How To: Clean Your Sand Filter In 7 Simple Steps

Whether you're a diver, a floater, a toe-dipper, or a cannonballer, you know it's true: there's nothing better than enjoying the summer months by a pool. And while there's lots of joy in owning a pool, there are some responsibilities too—including proper maintenance. If your pool has a sand filter, here’s a handy guide that will tell you how to clean it properly.

Why you need to clean your sand filter

A clean filter is an essential part of a pool's filtration system, helping to remove dirt and debris from your water and make sure your pool is sparkling clean and ready to enjoy for years to come.


Dirty pool filters can lead to many pool problems including:

  • dirty, unclean and unsafe water
  • increasing the amount of chemicals needed to keep the pool clear
  • creating water flow problems through the skimmer, pump and filter
  • damage to equipment like stair and ladders
  • and causing long term damage to the pool filtration and pump system


Knowing how to keep your sand filter clean can help you avoid these common problems, save money on costly repairs, and keep your pool beautiful and clean.

When to clean your sand filter

Maintaining and cleaning sand filters can be a little more work than cleaning cartridge and diatomaceous earth filters, but there's no need to worry! Once you know how to clean your sand filter, you'll see it's easy enough to do, and the results are sure to make your swim more enjoyable.


When should I clean my sand filter?

  1. You should perform a full backwash and chemical clean of your sand filter at least once a year, preferably when you close your pool.
  2. You should perform a backwash clean anytime your filter pump reaches a water pressure of 10 psi over its average operating pressure level. An increase in water pressure in the pump and filtration system indicates that there is some filter blockage. You'll also want to backwash your filters if you've had an algae breakout or have had significant rain causing debris to enter the pool.


Now that you know why and when to clean your sand filter, let's get to the how!

How to clean your pool’s sand filter in 7 easy steps

Step 1 - Backwash the filter for 3-5 minutes to ensure large organic debris is out of the sand. As your water flows through the skimmer, pump, and filter, it flows in one direction. This one-directional flow means that all the dirt and debris get trapped on one side of the filter. Backwashing reverses the flow of water through the filter, forcing dirt and debris out as the water flows in the opposite direction.


Step 2 - Turn off the pool pump. If there is a valve in front of the pump, make sure it is closed. Turn the pump control to the "Filter" mode. Once turned off, remove the pump strainer lid and the strainer basket. Make sure the basket is free of dirt and debris. 


Step 3 - With the pump strainer lid off and strainer basket free of debris, turn the pump back on. At this point, the pump will begin pushing water into the filter, but will not be taking in water from the pool. 


Step 4 - Add filter cleaner directly into the strainer basket. At this step you’ll want to have a bucket of clean water handy, you’ll see why in a second. Immediately after adding the filter cleaner, pour the bucket of clean water into the strainer pump to help circulate the cleaner and flush it out from the strainer basket. Put the lid back on the pump.


Step 5 - Let the pump run for 10-15 seconds to circulate the water and filter cleaner through the filter. Then turn off the pump. 


Step 6 - Let the filter soak in the cleaner for at least 8 hours to remove caked-on dirt and debris. After the 8 hours have passed and your filter is clean, turn the filter dial to “Backwash” and backwash for 5 minutes to rinse out the rest of the filter cleaner chemicals. Backwashing will remove any cleaner residue left in the sand. If the filter cleaner gets into the pool water, it can cause chemical balancing and water clouding issues.


Step 7 - Now that the filter has been cleaned in the backwash, turn the pump off and switch filter dial to the "Rinse" position. Let the rinse run for 30 seconds. Once the filter has rinsed, turn the pump dial back to the "Filter" position. Then turn the system back on. 


There it is. In 7 easy steps, you know how to keep your sand filter clean, and your pool looking great. Cleaning your sand filter is a necessary step to take every year, and it's a great habit to backwash your filter regularly to keep everything running smoothly. 


Regular maintenance will avoid more significant problems down the road, meaning you can enjoy your pool longer and get the most out of it.

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