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An Ultimate Guide on RO Membrane Cleaners by Advanced Watertek

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Have you ever wondered how reverse osmosis (RO) systems manage to purify water so effectively?

Well, the answer lies in the intricate RO membranes that do most of the heavy lifting. These membranes can filter out even the tiniest particles and impurities, leaving you with crystal-clear and desalinated water.

In this article, we'll explore everything you need to know about RO membrane cleaners in a water treatment system.

So, sit tight, and let's dive into the world of RO membrane cleaning!

Why do we use RO Membrane cleaners?

But, as with any high-performance technology, RO membranes require regular maintenance to ensure they continue functioning at their best. And that's where RO membrane cleaners come in.

Without these RO Membrane Cleaners, your RO system may struggle to remove contaminants as effectively, leading to lower water quality and reduced membrane lifespan.

What are the types of membrane cleaners?

RO Membrane cleaners are chemicals that are used to clean the RO membranes.

There are two main types of RO membrane cleaners:

1. Acidic Membrane Cleaners

Acidic membrane cleaners work by removing mineral and scale deposits from RO membranes. They contain inorganic acids, such as hydrochloric acid or phosphoric acid, that dissolve the mineral deposits by reacting with the mineral compounds and breaking them down into soluble compounds that can be rinsed away.

2. Alkaline Membrane Cleaners

Alkaline membrane cleaners work by breaking down and removing organic and biological fouling from RO membranes. These cleaners typically contain a blend of surfactants, chelating agents, and other chemical compounds that work together to dissolve and disperse the build-up on the membrane surface.

What Type of RO Membrane Cleaner do you need?

Whether the membrane needs acid cleaner or alkaline cleaner will depend on the type of foulant suspected.

If calcium carbonate scaling is a known problem, acid cleaning alone may be sufficient. Otherwise, both kinds of cleaning are needed, and it is recommended to start with the alkaline cleaning and then follow with the acid cleaning after the system has been flushed.

Why does the RO membrane get blocked?

RO membranes play a huge role in a sea water ro system. RO membranes can become blocked or fouled due to a variety of factors.

Here are some of them -

Deposition of Impurities on RO Membrane

One of the primary causes is the deposition of impurities and particles on the membrane surface.

As water passes through the membrane, it can leave behind particles such as dirt, sand, algae, and other debris. These can be both organic and inorganic particles.

Over time, these particles can accumulate on the surface of the membrane, reducing its permeability and causing a decrease in water flow.

Accumulation of Scale or Mineral Deposits

Another common cause of RO membrane blockage is the accumulation of scale or mineral deposits.

This can occur when water with a high concentration of dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, passes through the membrane.

These minerals can gradually build up on the surface of the membrane, forming a layer of scale that reduces its effectiveness.

What happens when the membrane is blocked?

When an RO membrane becomes blocked in a water treatment plant, it can have several negative consequences on the performance of the RO system. Let’s take a closer look at some of these issues:

Reduction in water quality:

As the membrane becomes blocked, it becomes less effective at removing impurities and contaminants, leading to lower water quality. This can result in an unpleasant taste or odor or even harmful substances in the water.

Increase in the pressure required for the RO process:

As the membrane becomes less permeable, the water flow rate decreases, and the pressure required to maintain a consistent flow rate increases. This can put additional strain on the RO system, leading to increased wear and tear on the system components and potentially resulting in costly repairs or replacements.

Reduction in the life of the RO membrane:

Finally, a blocked RO membrane can reduce the life of the membrane, particularly if it is not cleaned regularly. The accumulation of scale, debris, and other contaminants on the membrane surface can cause irreversible damage to the membrane material, reducing its lifespan and effectiveness. It’s, therefore, essential to clean your RO membrane to increase the life of the membrane and the system itself.

Why should you clean your RO Membrane?

Cleaning your RO membrane helps maintain your RO System to its optimal capacity and ensures consistent quantity and quality of water.

Some of the benefits of cleaning your RO membrane are as follows:

  • Reduce fouling of your RO membrane.

  • Maintain optimal recovery rate.

  • Maintains product water quality.

  • Reduces stress on the RO pressure pumps.

  • Reduce excessive pressure consumption.

  • Increases the life of the system.

When should you Replace Your RO Membrane?

Over time, RO membranes may become fouled or damaged to the extent that membrane cleaning may not remove the deposits.

A damaged RO membrane will lead to decreased performance and overall efficiency. In such cases, it may be necessary to replace the RO membrane to maintain optimal system operation.

Here are some signs that it’s time to replace your RO membrane:

  1. If the membrane manufacturer's warranty period has expired and performance is not optimal

  2. If there is an increase in the RO permeate conductivity, as related to their water quality requirement.

  3. If there is a designated reduction in the permeate/product flow rate related to water demand.


Membrane cleaning is an essential process in the general maintenance of your RO system. If your RO system is not performing optimally even after regular maintenance, you should contact Advanced Watertek. Our technicians and engineers have years of experience in RO systems. You can rely on their experience to diagnose issues and suggest remedial actions. Reach out to the Advanced Watertek team.

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