Mom Goes Camping

How to Unclog a Sawyer Mini Water Filter

In the video below, you can see two Sawyer Mini water filters.  The first is fairly new.  The second one has filtered approximately 600 gallons of water – including lots of murky pond water.  As a result, it has become very clogged.  The steps will show you how to unclog the Sawyer Mini.

The old Sawyer Mini is so clogged that water is leaking from the threads where it is attached to the pouch!


1. Backflush with Filtered Water

First backflush the Sawyer Mini.  Make sure you are doing it with a LOT of force (I push the plunger against my chest).  Otherwise the water will just exit from the path of least resistance and not clear the clogs.

*It is important that you use filtered or distilled water to backflush.  I have very hard water in my house and I don’t want the minerals from my tap water further clogging up the filter.

2. Soak the Sawyer Mini

  • Put hot FILTERED water in a bowl big enough to hold the Sawyer Mini.
  • The water should NOT be boiling. Make it hot enough that you can still put your finger in it.
  • Add a generous splash of white vinegar to the water. This helps break down calcium and other mineral deposits which may be clogging the filter.
  • Let the filter soak for at least an hour.

*Seriously use filtered water or distilled water. Otherwise the minerals from your hard tap water will just clog the Sawyer Mini further.

unclogging sawyer mini filter

3. Backflush again

Being very forceful, backflush the Sawyer Mini again with filtered water.  The filter should be unclogged when you test it.

4. Repeat steps, if necessary

If the filter still isn’t unclogged, then you’ll need to soak it in hot vinegar water and backflush again.

The video below shows the same two Sawyer Mini filters after unclogging the old one.  As you can see, the flow is a lot better.  However, there is still some water leaking from the threads (despite the fact that the filter also got a new O-ring).  The flow rate also still isn’t as good as the new filter.

Despite what the company promises, Sawyer Mini filters do not last forever. At a certain point, you will probably need a new one. Luckily, they are pretty cheap and the old ones can be kept in case of emergencies. You can get a new one here at Amazon or here at REI.

You may also want to read: Tips for using the Sawyer Mini water filter

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About the author /

Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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