How To Clean Your Sawyer Squeeze (The Right Way)

The Sawyer Squeeze is one of the best portable water filters on the market. When properly maintained, a Sawyer filter can cope with over 100,000 gallons of water. It is going to last for years.

If you want your gear to last for longer it’s important to know how to clean the Sawyer Squeeze correctly.

In this guide below I’ll cover everything you need to know for cleaning your filter, and what should be avoided when following these steps!

Sawyer Water Filter

Cleaning The Sawyer Squeeze Bag 

You don’t have to keep your Sawyer Squeeze bag perfectly clean. After all, it is the Sawyer Squeeze bag that is going to play host to that dirty water. You will eventually be filtering it out.

What we do suggest, however, is that you give your Sawyer Squeeze bag a rinse out with warm (not boiling!) filtered water every so often. It can help to prevent bacteria from building up.

You can put a small amount of unscented bleach into the water you are using to clean the squeeze bag. However, make sure that you rinse out the bag completely several times before you use it. Under absolutely no circumstances do you want bleach heading into the Sawyer water filter. It becomes a lot tougher to remove!

Backwash The Filter

You will want to do this outside or over a sink. Things are going to get wet.

Each time you use your Sawyer Squeeze filter, you should backwash it. Make sure that you are backwashing with clean, filtered water.

Backwashing the filter will help to remove any sedimentary build-up. It is important that it is removed quickly. We have seen many Sawyer filters have a drastically short lifespan because their user doesn’t backwash their filter right away.

When you purchased your Sawyer Squeeze, it would have come with a syringe. Fill this up with your clean, filtered water before moving on to the next step.

Put the nozzle of the syringe on the end of the Sawyer Squeeze water filter (i.e. the part that the filtered water comes out of). Don’t put it on the other end. It won’t help.

Now, squeeze that syringe. You will want to repeat this process until the water flows out clear. You may need to fill the syringe up several times.

Soak In Warm Filtered Water

If you can’t get the water quite clear, or you are having a tough time actually getting water to come out of the Sawyer Squeeze water filter, then there is a strong chance that there is a serious build-up of sediment inside of the filter.

Your best bet here is to leave the Sawyer water filter soaking in warm, filtered water for about 30-40 minutes. Make sure that the water isn’t boiling.

This can help to break down the sediment a little bit, which should make it a bit easier to remove.

Backwash Again 

Once you have soaked the Sawyer water filter for a while, remove it.

You can then repeat the backwash process. Follow the same process as in step one. Keep forcing that water through until it flows out clean and unhindered. It may take a few syringes full of water.

Still Can’t Get It Clean?

Honestly, if you have tried these steps and you still can’t get water to flow out clean (or at all), then we suggest that you replace your Sawyer Squeeze. Remember, the water filter is only safe when it works properly. If it clearly isn’t working properly, then your health is at risk. A new Sawyer Squeeze water filter is much cheaper than your health!

How Often Should You Clean The Sawyer Squeeze

Although the Sawyer Squeeze should be frequently rinsed out after each use, you should go through a deeper cleaning method at least once a month. This full cleaning process includes the guide that we went through above.

If you don’t use the filter too often the amount that it will need to be cleaned will be much less.

Waiting too long to clean the Squeeze can lead to issues with dampness and breaking down while storing it away.

What to Avoid When Cleaning a Sawyer Squeeze

We have read several guides to cleaning the Sawyer Squeeze. A lot of these guides seem to suggest putting bleach through the Sawyer Squeeze water filter to kill the microorganisms. Don’t do that.

You can flush a lot of water through the Sawyer Squeeze and this will eventually get rid of the bleach. However, you really don’t want to leave even the smallest amount of bleach hanging around in the Sawyer Squeeze. It could potentially make you sick. The method that we discussed before should be more than enough to flush out almost everything that is stuck in the Sawyer Squeeze anyway.

Honestly, if your Sawyer Squeeze is at the point where you need to flush bleach through it, it is probably best just to buy a new filter or a new bag.

Secondly, don’t store your Sawyer Squeeze in a cold location. When you clean or use your Sawyer Squeeze, water will remain inside. If you store the Sawyer Squeeze in a cold location, then this water will freeze. This will break the filter.


Cleaning a Sawyer Squeeze isn’t too difficult. All you need is the syringe that came with your Sawyer Squeeze and some warm, filtered water.

Backwash this through the Sawyer filter and it should be clean in next-to-no time at all. Make sure that you clean your Sawyer Squeeze regularly.