The 5 Best Pool Filters of 2020

Make sure your pool is clean and safe to swim in

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Hayward SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool Filter at Amazon

"Customers were impressed with this cartridge filter’s cleaning abilities."

Best Sand: Intex 1,200 GPH Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump at Hot Sale Item

"Requires little ongoing maintenance to keep your pool water sparkling."

Best for Saltwater: Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump at Hot Sale Item

"The saltwater system reduces chemical use to keep the pool clean."

Best DE: Hayward Pool Filter with Clamp at Home Depot

"Will remove the smallest particles from the water—as tiny as 2 microns."

Best for In-Ground Pools: Pentair IntelliFlo VS Pool Pump at Amazon

"Offers variable speeds that match the demands of your pool configuration."

  • 01 of 05

    Best Overall: Hayward C1200 SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool Filter

    One of the most popular cartridge pool filters is the Hayward C1200 SwimClear Plus. Hayward is a top name in pool supplies, and this model is well-equipped to filter above ground or in-ground pools up to 36,000 gallons in size.

    The Hayward C1200 SwimClear Plus offers 75 feet square feet of filtration media, though different size SwimClear Plus pool filters are available if you need an increased capacity pool filter. The advantage to a cartridge pool filter is the fact that you won’t need to backwash the filter like you would with a DE pool filter. In fact, a number of people switched to this filter from DE or sand pool filters and were very impressed with this cartridge pool filter’s cleaning abilities.

    One thing to keep in mind is that this Hayward pool filter is housed in a plastic body. The sun can take a toll and cause the plastic to become brittle, so users advise that you cover it if the pool filter is in direct sun. One suggestion is to use a 5-gallon bucket to shield the housing. Another suggestion for the use of this pool filter is to keep a few filter cartridges on hand so that you always have a clean and dry one ready to go—resulting in no downtime during filter maintenance.

  • 02 of 05

    Best Sand: Intex 1,200 GPH Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump

    Intex GPH Krystal Clear Above Ground Sand Filter Pump

    Courtesy of Hot Sale Item

    A sand pool filter requires little ongoing maintenance or cleaning to keep your pool water sparkling. The Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump is a versatile choice if you want to use this natural filter media for your pool.

    The Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump relies on the abrasive nature of sand media to trap particles that would otherwise float and thrive in your pool water. The pump itself has a 6-function control valve that lets you set the pump to filter, backwash and rinse, recirculate, or drain the system. With an included 24-hour timer, this pump operates with relatively little need for user intervention. It will require occasional backwashing (indicated by the pressure gauge) and the sand will need to be replaced about every 5 years.

    The 1,200 GPH pump flow rate is enough to keep pools up to 16 feet in diameter (or 8,400 gallons) clean and clear. Users of this pump frequently mention how they wish they would’ve switched to this pump sooner since it offers such easy maintenance for the pool and even backwashing is a simple operation.

  • 03 of 05

    Best for Saltwater: Intex Krystal Clear 1500 GPH Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System

    Intex Krystal Clear 1500 GPH Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System with E.C.O.

    Courtesy of Hot Sale Item 

    A sand pump is a perfect match for a low-maintenance saltwater pool, and this Intex pump and saltwater system is the perfect way to set up for your pool for easy summer fun.

    The Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System is made for pools with a capacity of 2,600 to 8,500 gallons of water. This is only an above-ground filter and pump saltwater system, so you’ll need to look at other options if you want to convert an in-ground pool.

    People that have used this Intex filter system for a saltwater pool love how crystal clear their water is and how simple the maintenance program is. The pump is equipped with a 24-hour timer that runs automated programs for easy operation. The saltwater system reduces chemical use and requires far less hands-on chemical correction to keep the pool clean and sanitary, according to users.

  • 04 of 05

    Best DE: Hayward Perflex 20 sq. ft. DE Pool Filter with Clamp

    Courtesy of Home Depot.

    Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is another option for keeping your pool water clean. DE pool filters have the advantage of removing the smallest particles from the water—as tiny as 2 microns. If you're looking for a more thorough method of cleaning, check out the Hayward Perflex DE Pool Filter.

    The Perflex DE Pool filter is available with varying sizes of DE grids inside. The 20 square foot model is suitably sized for many residential pools, though your needs may call for a model larger or smaller. Inside the sturdy tank is a grid coated in DE that the pump passes pool water through. The DE holds onto particles as small as 2 microns, leaving little to pass through except for clean water molecules. To put that in perspective, the average human hair is about 50 microns—so we’re talking about bacteria, microbes, algae and more that are too small to even be spotted.

    DE pool filters do require some work—they’ll need to be backwashed periodically if the pressure becomes high due to retained particles. The Perflex model is known as a ‘bump DE filter,’ meaning it has a handle that helps clear any dirt and DE from the tubing.

    While they do a superior job of cleaning, some people have concerns over the health risks of DE. It’s advisable to wear a mask and gloves when working with the powder. Keep in mind, though, that with a normally functioning pump, the DE will be safely housed inside the pool pump and won’t be passing through into your pool water.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Best for In-Ground Pools: Pentair 011028 IntelliFlo VS Pool Pump

    If you have an in-ground pool and need an energy-efficient but capable pool pump, check out the Pentair IntelliFlo VS Pool Pump.

    Unlike many other pool pumps, this advanced pool pump for in-ground pools offers variable speeds that match the demands of your pool configuration. This avoids wasted energy and doesn’t tax the pump filter by forcing water through at high speeds. It can handle the everyday maintenance needs of the water, but it will also keep up if you have jets, waterfalls, and more.

    This pump is pricey, but it is EnergyStar rated, so you’ll be gaining energy savings in return for upgrading your in-ground pool pump.