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Clean Spa Filters – in the Dishwasher?

June 27th, 2016 by

dirty-to-clean-filtersCan you clean your spa filters in the dishwasher? I think the idea came about when cartridge manufacturers suggested that Dishwasher detergent (not Laundry detergent!) could be used as an alternative to TSP, for soaking cartridges, to remove greasy oil deposits before cleaning.

But I’ve not seen a manufacturer of spa filters come out and suggest cleaning spa filters in the dishwasher. There are some people online that say that they clean their spa filters in the dishwasher (without soap or rinse aid), and using a no-heat drying cycle. Sounds OK, but will it really get the cartridge clean?

My dishwasher hardly removes all of the tomato sauce it should, but it’s a decent model. So I thought I’d put this to a test. Would my home dishwasher clean my spa filters?

The Dishwasher Spa Filter Cleaning Test

My spa filters had not been cleaned in a month, which is my usual schedule, so I removed my filter cartridge. It’s about 15″ tall, so was able to place it standing up on the lower rack of the dishwasher, and it just barely fit. I added a small amount of dishwasher detergent to the reservoir, and set it on the longest cycle, 115 mins, but with a no-heat drying cycle.

The Result? There was still debris stuck down in the pleats, even though it definitely looked a lot cleaner, from the outside. I’ve seen some suggest laying the spa filter on the top rack of the dishwasher, so I repeated the test in this manner, even rotating the cartridge twice during the cycle. However, there was still small debris and discoloration deep in the pleats.

How to Clean Spa Filters

The old method is still the best method. Hosing clean with a handheld garden hose nozzle. It’s wet and not particularly comfortable experience, but cleaning pleat by pleat in an up and down motion does the best job.

Here’s a step by step for cleaning spa and hot tub filter cartridges:

  1. Shut off Spa, open filter canister and remove cartridge.
  2. Spray carefully with a high pressure hose nozzle, to remove debris from each pleat.
  3. Soak the cartridge in a TSP solution, 1 cup per 5 gals hot water for 8 hours, rinse clean.
  4. Soak the cartridge in an ACID solution, 1 cup per 1 gal cool water for 1 hour, rinse clean.
  5. Soak the cartridge again in your TSP solution, 10 minutes, to neutralize remaining acids.
  6. Allow filter to dry completely before reinstalling, to kill remaining microbes.unicel-filter-guy-using-protective-gear

Steps 3 and 4 are not always necessary. TSP (or dry dishwasher detergent) is a great grease remover, for oily deposits on spa filters. Muriatic acid (or dry acid) is used to remove mineral scale like calcium deposits. Be sure to wear proper protective gear when handling muriatic acid, and always add the acid to water (not water to acid).

Steps 3 & 4 can be combined into one, with our spa filter cleaner, a chemical to accomplish both tasks of removing oils and minerals. We have Leisure Time Filter Clean for an overnight soaking, or Leisure Time Spa Instant filter cleaner; spray on formula works in minutes, not hours. A spray nozzle that works great for cleaning spa filters is the Filter Flosser, it really gets in there deeply, even if your hose pressure is not so great.

What Not To Do with Spa Filters

  1. Don’t clean them in the dishwasher, it’s not very effective and could damage the filter.
  2. Don’t clean them with a pressure washer, for obvious reasons.
  3. Dishwasher soap (dry) is OK, but Laundry detergent is Not OK.
  4. Don’t forget to Rinse thoroughly after Soaking, to remove all chemical traces.
  5. Don’t use DE powder as a Filter Aid, although Puri-Fiber or Aqua-Perl may be used.

 

unicel-guy-spraying-hose on spa filterIn conclusion; if you want to use your dishwasher to clean a hot tub filter, be my guest – it shouldn’t hurt the filter cartridge, unless you use a high heat dry cycle, which could melt the rubber and make a real mess. You can also use a small amount of dry dishwasher detergent, as long as you remember to rinse the filter well after the dishwasher shuts off.

As for me – I’ll just keep doing it the old fashioned way, I take a seat next to an empty trash can, and hose it clean inside the can. Difficult, but it keeps my shoes dry.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

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