An appropriate spacer design helps in minimizing membrane fouling which remains the major obstacle in forward osmosis (FO) systems. In the present study, the performance of a hole-type spacer (having holes at the filament intersections) was evaluated in a FO system and compared to a standard spacer design (without holes). The hole-type spacer exhibited slightly higher water flux and reverse solute flux (RSF) when Milli-Q water was used as feed solution and varied sodium chloride concentrations as draw solution. During shale gas produced water treatment, a severe flux decline was observed for both spacer designs due to the formation of barium sulfate scaling. SEM imaging revealed that the high shear force induced by the creation of holes led to the formation of scales on the entire membrane surface, causing a slightly higher flux decline than the standard spacer. Simultaneously, the presence of holes aided to mitigate the accumulation of foulants on spacer surface, resulting in no increase in pressure drop. Furthermore, a full cleaning efficiency was achieved by hole-type spacer attributed to the micro-jets effect induced by the holes, which aided to destroy the foulants and then sweep them away from the membrane surface.