Do you really know how to clean and maintain your swimming pool?

updated: June 22, 2020

As summer approaches, pool owners everywhere begin thinking about when to open their pools for the season. They think about all the poolside parties, a good lap-swimming workout, and weekends spent lounging by the water, soaking up the sun.

Weekly Pool Maintenance
Often, there’s one aspect of pool ownership that gets pushed aside: Maintenance.

Many times, maintenance is an afterthought, neglected until the walls turn green from slime or a filter gets clogged with leaves. However, waiting until problems arise can end up costing a lot more time and money than if you simply establish a good maintenance routine.

Perhaps you’re a brand new pool owner, or maybe you’ve owned a pool for years. Either way, it’s good to have a clear idea of how you’re going to keep the pool clean and well-maintained all summer long. The only way to do that is to ensure you have the bases covered with these tips and tricks.

Shock your pool the right way

If you’re a beginner, shocking doesn’t mean surprising your pool. Shocking means raising the chlorine levels for a little while to kill bacteria. It should be done at least twice a season or whenever the water looks murky, such as right after a big pool party.

But you need to do it right to avoid over- or under-chlorinating and to prevent damage to yourself, your pool liner, and filter. The best way to do shock is to dilute your concentrated chlorine by mixing it into a bucket of warm water. Mix it well to dissolve evenly while wearing protective gloves and goggles. Then pour it into your pool.

Chlorinating

Be sure to only shock the pool at night, however. The sun burns off chlorine at about 1 ppm per hour, which reduces the effectiveness and wastes money. Shock at night for the best results. Just be sure no one will be doing any night swimming.

Become BFFs with your brush and skimmer

Zodiac Robotic

This should become like brushing your teeth, something you automatically do on a daily basis to keep things clean. Every day, you should be skimming leaves and debris from the water’s surface with a net skimmer.

If you have a little extra cash, robotic pool vacuums can be a big help in keeping the pool floor and sometimes the walls clean. We have some great options for the top robotic pool cleaners of 2020 here on our site. There are also suction-side and pressure-side cleaners that provide automated cleaning for a little less money.

However, you should always have this basic equipment on hand:

  • a net skimmer
  • a pool brush
  • a manual pool vacuum

Automated cleaners, even those with smart tech, are only so smart. They won’t catch everything or be able to reach every corner and surface. You’ll need to manually brush the walls and pool stairs at least weekly, to dislodge stuck-on algae and debris that your automatic cleaner will miss.

The truth about pool pumps and filters

Ideally, your pump should be running 24 hours a day all summer long for the best filtration results. Not everyone’s budget and equipment can sustain that, however, but aim to run your pump at least 8 hours a day each day. Think of your pool pump having a full-time 9-5 job. That consistent circulation is the number one way to keep the water clean and healthy.

Filtration system
At least once a week, you should clean out the filter basket to remove all the debris it’s collected. Neglect that, and your pump will work way too hard to move the water through the clogged filter, thereby shortening its lifespan.

At least once a month, depending on how much debris your pool collects, you should backwash your filter. This means reversing the water flow and redirecting the water out of a waste port that flows out of your pool. The type of filter you have determines how you’ll backwash, but the end result is removing all the built-up dirt that can clog the pipes and other areas that you can’t clean simply by emptying the filter basket.

Don’t be intimidated by pool chemistry

Pool Test Kit

Basic pool chemistry is really simple, but you have to stay on top of it so things don’t get out of hand. All you really need is a good water testing kit. Before you start throwing chemicals in the pool, test your water so you’ll know exactly how to adjust the chemicals without wasting time and money. There are 3 main things to test for:

  1. pH levels: How basic or acidic your water is on a 0 – 14 pH scale. Low pH means acidic (0 – 7), while high pH is basic. You should aim to keep your pool water within the neutral zone of 7.4 to 7.6.
  2. Alkalinity: a pH buffer that prevents spikes in acidity or basicity. Your ideal range should be 100 – 150 ppm.
  3. Sanitizer: Whether chlorine, bromine, or something else, this is necessary to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. Levels vary depending on what you’re using.

At least once a week, test your water with a good testing kit. Go slowly, follow all directions to the letter, and carefully adjust chemicals according to results. Once a month, collect a sample and bring it to your pool supply store. There, they should have high tech testing equipment that will give you an even more accurate picture of the chemical composition in your pool.


Call in the professionals

If you have any leaks, cracks or anything that you’re not able to easily fix as part of your maintenance routine, call a pool service professional to come take a look. Don’t wait, or the problem could get so out of hand that it’ll end up costing you a ton of money for a major repair.

Even though you may not see any problems or think it’s a waste of money, have a service professional come out once a year just to check everything and make sure it’s in working order. They may be able to catch things you’ve missed or offer tips for better maintenance or pool products.

The best time to do this is right after opening the pool for the summer.

Things you may not have thought about

  1. Tennis balls to catch oils – Think about all the sunscreen, suntan oil, conditioner, and natural oils from skin that can come off as we swim. These oils leave a greasy sheen on the water and build up all around the waterline, not to mention clogging up your filters. The natural fibers on tennis balls, however, can absorb the oils, so toss one or two into the skimmer basket or right into the pool itself. Replace the balls when they start to show wear and tear.
  2. Keep your pool deck clean – It’s easy to spend all our time thinking about the pool water while neglecting the deck around it. But if you don’t clean the deck, you’ll track dirt, algae spores, and bacteria right into the pool. Sweep up loose leaves and debris a couple times a week. To sanitize, give it a good scrubbing at least once a month with a long-handled brush and a solution of water and pool deck cleaner. Or use a pressure washer with detergent.
  3. Keep street clothes out – Only proper swimsuits should be worn in the pool. Street clothes can carry chemicals, fibers and other contaminants into the water. Likewise, the pool chemicals can damage your street clothes. So keep them out! Swimsuits should be washed by hand in mild detergent and hung or laid flat to dry after EVERY time they’re worn.

Derek Coleman - Pool Cleaning Expert
If you can establish a good routine that includes these tips, you’ll be enjoying your pool for years to come. For more pool cleaning tips, read our article on 12 tricks you may not have thought of.
Derek Coleman
Pool Maintenance Expert

image description Comments
Chandler Pool Cleaner
June 10, 2020 at 4:17 pm

Excellent article and people always underestimate just how much it takes to clean and maintain a pool. That tip about the tennis balls for the oil was great I never thought of that. Thank you for taking the time to write this and for all of the great tips.

Elpasopoolcleaner
June 9, 2020 at 9:56 pm

Thank you for your great info! I just started a pool cleaning business myself in El Paso, Texas. You really inspired me of getting more knowledgeable every day and doing more research! So much to learn about this industry. THank again!

Bob
June 9, 2020 at 2:41 am

I didn’t get all that with my pool service, I was paying $90 a month and I noticed he would come by empty the basket, drop two tabs in then disapear out of site for 30 minutes from my cameras then leave.

Cleo
June 6, 2020 at 1:06 pm

Thanks for this great article. I reallye love the tips you gave towards the end, I would never have thought of using tennis balls, but it’s also very true that all the products/creams we apply on ourselves leave traces of oil in the swimming pool. Very informative, keep up the good work!

Pool Stuff
May 30, 2020 at 7:45 am

First of all many many thanks for your best content. It’s really so helpful for me. I hope in this article not only for me help, it also help all of us.
Thanks to pool stuff

Steve
May 21, 2020 at 4:47 am

As a small business owner that works with cleaning pools this is all accurate and wonderful information. Thank you for helping to spread the word!

MC Pool Cleaning
May 19, 2020 at 11:15 pm

Great article and very informative. The chemistry part was intimidating for me when i started my pool cleaning company but once you understand it, it becomes very clear. I do make sure to clean the deck but I will be adding tennis balls to my maintenance plans now! Thank you for taking the time to write this.

Pearl
May 11, 2020 at 7:03 am

I agree with this. Pool owners should have their pools examined by pool professionals at least once a year or two. Just to be sure everything fine and safe.

Kimberly
April 21, 2020 at 11:51 pm

Whenever we are cleaning a pool we are always sure to do these things. My family and I have had so much trouble in the past and learned that it is just easier to clean the pool and run the filter. Thanks for sharing!

George Alaniz
April 20, 2020 at 12:50 am

Pool cleaning can be very difficult depending on the size/dirtiness of the pool. These are great tips to maintain a pool that can help prevent having to do deep cleanings. Most of our jobs that we see is due to pool neglect which could have easily been avoided and saved the customer money. Thanks for sharing the article!

Sean
April 9, 2020 at 9:36 pm

I just started a pool business in Pittsburgh and this article was extremely helpful. Thanks for the great insight!

Simon Dean
March 20, 2020 at 9:06 am

A great guide to learn how to clean your swimming pool yourself if you have the time. I usually do not have enough time to maintain my swimming pool myself so I have hired the services of ….. to help me keep my pool clean and well-maintained throughout the year.

Jenn Kerr
March 18, 2020 at 4:53 pm

I love how you break pool chemistry so easily – most pool owners are intimated! Nice job laying out all the particulars here in an easy to follow way. Great job!

Thomas Lee
March 6, 2020 at 9:38 pm

Thank you for pointing out the extra things that pool owner should consider! Placing tennis balls in skimmer basket to catch oils is a brilliant idea. Keeping the pool deck clean and the street clothes out are also very important but so often ignored. We will spread your valuable tips to the pool owners we service from now on!

Zoe Campos
February 3, 2020 at 3:19 pm

We moved into a house with a nice pool and my daughter wanted to indulge in it immediately. I wanted to make sure everything is sanitized and well maintained first before letting any of my kids in, so reading your article had been really helpful. I didn’t know that we have to raise the chlorine level at least twice a season, and I like that you emphasized on doing it the right way to prevent any damages to anyone. I might consult a company that provides good pool care services to make sure everything is done well.

Pool Cleaning DF
December 18, 2019 at 7:03 pm

We have recently opened a new Pool cleaning service Company and came across this article. Really appreciate you taking the time to educate us on this, and liked your comment about the tennis ball to catch oil from sunscreen that can come off as we swim. Pool cleaning by no means is an exiting topic to write about, but you did an excellent job keeping it informative and entertaining.
Thank’s again for sharing your tips!!

Oliver Ray
September 6, 2019 at 3:49 pm

It is good to know you need to check on your filter at least once a week and clean it out. The filter is an important piece of equipment for any pool and you don’t want something going wrong or the filter not to work. Maybe setting a weekly routine for checking on al your pool equipment would be a good idea.

Grand Rapids Pool Cleaner
July 3, 2019 at 3:34 am

This is a great article for people to read who are new to owning and maintaining a pool. I agree that becoming friends with your skimmer and brush will help keep your pool clean and is just like brushing your teeth. I was not aware of the tennis ball trick to help catch oils from all the different things we put on our bodies before we jump into the pool. We just started our own pool cleaning company and I will definitely keep that tip in mind when talking to customers!

Anthony Joshua
June 19, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Swimming pool clean and maintain is very difficult work. It’s not easy. Many people think that once they make the swimming pool they will not have to take such care but It’s not like this. You shared the information is really very useful. I am using your tips about cleaning the swimming pool. Thanks for sharing the great information. Good Luck!

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