Ohhh sorry I misunderstood heh (doing that a lot today, very tired xD)! The original cleaning of the sand prior to putting it in the tank is yes... frustrating... a pain.... hard....... tiresome.......
Ooph. You just have to be persistant and patient with it, really. Dump it all in a bucket, put some water in it, swish it with your hands or a big stick, dump water out -- or you can have water gently flowing into the bucket and keep swirling the sand around while allowing the bucket to overflow.
Once the sand is in the tank and has had time to settle it shouldn't clog your filter up (unless it is literally kept in the sand itself). It might be worth putting as much sand as you'll need in your tank, covering it with a shallow layer of water (about 1/4 of the tank's capacity), swishing it all up then draining it repeatedly, this'll probably be quicker (albeit a bit more painstaking) than the other method as you'll only rinse as much as you need.
The type of sand? I'm not really sure... I used a bag of actual aquarium sand (more expensive than other types but I wasn't sure what else was available in the UK) but I've read of others using play sand - it might be worth looking into the Planted Tanks section because lots of people who make NPTs seem to use sand (that was my original purpose as well).
The problem with aerators and using them for sand movement is that they will likely either clog or just cause the sand to create a cloud in the tank so the sand really needs to be moved manually (whether by stick or snail).