How to Clean the Berkey Water Filter

How to Clean the Berkey Water Filter

Maintaining your Berkey water filter system is crucial for ensuring optimal performance and clean, delicious drinking water. The good news is, cleaning your Berkey filters is a relatively simple process that can be done at home with minimal tools and time. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about cleaning your Berkey filters, including the frequency, steps involved, and troubleshooting tips.

Why Cleaning Your Berkey Filters Matters?

Berkey filters are renowned for their ability to remove a wide range of contaminants from your water supply, including chlorine, lead, arsenic, fluoride (with additional filters), and even some emerging contaminants. However, over time, these contaminants can build up on the surface of the filter elements, potentially impacting their effectiveness. Regular cleaning helps remove this buildup and ensures your Berkey filters continue to function at their peak capacity.


  • Maintains Optimal Filtration Performance: Regular cleaning prevents contaminant buildup, ensuring your filters continue to remove impurities effectively.

  • Extends Filter Lifespan: By removing built-up contaminants, you can significantly extend the lifespan of your Berkey filters, saving you money on replacements in the long run.

  • Improves Water Taste and Odor: Regular cleaning can help eliminate any unpleasant tastes or odors that might develop in your filtered water over time.

How Often Should You Clean Your Berkey Filters?

If you have a heavily contaminated water source, you may need to clean your filters more frequently.

The more water you filter, the faster contaminants will build up on the filters.

If you notice a black or brown film on your filters, it's time for a cleaning.

General Guideline:

Standard Cleaning: Every 3 months for most users.

Heavy Usage: Every 2 months for households with high water consumption.

Heavily Contaminated Water: Every 1-2 months, depending on the severity of the contamination.

Pro Tip: It's a good practice to schedule regular cleaning reminders on your calendar or phone to ensure you don't forget.

The Essential Tools for Cleaning Your Berkey Filters

Mild Dish Soap: Opt for a gentle, fragrance-free dish soap to avoid leaving any residue on the filters.

Soft Sponge or Non-Abrasive Scrub Pad: Use a clean, soft sponge or a non-abrasive scrub pad to remove any buildup without damaging the filter elements.

Large Bowl or Sink: You'll need a clean bowl or sink large enough to comfortably submerge your Berkey filter elements.

Clean Towels or Drying Rack: Allow your filters to air dry completely after cleaning.

Optional: Bleach solution (16 drops per gallon of water) for deeper cleaning in case of mold or heavy buildup.

Safety Note: Never use harsh chemicals, detergents, or abrasive scouring pads on your Berkey filters, as these can damage the delicate filtration media.

As authorized Berkey dealers, we offer a variety of indoor and outdoor water filtration systems to meet your needs.




Crown Berkey Water Filter

6 Gallons (22.7 L)


Imperial Berkey Water Filter

4.5 Gallons (17 litres)


Royal Berkey Water Filter

3.25 Gallons (12.3 L)


Berkey Light Water Filter

2.75 Gallons (10.4 L)


Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter

2.25 Gallons (8.5 L)


Travel Berkey

1.5 Gallons (5.7 liters)


Black Berkey Replacement Elements


Step-by-Step Cleaning Guide

1. Preparation

Empty the Upper Chamber: Turn off the spigot and drain any remaining water from the upper chamber.

Remove the Black Berkey Elements: Carefully unscrew the wing nuts and remove the Black Berkey elements from the lower chamber.

Optional: Remove Additional Filters: If you're using additional filters like the PF-2 fluoride filters, remove them as well.

Place Filters in a Safe Location: Set the filters aside on a clean towel or drying rack to prevent them from rolling and potentially breaking.

2. Cleaning the Chambers and Spigot

Wash Chambers with Soapy Water: Fill your sink or a large bowl with warm water and add a few drops of mild dish soap. Wash the upper and lower chambers thoroughly, including the spigot area.

Deep Cleaning with Bleach (Optional): If you notice mold or heavy buildup, you can use a diluted bleach solution for a deeper clean. Mix 16 drops of household bleach with each gallon of water in your cleaning solution. Important Note: Always rinse the chambers thoroughly with clean water after using bleach to remove any residual chlorine.

Clean the Spigot: Use a spigot brush or a clean, damp cloth to remove any buildup or dirt around the spigot.

3. Cleaning the Black Berkey Elements

Rinse Filters Under Cool Running Water: Hold each Black Berkey element under cool running water and gently rinse the entire surface. Do not use hot water, as it can damage the filter media.

Scrub Gently with a Non-Abrasive Pad: Use your soft sponge or non-abrasive scrub pad to gently remove any visible buildup from the surface of the filters. Avoid applying excessive pressure as this can damage the filter elements.

Focus on Removing Surface Film: The primary goal is to remove the thin surface film that can accumulate on the filters over time. This film can hinder filtration performance.

No Soap Needed: Unlike the chambers, you should not use soap when cleaning the Black Berkey elements. Soap can leave a residue that can clog the filters.

4. Rinsing and Repriming

After scrubbing, thoroughly rinse each filter element under cool running water until the rinse water runs clear. This ensures no dirt or debris remains on the filters.

Once rinsed clean, it's crucial to reprime your Berkey filters before using them again. This process removes any air bubbles that may have become trapped inside the filters during cleaning. To reprime, simply fill the upper chamber with clean water and let it filter through completely. Discard the first full chamber of filtered water.

5. Drying and Reassembly

Allow the cleaned Black Berkey elements to air dry completely on a clean towel or drying rack before reinstalling them in the system. Do not use a towel or cloth to dry the filters, as this can trap lint or fibers.

Once the filters and chambers are dry, reassemble your Berkey system according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Enjoy Clean, Filtered Water: Your Berkey filters are now clean and ready to provide you with delicious, contaminant-free drinking water!

Also read: Buyer Beware: Counterfeit Berkey Filters

Clean your Berkey filters by following a video demonstration.

Troubleshooting Tips

Problem: The water flow from my Berkey system is slow after cleaning.

Possible Cause: Air bubbles trapped in the filters.

Solution: Ensure you properly reprime your filters after cleaning by discarding the first full chamber of filtered water.

Problem: I noticed black or brown film on my filters after cleaning. Should I be concerned?

Possible Cause: This film is likely a buildup of contaminants that have been removed from your water supply. It's a good sign that your filters are working effectively.

Solution: If the film is minimal, simply continue using your filters. However, if the film is thick or persistent, you may need to clean your filters more frequently.

Problem: There are visible cracks or chips in my Black Berkey elements.

Solution: Unfortunately, cracked or chipped Black Berkey elements can no longer guarantee proper filtration and need to be replaced immediately for safety reasons. Contact Berkey customer service for replacement filters.

Remember: For any questions or concerns beyond the scope of this guide, it's always best to consult the Berkey manufacturer's instructions or contact their customer support team for specific advice on your Berkey model.

By following these simple cleaning and maintenance tips, you can ensure your Berkey water filter system continues to provide you with clean, safe drinking water for years to come.

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