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How to Clean a Pool

It is a wonderful experience to have access to your own private swimming pool, whether in your backyard or at a friend’s or relative’s house. But to fully enjoy your own swimming pool, it is important to know how to clean the pool and how to properly maintain it. (Even if you do not have your own pool, learning how to clean pools could help you get a summer job.) Cleaning may not be a fun part of pool ownership, but if you follow good swimming pool maintenance practices it can be a fairly easy task.

Before you clean your swimming pool, be sure to check what tools and products are best suited for the type of swimming pool you have (vinyl, concrete, etc.).

Tools needed to clean a swimming pool

The following basic tools are essential to cleaning and maintaining your swimming pool:

  • Telescopic pole—Be sure to get a pole that can reach every part of your pool from wherever you need to stand. (Do not guesstimate – actually measure.) A good pole will make your work smoother and more efficient.
  • Skimmer net—You can get either a flat or bag skimmer that attaches to the telescopic pole. (It is easier to shake off the pool debris with the flat skimmer.) Look for skimmers with heavy-duty nets that will last you the whole season rather than simply the cheapest skimmer.
  • Vinyl pool brush—This, too, will attach to the telescopic pole. Again, choosing a heavy-duty brush will increase the likelihood of it withstanding the wear and tear that pool chemicals and water pressure can cause.
  • Vacuum—manual or automatic
    • Manual vacuums are cheaper, but require more time and effort on your part. You will need to get a pool vacuum head and hose that works with your telescopic pole.
    • Automatic vacuums can be set up and left to work on their own while you accomplish something else. (It is important to note that while this type is easier to use, it cannot effectively remove algae from your pool. So, there may be times that only manual vacuuming will work.) The following two types of automatic cleaners are preferable:
      • Pressure-side cleaners—These require the use of your filter system to work. You attach the cleaner to your return jet, and it uses the filtered water to power itself by creating a liquid vortex that pushes the debris into a bag. After your pool is clean, you simply empty the bag.
      • Robotic pool cleaners—These use electricity to move around and suck debris into a bag. They are the easiest and least taxing for you to use, but they are also the most expensive to buy and repair.

How to clean a swimming pool

Cleaning a pool requires regular skimming, brushing, and vacuuming.


Skimming is a daily task. Simply attach your skimmer net to your telescopic pole and drag the net across the water to pick up any debris floating on the surface—leaves, bugs, etc. You can also use it to pick up debris (or toys) on the bottom of the pool that you do not want your vacuum to suck up, but do so gently.

Remember that your pool has skimmers, too. So, clear them out weekly and as otherwise needed to ensure they are operating at maximum efficiency.


Brushing is best done twice a week; but, if you do not have time, a good brushing once a week is sufficient. This is a task that people often skip because they think vacuuming can take care of anything the skimmer misses. However, without brushing, the walls and corners can accumulate grime and may even host algae. Brushing is more time consuming than skimming, but the process is just as simple. Attach the brush to your telescopic pole and brush the walls, corners, and behind any ladders or other features.

If you discover algae, brushing it will release the algae into the pool water where chlorine and other chemicals can kill it.


Vacuuming should be done two to three times a week. If you have an automatic vacuum, you can set it up, turn it on, and walk away. If, however, you need to manually vacuum your pool, follow these steps:

  • Attach the vacuum head and hose to your telescopic pole. Ensure all the connections are secure.
  • Slowly lower the vacuum head under the pool water.
  • Feed the vacuum hose into the pool until all the air is eliminated from the hose.
  • Ensure no air is in the vacuum hose before you pass it through the door of the pool skimmer and plug it into the vacuum port.
  • Turn on the vacuum head and start vacuuming the pool floor just like you would your living room floor, except at a slower and steadier pace.

How to maintain a swimming pool

To keep your pool in good working order, it is essential to maintain clean water and balanced water chemistry. Regularly cleaning your swimming pool is one side of pool maintenance, but it is important to not forget the chemical side. Just remember to carefully read and follow the safety directions on any chemical you use.

Balance your pool water

Depending on how often you use the pool or how variable the weather has been, it is important to test your pool water for pH and sanitizer levels at least weekly if not every few days. By keeping the pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness levels properly balanced, you can prevent scale buildup that can damage underwater equipment, as well as ensure the water does not cause eye or skin irritation.

The pH levels should always be between 7.2 and 7.6. When the pH is not within the proper range, the effectiveness of other pool chemicals is reduced. You can use a pH increaser or pH reducer, as needed, to balance out the pH level.

Sanitize your pool water

Chlorine helps keep your pool water clear of bacteria and algae. To accomplish this, your chlorine level should always be between 1 and 4 parts per million. While you can chlorinate your swimming pool using various forms of products (tablets, liquids, granules), one of the most commonly used is the basic chlorinating tab. This slow-dissolving tablet usually has a built-in stabilizer that protects your chlorine from sunlight burn-off. These tabs can be used in your pool’s floating dispenser, skimmer, or automatic chlorinator/feeder.

Shock your pool water

Shocking should be done once a week to maintain crystal clear water that does not irritate eyes or skin. Debris and swimmer waste (urine, sunscreen, makeup, hairspray, etc.) regularly contaminate the pool, which can distract the chlorine from properly sanitizing the water. By shocking your pool, you can free up the chlorine to accomplish its intended task. Regular shock treatments also help kill off resistant bacteria and algae.

Final maintenance tips

Algae prevention

If you want to stop algae before it starts, include a weekly treatment of algaecide to your pool chemical regimen. Algaecides can also effectively eliminate an outbreak of algae and return your pool to its sparkling clear glory.

Water circulation

For the chemicals and filters to work effectively, the water needs to be circulating well. Be sure your pump runs long enough each day to move the pool water through the circulation system (pump strainer, filters, drains, skimmers, etc.). This also helps maintain the cleanliness of the system materials.

Filter care

Your pool filter (whether sand, cartridge, or vertical grid DE) is designed to screen out particles and debris from your pool water. Follow the manufacturer’s directions on how to best clean and maintain your filter to maximize its effectiveness.

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