How Often Should You Clean Your Pool Filter?

Ah, the joys of owning a pool – the splashing, the laughter, the refreshing dips on hot days. But let’s talk about the unsung hero of your pool’s cleanliness: the filter. We all know it’s crucial, but how often should you really be cleaning it? 

Generally speaking, you should clean your pool filter bi-annually if you have a large pool and like to throw around beach parties more than often. For those living near a coastline or experiencing frequent windstorms, it’s ideal to clean their pool filters every 3 to 4 months. With regular maintenance and professional help, your pool filter can easily last for 3-4 years. 

The cleaning frequency of each filter varies with the pool usage, filter size, and changing weather conditions. That’s where this comprehensive guide will help you know the right time to clean and replace your filter. Let’s dive in and equip you with the knowledge and tools needed.

How Often Should You Clean Pool Filter Based on Type of Filter

Three main types of pool filters include sand, diatomaceous earth (DE), and cartridge, each having variable cleaning intervals as follows:

Type of FilterRegular CleaningDeep Cleaning
Sand Filter4 to 6 weeksOnce every season
DE FilterOnce every month4 to 6 months
Cartridge FilterEvery 4 weeks3 to 4 months

Another rule is keeping track of the reading on the pressure gauge to help determine the strain on your pool filter over time. When you see the pressure increase by 8-10 psi, it’s time to give your filter a thorough cleaning. However, the ideal cleaning schedule for your specific pool has other determinants as well that we’ve discussed in this blog. 

Understanding Types of Pool Filters and Cleaning Processes

Since each filter is built differently, it’s important to follow specific cleaning protocols for each type:

Sand Filters

These filters use specially graded sand as filter media, are low-maintenance and require minimal cleaning.

Cleaning Process: “Backwashing

  1. Turn off the pump, setting the filter valve to the “backwash” position
  1. Turn the pump back on and run it  for 2-3 minutes to flush out debris
  1. Rinse the filter with water
  1. Return the filter to its normal setting to resume its operation 

DE Filters

These filters use a fine powder made from fossilized remains of diatoms as the filtration media which can remove finer particles than sand filters.

Cleaning Process: “Backwash and DE Powder Recharge”

  1. Start with backwashing the filter to remove trapped debris.
  1. Disassemble the filter and rinse it with a hose to remove residues or soak the grids in a cleaning solution.
  1. Add new DE powder, measuring the amount as per the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Cartridge Filters

These filters consist of pleated polyester cartridges, offering a larger surface area for filtration. 

Cleaning Process: “Soaking and Rinsing”

  1. Remove the cartridges from the tank and spray a filter cleaner on them or soak them in it for a couple of hours.
  1. Rinse them with a hose by keeping the hose at an angle to remove debris.
  1. Reassemble the filter and turn the system back on.

Find more about cartridge filter cleaning protocols, maintenance, and lifespan here

Factors Influencing Cleaning Frequency

The following factors may affect the recommended time frame for cleaning your pool filter:

1. Pool Usage and Size

During peak seasons, pools tend to attract more swimmers, leading to increased exposure to organic contaminants that may clog the filter. Additionally, larger pools with a greater surface area are more prone to collecting trash and debris from surroundings.

2. Type and Size of Filter

Each type of filter has its own unique cleaning cycle and maintenance requirements. Moreover, the efficiency of your filter’s cleaning process can be affected by whether it is appropriately sized for your pool or not.

3. Water Chemistry

Imbalanced water chemistry such as calcium hardness, chlorine and pH levels have a significant influence on cleaning frequency. For instance, extremely high or low pH levels corrode filter components, leading to damage and reduced effectiveness.

4. Environmental Factors

Your local weather conditions and surrounding landscape significantly contribute to pool contamination. When the wind blows, it carries sand, dirt, and other debris, depositing them onto your pool’s surface.

5. Maintenance Practices

Regular maintenance practices, such as skimming and vacuuming can impact how often you need to clean your pool filter. With proper maintenance, you can extend the time between filter cleanings.

When To Clean The Pool Filter? Watch Out For 3 Signs

There are typically three main signs that indicate a pool filter needs cleaning:

1. Cloudy Water

It’s the first visible sign that shows the functioning of your pool filter is compromised. If you’re sure about the chemical balancing of your pool water, it suggests the problem lies in the filter medium, signaling the need for cleaning.

2. Increased Pressure

The harder your filter works, the higher will be the reading on its pressure gauge. It occurs when the pool is filled with debris, giving the filter a hard time maintaining its efficiency. 

3. Reduced Water Flow

When you experience a significant drop-down in the water flow from return jets, it indicates that your filter has been clogged and needs cleaning.

Cleaning Tips: How To Care For Your Pool Filter?

Following tips will help alleviate the burden off your pool filter:

  • Consider installing solid panel fences around your yard or using a pool cover to protect the pool during the off-season.
  • Keep the branches and shrubs in the pool area regularly trimmed to prevent clutter.
  • Practice routine skimming and vacuuming to reduce the workload on your filter, preserving its efficiency. 
  • Schedule routine inspections with a professional to identify any potential issues early on.


When to Change the Sand In Your Pool Filter?

Ideally, you should replace the sand in your filter every 3-5 years. However, with regular maintenance, it can remain viable for up to 7-10 years. It’s more important to look for visible signs like your pool water appearance and feel or call a professional to inspect further. 

Can I Use Bleach On A Pool Filter?

Never use bleach or any other acid cleaner for cleaning your pool filter otherwise you’ll end up with costly damage. There are many safe alternatives that you can opt for as they’re specifically designed for your filter type and provide optimum results.

Can I Use A Power Washer On A Pool Filter?

No, you can’t use a power washer for cleaning pool filters because it will damage the fabric, making it ineffective for filtration. The filter fabric can’t withstand the pressure of a power washer. Therefore, you must use a garden hose and filter-specific cleaner for regular cleaning.


Swimming pools on private properties are a great luxury offering a cozy retreat during summer days. Whether you’re a toe-dipper or an avid diver, maintaining your pool filter efficiency with regular cleaning is crucial for a safe and hygienic pool environment.