2 Ways to Clean a Whole House Water Filter {Best Solution}

Home water filtration units like whole-house water filters are effective water cleaners that ensure the water in your home is safe for use. The whole-house filter removes debris, dirt, odor, and many other contaminants depending on the type of whole-house water filter you choose.

So during the process of blocking these contaminants from entering your house will, over time, the water filter will get clogged and require cleaning itself. The sludge blocks the filtration unit, reducing the water flow rate and making the filters ineffective. Hence, the need to replace whole-house filter cartridges.

However, cleaning the filters when it gets blocked with pollutants may be a more favorable approach. Meanwhile, you should know when to replace the filter.

This guide shows you how to clean the whole house filters to enable you to continue enjoying clean water throughout your home. Before discussing ways to clean whole-house filters, we should see why cleaning the filter is important.

Why Should You Clean Whole-House Water Filters?

The importance of whole-house water filters cannot be overstated, but their effectiveness is tied to the clear filtration unit. When the unit is packed with pollutants, there would be an adverse effect. Here, we find out why it is essential to clean the filter.

  • To maintain a fast water flow rate

The water flow rate is tied to the filtration speed and is affected when the filtration unit is clogged. Cleaning the filter will help improve reduced water speed across the house.

  • Prevent the contamination of new cartridges

Replacing dirty filter cartridges is a common practice to continue enjoying clean water in your home: however, the aim of this process would be defeated if the filtration unit is dirty. The new cartridges will easily get contaminated with pollutants in the system even before filtering the water.

  • Prevent bacteria buildup

The chamber inside the filtration unit is constantly damp, which leads to the build-up of bacteria. Bacteria is also a water contaminant, so not cleaning the filter is exposing you to an additional contaminant.

  • Prevent filters from sticking to the filtration chamber

The buildup of contaminants inside the filtration unit will ultimately lead to the filters sticking to the chambers and making them difficult to remove. Frequently cleaning the whole-house filter will prevent this problem.

Ways to Clean Whole-House Filters

Now that we’ve established how important it is to clean your whole-house water filter, the next step is to learn how to clean the filter. There are different ways to remove debris, dirt, and pollutants from your filter, and we’ll highlight some of them in this section. The most suitable method to choose depends on the most prevalent pollutant in your water.

1. Using Soapy Water And Brush – Best Solution

Using Soapy Water and Brush - Best Solution

Soapy water and brush is the most common way of cleaning filters as it utilizes common materials. It usually involves mild soap, water, and a brush for scrubbing. Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning your filters using soapy water and a brush:

Step One: Shut Off The Water And Relieve The Pressure

Whole-house filtration systems are connected to the main water line entering the house. The water coming into the filter needs to be shut off before any cleaning commences on the unit.

Turn off the valve on the main water line to stop the flow into the filter and home. Typically, you’ll need to turn the valve from its position parallel to the pipe till it is perpendicular to the pipe.

Even after putting off the water from the main line, the pipes will still have high water pressure in them, which is why you need to relieve this pressure by turning on all the faucets in the house and letting all the water out.

Some filters have pressure-releasing valves (usually red), located on top of the filter. Cover the button with a rag before pressing it down to release the pressure while preventing the water from spilling.

Step Two: Remove The Filter

First, place a bucket under the filtration unit to collect any water droplets when you open the chamber. With a filter housing wrench, loosen the first housing and remove the cartridge from the housing to expose the chamber.

Place the wrench through the housing till it grips it, and then turn it in an anticlockwise direction to loosen the housing.

Many whole-house filters sport several filters, which means many filter cases that need to be opened and cleaned. However, it is ideal for handling one housing at a time. Ensure the O-ring comes out with the cartridge, as some may get stuck inside the filter chamber.

Observe the chamber to see the amount of dirt inside, which will guide the frequency at which you clean the filter. Check for algae, mold, smell, debris, and more, with the most prevalent contaminant guiding your choice of cleaning method.

Step Three: Clean With Soapy Water And a Brush

If you notice more debris and organic sediments in the chamber, using warm, soapy water is the best way to clean the area.

After opening the filter housing and removing the cartridge, you can then move to clean the filtration unit.

Mix a mild liquid soap in a bowl of warm water and soak the filter in it for about five minutes. This is because the mixture weakens the dirt and makes it easy to scrub out.

Use the brush to scrub the insides of the casing, paying attention to the base, cap, and O-ring seating as they are most likely to hold contaminants. Rinse the housing using clean water before wiping it dry using a clean cloth.

Step Four: Replace The Filter And Close The Housing

Observe the filter to determine whether to replace or return the old filter to the filter chamber. Clogged filters that have expanded indicate the need for a replacement. You also want to know how long your particular whole-house water filter should last. Slide the cartridge into the housing and close the caps.

Use the filter housing wrench to tighten the housing after replacing the cartridge. Fit the cap and turn clockwise to close the filter. An extremely tight housing is not recommended, so you don’t need to tighten it with a wrench.

Step Five: Repeat For Other Housing Units And Turn on The Water

Since most filters feature more than one housing chamber, you need to repeat the cleaning process for the next filtration housing till you’ve cleaned all the filters. Typically, the sediment filter tends to be the dirtiest among all the filters in a multi-filter unit.

Slowly turn the valve from the main line to put on the water while ensuring the pressure in the pipe increases gradually. Check for leaks in the filtration chamber and tighten it where necessary.

2. Using Oxalic or Muriatic Acid

You can clean the whole-house water filter using oxalic or muriatic acid, with acid preferred where there are high amounts of impurities in your water and, ultimately, your filter. These acids are a form of bleach and are great for removing rust.

You need to take proper care when using these acids as prolonged exposure can lead to mild effects like dizziness and headaches and more severe effects like coma and even death.

Buy diluted oxalic or muriatic acids as their concentration is reduced. Ensure you wear protective materials, like nose masks, while using the acid method.

The steps are similar to the previous method, where steps one and two are replicated before proceeding to use rinse the filter housing using normal water to remove any loose debris.

Soak the housing and the cartridge in it if you want to reuse the cartridge inside the bowl of oxalic or muriatic acid. Leaving the filtration unit inside the acid for about twenty minutes will remove all the dirt, including rust.

After twenty minutes, you want to take the housing out of the acid and rinse thoroughly with clean water. Rinse a few times if possible to remove any trace of oxalic acid in the filter housing.

Allow the unit to dry before assembling all the parts and turning on the main water valve, just like the previous method.


Over time, some questions about cleaning whole-house water filters have become quite common as more people keep asking the same questions. We’ve compiled those common questions with their answers, so you don’t need to worry about them.

How often should you clean whole-house water filters?

Clean whole-house filtration system at least twice a year; however, some whole-house filters will require more frequent cleaning, especially when the water has a lot of contaminants. The generally acceptable duration is cleaning every three months.

Can you clean and reuse a whole house filtration cartridge?

Most filtration cartridges are not built to be reused and so should be replaced rather than cleaned. Especially as the cartridges swell and are saturated when clogged with dirt. However, sediment and carbon filters can be restored easily by cleaning.

What is the best whole-house water filter cleaner?

Mild dish soap and warm water with a brush is the best cleaning combination to remove dirt in your filtration chamber.


Whole-house water filters will accumulate dirt while blocking them from entering your house. Cleaning the accumulated dirt becomes a priority if you must keep enjoying clean water across your home’s faucets. The way you choose to clean the dirt may determine the level of cleanliness you achieve, as some methods are better suited to removing certain pollutants.