How to Clean a Swimming Pool the Right Way

Written by Michael Dean
July 9, 2024

man cleaning a swimming pool

Regular pool cleaning is one of the three most important parts of maintaining a swimming pool, along with water chemistry and circulation.

Professional pool cleaners can be costly, but how do you ensure the job gets done right if you don’t pay for one? Below, I will teach you how to clean your swimming pool without breaking the bank with a pool cleaning service.

Main Takeaways

  • You need a few basic pool supplies to regularly clean your swimming pool.
  • You should skim, brush, and vacuum your pool at least weekly.
  • Try opting for an automatic pool cleaner as opposed to a manual vacuum.
  • Make sure to maintain proper chemical balance to ensure your pool is clean.
  • Don’t forget to clean your pool equipment as well!

How to Skim and Brush Your Pool

One of the best ways to clean your pool is to put your back into it! Here are the steps to skimming and brushing your pool.

Step One: Use a Pole With a Brush

Although it requires manual labor, using a telescopic pole with a brush is a great way to scrub away algae and grime stuck to the walls.

Step Two: Start On The Edges

Brushing may be spot-specific, but start on the edges and onto the rest of the pool if you have an extra dirty swimming pool.

Step Three: Brush At An Angle

My pro tip is to brush at an angle to help remove any unwanted particles hiding in the crevasses. When you do this, the filter should take care of most of the aggravated algae. Read my complete article on how to brush a pool for more tips.

Step Four: Brush Downwards

Always work the brush downwards in one direction when brushing your pool’s walls. Brushing both ways creates more work and tired arms. Also, try to brush at an angle to cause less friction between the water and the brush.

Step Five: Skim The Edges

After brushing, use a skimmer net to collect all larger debris, such as leaves or insects. Whenever I skim a pool, I start at the edges and go around twice.

Step Six: Skim The Middle

Then skim the middle for anything still floating around by pulling the stuff toward the edges and scooping it out.

Step Seven: Skim The Bottom

Finally, get everything that has sunk to the bottom and bounce the net to scoop up anything that starts floating. It’s important to double-check everything as some debris can be small and evade the net on the first pass.

How Often to Brush Your Pool

You should brush your pool at least once or twice per week. Make sure to scrub the pool walls, floor, corners, and every inch of the pool. I cover more about brushing frequency in my article on how often to brush your pool.

Equipment Recommendations for Skimming and Brushing Your Pool

How to Vacuum Your Pool

You can vacuum your pool using an automatic pool cleaner or a manual vacuum.

How to Clean Your Pool With an Automatic Pool Cleaner

Using an automatic vacuum can save you a lot of time as a pool owner. Although they don’t do the entire job for you, they help. Automatic pool cleaners will glide across flat surfaces in your pool and collect debris or algae as they move. They usually require both a hose and an electricity source to filter through the water and deposit the trash they collect into independent storage.

Step One: Start the Vacuum

Before you begin, start the vacuum by pressing the “on” button on the model or using a remote to turn it on.

Step Two: Place The Vacuum In The Pool

Gently place the vacuum in the pool and wait for it to sink to the bottom. The automatic vacuum cleaner will then clean your entire pool without any more work needed from you!

Step Three: Pull Out The Vacuum

Pull the vacuum out of the water when it has done its job.

Step Four: Empty The Filter

Finally, before you put it away, empty the filter and dispose of the debris that the automatic cleaner has collected while vacuuming the surfaces of your pool.

Vacuuming your pool every other day or even every three days should be enough to keep your pool fresh. Just remember to vacuum after you brush.

How to Clean Your Pool With a Manual Vacuum

When purchasing a pool vacuum, I would avoid manual vacuums. They are cheaper but much more time-consuming. It’s worth the extra cost to allow you to relax instead of adding on an extra chore.

If you do choose to manually vacuum your pool, here are my steps to using one efficiently.

Step One: Attach The Vacuum

Attach the vacuum head to your telescopic pole to get started. Then take one end of the pool hose and attach that to the vacuum head as well.

Step Two: Place The Vacuum In The Pool

Put the vacuum head, pole, and hose into the pool and wait for it to sink to the bottom. Put the other end of the hose against the return jet to help get the air out of the vacuum head.

Step Three: Attach Hose To Skimmer

Take the hose out of the return jet, block it with a vacuum plate, and insert it in the skimmer on top of the basket. Make sure to maintain a good suction when you do this.

If you’re not using a vacuum plate, when you take the hose out of the return jet, block the opening with your hand, bring the hose to the skimmer, and insert it into the suction hole at the bottom of the skimmer.

Step Four: Vacuum The Surfaces

Push the vacuum across all the pool surfaces to collect all the particles stuck to the walls and floor. This can be time-consuming, but it’s a great workout!

Step Five: Disconnect The Vacuum And Rinse

Disconnect the vacuum from the telescopic pole and drain the water from the hose. Finally, rinse, dry, and return all equipment to storage.

How Often to Vacuum Your Pool

You should vacuum your swimming pool about 1-2 times per week or more, depending on how much use your pool is getting. Obviously, this process can get pretty time-consuming if you’re using a manual vacuum, so I definitely recommend investing in a robotic pool cleaner.

Equipment Recommendations for Vacuuming Your Pool

Maintain Your Pool Chemicals

If the chemicals in your swimming pool are not balanced, there is no point in trying to brush or vacuum your pool. A pool with unbalanced chemical levels will become cloudy and grow algae and bacteria. Here are some of the important chemical levels to monitor in your pool.

  • Chlorine: Chlorine is the most important chemical used in a swimming pool and is the primary method of sanitation. Your ideal chlorine level is between 2-3 parts per million (ppm).
  • pH: Your pH is very important for keeping your pool water healthy. If your pH is out of balance, the water can be dangerous to swim in, and the chlorine may not work as well. The ideal pH level in a pool is between 7.2 and 7.8.
  • Total Alkalinity: Total alkalinity is a measurement in your pool that determines your water’s ability to resist a change in pH level. The recommended alkalinity level in a pool is between 80 and 120 ppm.
  • Calcium hardness: Your calcium hardness level measures the amount of calcium in your water. If there is too much calcium, calcium deposits may build up on your surfaces, and if the calcium level is low, your pH may drop. The ideal calcium hardness level in a pool is between 175 and 275 ppm.
  • Cyanuric acid: Cyanuric acid is used in pools to stabilize the chlorine. Without CYA, your chlorine would dissipate quickly in the sun. Most pool owners used stabilized chlorine that already contains CYA. But you should check your CYA levels to ensure they are around 30-40 ppm.

How Often To Test Your Pool Water

You should test your chemical levels using a testing kit or testing strips. Many things can change the chemistry of your pool, so it is important to test your levels often to ensure your pool water is in good shape. Test your chlorine and pH levels 2-3 times a week and adjust as necessary. Alkalinity and cyanuric acid levels should generally be tested once per week. Even if you are using stabilized chlorine, you should be testing your CYA level, as it is a common problem to add too much cyanuric acid to your pool.

Calcium hardness doesn’t typically fluctuate as often, so you can test for this every month or every two weeks during a more thorough routine inspection of your pool.

Further Reading on Pool Chemistry

How to Clean a Very Dirty Pool

When opening up your pool for the season or returning home after a long vacation, you may find your pool in a pitiful state. Several problems can go wrong in your pool, so staying informed on the best ways to clean your water is important.

Here are some of my helpful guides on how to clean up an extra dirty swimming pool:

How to Clean Your Pool Deck

A pressure washer is the most effective way to clean a pool deck. You can go old school with a bucket and a mop, but it will be challenging to get stubborn dirt that has been collecting on the surface for months. The process would also take longer because you need to sweep the deck before mopping.

You can thoroughly clean the deck with a pressure washer in just a few minutes. Work your way up and down the deck from the pool edge outwards. Before using the pressure washer, spray the entire deck with a hose to remove any surface dirt in the way.

Don’t Forget to Clean Your Equipment!

Your pool equipment is just as important to clean as your pool’s surfaces. Imagine cleaning the walls and floor of your pool just to find that the water is being pumped through a filthy pool filter, pump, and skimmer!

Cleaning Your Filter

The filter is the last line of defense against debris, mud, and algae that will make the pool water murky. You should clean the filter with a proper filter cleaner and degreaser every two to three months to prevent the filter from breaking or leaking dirty water back into the pool. If you have a DE filter, I recommend backwashing, rinsing your filter grids, changing out the DE once a month, and deep cleaning 3-4 times a year. Sand filters should be backwashed every 1-2 weeks if the pool is getting a lot of use, and they should be deep cleaned 2-3 times per year. There is no need to backwash cartridge filters, but you should pull out the cartridge and clean it every 3-6 months.

Cleaning Your Pump And Skimmer Baskets

Your pool pump and skimmer baskets should be emptied on a regular basis to prevent your plumbing system from getting clogged. Check your skimmer basket pretty much any time you are in the pool area, and empty it if needed. The pool pump basket shouldn’t need to be emptied as often, but I still recommend checking it once a week at the very least.

Cleaning Your Pool Cover

Don’t forget to clean your pool cover! Your pool cover collects a lot of debris, bacteria, algae, and mineral deposits while it sits on the surface of your pool, so it is very important to clean it occasionally to prevent the cover from contaminating your pool. You should periodically remove the larger debris from the cover with a brush and hose it down. If you notice the water side of your pool cover has algae or other stains, remove the cover and clean it with a brush and a mild cleaning solution.

If the pool cover is extremely dirty, I recommend soaking it in a solution of water and a cleaning detergent for a few hours, then rinse it off and allow it to dry before putting it back over the pool.

Clean Your Salt Cell (If Required)

If you have a saltwater pool, it is important to check your salt cell every so often and clean or replace it if necessary. Over time, calcium builds up in the salt cell, which prevents it from doing its job well. Most pool professionals recommend cleaning your salt cell every 500 hours. However, if your saltwater pool is well maintained, you shouldn’t have to clean the salt cell more than 3-4 times a year.

Clean Your Pool Heater

It surprises a lot of pool owners that they must clean their pool heaters every year. Algae and contaminants can grow or settle on the coils of electric heat pumps; over time, this will affect the pool heater’s overall performance. Dust can also collect on the outside of the coils, so it is important to remove the debris and dust to ensure the heater properly heats your water.

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

Download my free, printable pool maintenance checklist to help you accomplish regular pool care tasks for any type of swimming pool.

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Why Cleaning Your Swimming Pool is Important

Nobody wants to go swimming in a dirty pool. A dirty swimming pool can cause accidents and severe health concerns. Some of the microbes that live in a dirty pool include e. Coli, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia. Pools that are not regularly maintained won’t be clear and sparkling and will grow algae, becoming green and cloudy.

How Often Should You Clean Your Pool?

To keep your pool fresh and safe, you should clean your pool at least weekly. Your exact schedule will differ based on where you live, how often you use your pool and any major events like rainstorms that happen.

Bottom Line

Diligence and routine cleaning are key to keeping your swimming pool in excellent condition throughout the season.

Follow my techniques, like brushing at an angle and working the skimmer from the middle to the edge of the pool, and it will make your job easier. When it’s time to clean the filter, don’t procrastinate! After all, your swimming pool is meant to be enjoyed, and a clean one is even easier to appreciate.

And make sure to clean around the swimming pool too! Check out my article on how to clean pool coping for step-by-step instructions.

Questions about pool cleaning? Don’t hesitate to ask!

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