Cleaning Water Filters with Vinegar

Cleaning Water Filters With Vinegar: What You Need to Know

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

A quality water filter removes any doubt about drinking treated water. However, to make sure your drinking water is clean, it is essential to clean your filter cartridges on a regular basis. Otherwise, the filter cartridge will get dirty with gunk, sediments, and other contaminants, which will reduce the quality of the treated water.

When this starts to happen, you can either buy and replace your water filter, or you can opt to clean your water filter. Buying a new water filter can be costly, but opting to clean your water filter cartridges can extend the lifespan of your water filter.

Fortunately, there’s a natural way to clean your dirty water filters. And that is through using white distilled vinegar. Cleaning water filters with vinegar does not involve the use of soap, chemical treatment, or a bleach solution. Instead, it is the use of a natural and effective cleaner like vinegar. By using vinegar, you are guaranteed to enjoy an easy filter-cleaning experience.

Why is Distilled Vinegar a Good Disinfectant?

distilled vinegarThe primary component of distilled vinegar is acetic acid, making 4-18% of the total substance. The high concentration of acetic acid makes it effective in breaking down oils, dirt, bacteria, and film. These contaminants easily attach themselves to water filters over time. So by using distilled vinegar, it can remove these contaminants from the surface of the filter.

Why do Water Filter Cartridges need to be Cleaned?

water filter cartridgeWater filters need to be cleaned to remove the fouling on the surface of the water filter membrane and remove the trapped sediments and contaminants. This is also done to prevent the premature deterioration of your water filter cartridges, which could subsequently damage your entire water filtration system. 

Also, continued use of your uncleaned water filters can be harmful to your health. Regularly cleaning your water filter also saves you money since it prolongs the life of your installed water filter system.

Additionally, cleaning the filters improves water pressure and gives relief to the tiny pores passageway of the membrane, which increases the good filtration level of your system. 

How often should Water Filter Candles be Replaced?

The lifespan of water filters is measured in months or gallons.

How often you should replace your water filter candles depends on the type and size of your water filter system. They can be changed every 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months. Most manufacturers will state in their instructions how many gallons can be used by the filter cartridge.

What is clear is that you should replace your water filter candles the moment you observe that there are changes in the physical or filtration qualities of your filter system.

Benefits of Cleaning Water Filter with Vinegar

Since the goal of a water filter is to improve the quality of water, it is important to restore a dirty water filter so that it can provide you with safe-to-drink water.

There are many ways to clean a water filter, but they oftentimes require chemical cleaners or harsh scrubs that can damage the filter, be costly, or can simply be ineffective.

Some of the benefits of cleaning a dirty filter with vinegar are:

  • Save Money: You can reduce the annual cost of your water filter by cleaning it on a regular basis. Having your filtration system cleaned with vinegar is much cheaper than having to buy a new filter cartridge several times a year.
  • Natural: Organic vinegar is chemical-free and is made from natural ingredients. So by using vinegar to clean a water filter, you do not have to be concerned about chemicals coming into contact with your filter.
  • Improve Taste: A dirty water filter contains sediments and other harmful contaminants which make the filter less effective. By simply cleaning the filter, you can remove the impurities trapped in the filter, allowing for better filtration and taste.
  • Restore filtration speed: You should also clean the sediment filter to increase the water flow rate through the filter. The impurities trapped in the filter reduce the flow rate. But by removing the impurities, untreated water can move through the filter faster.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Clean a Water Filter using Distilled Vinegar

Ceramic Candle Water FilterThere are many different types of filters (sediment filters, ceramic filters, carbon filters, charcoal filters) made from unique materials that have their own cleaning requirements. But generally speaking, distilled vinegar can be used to remove bacteria, dirt, oil, and other contaminants to clean the water filter. The following steps can show you how to clean most water filters:

  1. Detach the candle from the water filter: Carefully unscrew the candle inside your water filtration system. 
  2. Clean the candle with vinegar: Clean the candle from your water filter and soak it in a bowl or container with white distilled vinegar for about an hour. The vinegar may be mixed with or without water. A filter candle may only need a simple cleaning, like scrubbing with a sponge; however, using a natural disinfectant such as vinegar will further clean your filter. 
  3. Note: You can also place the wingnut and gaskets in the container with distilled vinegar. Dirt and other contaminants may attach to other surfaces in your water filter system.
  4. Clean the filter housing: While you wait for your water filter candle that was soaked in vinegar, clean the other water filter parts or the system housing with a detergent and a sponge. We suggest cleaning vinegar since it is non-toxic and has a higher concentration of acetic acid to clean stainless steel and plastic surfaces. Afterward, let the filter housing air dry.
  5. Rinse the candle with clean water: After letting the filter sit with distilled vinegar, wash the material with warm water, and you will notice the removal of impurities from your filter candle. Rinse it well with running water until all the vinegar traces are removed.
  6. Reattach the candle to the water filter: Carefully reattach the candle to your water filter.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Clean a Reverse Osmosis Membrane Filter using Vinegar

reverse osmosisA reverse osmosis system, or RO system, removes all non-water particles using a membrane filter, leaving just pure water behind. A membrane filter separates the sediments and other contaminants from the water, leaving many sediments stuck on the surface of the membrane. Fortunately, a membrane filter can be cleaned withed distilled vinegar using the step-by-step instructions below:

  1. Turn off the system’s water supply: Shut down your reverse osmosis system’s water supply and make sure that all water lines connected to other parts of your house are also turned off.
  2. Drain the water from the system: There is stored water in the membrane after shutting down your reverse osmosis system. Open the water faucet and drain all the water from the filter system and storage tank.
  3. Remove the pre-filter housing and RO membrane from the filtration system: If your reverse osmosis filter system has multiple filter stages, remove the filters one at a time using a strap wrench.
  4. Clean the filter’s membrane using vinegar: Soak the filter’s membrane housing with an appropriate amount of distilled white vinegar and let it stay for at least 1 hour or until the water filter is thoroughly cleaned. 
  5. Clean the membrane housing: Remember to also clean the membrane housing by using a bottle brush and some natural detergent, like cleaning vinegar. We suggest cleaning vinegar as a detergent since it is non-toxic and has a high concentration of acetic acid.
  6. Rinse the pre-filter housing and RO membrane thoroughly: Ensure that the filter housing and RO membrane are being rinsed thoroughly until it is free from dirt and vinegar traces. 
  7. Reassemble the pre-filter housing and RO membrane: Carefully reinstall the water filter’s membrane and housing to your water supply system. 
  8. Flush the system: Run water back into the filtration system for a couple of hours after closing the tank valve and opening the RO faucet in your sink. Let the system drain water, then run feed water through the system again. Repeat this cycle about twice or thrice until water quality gets back where it used to be.

Related Article: Pros and Cons of Reverse Osmosis Filtration System: Everything You Need to Know

water cartridge


Negligence can lead to more problems in your water filter systems. It is important to pay attention to the unusual deterioration of your water filtration performance. A natural and non-toxic solution such as white distilled vinegar can be used to clean a water filter. This can help prolong the lifespan of your filter instead of buying costly new filter cartridges.

Generally speaking, you should aim to clean a filter every 3 to 6 months, but you can follow the manufacturer’s instructions for went to replace the filter.

Regular cleaning can prolong the life of your water filter. It frees up any clogging issues in your membrane, allowing the water to pass through the microscopic pores. With a little bit of knowledge in filtering tap water from your household’s water supply, you will have no problem with the quality of your drinking water at home.

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How often should you clean your water filter with vinegar?

Generally, you should clean your water filter with vinegar every three months to 6 months, depending on the type and condition of your water filter. A decrease in the filtration and refilling time, an increased build-up of organic matter in your filter membrane, and changes in the taste of your water may signal a need to clean your water filter at any time.

What happens if I don't clean my water filter?

If you don’t clean your water filter when the need arises, the effects will be irreversible, and you will need to replace it due to premature deterioration. A neglected water filter will cause changes in the performance of your filter’s membrane. It will also lower the water pressure and affect the taste of your product water.

Can a water filter be cleaned with soap and water?

Yes. Soap and water can do the job of cleaning your water filters naturally at home. Using soap can remove sediments and some impurities from your water filter. However, this does not thoroughly clean and remove all of the built-up contaminants within the filter’s membrane. For complete cleaning, a more effective and natural cleaner can be used, such as white distilled vinegar.

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