How to Clean a Swimming Pool

How to Clean a Swimming Pool

Owning a swimming pool is as luxurious and exciting as most people think it is—that is, if you become a responsible pool owner and do what it takes to maintain its cleanliness. Some people outsource the work to pool cleaning services on a regular basis, but unless you’re a big-time businessman or celebrity, it can leave a hole in your pocket.

Instead of spending so much on your pool, you can choose to do the cleaning yourself. With the right equipment and understanding of what and how often you need to clean your pool, you can make it possible to have year-round pool parties with family and friends at home—and maximize your home investment.

Essential Pool Cleaning Equipment

pool cleaning materials by the poolside

Before you start cleaning, you’ll need to purchase the following equipment and store them safely for your regular pool cleaning and maintenance.

Telescopic Pole

Swimline Premium Telescopic Pool Cleaning Pole

The telescopic pole is a rod that you’ll be holding more than half the time. It connects to all sorts of actual pool cleaning equipment—skimmer nets, brushes, vacuum heads, and combinations of them. It extends to different lengths, but as a standard, you should get an 8-foot long pole that can reach up to 16 feet so that you can clean the pool floor and its walls conveniently.

There is a wide variety of telescopic poles that you can find on Leisure Pro—like the Swimline Premium Telescopic Pool Cleaning Pole. You’ll want to make sure that your pole is clean and free of any dirt that might contaminate your pool before use.

Skimmer Net

Swimline Leaf Skimmer with Aluminum HandleSwimline Residential Deep Bag Leaf Skimmer

After the telescopic pole, the skimmer net is the second piece of pool equipment that you would be using the most. It’s used to collect debris—everything from leaves and twigs to bugs and pool toys—that may be floating on and right under the surface of the water.

You’ll find that there are two kinds of skimmer nets: a flat skimmer and a bag skimmer. Flat skimmers like the Swimline Leaf Skimmer with Aluminum Handle  are great for regular cleaning because it’s easier to shake debris off of it. Bag skimmers, like the Swimline Residential Deep Bag Leaf Skimmer, are great for holding more dirt but are much harder to empty, especially when wet.

Whichever you choose, make sure it’s a heavy-duty product that won’t break easily. Also, make it a point to clean your skimmer net regularly.

Pool Brush

Swimline H2O PRO 10" Stainless Steel Hybrid Pool Brush

The pool brush is used to scrub the pool’s walls, ladders, and floor to remove dirt and algae before they can accumulate further. Simply attach this end piece to your telescopic pole and you’re good to go. As for the kind of pool brush that you’ll need, it depends on what your pool surface is made of.

For unpainted concrete pools, you can use a brush with both nylon and stainless steel bristles, like the Swimline H2O PRO 10″ Stainless Steel Hybrid Brush. For gunite surfaces, just stainless steel bristles would do the trick. As for vinyl, fiberglass, or painted concrete pools, use nylon bristled-brushes only to avoid scratching the surface.

Just like the skimmer nets, you’ll want to purchase a heavy-duty pool brush that would last long and won’t break easily from friction and exposure to pool chemicals. You’ll also need to make sure that you periodically rinse it out and remove any dirt that gets stuck in-between the bristles.

Manual Vacuum

Swimline Flexible Weighted Vacuum Head with Brushes

A brush and net are obviously not enough to get rid of all of the debris, particularly those that have settled at the bottom of the pool. You’ll also need a vacuum head, which attaches to your telescopic pole and connects to a vacuum hose that sucks in all the dirt. The hose would be connected to the suction port of your pool’s filter tank.

There are different types of pool vacuums depending on your needs, but they are commonly rectangular in shape and have bristles around it—like the Swimline Flexible Weighted Vacuum Head with Brushes). To use a manual pool vacuum, you move it across the bottom of the pool the same way you would vacuum a carpet.

Automatic Pool Cleaner

pool robot in the water

An automatic pool cleaner, commonly known as a robotic pool cleaner, is basically a vacuum that moves across the bottom of the pool and collects the debris on its own. As you can imagine, it’s more costly than a manual pool vacuum.

There are three types of automatic pool cleaners. Suction side cleaners are powerful enough to suck up rocks, but they are no longer recommended as larger debris can damage your pool’s filter system. Pressure side cleaners are attached to the return jet of your pool filter and remove debris from filtered water by placing solids in a detachable bag. But the most efficient type is the robotic pool cleaner, as it is a self-contained unit that does all the work for you.

Water pH Tester

mini water tester test kit

Pools normally have chemicals present in them to help keep it clean. Factors like weather and overuse can affect the chemical levels, so a water tester kit is used to check whether or not they are within the acceptable range. If they are not within safe levels, then you can proceed to adding a pH reducer or increaser.

pH Increaser and Reducerpowdered pH Increaser

There are many brands of pH increaser and pH reducers that you can use to help bring your pool’s pH levels within the acceptable range. What’s important is that you buy from a trusted store and brand, and that you follow the instructions listed on the label.


thick chlorine tablet

Chlorine is the main chemical that is used to sterilize pool water for swimming. They come in different forms: powder, liquid, and dissolvable tablets. Chlorinator tablets tend to be more convenient as it releases chlorine at a steadier rate. They come in 1-inch and 3-inch disks, which are typically used on smaller pools and bigger pools respectively. These are easily administered using a floater or a chlorinator device.

How to Clean a Swimming Pool

overhead shot of a man cleaning a pool surface with a skimmer net

Now that you have all the basic things that you need, here are ways that you can use them to maintain a healthy and inviting swimming pool.

Skim the pool surface

The first step that you’ll have to get used to when cleaning a slightly dirty pool is to skim its surface with a flat skimmer net. Remove any foreign solids, leaves, and other foliage that may have fallen into your pool. You should make time to do this every day as part of your pool maintenance to ensure that it is free of contamination.

Brush around the pool

Once the surface is clear of debris, it’s time to clean the sides, floors, stairs, and ladders with your pool brush. Extend your telescopic pole as needed in order for you to brush hard-to-reach areas and use some force to remove grime. You can do this once a week, so make the most of it and cover all surfaces.

Vacuum the bottom of the pool

If you’ve found debris on the surface, you’ll likely find some at the bottom of the pool as well. You can get rid of those by vacuuming the pool floor—longer in areas that look dirtier if you’re using a manual vacuum. This can be done once a week, so remember to always vacuum after you brush.

Clean the pool filter

Once your pool looks clean and dirt-free, remember to check your pool filter. Remove any debris, grime, and other build-up that may be clogging the filter.

Test the water’s pH level

Now that you’re sure there are no solid materials that could be making your pool dirty, it’s time to test the pH level of your pool. You’ll want it to be between 7.2 and 7.6. Apply the pH increaser or reducer as needed to bring your pool to the proper pH range. You can do this at least three times a week to make sure that your pool is always safe to use.

Add chlorine tablets

Finally, add chlorine tablets to sanitize the pool. Remember to add them as instructed on the label and only through your skimmer, floater, or automatic feeder. A 3-inch chlorine tablet is designed to dissolve within seven days in order to sanitize a 7,500 to 10,000 gallon of pool water, so it’s important to follow the instructions in terms of frequency.

How to Clean a Very Dirty Pool

overhead shot of a dirty outdoor pool

The process is different when you’re dealing with a pool that has been left untouched for several months. You’ll find that it is not only full of debris but has changed in color as well. Fortunately, you won’t need to chuck out all of the water. Although it will take longer and a lot more effort, it can still be cleaned using the same basic steps.

Clean the surface with a leaf net

Don’t use the same skimmer to remove debris from the surface of a dirty pool as it would stir the top layer of scum into the water and worsen the situation. Instead, use the deeper leaf net to slowly clean the top.

Test and adjust chemical levels

Before you clean the bottom of the pool, which you probably can’t even see due to the greenish color of the water, you’ll need to clean the water itself. Check the pH level and adjust the chemicals until it is within the safe range.

The adjustment will likely take a few days as you would be going back and forth with the pH increaser and reducer just to get the pH level right. You may even have to add an alkalinity increaser to reach a good pH level of 7.5 to 7.8.

Shock the pool

Another major step in cleaning the pool water is to “shock” the pool for several days with a few gallons of granular oxidizer, which is basically a powdered form of chlorine that’s best known as pool shock. You can start with 3 or 4 gallons and wait until morning. If the color of the pool doesn’t change to cloudy white, light green, or clear, you can add another 3 or 4 gallons and wait another 24 hours. Repeat the process until the water becomes clear.

Leave the filter running

Allow the pool filter to run overnight for a few days. This should help clear out unwanted bacteria and dirt that are present in the pool. Also backwash your filter at least 3-4 times a day, since green water can clog your filter and cause damage. If the pool doesn’t clear up in 4-5 days, have your filtration system checked. It could mean that there is something wrong with your filtration system or that it needs replacing.

Clean the sides and bottom of the pool

Now that your pool water is finally looking a lot more inviting, you’ll simply need to brush the surfaces and vacuum the pool floor. But if there is a lot of debris, don’t risk it. It’s best to contact professional swimming pool cleaning services than end up clogging and damaging your filtration system.



  1. I like how you mentioned that cleaning a pool doesn’t have to be like rocket science–all you’d need are some basic pool equipment and a lot of elbow grease. This is especially true when it comes to clearing out a pool that hasn’t been touched in several months–the water has changed color to a point it’s no longer blue but in most cases, green. One of the most important things to do is to leave the filter running overnight for a few days in an attempt to clear out the greenish color of the pool–but if that doesn’t work, it’s time to clean that pool filter. While I don’t have a swimming pool in the back of my house, at least it helps to know how to be able to possibly clear out a pool after it’s been neglected for some time.

  2. Having a cleaner can change the way you think about managing your home. The regularity of the cleaners visits and the time you spend planning what you want them to concentrate on can help you to prioritise what is most important to you and your family.

  3. I found your website just right for my needs. Swimming pool cleaning is very difficult to work. But you shared the ideas about pool cleaning is really useful. Thanks for sharing a great article. It’s helpful for me.

  4. I really like the fact that you use pictures with the information. Having good photos to show what the pool cleaning equipment looks like helps more then more people think. Most articles on pool cleaning just talk about the process but don’t actually show what each piece of equipment looks like. It might seem simple but this is very helpful for new pool owners!

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