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How To Clean Salt Water Chlorinator Plates

George Nicholls Tips & Information Tagged With: , ,
How To Clean Chlorinator Plates

Salt water chlorinators may be super effective and easy to operate however sometimes a little bit of maintenance is required to ensure long term productivity and lifespan. With its electrolytic mechanism of action, components such as the titanium plates on the chlorinator cell are left vulnerable to mineral build-up. This article discusses how to clean chlorinator plates. 

Most chlorinators these days come equipped with a self cleaning function that is achieved by using what’s known as reverse polarity. See our article on self cleaning chlorinators for more information – How Does a Self Cleaning Chlorinator Work? However, even with this great technology, modern day chlorinator cell plates may still need a good manual clean. You should inspect the plates regularly for any mineral build up and if you happen to find that the plates need cleaning, follow our general instructions in this article.

Note, please use our information below together with your manufacturer’s instructions; certain brands may require different or unique methods.

Below is information about how to clean chlorinator plates with tips on how to make the process more effective and long lasting.

Importance Of Cleaning Chlorinator Plates

Salt water chlorinators work by passing electric beams through concentrated water and electrolyzing the salt solution to release chlorine ions. This process requires charged electrodes and this is what the chlorinator plates exist for. More often than not, rogue electrolytes like calcium and magnesium find their way into the water and get attracted to the negatively charged electrode during the chlorination process. These accumulate and form plaques that render the electrodes – and as a result the entire unit – nonfunctional. It is therefore super important to ensure that you regularly check and clean the plates to remove any accumulated residues to ensure proper functioning of the unit.

How to Clean Chlorinator Plates

Having understood why you need to clean the chlorinator plates, here is how to clean chlorinator plates. Below are the basic steps to be followed with most salt water chlorinator units.

1. Get the cleaning chemicals ready

More often than not, you will find salt water chlorinator cell cleaners in already-prepared formulations. This means that all you have to do is to mix and dilute as instructed. You can also purchase some of the chemicals and do the mixing yourself. The most commonly used of these are hydrochloric acid and its close chemical partner, muriatic acid (please see our related article on Cleaning a Salt Water Chlorinator Cell with Muriatic Acid for more information about muriatic aid).

2. Shut off the system and remove plates

The plates are located within the salt water chlorinator cell and are usually detachable. With the system turned off, carefully remove the plates for easy and more thorough cleaning.

3. Soak the plates in the prepared mixture

The free plates should then be soaked in the cleaning mixture for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the concentration used.

4. Rinse the plates with clean water

Once the emersion time elapses, the plates should be removed and rinsed with clean water. In this case, it is always a good idea to work with fast running water under high pressure. You can also use a soft plastic brush to get rid of any loosely held reside still on the plates.

5. Replace the plates and restart the unit

Finally, return the now clean and clear plates to their slots within the cell and you can get your system up and running as soon as you wish.

Tips To Ensure Effective Cleaning

The cleaning process is more or less the same for all units and will ensure that your charged plates are ready to do the job required of them. However, there are a few tips and tricks that should help ensure that the process is not only more effective but that the effects are also long lasting. Below are a few of them.

  1. Clean on a regular basis. This is because the longer you wait the more plaque and residue you have to deal with.
  2. Use hydrochloric acid or other analogous chemicals for the best results.
  3. Always suit up in protective gear while doing the cleaning. This includes heavy duty gloves, face masks and overalls if they are available.
  4. Invest in self-cleaning units. These work by reversing the charge and changing the state between the two electrodes such that rogue electrolytes have little chance to accumulate.
  5. If there is still a lot of mineral plaque left after the rinsing step, you could always repeat the chemical soaking with a fresh batch of cleaning material until the results are satisfactory.


In conclusion, it is important to remember the importance of taking care of your pool chlorinator system. Whether you are running a popular spa or a private pool, the last thing you want is your unit malfunctioning because of something you could have avoided by simply cleaning these plates. The guidelines and tips provided above should help get you on your way for a clean and optimally functioning salt water chlorinator.