How to Clean a Swimming Pool


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Every pool owner wants the same thing - sparkling blue water. A little elbow grease and some helpful cleaning accessories work in conjunction with the pool filter and sanitizing chemicals to keep your pool clean.

Step by Step


Step 1

Take inventory of your pool cleaning supplies and make sure you have everything you need. The first thing you'll want is a telescopic pole since most cleaning accessories attach to the pole. Next would be a leaf net, also called a leaf skimmer (not to be confused with the skimmer in your pool wall). You will also want a pool brush to scrub the walls and floor. And finally, a vac head and hose are essential if you don't have an automatic pool cleaner. These are the basic accessories needed to clean your pool.

Step 2

For proper pool maintenance, it is recommended that you brush the walls and floor of the pool once a week. Pay particular attention to any areas that have poor water circulation. You can purchase brushes in different widths that attach to the end of a telescopic pole, or a brush that comes complete with a pole already attached. Pool brushes can also be used to clean your deck and patio.

Step 3

Use a leaf net to pull out leaves and debris. The leaf net is useful for skimming the surface of the water to catch insects as well. You can also use your leaf net to scoop up toys and other things your kids might have left or lost in the pool.

Step 4

Use a vac head attached to a telescopic pole or run your automatic pool cleaner to collect debris. Be sure to get the correct the vac head or cleaner for your pool type as they are designed differently based on the surface of the pool (vinyl liner, fiberglass or concrete). Use a brush to manually clean any tight or angled spots that the cleaner may miss.

Step 5

Your pool filter collects fine debris and microscopic particles to keep the water clear. The filter should run at least 8 - 10 hours per day. Proper filter maintenance will ensure it performs optimally. For cartridge filters, the cartridge element can be removed and cleaned by pressure washing inside and out with a garden hose. If cleaned regularly, the cartridges should last one to two pool seasons depending on pool usage. Sand and D.E. filters must be backwashed periodically to rid them of clogging dirt and debris. Backwashing reverses the water flow through the filter and directs it to the bottom of the tank, up through the filter media. This will flush accumulated dirt and debris out through the waste line. The general recommendation is to backwash your filter when the pressure reaches 10 psi over the initial start-up pressure.

Step 6

In addition to backwashing, if you have a D.E. filter the grid elements should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a year. Remove the grids according to the instructions in your owner's manual and hose them off with a forceful stream of water from a garden hose. Fill a large plastic container with warm water and add about a 1/2 cup of automatic dishwasher detergent. Soak the grids in this solution for about 3 - 4 hours. After soaking, rinse off the elements again before placing them back inside the filter. Be sure to replace any damaged or torn grids.

Step 7

The last component to keeping your swimming pool clean is maintaining the proper chemical levels. It is very important to test your water regularly for two key factors: pH and sanitizers. By testing your water at least three times per week, you will begin to understand how bather load, weather (rain and sun) and chemical application affect pool water. Regular testing of pH and sanitizer levels will ensure crystal clear water all season long.

Step 8

It is vital that proper pH is maintained in your pool at all times. If the pH is outside 7.2 to 7.6, it will greatly reduce the effectiveness of pool chemicals. Use either pH reducer or pH increaser to bring the pH into the proper range. If you are finding it difficult to maintain your pH, check your total alkalinity and be sure it is in the ideal range. Adjust total alkalinity levels accordingly.

Step 9

Sanitizing chlorine tablets are the most efficient sanitizer to use in your pool. These specially compressed tablets are designed to dissolve slowly and steadily release free chlorine into your water to wipe out bacteria and keep your water clean. Be sure to use stabilized chlorine which withstands the sun's damaging rays, making it last longer and work more effectively. Always keep tablets in your skimmer, floater, or automatic feeder to continue sanitizing.

Step 10

As debris builds up in the water (such as perspiration, urine, suntan oil, and hair spray), it can cause eye and skin irritation and dull water. These contaminants tie up chlorine, keeping it from effectively sanitizing the water. When this occurs, it is time to add shock to your pool. Pool shock, available in either chlorine or non-chlorine formulas, oxidizes contaminants and frees up the chlorine to keep your pool crystal clear. Weekly pool shock treatments will also kill resistant algae in the water. To prevent algae from forming in the first place, include a weekly treatment of algaecide.


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 Posted: 7/28/2019 

Just starting out as a pool cleaning service in Huntsville, AL and these tips are great. Most people don't know what it takes to keep your pool clean and beautiful and you do a good job of being informative. This page will be bookmarked to come back to time and time again. Thank You

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 7/31/2019 

You're welcome. Good luck with your new pool cleaning service!

 Posted: 2/2/2019 

Great info! You can tell you know your stuff and genuinely want to share it with people! I've known people who think cleaning their own pool is therapeutic, so if I know anyone who is looking for tips, I'll send 'em this way! Thank you for your expertise on the subject.

 Posted: 1/23/2019 

Can TCCA granules replace Chlorine?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 1/23/2019 

TCCA (Trichloroisocyanuric Acid)  is a source of chlorine but it can replace traditional types of chlorine. However, the cyanuric acid level (CYA) tends to run high when using TCCA

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/15/2017 

Geoffrey - Once you have refilled your pool, you should be ready to add chemicals.

 Posted: 8/14/2017 

I just painted my pool with your epoxy paint. I waited a week,then refilled the pool. Hos soon should I chlorinate and shock the pool?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/18/2017 

Kim - Wait a half hour for the acid to mix with the water, then add your tablets.

 Posted: 5/16/2017 

When you are balancing the pool in the beginning with ph and total alkalinity should you go ahead and have chlorine tablets in the skimmer basket dissolving or wait until you have it balanced before adding chlorine?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/26/2016 

merlyn - Unfortunately, we don't get into the maintenance side of this business. I would suggest contacting a local pool store and asking them to give you a one time lesson. They should be willing to help you since you will probably be buying all your chemicals from them on a regular basis.

 Posted: 8/25/2016 

first time owner of a pool and spa with negative edge and I like to do it myself, your website is so helpful but I want someone to come to the house and give me a one time instructions on how to take care of the pool. how much is the charge?


InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/13/2016 

Kristi - The rain may be diluting your chlorine level and shocking is only a temporary fix. You need to have a way of adding chlorine continuously. Look at adding a floating dispenser or add a chlorine dispenser into your system.

 Posted: 6/11/2016 

We have a 14 x 46 round frame pool. The pump doesn't seem to work the greatest but it works. We have had the pool up for 3 weeks. I have kept chlorine in it and it has hardly been used due to rain. The pool turned green after being up for 2 weeks. The filter was already gross. I shocked the pool and the next day it was blue. But here it is 2 days later and it's greenish again. What am I doing wrong?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 2/29/2016 

Kelgold - Sounds like you have an over-the-top problem. You are going to have to pull most of that heavy debris out manually. If you have a hard surface pool, I would duct tape a regular garden rake on to your pool pole and pull the heavy stuff out first. Then I would switch to a heavy duty leaf rake to pull out the medium debris. Don't try to remove this heavy stuff with a normal net. You will destroy your net. Don't try to run any of this heavy to medium debris through your filter. It will quickly clog your system.

 Posted: 2/27/2016 

I just moved into a home where nothings been done to the pool for a couple of years. I'm not even sure if the sand filter and pump work. There is a ton of thick algea like stuff on the bottom. It is gross. I have been trying to get it out with the net but there's so there anything I can add to the water to help break it down so it is easier to remove?

Anonymous  Posted: 7/3/2015 

Happened to find you and glad I did! A lot of useful info including the article on how to clean your pool and the info regarding the use of chemicals and the importance of maintaining pH. I also noticed that you have a huge inventory of supplies.

 Posted: 7/5/2014 

I have a ta gules? D60 sand filter. It is five years old and is not filtering properly my water is cloudy it tests a good but I just cannot get it to clear up. Also I have noticed some sand in the pool?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/11/2013 

Carol - That cover is called a vacuum plate. It fits over the skimmer basket and allows the skimmer to filter while you are vacuuming.

 Posted: 6/9/2013 

My son has a sand filter and there is a cover plate that is used over the return. We don't know how to use it to clean the pool. Our pool at home is one that we just fill the hoses with water and put into the suction and vacuum. How do you use the cover plate?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/23/2013 

Cynthia - Yes, it is quite likely the dead frogs would leave a film residue. The shock treatment should take care of the film.

 Posted: 4/22/2013 

We were gone for a week. When we got home, the pool was green and there was a rainbow oily film floating on top of the water. We found 2 dead frogs in the vacuum net bag. Would their body waste have caused the film. I added Shock and more chlorine tablets, it is clearing and looking better.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/22/2012 

wilma - You may have one or more broken laterals - the small pipes at the bottom of your tank that connect to the large pipe coming up from the bottom to the top of the tank. Also make sure you have at least 6" of space between the top of the sand and the bottom of the Multiport valve.

 Posted: 5/22/2012 

I have problems with sand getting into my pool I vacum and backwash but doesnt seem to help,any thing else I can do? Thanks Wilma

 Posted: 3/20/2012 

Hey, I am so very glad I found your company, you have the most info out there. Thanks so very much, will be a loyal customer.

 Posted: 5/21/2011 

Mike & Melba, Thanks for the newsletter, good info!!


Anonymous  Posted: 4/26/2011 

I really liked the information on how to clean a swimming pool. thanks for passing the info to the public. I found it very helpful.