Pollen season can be a frustrating time of year, especially for people with allergies. So as you’re beating yellow dust out of your outdoor sofa cushions and picking pollen out of your windshield wipers, it may not be a surprise when you discover that your pool water has a yellow coat.
Luckily, having pollen in your pool is one of the most straightforward pool-related issues to treat. I’ll share some of my favorite strategies here with you and help you determine if what you’re looking at is genuinely pollen.
- Pollen and mustard algae look similar, but whereas mustard algae tends to cling to surfaces of the pool, pollen will float on top of the water.
- There are many ways to remove pollen from your pool, including running your filtration system, vacuuming it up, or using your skimmer.
Recognizing the Difference Between Pollen and Algae
There are a few different ways to tell the difference between pollen and algae in your swimming pool. Pollen usually appears in the spring and summer. So if it’s the right season for it and you’ve noticed a pollen coating on your outdoor furniture, this likely indicates that you have pollen in your pool.
However, if the situation doesn’t seem as cut and dry, you can assess how it collects in the water.
Pollen looks very similar to mustard algae. Both are yellow, but they will collect differently in your pool. Mustard algae love to cling to the walls and the bottom of the pool. It may congregate around your filtration system as well.
On the other hand, pollen mostly floats on top of pool water, as the photo above shows. Assuming no wind, it will often collect evenly across the surface. If you stick your hand in the water, you may even scoop some up on your finger.
How to Get Pollen Out of Your Pool
Pollen isn’t known for causing long-term damage to pools. However, during pollen season, you’ll need to use at least two of the below methods to keep your swimming pool in tip-top shape.
Step 1: Start Your Filtration System
Filtration systems are an excellent defense for removing pollen from pools. However, most people understandably choose not to run their filtration system 24/7 as it increases their energy bill (just check out my monthly pool maintenance cost guide for proof). Nevertheless, during pollen season, I recommend you keep it on.
Like all the other methods I’ll discuss, keeping your filtration system on isn’t a foolproof way to remove all pollen. However, when you combine your pool plumbing system with one or more of the methods below, you should have crystal-clear water in no time.
Step 2: Use Your Skimmer
It’s no secret that pools require a good amount of maintenance (check my pool maintenance for beginners guide for the basics). Much of this comes from skimming the water regularly, pollen or no pollen.
When skimming your water to remove pollen, you must use a particular skimmer, as the holes are usually too wide on your average skimmer. So more likely than not, you will simply be stirring the pollen into the water instead of removing it. Pollen grains vary in size, but even so, almost all will slip through a traditional skimmer.
Therefore, you’ll need to purchase a skimmer with fine mesh. I recommend using one of these fine mesh skimmers on your pool at least once every morning until pollen season dies down.
Step 3: Use Aluminum Sulfate
You may balk at the thought of adding yet another chemical to your pool water, but aluminum sulfate is a compound that water purification companies and wastewater treatment plants use to keep out unwanted substances.
The benefit of using aluminum sulfate to get rid of pollen in pools is that it helps bind the pollen particles together. That makes it easier for your skimmer and filter to pick them up.
Generally, you should add four to six pounds of aluminum sulfate for every 10,000 gallons of water. But you should read the manufacturer’s instructions on the bag to know precisely how much to add to your pool.
Step 4: Shock the Water
Although it may not come as a surprise that I recommend that you shock your pool (check out my separate article for all the pool shocking steps), this won’t actually remove the pollen. Instead, it’ll prevent and kill bacteria and other creatures from making their home in your pool due to the pollen.
Shocking a pool works by adding either chlorine or another non-chlorine-based chemical to the water. Doing so will raise the chemical levels enough to kill algae, chloramines, bacteria, and anything else that might turn your pool into a pond.
I recommend shocking your pool at night. Then the next morning, skim the water to remove the newest layer of pollen. From there on out, continue to remove fresh pollen using the other methods described here.
Step 5: Vacuum It Up
Pool vacuums work by suctioning up water and moving it—and all the dirt—through a hose, dumping the water outside your pool.
While vacuuming your pool to eliminate pollen is effective, you may not want to make it your go-to pollen method.
Many pool vacuums use a lot of energy. Therefore, between that and replacing the water you sucked out of your pool, you could raise your electricity and water bill significantly if you use the vacuum regularly.
Step 6: Cover Your Pool
Covering a pool during swim season might not be ideal, but it’s a useful option for creating a physical barrier between your pool water and the pollen.
As a happy medium, you might want to consider covering your pool on the days when the pollen forecast is the strongest. Either way, the critical thing to remember is that you’ll need to use a solid pool cover because pollen will fall right through mesh covers.
To make life easier, consider installing an automatic pool cover. That way, with the push of a button, you can protect your pool without putting in the physical effort.
Unfortunately, covers aren’t a surefire way to protect your pool water from pollen. Pollen is excellent at sneaking into small cracks and crevices, and it will also leak into the water if you don’t clean the cover before removing it.
Preventing Pollen From Entering Your Pool
There may be many different ways to remove pollen in your pool once it’s already there, but there are also ways to prevent pollen from entering your pool in the first place. Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof way to completely prevent 100% of the pollen from entering your swimming pool, but you can certainly prevent it from significantly affecting it in large quantities.
Covering your pool with a pool cover can be your first line of defense against pollen. Although it might seem like a chore, it may save you time in the long run during pollen season. You will not need to spend so much time cleaning up the pollen every morning.
Skimmer socks are also a great way to catch the pollen that falls into your pool. They capture a lot of the pollen that falls into the pool. And once the skimmer socks get dirty, you simply need to rinse them to reuse them. They will allow you to go longer in between cleanings and even extend the life of your filter in the long run.
Inspect All Equipment
Before pollen season, inspect all your pool equipment to ensure everything is working correctly. This way, you can ensure that your pool is well-maintained and ready for the extra work needed when the pollen starts to fall in.
Frequent Manual Cleaning
When the pollen is terrible, you should clean your filter once a day to properly clean out as much pollen as possible. Frequent manual cleanings like this can be a lifesaver during the pollen season.
Does Chlorine Work?
Contrary to popular belief, chlorine does not kill the pollen in the water. Instead, it simply kills the bacteria and other pollutants that pollen might carry.
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Get Rid of Pool Pollen
When it comes to pollen in pools, two things are certain—it’ll find a way to enter your water, and plants will eventually stop producing it. In the meantime, you can use the strategies here to manage your pool during the pollen season. Above all, while you’re cleaning your pool for the umpteenth time, remember that as long as you consistently remove the pollen, it won’t cause damage to your precious pool.
Have any questions? I’m more than happy to help; just drop me a line.