How To Clean Water Filters with Easy Steps

How To Clean Water Filters

A home water filter is critical to the improvement of your water’s overall quality. It will reliably remove water hardness, pathogens, and contaminants, as long as it’s running optimally.

That’s why filter cleaning is important. Cleaning not only prevents filter deterioration, but it also ensures your water is constantly free of sediments, sand, and rust.

Here’s how you can effectively clean your water filter or a regular basis while maintaining a regular replacement schedule to ensure the component is performing optimally at all times.

Why do I Need to Clean My Water Filter?

Cleaning your water filters helps remove pathogens from the water you consume. But if you neglect filter maintenance, you are effectively increasing the risk of water contamination by disease-causing pathogens. That’s why it’s important to clean the filters regularly.

If you use a filter to soften water through the elimination of hardness-causing minerals such as magnesium and calcium, then failure to clean the component can render its softening capacity ineffective.

Read More: The Best Water Softeners

Cleaning filters will also help maximize their capacity to remove harmful toxins such as heavy metals from water. If your filter is suited for lead, mercury, chlorine, and fluoride removal, then cleaning it can help boost its utility in these functions.

How to Clean Water Filter

Why do I Need to Clean My Water Filter

1. Reverse Osmosis Filter

Step 1: Drain the Filtration System

You need to start by draining all the water from the filtration system, and tank. This should be an easy task if the tank has a faucet.

Once all the water has drained out, close the faucet.

Step 2: Detach the Filter Components

Proceed to remove the filter and the reserve osmosis membrane from the filtration system.

If necessary, use a wrench to perform this disassembly because often, these components are screwed in tightly to prevent water leaks.

Step 3: Clean the Filter System

Effective filter cleaning may require the use of chemicals. Most filter manufacturers will specify the type of chemicals to use for filter cleaning.

In case such specifications are unavailable, you can use 2 – 3 tablespoons of unscented bleach as an alternative.

Step 4: Remove Dirt and Grain Build-Up

You can apply the cleaning solution directly to the pre-filter housing, a process that can help dislodge trapped dirt and debris.

Rinse out the cleaning solution by opening the bypass faucet and allowing water to run freely through the system.

Step 5: Clean the Membrane

You can also clean the filter membrane using a prescribed solution. A dishwashing liquid is, for instance, effective in cleaning the membrane.

Whenever you use a cleaning solution, ensure you rinse it off thoroughly so that it does not contaminate your water.

Step 6: Reassemble the Filter System

Once the entire system and its components have been thoroughly cleaned and rinsed, reassemble everything as it was and restart the filtration apparatus.

2. Activated Carbon/Charcoal Filter

Cleaning carbon filters often require a slightly different approach to that used in osmosis versions, but the two are not very far apart.

Note, however, that cleaning carbon filters requires chemicals, hence the importance of protective safeguards. You should wear gloves, a mask, or goggles, and follow the chemical-handling instructions provided. Then proceed as follows:

Step 1: Prepare for Cleaning

By filling a bucket or container with half a gallon of water. Ensure the water is at room temperature.

Step 2: Add Muriatic Acid to the Water

The recommended quantity of acid is 2 cups. Proceed to stir continuously and consistently, preferably by using a plastic stirrer.

Step 3: Rinse the Filter with Water

Before inserting the filter in the acidic solution, clean it thoroughly with water, using a hose. The water pressure helps to dislodge debris and grains.

Step 4: Place it in Solution and Wait

Proceed to insert the rinsed filter in the acidic solution and water and wait for at least 5 days. This duration is enough to ensure all contaminants are removed from the filter.

Step 5: Rinse and Reinstall the Filter

You need to resoak the filter in clean water for about 5 minutes, and then rinse it with a hose. Once thoroughly rinsed, reinstall the unit.

3. Refrigerator Water Filter

For fast, safe, and effective cleaning of your refrigerator filter, you should:

Step 1: Unplug the fridge from the Power Supply

Do this to avoid electric shock and any potential harm to yourself.

Step 2: Shut off the Water Valve

The valve is typically located behind the fridge. It controls water flow into the fridge. Once you locate it, turn it off to terminate water supply into the unit.

Step 3: Unscrew the Filter

This component is usually located at the back and base of the fridge. But you need to find its release button to safely disengage it without damaging any component or mechanism.

After engaging the release button, turn the filter in the prescribed direction to pull it from the fridge.

Step 4: Clean the Filter

Simply dump the debris of the filter into a collection bag, then soak it in the recommended gentle cleaner, such as rubbing alcohol, or liquid soap.

If the filter is filled with crud, soak it for about 10 minutes for the effective dirt removal.

Step 5: Rinse Filter and Allow to Dry

After the filter is thoroughly soaked, proceed to rinse it, and allow the component to dry for at least 1 hour.

Step 6: Reassemble the Filter

Finally, re-insert the filter to its component, ensuring you have secured everything firmly, including supply lines and threaded openings.


Clean My Water Filter

1. Is Cleaning Water Filter Better than Replacing?

No. Eventually, a water filter will need replacing, especially if you’re using an activated carbon filter, which tends to have a limited lifespan compared to other filters.

But cleaning your filter per the manufacturer-recommended schedule will extend its life because this practice helps maintain component quality and reliability.

If you clean your water filter regularly, you will save money through fewer replacements.

2. How often Should I Clean my Water Filter?

As often as the manufacturer recommends. Different filters have varying cleaning cycles. The most common cleaning schedule is bi-annually.  

Cleaning frequency may also depend on the volume of water passing through it, and other factors such as filter type or filtration stages.

If the water coming in your supply is hard or full of sediment, then a more regular cleaning schedule of say, one month, is recommended.

3. How do I Know When My Water Filter Needs to be Changed?

When the filter life cycle has been exhausted, then it’s time to change it. But changing your water filter may depend on a couple of other factors.

Besides the life cycle, you also need to account for the overall water condition and usage. If your water is constantly hard, and/or if your water usage is higher than that of the average household, then filter replacement may be more frequent.

For an activated carbon filter, you’ll know its time to replace the component if it becomes clogged or ceases to attract contaminants and particles.


Cleaning your home water filter is a good maintenance practice that ensures the component is performing optimally while prolonging its life.

Although you’ll ultimately need to replace your water filter, cleaning it ensures the component cleans your water and rids it of contaminants such as pathogens and toxic metals

Ensure you adhere to the prescribed maintenance schedule and practices to get the best filter cleaning outcomes.