This sounds good, but how often should I be performing a thorough cleaning then? If I haven't done any cleaning whatsoever in a year of using this filter I'm guessing I'm overdue for a thorough cleaning and replacement of the white pad (is that the floss?)
I do a thorough cleaning of my filters once every 6 months or so. Then again, I have a very light bioload, so I can manage.
I would say after a year, you would require a thorough cleaning.
As mentioned already, you just really need to rinse off your biomedia and coarse filter pads. Again as mentioned, only the filter floss (the white pad) needs to be thrown out and replaced.
It is also cheaper to just buy cotton batting (make sure it does not have any flame retardants) and cut to size rather than buying the brand name filter floss.