How to Get Dirt Out of Your Pool

Written by Michael Dean
April 12, 2024

removing dirt from a swimming pool

Imagine this. You are just about to jump into your swimming pool when you notice dirt at the bottom. Yuck! But why is it there, and how do you get rid of it? In this article, I will provide you with all the tips and tricks to get dirt out of your pool and how to prevent it from entering your pool in the first place! Let’s dive in.

Main Takeaways

  • Keep your pool dirt-free by consistently skimming, brushing, and maintaining your filter.
  • Reduce dirt and contaminants by implementing no-shoes policies, walk-off mats, and good-quality pool covers.
  • Other contaminants that look like dirt include mustard algae, sand, mineral deposits, dead skin cells and oils, and organic matter.
  • Thoughtful design, regular pruning, and strategic plant placement can also help prevent dirt from getting into your pool.

Step-by-Step: How to Get Dirt Out of Your Pool

Here, I will go over each step of getting dirt out of your pool. But first, what materials do you need?

Supplies Checklist

  • Skimmer net and pole
  • Nylon-bristle pool brush
  • Filter maintenance kit
  • Pool vacuum
  • Pool shock
  • Flocculant

Step One: Skim the Surface Debris

You should skim the surface of your pool daily. And if you find dirt in your pool, your first line of defense should always be your skimmer net. I recommend using a fine mesh skimmer, as this will help you get rid of smaller debris in the pool. Glide your skimmer across the water’s surface, capturing leaves, twigs, and other floating dirt and debris.

Step Two: Brush the Pool

Armed with a nylon pool brush, gently scrub the walls, steps, and floor of your pool. This helps to dislodge the dirt stuck to your pool’s walls and surfaces.

Step Three: Vacuum up the Debris

Now that you have dislodged all the dirt from the pool surfaces and everything has settled on your pool floor, it is time to grab your vacuum. Whether manual or automatic, this trusty tool sucks away dirt and sediment, leaving your pool’s floor sparkling clean.

Step Four: Run Your Filter

Next, run your filter to clear the dirt in the water. To make sure the filter works as efficiently as possible to help clear the pool of dirt, take the time to check and empty the filter baskets, and backwash your filter as needed. If you do not clean your filter regularly throughout the process, you may end up with dirt returning to your pool, which basically defeats the whole purpose!

Step Five: Shock the Pool

After organic matter like dirt enters your pool, it is absolutely imperative that you shock the pool. Combat bacterial growth and cloudy water with pool shock and boost the chlorine levels.

Step Six: Use a Flocculant

If your pool still looks murky, even after filtering and vacuuming for a couple of days, it’s time to introduce flocculant. Pour the flocculant into your pool and watch as the tiny dirt particles form larger clumps that sink to the bottom of the pool. Now, you can easily vacuum up these clumps!

Why You Shouldn’t Leave Dirt in Your Pool

Dirt seems harmless, but you really shouldn’t leave dirt to float around in your pool. 

Why not? First of all, dirt in your pool water is detrimental to your chlorine level. Since your chlorine (or another sanitizer) is working hard at attacking this introduced pollutant, your chlorine won’t be as effective. And this will send out a ripple effect, affecting every other chemical in your pool.  

Furthermore, the buildup of dirt fosters stubborn algae growth and can lead to annoying stains, which is the last thing you’ll want! And if that’s not enough to illustrate why you should remove dirt from your pool, those seemingly innocuous particles can stealthily clog pipes and pool equipment, diminishing their efficiency and ultimately leading to costly repairs.

So, as you can see by now, if you can see dirt in your pool, remove it, don’t sleep on it!

Causes for Dirt in Pool Water

Understanding how dirt gets in your pool water in the first place will help you to take proactive measures. So, what causes dirt in your pool?

Environmental Elements

It goes without saying that nature plays a significant role in introducing dirt to your pool. Wind-blown leaves, twigs, and pollen often find their way into the water, especially during seasonal changes. The wind carries dust and dirt particles that settle on the water’s surface, gradually sinking and muddying the water.

Human Activity

Humans can track in a lot of dirt and debris. Swimming, sunbathing, and even poolside gatherings can inadvertently introduce dirt. Sunscreen residues, sweat, and the occasional snack crumbs can all contribute to the pool’s gradual accumulation of dirt and contaminants.

Landscaping Fallout

As much as lush landscaping enhances your pool’s aesthetic, it can also be a source of dirt. Overhanging trees shed leaves and blossoms, and windy days can dislodge flowers and debris, sending them cascading into your pool.

Faulty Filtration and Circulation

A malfunctioning filtration system or inadequate circulation can hinder your pool’s ability to trap and remove dirt particles. If your pool’s filtration and circulation systems are compromised, dirt and debris will have a better chance of settling and marring the water.

Rainfall and Runoff

Rainwater can introduce dirt and contaminants into your pool. Runoff from the surrounding area, including soil and organic matter, can enter your pool during heavy rainfall, contributing to the accumulation of debris.

Groundwater Seepage

A crack in your pool foundation or walls could lead to groundwater seeping into your swimming pool, causing your pool to get dirty. This is a big issue and, most of the time, requires professional help. Let me know if you’re experiencing this and we can chat over email or phone about the best solution.

If Not Dirt, What Is It?

Let’s delve into common lookalikes that might deceive you into thinking your pool has a dirt problem.

Mustard Algae

Mustard algae is a much more difficult issue to deal with, so let’s hope this isn’t the problem you are dealing with! 

Mustard algae, though resembling dirt in its early stages, is a living organism that can quickly spread across your pool. Often mistaken for sand or pollen, this yellowish growth clings to pool surfaces and demands prompt action by brushing and triple-shocking the pool.


While your sand filter works hard to clean your pool, in some unfortunate cases, a broken sand filter may do the opposite and introduce sand particles to your water. Although it appears like dirt, its gritty texture distinguishes it. You’ll likely have to replace a lateral or standpipe to fix this issue.

For more, check out my guide on removing sand from your pool.

Mineral Deposits

Calcium and other minerals in your water can form white deposits that you may mistake for dirt on pool surfaces. These chalky formations can often be found on the waterline, pool steps, or corners. Regular cleaning and balancing chemicals can help prevent these minerals from accumulating.

Dead Skin Cells and Oils

Swimmers unwittingly introduce body oils, lotions, and dead skin cells into the pool. Over time, these substances can create a cloudy appearance resembling dirt. Proper filtration, regular cleaning, and encouraging swimmers to shower before entering the pool can mitigate this issue.

Organic Matter Decomposition

Leaves, insects, and other organic matter that find their way into the pool can break down over time, creating a sludgy substance that might be mistaken for dirt. Regular skimming and cleaning can prevent the buildup of this organic debris.

How to Prevent Dirt From Getting in Your Pool

Maintaining a dirt-free pool isn’t just about cleaning up; it’s also about preventing dirt from infiltrating in the first place. By adopting a few strategic practices, you can significantly reduce the amount of dirt that finds its way into your pool.

  • No-Shoes Policy. Encourage guests to remove their shoes at the entrance of your pool area.
  • Landscaping Trimming. Regularly prune overhanging trees and shrubs to prevent falling debris.
  • Walk-Off Mats. Place mats at pool entrances to trap dirt and particles.
  • Poolside Cleaning. Sweep the deck regularly to prevent loose dirt and debris from entering your pool.
  • Strategic Landscaping. Plan landscaping to minimize debris-shedding trees and plants from hanging over your pool.
  • Pool Cover. Invest in a quality pool cover to prevent dirt accumulation, and use it when your pool is not in use.
  • Outdoor Showers. Install showers for pre-swim rinsing, reducing contaminants.
  • Filtration and Skimming. Clean the filtration system and use a skimmer to remove surface debris.
  • Professional Maintenance. Schedule routine landscaping upkeep to minimize debris.
  • Swimmer Education. Inform users about showering and avoiding contaminants.

By adopting these preventative measures, you’re not only safeguarding your pool’s pristine waters but also minimizing the need for extensive cleaning and pool maintenance. With a little proactive effort, your pool can remain as dirt-free as possible!

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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Enjoy Your Dirt-Free Pool!

A dirt-free pool is not a difficult task – it’s a blend of knowledge, diligence, and strategic action. Armed with all the tips and tricks I’ve outlined above, you’re now more than set to tackle that dirt in your pool. You’ll be jumping back into crystal-clear waters in no time!

For any assistance or further guidance, feel free to reach out. Your dream pool is just a step away!

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