Pool Filter Cartridge Cleaning

Pool filter cartridge cleaning is something that can be done by almost any pool owner with a bit of basic information and some elbow grease.  The time between cleaning varies on usage, size of salt water pool and make or model of the cartridge filter.  Proper filtration is one of the keys to having sparkling, crystal clear pool water.

pool filter cartridge cleaning

A salt water pool system combined with a clean functioning filter will produce unmatched water quality that will be sure to impress your friends and neighbours.  If you want more information about cleaning your salt water pool cell read be sure to read our salt water pool cell page. 

An indicator that your cartridge filter needs to be cleaned is that your pool water isn’t as clear as it should be.  If your cartridge filter is equipped with a pressure gauge you should clean your filter when the pressure rises 10 lbs above the original starting pressure.  This rise in pressure is due to debris blocking the normal flow of water that means your filter will not be working optimally.

It’s important that cartridge filter systems are not backwashed like sand or diatomaceous earth filters.  The paper filters that are found inside the filter are quite sensitive and a backwash will actually damage them.  The papers will need to be removed and cleaned much like a vacuum filter needs to be cleaned occasionally.

Precise pool filter cartridge cleaning will vary with different makes and models but a good basic guideline is as follows.

Pool Filter Cartridge Cleaning Step by Step

  1. Turn the pump off and any power supply to the cartridge filter
  2. Release any air from the filter using the filter air valve
  3. Remove any clamping mechanism or unscrew any bolts and remove the lid
  4. Lift the cartridges straight up and remove from base
  5. Clean the cartridges carefully with a water source that has adequate pressure to remove debris.  This could be a garden hose with a jet attachment or a pressure washer on low setting. It’s important to not use too much pressure that could damage the filter paper.
  6. Drain water from the base of the filter by removing the drain plug, replace plug when completely drained
  7. Insert the cleaned cartridges back into the base
  8. Check the O-ring for damage and make sure it is installed snug to the base assembly
  9. Put top of filter back on and reattach the locking mechanism
  10. Turn pump on
  11. Using the release valve ensure that all the air is removed from the filter by opening the valve until water is released.  Close the valve.
  12. Read the pressure valve to ensure that it is at the appropriate operating pressure
  13. Check for any leaks

Regular cleaning will ensure your pool remains clean at all times and will extend the life of your filters.  Filters should be replaced every 3-4 years depending on usage.  A larger filter will generally need to be cleaned and replaced more often and vice versa for a smaller filter.

If you need to replace your cartridges, use the make and model that should be located on a sticker on the top or side of your filter.  If it's not legible or not attached to the filter you can measure the cartridge.  Measurements should be taken for the length (top to bottom) of the cartridge and the diameter (outside edges). 

After a few times cleaning your cartridge filter it will become second nature.  Pool filter cartridge cleaning is something that can be done by any pool owner on your own and will prevent having to call out a pool professional.


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