A new tool-the Membrane Fouling Simulator (MFS) - is developed to measure membrane fouling (pressure drop increase) in a small and simple system, representative for spiral wound membranes applied in water treatment. With the MFS, fouling development can be monitored systematically by (i) pressure drop, (ii) in situ and non-destructive (visual) observations using the sight glass and (iii) analysis of coupons sampled from the membrane sheet in the MFS. A comparison study of the MFS with spiral wound membrane elements (test rigs and a full scale installation) showed the same fouling. The MFS provided reproducible data. The small size and low water and chemical use of the MFS facilitate to perform systematic parallel studies. With the MFS, fouling of membranes applied in water treatment can be characterised.