool filters, always wear the recommended/required safety equipment and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Never open the tank without opening the air relief valve. Always make sure the pump is off and you are working in safe conditions. 

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