How to Clean Pool Tile with Muriatic Acid

Written by Michael Dean
January 6, 2024

cleaning pool tile with muriatic acid

A large part of a swimming pool’s crystalline appearance is flawlessly clean pool tiles. So, algae stains on pool tile can make your pool look less like a sparkling oasis and more like a swamp. Fortunately, nothing resolves stubborn stains, grime, and buildup on your pool tiles better than a good dose of muriatic acid.

In this article, I will provide my step-by-step guide for cleaning pool tiles with muriatic acid; plus, I’ll give some pointers on how to be safe while handling this hazardous chemical.

Main Takeaways 

  • Cleaning pool tile using muriatic acid requires a cautious attitude; suit up properly and work in a ventilated area to avoid health hazards.
  • You must dispose of muriatic acid safely according to local municipal guidelines.
  • Baking soda can help neutralize any muriatic acid in case of an accidental spill.
  • Muriatic acid can help with common pool tile issues, such as calcium buildup, algae and mold spores, and rust stains.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Clean Pool Tile with Muriatic Acid

As a hazardous chemical, muriatic acid must be handled with serious care and caution. Here is a step-by-step guide on safely cleaning pool tiles with muriatic acid.

Step One: Suit Up

Don proper protective gear such as safety gloves, goggles, a respirator mask, and closed-toe shoes before handling muriatic acid. You need to be protected from fumes and accidental splashes.

Step Two: Prepare Your Work Area

Remove any pool accessories, furniture, and plants from the area you’ll be working in just to be safe. If you have a spare slab of wood or concrete handy nearby, place your materials on top of it. Make sure you have all the other materials you need close at hand.

To clean pool tiles with muriatic acid, you’ll need the following:

  • Muriatic acid
  • Hose
  • Brush
  • Bucket
  • Baking soda

Step Three: Dilute the Acid

Muriatic acid always needs to be diluted before use; otherwise, the substance is too corrosive, and you could risk adding too much. Fill a 5-gallon, acid-resistant bucket with water, and then add the muriatic acid to the bucket. Always add the acid to the water, not the other way around, or you might encounter a dangerous chemical reaction called “chemical bubbling.” A general rule of thumb is to add one part muriatic acid to ten parts water.

Step Four: Test the Solution

Before applying the solution to the pool tiles, do a patch test to ensure it doesn’t damage the surface. Dip a brush into the solution and apply it to a little section of your pool tile. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse. If there is no damage or discoloration, you can proceed.

Step Five: Work in Small Sections

Using your brush, work the acid into the pool tiles in small, circular movements. Allow the solution to sit for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on how prominent the stains are. Then, thoroughly rinse the tiles with water to remove the acid solution. If the stains persist, you may need to repeat the steps or talk to an expert about what you could do next.

Step Six: Dispose of the Solution Safely

Once you’re done cleaning, dispose of the remaining acid solution safely. Do not immediately pour it into a drain or down your toilet. Instead, neutralize the acid by adding baking soda before checking with local municipal authorities on how to discard a hazardous chemical safely.

Safety Tips For Using Muriatic Acid

Muriatic acid is a highly harsh and caustic substance that must be handled cautiously. Even a tiny misstep could cause some major damage. Here are some safety points to keep in mind to keep you and your pool safe:

  • Always wear proper safety equipment such as gloves, goggles, closed-toe shoes, and a mask. Only handle strong chemicals while wearing the proper protective gear.
  • Do not handle muriatic acid in confined spaces where the toxic fumes can build up and cause respiratory distress – choose an area with good airflow instead.
  • Avoid splashing or spilling the acid by working slowly and in small stages while transporting it in open containers. You should also pour the solution steadily, without sharp or sudden jerks.
  • Keep baking soda nearby. Mix half a cup of baking soda and a quart of water in a sealed spray bottle and keep it by your person for any sudden spillages or skin-to-skin contact with the acid.
  • Follow your local hazardous waste disposal guidelines when disposing of muriatic acid to get area-specific instructions for disposal.

How Often Should You Clean Pool Tiles

The frequency of cleaning your pool tiles depends on various factors, such as the size of your pool, how often it is used, and the surrounding environment. Here are a few factors to consider before cleaning:

  1. Pool usage: If you use your pool frequently, you may need to clean the tiles more often, as they will accumulate more dirt, oils, and other debris.
  2. Surrounding environment: If your pool is in an area heavy with foliage and you leave your pool uncovered, or you live in an area with heavy rainstorms, you may need to clean the tiles more often.
  3. White scale: If the chemical balance of your pool water is not adequately maintained, it can lead to the formation of scale and stains on the tiles. In this case, you may need to clean the tiles more frequently.

In general, cleaning your pool tiles at least once or twice a year is recommended to prevent the buildup of scale, stains, and other debris. Regular maintenance of your pool tiles can also help prolong the life of your pool and prevent costly repairs down the road.

Common Pool Tile Issues that Muriatic Acid Can Be Used to Solve

Muriatic acid is useful across many pool tile issues and has wide-ranging applications. Here are some common pool tile issues that muriatic acid can help solve:

  • Calcium buildup is a fairly common problem in pools, especially in areas with hard water. It can cause white, chalky stains to form on the pool tiles. Muriatic acid can dissolve the calcium buildup and remove the stains from the tiles.
  • Algae and mold spores can grow on pool tiles if they are not cleaned regularly. Muriatic acid can effectively break down the algae and mold and remove them from the tiles.
  • Rust stains by metal components or equipment might cause unseemly rust stains to develop on your pool tiles over time. Muriatic acid can remove such staining. But keep in mind that you must not use the acid on the rusted metal equipment directly!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use household vinegar to clean pool tiles?

Yes, you can. Household vinegar is a mild acid and can be used to clean pool tiles. That said, it’s not very strong and certainly not as strong as muriatic acid, especially for tougher stains and calcified buildups. If you’re using vinegar for basic routine maintenance and for removing light stains and buildup, you’re good to go, but tough and persistent staining would definitely need stronger chemicals like muriatic acid.

How long does swimming pool tile last?

In general, I’d say pool tiling can last around 5 to 10 years. However, the lifespan of swimming pool tiles can vary depending on a few factors, such as the type of tile (glass, ceramic, mosaic, stone), the quality of installation, and how well the pool is taken care of.

Do you have more questions about muriatic acid or pool tiles? Let me know!

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