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How To Clean A Pool - The (Updated 2017) Definitive Guide

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Everyone who has a pool knows how great it is to be able to come home after a long day of work and take a refreshing dip. Or spend a Saturday with the family playing games and having fun in and around the pool. Or staying fit by swimming regular laps. The benefits are endless. The only, possible, downside to having a pool can be the upkeep required to keep it clean.

Pool Cleaning

Do you resort to doing it yourself or do you hire a pool cleaner? Do you spend money on an automated  pool vacuum cleaner or do you maintain the weekly cleaning schedule required to maintain a clear-looking, healthy, safe pool? The solutions to these sorts of questions really depends on the following:

  • The type of pool you have – inground or aboveground

  • The size of your pool

  • The amount and type of leaves it collects

  • The filter system and pipes you have

  • Your budget

  • Below, we’ve come up with some pool cleaning instructions and tips that should make maintaining your pool just another benefit to having one. We include the necessary supplies required to clean your pool, tips on cleaning your pool (including if you happen to come across a green pool), as well as how to maintain crystal-clear water. Make use of these, and the stress associated with the upkeep of a swimming pool will be all but a distant memory.


    When cleaning a pool, it’s important to have the correct supplies in order to make the job easier and achieve the best effect. Below are a list of necessary tools and chemicals required for cleaning and maintaining a crystal clear pool.


    In order to clean your pool yourself, you will need to stock up on the necessary tools required for the job. These include:

    How To Clean A Pool

    • Telescopic Pole: This is the fundamental pool-cleaning tool to which many of the other pool-cleaning supplies get attached. Make sure the pole you purchase is a decent size relative to the size of your swimming pool. Furthermore, be sure to give the pole a wipe over before using it in order to ensure no debris from the pole lands in your pool while cleaning.

    • Leaf Skimmer: The second most important pool-cleaning tool is a leaf skimmer consisting of a net designed to attach to the telescopic pole. This is then used to pick up any leaves or debris floating on the surface of your swimming pool. It is important to empty this net out of all the debris after cleaning your pool so as to keep it clean and ready for the next time you will need to use it.

    • Leaf Net: For deeper, dirtier pools, a leaf net comes in handy. This tool has a deeper net than the skimmer and comes complete with a rubber lip that is tapered in order to allow you to scrape the bottom of your pool, if necessary, as well. These also come in handy when picking up toys and the like you’re your kids may have left in the pool. You can purchase a leaf net from your local hardware store.

    • Pool Brush: As with most cleaning tasks, you will need a brush to scrub the walls, steps, and ladders of your pool. These come in different sizes and widths and can either be attached to a telescopic pole or already come with a pole attached. Keep the type of material the surface of your pool is made of when choosing a pool brush. Choose a rigid brush for plaster-lined concrete pools and a softer brush for vinyl or fiberglass walls. For tiles, use a soft brush to avoid scraping or dilapidation of grout. Pool brushes can also be used to clean a pool deck or patio. As with the your other swimming pool cleaning supplies, make sure you keep your pool brush clean and clear of debris.

    • Pool Vacuum: Now that you have taken care of the surface and walls of your pool, you need a tool to clean the floors, which is where the pool cleaners comes in. There are various different types of pool vacuums aimed at fulfilling varying needs in pool cleaning depending on your type of pool. Be sure to match your chosen pool vacuum to the surface of your pool, i.e.: vinyl liner, fiberglass, or concrete:

    • pH Tester: Due to the inclusion of chemicals in your pool water to maintain it’s cleanliness, it is necessary to test the water’s pH levels in order to determine the water safety and whether or not it is fit for swimming. Be sure to purchase a reliable brand of pH tester at your local supermarket. DIY pH tester kits usually consist of two types:

    • 1.Reagent Kits: require you to extract a sample of water and add liquids or tablets to it. The water will then change colour according to its chemical content.

    • 2.Test Strips: immerse a strip into your pool water and watch it change colour to indicate the chemical balance of the water. Match this colour with a colour chart to determine the pool’s pH level.

    • Pool Filter: A reliable pool filter system is essential to maintaining a clean pool. As with pool vacuums, these also come in various types as can be seen in the list below. It is very important that you maintain your filter in order for it to perform at an optimal level. Be careful, however, of cleaning your filter too often. A slightly dirty filter works better than a completely clean filter as the occurrence of some dirt helps to trap other debris.

    • Aim to clean your filter when you see an increase in the flow between the pressure gauge and flow meter. It’s time to clean the filter when the variance reaches 10 to 15 pounds (4.5 to 6.8 kilograms) per square inch.

    • We recommend emptying your filter’s basket at least once a week and cleaning you’re filter’s pipes once a month. Strainer baskets can be found either attached to the sides of aboveground pools or in the pool deck of inground pools. See more detailed tips on how to clean a pool filter included below:
    • How to clean a pool cartridge filter: Turn the pool pump off, remove the cartridge unit and pressure wash inside and out using a garden hose. If well maintained, cartridges should last for one to two pool seasons depending on how often the pool is used.

    • How to clean a pool sand filter: run regular backwashes. This involves reversing the water flow through the filter and guiding it to the base of the tank, up via the filter media. This results in all debris being flushed out via the waste line. It is recommended to initiate a backwash when the pressure of your filter reaches 10 psi over the original start-up pressure.

    • How to clean a pool D.E. (Diatomaceous Earth) filter: refer to how to clean a pool sand filter above. In addition to this, remove the grid units and give them a thorough clean at least once a year. Remove by following the instructions provided and hose down. Then soak grids in warm water, with approximately half a cup of automatic dishwashing detergent, for three to four hours. Once done, rinse off and place back in filter.


    • Sanitising Chlorine Tablets: When added to your pool water, these dissolve over time and emit chlorine aimed at killing any bacteria evident in your swimming pool. Be sure to use stabilised chlorine, which is far more durable when it comes to the sun’s rays. You can purchase these online or at your local hardware store.

    • Pool Shock: This is a type of pool cleaner, which targets bacteria associated with hair, urine, and sweat, which can cause skin and eye irritation and dull pool water if left untouched. Furthermore, these contaminants prevent chlorine from effectively sanitising your swimming pool. Pool shock is available in either chlorine or non-chlorine recipes. Shocking your pool will also get rid of the unpleasant ‘chlorine smell’ often associated with pools.

    • Salt Chlorinators: Should you wish to have a saltwater pool, you can make use of salt chlorinators, which transform salt crystals into chlorine gas. It is also a pump controller in the same unit and runs the automatic function of the pool. Bear in mind that these should only be installed in inground pools due to rust that results when used in aboveground pools.


    The following are some tips / steps to be followed or used when cleaning your pool. The first six relate to a ‘normal’ pool, which has been well maintained. The next five, however, are specifically aimed at a scenario in which you come into contact with an exceptionally dirty pool. For example, a pool that has been left untouched for months in the garden of a house you have just purchased.


    • The first, and probably the easiest, step to achieving clean pool water is to skim the surface of your pool with your leaf skimmer. Simply attach the skimmer to your telescopic pole and use to pick up all the surface debris.

    • Next, remove the skimmer from the telescopic pole and attach your pool brush instead. Then, use to brush the sides of your pool, stairs, and ladders . Use force when necessary to remove any well-populated areas of grime. Furthermore, be sure to pay attention to any areas in your swimming pool that lack proper circulation.

    • To clean the floors of your swimming pool, make use of your pool vacuum. Assuming you have a manual pool vacuum, you will also attach this to your telescopic pole as you have done with your skimmer and brush. Insert the hose into the pool and make sure you have removed all air from the hose before fitting it onto the pump. Then, vacuum the bottom of your pool much like you would vacuum a carpet. Should you have an automatic pool vacuum, you may not be required to do anything.

    • Over and above keeping your actual pool clean, it is important to maintain a clean filter as well. Make sure you check your filter for and remove and debris or grime as well as anything that could be clogging the filter.

    • Add sanitising chlorine tablets to your pool when you see fit by following the instructions provided. Consider adding tablets to your skimmer, floater, and / or automatic feeder as well in order to ensure these tools are void of any bacteria.

    • Consider adding pool shock to your swimming pool water to further ensure prevention of contamination and growth or algae.


    • When a pool is so dirty that it appears green, it is likely that the surface is covered in scum. Attempting to use a skimmer to remove surface debris will only mix the scum further into the pool water making it dirtier. The solution here is to make use of a leaf net to remove all debris and scum from the surface of the pool.

    • A green pool is most likely full of undesirable bacteria. To correct, first and foremost, test the pH levels and make use of a pH reducer / increaser accordingly . This may take a few days of trial and error and you may need to use an alkalinity in addition.

    • Next, add chemicals. It is recommended that you start by adding three to four gallons of shock pool. Wait 24 hours to see whether the pool remains cloudy white, light green, or clear. If nothing has changed, add another few gallons of shock pool and repeat the process.

    • Keep the filter on all day every day for up to five days. During this time, ensure that you backwash the filter three to four times a day. It is likely that there will be a lot of debris / bacteria able to clog the filter and cause damage, which is what you’d like to prevent. Should the pool not clear up after four to five days, have you filter system checked and consider replacing it.

    • Once the pool water is clear and the pH levels balanced make use of your pool vacuum to clean the pool floor. If there happens to be an exceptional amount of debris gathered on your pool floor, consider seeking professional help. Large amounts of debris can clog up your pipes, potentially damaging / ruining your pool’s filter system.

    • If all else fails you may have to drain the pool and send the green algae to the waste sewage system in the house


    As mentioned in the introduction of this piece, the best way to clean a pool is through regular, routine care and maintenance. The following is a guide to maintaining your swimming pool on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.

      Pool Leaf Basket

    • Possibly the most obvious maintenance tip for cleaning pools is to be disciplined in making use of your leaf skimmer on a regular basis. By removing surface debris daily or weekly, your pool will immediately appear clean.

    • The answer to the question of how to maintain a pool weekly involves using the pool brush on top of the leaf skimmer. Scrubbing your walls, steps, and ladders on a weekly basis will maintain a clean pool and make it an easier job.

    • It is also advised that you make use of your pool vacuum on a weekly basis . As with the surface of your pool, a lot of debris can gather on the floor of your pool, which will dirty it. Make use of your automatic or manual pool vacuum to achieve the desired effect.

    • Add pool shock to your pool once a week to remove any contamination and / ore algae.

    • Factors such as the weather can alter the pH levels of your pool and make it unsafe for swimming. Use your pH tester to test the following levels: cyanuric acid, free chlorine, acidity/alkalinity, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness. The chemical balance of your pool is made up of the following:

    • ØpH (acidity / alkalinity) = 68%

    • ØTotal alkalinity (TA) = 16%

    • ØCalcium hardness = 16%

    • The ideal pH level for a swimming pool is between 7.2 and 7.6. If you find your pH level is below or above this, make use of a pH reducer or increaser to fix.

    • Decreased levels of alkalinity will cause erosion of pool surfaces and corrosion of equipment. Your TA level should be 60 to 200 parts per million. You can raise this by adding 'buffer' – sodium bicarbonate – or decrease it by adding pool acid.

    • Lastly, decreased levels of dissolved calcium can cause corrosion of pool equipment, and increased levels can create scale. Be sure to monitor this.

    • Your pH and sanitiser levels should be checked at least three times a week.

    • Ensure that the pool filter is switched on for between eight to ten hours every day. Your filter will take care of removing fine debris and microscopic particles.

    • It is important to keep an eye out on the water level of your pool. Evaporation as well as splashing, swimming, and leaving the pool can cause your water level to drop. As a rule of thumb, try to maintain a water level that reaches halfway up the opening of your skimmer. If your water level goes below this, use a garden hose to fill it up. If you fail to do so, you could end up damaging your pump. Should your water level be too high, consider hiring a waterproof pump to remove the excess water. Should you need to empty your pool for maintenance, be sure not to leave it empty for too long. It is also recommended to leave your pool full during winter as the weight of the water offsets forces from the ground pushing upwards.

    • If you are lucky enough to own a pool heater, bear in mind that this will require a certain level of maintenance as well. Pool heaters are not high maintenance, however, with gas heaters requiring a service every couple of years and electric ones lasting even longer than that. Refer to instructions provided in the manual to determine specific maintenance guidelines. The main issue with heaters is the build up of calcium that occurs inside the tubes limiting the flow, resulting in inadequate heating of the pool water. Should this be the case, hire a professional to assist in fixing your heater.

    • If you suspect your pool has a leak, perform the following test. Fill a plastic bucket three-quarters of the way fill with water. Mark level of water in bucket on the outside of the bucket. Place bucket of water in pool and allow to float. After a few days, evaluate the level of water in the bucket compared to the level of water in your pool. If both levels have decreased by the same amount, you know it is due to evaporation. If your pool water has, however, gone down more than the water in the bucket, you know your pool has a leak. Get hold of a professional to fix this.

    • Depending on where you live, you may need to consider winterising your pool. Should temperatures hit below freezing during your winter season, any residual water left in your pool pipes can freeze and cause damage. To avoid this, make use of an air compressor to get rid of all water from your pool’s pipes just before winter sets in. Furthermore, drain as much water as you can from the filter and heater. Any remaining water can be removed using nontoxic anti-freeze (not to be confused with antifreeze for cars). Then, detach the heater, pump, and chemical feeders, clean and store. Finally, give the pool a thorough clean, close the skimmer line valve, decrease the water level to around 18 inches (45 centimeters) below the coping and super chlorinate, and cover the pool.

    When swimming season comes around again, clean the area around the pool and remove the cover. Use a garden hose or  water pump to fill the pool up to its original level, reattach everything, and reopen the skimmer valve. Test the water’s pH levels and shock the pool. Bear in mind that it will take approximately a week before the pool’s pH levels are back to normal. Initially, leave the pump on all day every day, reducing this by only one or two hours each day until the water is balanced.

    So there you have it! Simply include the above steps and tips into your pool-cleaning routine and, before you know it, it’ll be second nature. Not only will you be able to enjoy your pool all year round, but also, you won’t be stressed about maintaining a clean pool. Here’s to feeling like you are on vacation in your own backyard!

    If you would like more information on pool cleaning then be sure to email us.