The local properties of filter cakes, such as porosity and specific filtration resistance, in cross-flow microfiltration of submicron particles are studied based on an analysis of force. The packing of particles in a filter cake can be divided into two modes. When the solid compressive pressure is smaller than the critical value, there exists an equilibrium distance between neighbouring particles due to the electrostatic repulsive force, and the local cake porosity can be estimated by using the cell model proposed in this study. When the solid compressive pressure is greater than the critical value, the compressive force can overcome the repulsive barrier, the particles then come into contact with neighbours, and the power-type empirical relationship between cake porosity and solid compressive pressure can be employed to estimate the local cake porosity. It can be found that the half of the cake near the filter membrane has a compact structure, and a high filtration resistance within the operating conditions of this study. On the other hand, the portion of cake near the cake surface has a high porosity due to the separation of particles. By using this model, the effect of electrolyte concentration on cake properties can be analyzed, and the estimated values of average porosity and average specific filtration resistance under various electrolyte concentrations, cross-flow velocities, and filtration pressures agree fairly well with the experimental data.