Cleaning a Water Filter Properly (2022 How-To Guide)

 Last updated  - January 12th, 2022

We all know that drinking contaminated water can lead to exposure to diseases, toxins, and other impurities. Thankfully, you can avoid illnesses and overall contamination by investing in a water purifier for your drinking water at home. However, once you’ve installed your water filter, keeping the filter clean is just as important.

With the help of this guide, you’ll be able to better understand both what a water filter does and how to maintain your filter once it’s installed.

water filter that needs to be cleaned

How Water Filters Work

The first thing you need to know about water filters is that there are several different types. Each option ranges from industrial models to convenient residential ones, and they can also use different materials and technology to make the filter itself. Ultimately, they all have the goal of purifying your water to make it safer for drinking.

Most filters work by passing water through a mesh filter that only allows water molecules to pass through. If there are any other particles in the water, such as minerals or contaminants, they cannot break through this barrier, and will thus be removed from the water. However, you may come across other types as well, such as a UV Light filter that uses the light to purify the water.

Because the filter itself is the main component that purifies your water, you’ll want to perform regular maintenance to get the best filtering effects. How often you clean your filter will depend on the specific model, but no matter what, not cleaning your water will eventually cause it to not filter as well, or maybe stop filtering as well.

Cleaning Your Water Filter

As you might guess, the maintenance approach for any water filter will depend on the type of filter itself. Below, we’ve explained the key cleaning steps for the 4 most common water filters.

1. Reverse Osmosis Filter

Reverse Osmosis is a water treatment process that uses pressure to force water molecules through a semipermeable filter. As described above, this process forces out all toxins, debris, and contaminants from your drinking water, leaving nothing but clean water behind.

While the device itself is fairly technical, don’t be worried. You can easily clean a reverse osmosis water filter at home, following the below steps:

  • Start by cutting off the water supply to the filtration system. It’s also important to ensure you clean your hands well so the filter itself stays clean.
  • Then, drain any water remaining in the filtration system and tank entirely before shutting down the valve connected to the system.
  • Next, open the gasket and take out the pre-filters and reverse osmosis filter from the purifier. With these removed, you can now start cleaning the filtration system using your preferred cleaning solution. Be sure to read any chemical instructions closely before using them on the system or the filter directly.
  • To clean the actual water filter, prepare a solution of water and cleaning materials. You’ll then soak the filter in the solution for about an hour. After that, remove the filter and rinse it under running water.
  • Finally, return the filter and any pre-filters to the machine and turn the water supply back on. Allow the water to run for about thirty minutes to flush it all out, and you’ll be good to go!

2. Activated Charcoal Filters

Activated charcoal filters are particularly useful in removing chlorine from water. They’re also not too hard to clean, although be careful to follow each step and not skip any.

  • Start by assembling all the right gear needed to replace the filter, including a face mask, gloves, and goggles.
  • Then, prepare a solution with water and muriatic acid, slowly adding acid to the water and stirring it consistently.
  • After you’ve made the solution, remove the charcoal filter from the system and carefully rinse it under running water. Ensure you have removed any debris that may be present on the filter itself.
  • Once you have rinsed the filter, place it in the acid solution you prepared and allow it to soak for about five to six days.
  • When this period lapses, remove the filter and soak it in clean water for about half an hour. After that, rinse it with clean water.
  • Then, let the filter dry completely before placing it in the cartridge. Finally, turn the water supply back on and let the water flow through it for about fifteen minutes before you resume using the filter like normal

clean water filter closeup

3. Sediment Filters

Particularly helpful for water with large contaminants, a sediment filter works by filtering out dirt and sand with its net. You will appreciate such a filter if you live in an area whose water supply is packed with impurities.

Here are the steps to cleaning this type of filter:

  • Start by removing the filter housing and the cartridge from the filtration system, including the O-ring. Then, rinse the housing with clean water.
  • Next, you’ll want to place the filter under running water. As the water runs, rub your fingers across the filter to remove any dirt or trace particles that may remain.
  • Now, prepare a solution of water and oxalic acid in a ratio of 2:1. You’ll then use this solution to soak both the housing and the cartridge for about 30 minutes. Avoid any scrubbing while you let both components soak
  • After 30 minutes, you can rinse the filters under running water. Be sure to wash away any of the solution from the soak.
  • Finally, allow the filter to dry completely before placing it back into the filtration system. For this type of filter, in particular, you’ll want to do this process at least once per year.

4. Quartz Sleeve in a UV Lamp Filter

Different from the other filters we’ve discussed so far, this option is a water purification system that uses a UV light source to produce radiation that purifies the surrounding water. This process is rated highly by most of its users since it eliminates contaminants from the water while using very little energy.

The system basically uses a UV lamp within a quartz sleeve. The quartz sleeve you’ll be able to clean at home following the steps outlined below – the UV lamp, however, must be replaced once a year.

To clean the quartz sleeve:

  • Start by turning off the water supply to the filter and then removing the safety cap at the top of the cleaner. To remove the cap, simply squeeze the tabs. Be sure to avoid touching the lamp plug wires during the removal process.
  • Then, remove the lamp plug and quartz sleeve together with the sleeve bolt. Hold the bolt and then unscrew the lamp. After that, remove the O-rings from the quartz sleeve.
  • After dismantling the filter, prepare some paper towels dipped in vinegar. You’ll then use the vinegar-soaked paper to cover the quartz sleeve for about 20-30-minutes.
  • After waiting 20-30 minutes, rinse the quartz sleeve under running water. As soon as it is completely dry, you can reassemble the filter with the cleaned sleeve, ready to go.
  • Note that even though you can easily clean this sleeve by yourself, it’s recommended to fully replace the sleeve every two years to ensure the best filtration performance.

Final Word

With the simple methods we have presented above, you should be able to quickly and easily clean your water purification system. Follow the steps based on the type of filter you use, and you’ll prolong the life of your filter as well as preserve the freshness of your water.