Answered: How to Clean a Water Filter Pitcher

Author: Jason Hollow - Published: 2021/09/30 - Updated: 2022/11/22

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Water filter pitchers not only help improve the flavor of your tap or well water but also protect your loved ones from impurities such as rust particles and harmful contaminants like lead and pesticides.

Some top-of-the-line pitcher-style water filters can even remove emerging contaminants that have not yet been regulated under current environmental laws – think PFAS.

In return, these compact gadgets demand two things from you: regular cartridge replacements and periodic cleaning. While changing the cartridge on your filter pitcher is a five-minute job, maintaining a clean pitcher requires a little more effort and time.

That said, water filter pitchers don’t need as much care as other kitchen tools or appliances, but they need a nice deep clean every now and then to stay in good shape. Regularly cleaning may also ensure better filtration.

Stay with us as we explore the right way to clean a water filter pitcher so that it remains free of algal growth, mold, mildew, bacteria and limescale deposits.

So, here is our guide on how to clean a water filter pitcher!


  1. Pour out any water left inside the pitcher.
  2. Detach the lid to remove the filter element and the upper reservoir.
  3. If the filter cartridge is due for a replacement, discard it. However, you can rinse it with water if it is still usable.
  4. To clean the inside of the jug, lid, and upper reservoir, use a dishwashing detergent with water and scrub them using a sponge or soft brush.
  5. After cleaning all the components, you can rinse them with warm water. Do this repeatedly to ensure that all soap residue is removed.
  6. Put the components back together.

How Often to Clean Your Water Filter Pitcher?

We suggest washing water filter pitchers with a mild dishwashing liquid every week or two. Of course, you can change the frequency and schedule according to your usage.

We also recommend sanitizing your filter jugs at least once a month to prevent the growth of bacteria, algae and mold.

If it helps, set a digital reminder on your phone or write down the schedule in your diary. It will help you keep track easily rather than waiting for green or black spots to show up.

What You Need

It’s time to act! If you’ve been inconsistent in washing your pitcher (don’t worry, many of us are), you must ditch the unhygienic trends and clean it properly right now.

Thankfully, cleaning a water filter pitcher is not rocket science! Some can simply be put into the dishwasher (without the filter element!). If yours can’t, you only need a little time of your day and sheer commitment to keep it safe and glistening.

That said, here are the supplies you will need.

  • Dishwashing soap
  • Warm water
  • Sponge
  • Small brush
  • A bucket to soak the jug and its components
  • A towel
  • Vinegar
  • Drying rack
  • Replacement filter (if it’s due)

Before you begin, wipe down the counter with an antibacterial spray to avoid contaminating your pitcher.

Step-by-step Guide on How to Clean a Water Filter Pitcher

How to Clean a Water Filter Pitcher Thumbnail

The following steps apply to all styles of water filter pitchers. Although there is nothing complicated about washing and cleaning them, it is essential to get the steps straight.

Disassembling the Pitcher

You can’t just stick your filter pitcher under running water and expect it to get clean. So, the first step is to take out the inner parts.

To start, drain out all the water from your jug and remove the lid. Then, take out the filter cartridge and the upper reservoir. If it’s time for a cartridge replacement, toss the old one out. If it’s working fine, rinse it with warm water and keep it aside in a clean, dry place.

Generally, most models are very straightforward and can be dismantled easily; i.e., all the components easily come out. But if your pitcher is stuck, use a flat screwdriver on the tab under the handle to remove the reservoir.


Make a solution using warm water and dishwashing liquid. Next, pour it into the reservoir and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Then, stir the soapy water for a few seconds to cover the interior adequately.

If you feel the pitcher has developed an odor, add a few slices of lemon to the water. Lemon gives off a pleasant smell and neutralizes obnoxious odors. Some people like to add uncooked dry rice in the pitcher to add grit.

Use a damp cloth to wipe the lid if it’s made of chrome or has an electronic display.


Put on your rubber gloves and use a small brush to scrub all hard-to-reach places.

Since almost all water filter pitchers have tiny nooks and crannies, it’s essential to reach all to clean them out effectively. These tiny spots are breeding grounds for bacteria.

Rinse Well

Don’t be hasty while rinsing your filter pitcher. Wash it with clean water multiple times until the water runs clear.

Allow to Air Dry

After you have washed your water filter pitcher, allow it to air dry on a bottle rack or a clean, dry surface for at least 15 minutes. If you are in a hurry, use paper towels or lint-free microfiber towels to hand dry.

Filter Priming

Most pitcher water filter cartridges require prior priming before they can be used to get their full benefit and flow.

The filtering media on most cartridges is very dense and has a lot of surface tension. In order to break the tension, filters need to be flushed with full water pressure. In short, it gets the filter media moving and ready for usage.[1]

If you don’t prime the cartridge, it will take you ages to filter any water. So if, say, you put a quarter gallon of water in the upper chamber in the morning; when you come back at night, there will be barely any filtered water in the reservoir at the bottom.

That is why you must always follow specific instructions related to your model and prime your filters beforehand.

Here is a breakdown of how most pitcher water filters can be primed.

  1. Remove the flushing disc from the new filter cartridge.
  2. Peel off the protective sticker.
  3. Then soak the cartridge in a bowl of water for at least 15 minutes, ensuring it is submerged completely. You might need to weigh it down to prevent the filter from popping out.
  4. Next, screw the flushing disc back on the cartridge.
  5. Hold the disc to the faucet and open the tap on full pressure for at least one minute.

pitcher water filter cartridge submerged in water

Put it Back Together

Once all components are spotless and the filter elements are primed, it’s time to put all the pieces back together.

Please note that if you have replaced your cartridge, discard the first jug full of water that it filters. No need to waste it, though – you can use it to water your plants or wash the dishes.

Additional Tips

Here are a few tried and tested ways to keep your pitcher water filter in good shape.

Are Water Filter Pitchers Dishwasher Safe?

Most water filter jugs, including Brita, ZeroWater and Clearly Filtered, are not dishwasher safe. You might end up ruining the shape and finish due to heated air, hot water and harsh detergents.

Therefore, it’s best to handwash your pitcher only.

Can You Use Bleach to Clean a Water Filter Pitcher?

The oldest trick in the book to deep clean any kitchen item is to use household bleach. However, most manufacturers advise not to use bleach on water filter pitchers.

How to Tackle Mineral Buildup on Filter Pitchers?

If you see a white powdery film developing over the parts of your pitcher, you are dealing with hard water buildup.

Thankfully, this limescale has no health implications but must be cleaned to improve the efficiency of your unit. The solution is simple and present in every household pantry: vinegar.

White vinegar is an inexpensive and simple answer to fight off those mineral deposits. For best results, soak your filter pitcher in undiluted white vinegar overnight.

Wash it thoroughly in the morning, and you’ll see all the residues disappearing. The longer you go between cleaning, the more stubborn these deposits will get. Therefore it is essential to descale regularly.

How to Clean and Prevent Mold and Mildew Growth on My Filter Pitcher?

Water filtering pitchers can develop mold and mildew if you leave them under direct sunlight for too long. Not closing the sprout correctly, using water that is not microbiologically safe (usually from a private well), and not cleaning the pitcher regularly can also encourage mold to grow.

The moist environment in a water filter pitcher and tiny crevices that are difficult to clean are the perfect breeding ground for nasty molds.


If you see your pitcher turning green, it’s time to bring out your secret weapon: white vinegar. The antifungal and antibacterial properties of vinegar make it an ideal treatment to remove mold and mildew growth.


  • To prevent repeated attacks of mold on your pitcher, ensure timely replacements of the filter element.
  • Secondly, wash all parts of your filter pitcher thoroughly, including the lid and small hollows.
  • Finally, always let your pitcher dry thoroughly before reassembling it.


In conclusion, a water filter pitcher requires a good scrub once a week or every fortnight.

Cleaning supplies you need are dishwashing solution, a sponge/brush, a bucket, a towel, and maybe some vinegar and a new filter cartridge.

Begin the cleaning procedure by disassembling the different components.

Soak the water reservoirs in soapy water. Scrub thoroughly and rinse afterwards.

If you install a new filter cartridge, remember that you probably need to prime it.

Additional tips: Check if your water filter pitcher is really dishwasher-safe, and remove limescale deposits and mold/mildew using white vinegar.

Further Reading


Meet Jason Hollow

Jason Hollow Jason is the founder of Water Masterz and head of content creation. After six years in the industry, he has tremendous knowledge and first-hand experience on all things related to water treatment.

His credo: Not a single American should have to drink unhealthy water at home.

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