Signs That Your Swimming Pool Needs a Deep Clean

Written by Michael Dean
October 31, 2023

very dirty swimming pool

Swimming pools require constant maintenance; checking the pool’s chemistry, skimming out leaves or other debris, vacuuming sediment from the ground, and maintaining the filter. But even with this constant upkeep, all pools eventually need a deep clean.

Below, I cover the common signs to look for when your pool is unsafe to swim in and needs a thorough cleaning. If you see one or more of these signs in your swimming pool, head to my pool cleaning guide for a walkthrough on how to clean your pool.

Main Takeaways

  • If your pool is cloudy or green, it likely needs to be deep cleaned.
  • While the smell of chlorine is often associated with a clean pool, it is actually the opposite. A safe pool has no chlorine odor.
  • Depending on the chemical you add to your pool, wait between 15 minutes to 24 hours before jumping back into the water.

Strong Smell of Chlorine

A strong smell of chlorine does not mean your pool is safe. A healthy, safe pool will have little to no odor. That smell comes when your pool is out of balance. The smell of chlorine arises when the chemicals are dealing with a lot of organic material like sweat, urine, and bacteria in your pool. As the chlorine tries to deal with the contaminants not being filtered and cleaned sufficiently, it causes chloramine, which makes that smell. A strong smell does not mean there is too much chlorine in the pool; it means there is not enough to deal with all the contaminants.

Badly Out of Line Chemistry

Part of your swimming pool maintenance checklist is regularly checking the chemistry and keeping a healthy pH, alkalinity, calcium, and free chlorine or bromine levels. If these numbers are badly skewed, immediate work is needed. Check out my guide on swimming pool chemistry to learn how to do the appropriate checks.

Cloudy or Murky Water

Cloudy water indicates a chemical imbalance and a lot of particles in your pool. It can be a sign of heavy rain, lack of sunlight, insufficient filtration, or poor water circulation. Time to do something about it! Read my guide on clearing cloudy pool water to learn how to clear everything up.

Green Water

This is a sign of algae growing in the water and on the sides and bottom of the pool. Read my guide on how to clear green pool water to get rid of it easily.

Discolored Water

Unhealthy pool water can be colors other than green. The most common is brown or yellowish. This can be from brown algae growth or other contaminants in the pool. Any color change is a serious sign that something is out of order and needs to be corrected.

Bubbles or Foam

Having too many bubbles or a layer of pool foam means your water has enough contaminants to keep long-term bubbles due to strong surface tension. This can be caused by substances like lotions, sunblock, soaps, etc. in the pool; from a high concentration of bacteria in the pool; from a chemical imbalance or having way too many chemicals in the pool, or from clogged filters.

Living Organisms in the Pool

Uncared for pools can become breeding grounds for bacteria and creatures like mosquitoes, larvae, water beetles, or other small life forms. Do not swim in a pool where you see small things wiggling in the water. Seek professional assistance.

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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When Is It Safe To Swim In Your Pool After Cleaning?

In general, different chemicals have different wait times. The wait times can range from 15 minutes to 24 hours, depending on the harshness of the chemical. Some chemicals are safe to swim in, while others can cause burns on your skin. After shocking your pool or doing a deep clean, you should test your chemistry to make sure it is balanced before going swimming in it to ensure it is safe to do so. Here are some pointers for specific chemicals and treatments.

  • Wait at least 20 minutes to an hour after adding water-balancing chemicals such as pH, alkalinity, or clarifier.
  • Most algaecides are safe to swim in, but it’s a good idea to wait at least 15 minutes before your jump in your pool.
  • Always test the water after shocking your pool, but swimming is generally safe after the chlorine levels are around 5 ppm or after 24 hours.
  • Muriatic acid has the potential to burn your skin. It is best to wait at least 30 minutes after adding it to your pool.
  • It is recommended to wait for a full cycle through the filter or at least 2-4 hours after adding calcium chloride.
  • Testing your pool is the best way to determine swimming in it after adding liquid chlorine, but it’s generally safe to enjoy your pool after waiting about 4 hours or until the level reaches 5 ppm or lower.
  • After adding flocculant to your pool, you should only swim in the pool after the floc has been vacuumed from settling to the bottom of the pool. Otherwise, it loses its effectiveness.

Have questions about any of these issues? Shoot me a message, and I’ll be happy to help.

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