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Step-by-Step: How to Clean Your RO System

Step-by-Step: How to Clean Your RO System

Whether you’re a DIY homeowner, plumber or water treatment professional, it's crucial that you know how to properly care for your water treatment systems at the home or cottage in order to keep them running optimally. 

Today Gary the Water Guy is going to show you how to clean and disinfect your Reverse Osmosis system like a pro! 



Before we begin, I will address that if you are on a chlorinated water source or have an Ultraviolet (UV) Disinfection system on well water, the chances of bacteria growth on your RO system is minimal. However, if it has been a few years since the last disinfection or installation you are definitely due!

Prior to starting the cleaning process, make sure that you plan ahead and have replacement filters and membranes ready as you will need to throw away all of the existing filters and the membrane on your RO unit when you clean and disinfect it. You can get RO replacement filters and membranes shipped right to your door via our website here

Some additional tips to make sure you minimize the chances of introducing bacteria into your RO whenever you do a filter change are below.

  1. Always make sure you wash your hands with soap and water or put on gloves before you begin.
  2. Make sure your work area is clean and put down a clean cloth.
  3. Be sure to keep all filters in their packaging until just before installation.

To understand why you need to clean and disinfect your RO unit, it's important to understand how Reverse Osmosis drinking water systems work to clean up your drinking water. So before you start, check out my YouTube video here.

Also, you’ll be disconnecting the tubing during this process so if you aren’t sure how, watch this YouTube video of mine first to learn how.

Okay, great! Ready to begin cleaning your RO system? Let's get started!

  1. Shut off the water supply to the RO system. If there is any mold on the outside of the system or the tank, now it the time to disconnect and thoroughly wash the system to remove.
  2. If your RO is connected to your refrigerator or ice maker, shut off the water line going to the ice maker.
  3. Open the Reverse Osmosis faucet and drain all water from the RO and storage tank.
  4. Once empty, close RO faucet.
  5. Open the sediment filter housing, which is the closest or first filter to the feed water line. Remove and discard the filter, leaving the filter housing off.
  6. Remove and discard all remaining filters and the membrane. If you have an inline post filter, leave it in place temporarily. For instructions on installing and removing filters click here. 
  7. Replace all empty filters housings, except the sediment housing. There should be no filters or membrane in any housings at this point.
  8. Pour one packet of no-mess Sani-System sanitizer into the sediment filter housing. We use this because Sani-System Disinfectant is the only EPA registered & NSF approved sanitizer to be used in Water Softeners and Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water systems. It is proven to kill 99.99% of harmful bacteria in water softeners and RO units without using chlorine, oxidizers or acids which could harm equipment parts and resin! Available in our eStore here.
  9. Replace the sediment filter housing with the sanitizer solution inside.
  10. Put a shut off valve on the drain line in the open position.
  11. Turn on the water supply to fill the RO with the sanitizing solution. As water starts to flow out of the drain line, shut the drain line off.
  12. Check for leaks.
  13. Allow system to fill with water. Time will vary depending on water pressure; however, system should be full within 5-10 minutes without the filters or membrane installed. Turn on the RO faucet until water begins to flow out, then turn off the faucet.
  14. Let system disinfect for 5 minutes without any water usage.
  15. Flush RO by turning on the RO faucet and letting water run through the system for 5 minutes, or until disinfectant odour is gone. Open drain line valve.
  16. Shut off the water supply line. Open the RO faucet to drain the RO completely.
  17. Install new filters and membrane. Follow this video for the how-to steps if you're unsure. 
  18. Turn on the cold water supply line and check for leaks.
  19. The RO system will take a couple of hours to refill. Flush new membrane and filter three times allowing storage tank to refill between flushes.
  20. Reconnect the RO to the refrigerator or ice maker.

There you have it! Your squeaky clean, disinfected RO system is ready for use and you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your water is safe to drink and bacteria-free. Hope this step-by-step DIY demo was helpful! 

Have questions or need more help? Reach out to us here or check out our full YouTube channel playlist for more awesome videos from #GaryTheWaterGuy on water treatment equipment troubleshooting, tips and tricks.



Go here for your next Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water video and I’ll see you there!