13 Basic Swimming Pool Care Tips For Beginners

Pool care isn’t easy, but you can do a lot to make your water shine. Depending on the degree of pollution and the problem with the water treatment, different methods are necessary to clean your pool.

The best tip for pool care is to regularly check the water balance with test strips and, if necessary, improve the levels. Dirt should be removed early with the brush and vacuumed out of the swimming pool to prevent cloudy pool water.

In this article, you will find a list of pool cleaning tips so that your water stay crystal clear.

Why do you have to clean the pool?

The pool has to be clean, which can only be achieved with proper pool care.

But why exactly is the continuous maintenance of the pool important?

Many beginners often unsuccessfully use the wrong chemicals for pool cleaning without finding out the actual root cause.

This results in short-term success in water treatment and sooner or later leads to cloudiness in the pool.

Because of the false pool care, unnecessarily large amounts of pool chemistry are used.

The consequences: Increased costs for pool maintenance and health risks such as those arising from over chlorination of the pool water.

But these are only a few reasons why you have to take care of your pool regularly.

A neglected pool not only leads to cloudiness and health risks but can also cause damage to the expensive pool equipment.

Damaged seals, valves, broken pipes, and damaged joints in the pool result from false pool care.

This costs extra money to replace parts of the pool pump or the sand filter system. In the worst case, a complete renovation of your swimming pool is inevitable.

But that doesn’t have to be the case when you take my basic pool care tips on how to clean a pool.

In the following chapters, you will find various problems with your pool and how you can quickly correct them. Read more about this in the text.

Keep the correct water levels ​​in the swimming pool

Before we move on to the actual pool care, there is one thing you should learn.

Your swimming pool is not only grungy from dirt such as leaves, sand, colloidal substances, or insects.

Incorrect water levels ​​in the pool are often the reason why the pool water has become cloudy and now needs to be cleaned.

Note: If the water balance ​​in your pool is not correct, even the most thorough pool care plan will have little success.

Therefore, the pool water parameters should be checked regularly.

Fortunately, the problem can be quickly eliminated with the pool pump’s appropriate filter run times and optimized use of pool chemicals.

But which water parameters ​​are the most important in your swimming pool, and how high should they be?

  • Alkalinity: The total alkalinity (also referred to as acid capacity or TA level) interacts with the pH level and is decisive for further optimizing the water levels. If the acid capacity is not balanced, there will be strong fluctuations in the pH level and the calcium hardness – ideally, the total alkalinity is 80 – 120 ppm.
  • pH level: The pH level indicates how acidic or basic the water in the pool is. A low pH leads to cloudy pool water and can damage the joints in a concrete pool. However, a high pH level can also cloud the water and lead to the formation of limescale – the optimum pH level in the pool is in the neutral range between 7.2 – 7.6.
  • Calcium hardness: In addition to the alkalinity level and the pH level, calcium hardness also plays an important role in water treatment. A deviation from the ideal level (200 – 400 ppm) can lead to calcium deposits and cloudy pool water.

These levels ​​can be determined quickly by beginners using inexpensive test strips.

Another method is to use electronic water testers.

Tip: Simple water testers are sufficient for use in private swimming pools. Still, false results are expected as test strips are inaccurate – electronic water testers are much more accurate.

What equipment do you need to clean your pool?

Of course, the pool cannot simply be cleaned without the appropriate basic equipment.

You probably already have most of the devices in your garden shed, and you can buy others cheaply at the local pool store or from an online shop.

What do you need to clean a pool and keep it permanently clean?

  • Telescopic rod: The brush, the landing net, and the manual vacuum cleaner are attached to the rod – a solid telescopic rod costs around 30 $ and does not break in the first season.
  • Pool brush: The brush removes algae or limescale deposits on the pool floor and walls. In a PVC pool, you should not use a steel brush. In addition to the brush, a simple sponge should always be in your pool kit.
  • Landing net: The landing net helps clean the water’s surface in the swimming pool. Leaves, insects, and small drowned animals are removed quickly with a net.
  • Pool vacuums: The pool vacuums are available in different versions. The most common is the manual pool vacuum. You can vacuum the dirt from the pool floor without having to drain the water – the pool vacuums always include a sufficiently long pool hose and a telescopic rod.
  • Test kit: If you don’t have a multifunctional electronic water tester, various test strips are required to check the parameters in the water.
  • Pool chemistry: The water must be disinfected regularly, and various agents such as chlorine, active oxygen, bromine, and other disinfectants are suitable for this. If you want to use less pool chemistry, you can install special systems for disinfecting the pool water. You can find more about pool chemistry in my pool maintenance blog.

If that’s too much for you, you can hire a pool care service, but that’s not cheap.

As already mentioned, cleaning your pool is relatively easy with the right instructions. This allows you to keep your pool cleaning costs down.

Here you will find a procedure for professional pool cleaning so that you know what to expect:

  1. Check the pool water balance and, if necessary, fill some water in your basin before you start cleaning the pool.
  2. Optimize filter run times according to the water volume. 6 to 8 hours a day are ideal.
  3. Check the water balance and disinfectant and, if necessary, use the pool chemistry to improve it.
  4. Manual removal of coarse dirt using a landing net, brush, and pool vacuum.
  5. Empty the pool pump and skimmer basket. Backwash your sand filter system.
  6. Check and optimize water parameters ​​(pH level, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness).
  7. Weekly scrub the basin, use a flocculant and check the water level.

If you want to read a detailed pool cleaning guide, you can find it in my blog. Just follow the link to find out more.

Clean the water surface in the swimming pool

Especially after a storm, organic dirt forms big pillow cushions on the pool water’s surface.

Filtering via the skimmer and the pump should be avoided if you have not removed the bigger particles from the surface beforehand.

The pool pump would clog too quickly, and the constant walk to the technical room would be time-consuming to clear the blockages.

For this reason, a strong polluted water surface due to leaves, pine needles, and insects must first be cleaned with a pool net.

The dirt accumulated on the pool floor should also be removed as much as possible with the net.

In the case of strong pollution from leaves, it is practical to increase water circulation.

The flowing water from the return nozzle drives the dirt from the surface into the skimmer and makes it easier to remove it.

Remove the grease film and the grease edge in the pool

However, the water surface in your pool can also have a different type of pollution than just leaves and insects.

We are talking about the unpleasant fat film and fat rim.

The fat rim always occurs when bathers forget to shower before jumping into your pool. The creams, perfumes, and skin cells dissolve in the pool water and form a greasy film.

In this case, your pool must be cleaned with a sponge and special agents such as ammonia while the pool pump is running – it is best to wear rubber gloves.

In the future, you can prevent the dirty edge in your pool if you make it a rule that every swimmer has to shower before using the pool.

A solar shower in your garden is recommended.

Get rid of algae in the pool

Algae in the pool are one of the most common problems that inexperienced pool owners struggle with.

The water in the pool becomes slightly cloudy at high temperatures and tips over within a short time. As a result, the pool water turns green.

But why is that, and how can you prevent the pool from tipping over?

The algae form at all because the pH level is not balanced between 7.2 to 7.6, and the filter run times are too short.

But neglected disinfection and flocculation also allow algae to grow.

However, algae can easily be prevented (assuming optimal water level) if you let the filter run – depending on the season – between 6 and 8 hours/daily. Besides the filter run times, you have to scrub your swimming pool regularly without any visible algae.

It also often happens that the pool turns green after a long winter unless it has been properly wintered.

Fortunately, the green algae can be removed again with little effort:

  • Local algae are first scrubbed with a pool brush. If the algae are difficult to loosen, a little chlorine granulate should be sprinkled with a small shovel on the appropriate areas. During this time, the filter pump should be inactive.
  • When you brush the pool, the filter system must be running. The filter running time should be increased to 6 to 8 hours/day – if necessary 12 hours/day.
  • The use of a flocculant is recommended to improve filtration.
  • After the algae have been cleaned, an algaecide can be used to inhibit the growth.
  • In the end, the water parameters ​​are checked and possibly balanced – see the recommended levels ​​above in the text.

Tip: When your swimming pool has become completely green, a pool shock right at the beginning – before scrubbing – will help. You can read exactly how a pool shock works in my blog by clicking on the link.

Green algae are not dangerous and are relatively easy to remove from the pool.

But you should know that this is not the only type of algae and that some are even dangerous to your health.

Still, others are mistaken for algae like the pink algae but are not really algae.

Different methods must be used depending on the type of algae.

You will find detailed instructions on combatting algae in your pool under the links.

  • Mustard algae: Easily confused with green algae, but – as the name suggests – they are significantly more yellow.
  • Black algae: The black algae (also known as blue algae) often nestles in the damaged joints of the concrete pool and is dangerous to health – it must be removed as soon as possible.
  • Pink algae: These are not algae but rather greasy bacteria (pink slime) that spread quickly.

Clean the pool floor

Cleaning the pool floor is particularly important so that no deposits such as algae settle.

Many beginners ask how to remove the deposits on the pool floor.

This will not work with the sand filter system alone, as dead zones are always expected in the corners. Heavy materials such as leaves or dragged-in sand often remain in the pool.

The pool floor can be cleaned with a brush and via the floor drain.

Still, it is comparatively complicated and not clever, especially since not every pool has a floor drain.

And how to clean the floor in your pool?

With a pool vacuum, the loose dirt from the bottom in large and small pools can easily be vacuumed without draining the water.

To do this, you always vacuum your pool to the middle from one corner to the other. Then change sides and repeat the process.

It is important that you vacuum the floor with the manual pool vacuum in an overlapping manner to avoid lines.

After cleaning with the pool vacuum, you should scrub the pool floor again with a brush to loosen fine deposits that could not be removed with the pool vacuum.

Because of the turbulence in the water, the substances are removed by the pool filter over time.

If you don’t have a pool vacuum yet, you should definitely get one.

But the question is, which pool vacuum is best for your pool? After all, the pool shops offer a wide range of different underwater vacuum cleaners.

In the following subsection, you will get to know the various pool vacuums that are currently most common for pool cleaning.

Manual vacuum cleaners for floor cleaning

  • Manual pool vacuum: This type of pool vacuum is – depending on the model – connected directly to the sand filter system or to the skimmer via a suction hose. The models are relatively cheap and suitable for all pool shapes. However, the entire pool must be vacuumed by hand with the manual pool vacuum, and if you have to do this 1-2 times a week for a large pool, it is pretty stressful.
  • Venturi pool vacuums: The Venturi pool vacuums are not operated by the pool pump but with the help of the water flowing in from the garden hose. This is particularly useful in simple paddling pools or whirlpools without a powerful filter system. However, an increased water level and an imbalance of the water levels ​​are expected with the incoming water.
  • Battery pool vacuum cleaner: The battery pool vacuum cleaner works independently – as the name suggests – via an integrated battery. This is practical as it saves the time required to connect to the water system, and your pool can be sporadically vacuumed. The battery pool vacuums cost a little more compared to the other models.

So far, that is all manual pool vacuums, whereby the battery pool vacuums are the best choice.

In my blog post, you can read whether you should choose an electric or hydraulic pool vacuum.

Does the manual vacuuming of your pool scare you?

Then an automatic pool vacuum or a pool robot would be the right cleaning device for you.

Pool care with an automatic pool robot

  • Hydraulic pool robot: The hydraulic pool robot is connected to the return nozzle of the pool via a pool hose and works without electricity. These pool vacuums can randomly vacuum the floor without human intervention. Unfortunately, most models can only vacuum the bottom and are inferior to the electric pool robot.
  • Electric vacuum robots: The electric pool robot works via a power cable and is probably the most effective pool vacuum. With a pool robot, the floor and the walls are cleaned up to the waterline. Buying a pool robot would therefore be recommended in large swimming pools.
  • Battery pool robots: A further development of the pool robots with cables are the battery-powered pool robots. These do not have to be operated on a sand filter system or power cable. In addition, the pool robots with batteries are cheaper but clean, usually only the floor in the pool.

You now know all possible pool vacuums to clean the floor and even the walls in your pool.

No matter what type of floor vacuum you choose, they are all practical for pool care.

What should you do if there are calcium deposits in the pool?

Calcium always occurs in the pool when the pH level is above the limit of 7.6 over the long term.

Limescale deposits in the pool damage the equipment and make your pool water milky.

An acid wash is necessary to remove the limescale.

You can clean your pool with the acid in a filled pool and an empty pool – I recommend cleaning without draining the water first.

Remove limescale deposits in the filled pool:

The pool pump should first be switched off to prevent acid splashes – it is also best to wear protective equipment and old clothing.

  1. Pour 10 liters of hydrochloric acid per 25 m³ of pool water directly into the pool at various points.
  2. Let the acid sit for about 30 minutes and measure the pH. The pH level should be well below 7.0. If this is not the case, more acid must be added to the pool water.
  3. The pool must now rest for a day.
  4. The next day, the pool is brushed with a pool brush.
  5. Let the pool rest for about 1 hour, and then vacuum the pool with a floor vacuum.
  6. The pool pump is started the next day, and the pool is brushed again.
  7. Suppose you can still see limescale deposits on the third day. In that case, the pool must be scrubbed again until all limescale has been removed.

Are you wondering where to get the hydrochloric acid from?

Just use a pH minus agent because that’s nothing more than hydrochloric acid.

Once the limescale has been removed from your pool, the pH level must be returned to an average level of 7.2 – 7.6. This is easy to achieve with a pH plus.

All other parameters such as alkalinity and calcium hardness must also be checked in your pool.

Limescale cleaning in a pool is extremely time-consuming. It is easier to prevent these deposits from forming – this is best done with proper pool maintenance.

Suppose you want to read more about calcium in your pool and learn how to remove calcium deposits in an empty pool. In that case, my helpful blog article at the link is recommended.

Clean pool water with the flocculant

The flocculant is a miracle weapon against algae and other fine particles in your pool water.

A flocculant is nothing more than a binding agent that binds fine substances such as pollen, dander, dust, etc., to large flakes and makes them filterable.

Through the use, the water shines crystal clear.

A flocculant is even used in drinking water treatment to filter out colloidal substances – it is therefore considered harmless when used in a swimming pool.

The flocculant is available in pool shops as flock pillows, granules, tablets, or liquid solutions.

The flock pillow is particularly suitable for water treatment in private swimming pools.

But how is the flock pillow used correctly?

Very simple: Simply place the flocculation pad in your skimmer or in the sand filter system – done. In practice, use in a skimmer would be the better choice.

Depending on the packaging information, you have to replace the flock pillow every 10 to 14 days. An early change of the flocculation pad would also be possible.

However, the use of the agent in liquid or granular form is different.

You can find detailed instructions for using the flocculant in the pool in my ultimate blog post under the link.

Tip: While using a flocculant in your pool, don’t backwash the filter system for the next 10 to 14 days. Backwashing would cause the flocculant to lose a large part of its effectiveness.

How to get rid of bad chlorine smells in the pool?

If your pool smells strongly after chlorine, this is unpleasant for you as the user of the pool but also for the nearby neighborhood.

But why does your swimming pool smell so strongly of chlorine, and what can be done about it?

Incorrect use of chlorine and bad bathing habits lead to disinfection by-products such as chloramines and trihalomethanes (THM). Chloramines, in particular, are responsible for the typical indoor pool smell.

  • Chloramines are formed when chlorine reacts to sweat and urea. The result is the typical indoor pool smell and burning eyes.
  • Trihalomethanes are formed in addition to the chloramines when the used chlorine reacts with organic impurities. This by-product of chlorine is carcinogenic.

I know.

It sounds confusing, but a pool shock breaks down the by-products of chlorine.

  1. For every 50 m³ of water, you need 10 liters of liquid chlorine with 150 g/l chlorine content.
  2. The liquid chlorine is poured directly into the return flow of the pool.
  3. Then the pool pump has to run for 24 to 36 hours until the chlorine level falls below 1.5 ppm – only then can you swim safely.

Alternatively, you can also add fresh water to your pool to remove the chloramines and the bad smells.

After that, however, the water balance (pH level, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness) may have to be improved.

Tip: When used properly, the use of chlorine is not as dangerous as is often claimed.

Ensure that the chloramines do not rise above 0.2 ppm and that the concentration of the trihalomethanes remains below 2 ppm. By doing this, there will be no unpleasant odors in your pool.

Pool cleaning with vitamin C

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is recommended by many beginners in forums and on other platforms such as YouTube.

It is sold as a miracle cure against cloudy water caused by high iron levels in the pool water.

The cleaning effect – which is visible in seconds – is astonishing, but it is only a cosmetic effect.

In truth, vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) does not break down the cloudiness in your pool but converts the iron hydroxide into a non-visible iron hydroxide – the trivalent iron hydroxide becomes divalent iron hydroxide.

The actual cause – the iron – was not removed but only treated cosmetically.

Soon, your swimming pool will be cloudy again.

You can try it, but as already mentioned, vitamin C does not replace real pool cleaning!

Many forget that vitamin C is an ideal food supply for microorganisms that can tip over the water balance.

That’s why you shouldn’t use vitamin C for pool maintenance and instead use tried-and-tested agents such as flocculants or algaecides.

Tip: If your pool is often cloudy, you probably use well water. The well water is rich in iron and copper, and if processed incorrectly, it leads to muddy pool water.

Tips for cleaning the pool without chemicals

The use of chemicals in swimming pools makes inexperienced pool owners shake, which is why they are often looking for a way to promote pool cleaning without chemicals.

But is pool cleaning possible without chemicals, and what does it look like in practice?

A distinction must be made here between two different types of pool chemistry:

  • Chemicals for water treatment: These include chemicals for increasing and lowering the pH level, optimizing the alkalinity and calcium hardness.
  • Pool chemistry for disinfection: This type of chemistry is used to kill dangerous germs, remove cloudiness and avoid unpleasant smells – such agents are chlorine, bromine, active oxygen, biguanides, and others.

Operating a pool without suitable chemicals for water treatment is not the right option for private swimming pool maintenance. It is also not economical in terms of costs.

The water balance must be checked regularly and optimized as quickly as possible so that the pool does not turn green. It does not make sense to completely operate a pool without a chemical such as the pH reducer.

Some would argue that simple home remedies like vitamin C and baking soda can be used to maintain the pool.

This is true to a certain extent, but the disadvantages clearly outweigh the advantages. As you can read above, vitamin C is not a real solution.

However, the situation is different with disinfectants.

Overdosing on disinfectants such as chlorine in your pool can lead to acne, respiratory irritation, and even cancer.

Switching away from using chlorine to a suitable alternative makes sense.

Suitable alternatives to chemical disinfectants would be:

  • Active oxygen: More expensive than chlorine but very pleasant.
  • Saltwater electrolysis: A system that continuously disinfects the pool water.
  • Biguanide: Gentle and effective, but a combination with other chemicals is not possible.
  • Ozone-Bromine combination: The water is disinfected in a closed system, but an additional agent such as active oxygen or bromine is necessary for disinfection.
  • UV light: The water that has already been cleaned is disinfected in the UVC clarifier. But this only works as long as the pool pump is running.
  • Pool ionization: Another alternative to chlorine, but the same problem as the UVC clarifier.

If you want to learn more about how to run your pool without chlorine, just click on the following link to access my blog article.

However, you should never forget that pool maintenance without chemical disinfectants is always associated with increased costs and additional effort.

Saltwater electrolysis is the best choice for private swimming pools regarding cost and environmental compatibility.

The initial costs of purchasing and installing the saltwater electrolysis should be amortized after 2 to 3 years.

Tip: Pool care without chemicals is possible but not absolutely necessary. Proper use of pool chemicals prevents overdosing and minimizes health risks.

If you have an allergy, chemical-free pool maintenance is the right choice.

Cleaning a pool after the winter

The water quality and how often the water balance is disturbed in summer depends entirely on how the pool is cleaned after the winter.

That’s why you should take care of how you winterize your pool in the spring.

But when is the right time to open your swimming pool?

Most pool owners start wintering the outdoor pool in mid-April. But you can also orientate yourself on the water temperature – you can start cleaning from 54 to 60 °F.

Here is a short step-by-step guide on how to clean a pool after winter:

  1. Remove leaves and other dirt from the pool cover with a brush so that the dirt does not fall into the water. The cover is then cleaned, dried, and stored in a dry place.
  2. Dirt on the surface is removed from the pool with a pool net.
  3. Now the sand filter system can be switched on – circulating – for 10 to 15 minutes to get the dirt out of the corners – please do not backwash beforehand.
  4. It is advisable to drain the pool water with a submersible pump and refill the pool in the spring. The risk of clogging was minimized by removing the dirt in the second step.
  5. The emptied basin should be checked for damage. Damaged joints, cracked pipes, and limescale deposits should be fixed before the first filling.
  6. In the next step, the pool is scrubbed with an acidic pool cleaner to remove any algae deposits – then an algaecide can be applied, but this is not a must.
  7. The pool is now rinsed with clean water and is ready to be filled.
  8. Before that, however, all important components must be connected. Do not forget to check the skimmer, filter system, plugs, and seals. A new cartridge is used for a cartridge filter – the sand in the sand filter system may have to be changed (every 1 – 3 years).
  9. Finally, the cleaned pool basin can be filled with water, and the water balance ​​can be optimized.

If you need more details on how to clean your pool after winter, I recommend my blog article linked above.

Tip: As a rule, water treatment in your pool takes 2 weeks after the winter. The reason for this is the strongly fluctuating parameters in the pool water, which have to be regularly checked and optimized.

Start cleaning the pool as early as possible after the winter.

Do you have any further questions about pool care?

Contact me at @contactswimfool on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, or Pinterest – I’ll be happy to help.

Have fun in your clean pool.

Photo of author
Hi. I'm Max Berg. I've been in the pool industry since 2015 and have always felt drawn to water. I'm the author behind swimfool.com, where I share my years of experience in pool maintenance and give helpful tips on keeping a swimming pool or hot tub clean. My tips reduce the costs of water treatment and protect the environment.

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