Microban is an antimicrobial blend that is added to products such as cutting boards, bath mats, children’s toys and pool cartridges to prevent/slow the growth of harmful microorganisms. The Microban blend is great at keeping bacteria, algae and mold from sinking its teeth into your cartridges extending their lifespan and filtering quality. However, do not get it confused with pool sanitation chemicals such as chlorine or bromine.
If you install a Microban cartridge in a filter, the same amount of chlorine or other sanitation chemicals will be required to keep your water clear. Microban material prevents the growth of those nasty slimy things on the cartridges themselves, but it does not prevent their spread elsewhere to parts like skimmers or water features. A Microban product’s reach does not extend its antimicrobial might to other surfaces or equipment. For example, if you have a Microban bath mat, you still need to clean the shower and tub, but the mat is fine.
Why Do I Need Microban Cartridges?
There are two instances when you would require a Microban Cartridge
- Long dormant periods i.e. winter or when you’re out of town
- Water chemistry issues
If a pool is left dormant for long periods of time or winterized, like our friends in the North and Midwest, then your cartridges may be at risk for mold growth. Even those careful pool owners who
wash and store their cartridge inside for the winter are susceptible to a deep-seated mold that will colonize its fibers, making it brittle and useless. These gaps in activity are where bacteria and mold thrive and multiply by the millions.
Unstable water chemistry is another likely factor for bacteria and mold growth in cartridges. If your pool filter system is working, you are chlorinating, and your water chemistry is in check, then bacteria should not gain a foothold to claim your cartridge for the Darkside. Bacteria and mold love damp places and dirty, stagnant water in which it can breed. A colony of bacteria or mold in your cartridges will not only hurt your cartridge, but also slow filtering capacity and increase the need for sanitation chemicals. Veteran pool owners will tell you that once you start chasing your chemistry levels you’re in for a long summer. So adding a Microban cartridge ticks one more headache chore off your to-do list.
The Claims of Microban Cartridge Manufacturers
So instead of me blabbing about the all-consuming power that is Microban I will let the pool manufacturer, Pleatco, give you their pitch:
On an unprotected surface, some microbes can double in number every 20 minutes. And only when they’ve multiplied to hundreds of thousands, can they actually be seen by the naked eye.
The images below show bacteria growth on a standard pool filter cartridge versus a pool filter cartridge infused with Microban® antimicrobial protection over a 24 hour period.
After viewing these images, you can see how Microban® protection begins to work immediately, disrupting key bacterial cell functions so that bacteria are unable to grow or reproduce on the surface. While on the unprotected surface, bacteria quickly multiply.
What is in Microban and is it Safe?
- Yes… probably
That is a tough question to answer due to Microban being an antimicrobial proprietary blend. The corporations who make and own the rights to these products do not wish to reveal their contents citing it as a trade secret. Because of this industry’s secrecy, some consumer advocate groups are arguing for more transparency, voicing concern that the Microban blend may contain harmful substances like triclosan. The molecule triclosan is a common additive in cleaning products like soaps and detergents that has been linked to some illnesses. But again there has been no confirmation either way on the contents of Microban so we will keep an eye on the developments for you.
The main concern for triclosan stems from its use in Tupperware and toys which can expose it to small children directly, but the use of Microban in pool cartridges has not proven a concern.
Do I Need Microban Cartridges for my Pool Filter? The Verdict
If you live in an area where winterizing your pool is necessary or your water chemistry is an unmanageable beast then Microban is the solution for you. Apart from those instances, a Microban cartridge is a luxury, but not a necessity.