Today I'm going to show you step-by-step how to finally clean your green swimming pool (FAST).
In fact: the strategies in this post have kept my own pool free of green water for a LONG time.
And today I'm going to show you the exact steps YOU can take to clean your green pool (and keep it that way for good).
Let's get started.
Why is your pool green?
Before we dive into (pun intended) the how of getting that pool back to blue, let’s take a look at why it turned green in the first place.
In most cases, a pool will become green because of an overgrowth of algae, but the causes for this overgrowth can vary.
The main ones are:
Hopefully now you’ve pinned down the culprit of the discolored pool, so let’s get down to business!
It may seem like the end of the world (or at least the summer) when your pool turns into a slimy green mess, but rest-assured, pool owners, I’ve got you covered.
If you follow these six simple steps to cleaning your green pool fast, I’ll have you back on your floatie in clean water in no time.
1. Does it need to be drained?
Rob at Dengarden says “if you can see at least six to eight inches below the surface of the water, most likely the pool can be treated chemically.”
If not, you will need to make your own decision about whether to drain the water or continue to try chemical treatments.
2. Lower your pool's pH level
- 7-Way Strips Measure:Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, Total Hardness, Total Alkalinity, pH and Cyanuric Acid
- Just dip and wait 15 seconds
You'll first want to test your pool's pH to get a good idea of how much it needs to be lowered.
There are lots of testing kits for water chemistry available (check out the best pool test kits) that range in cost from under $5 to well over $50, but a good kit like this one from AquaChek (click here to check the price on Amazon) will serve your purposes just fine.
Since your pool is green, we already know the chlorine level is probably way too low, so you can skip testing that if you’d like.
The main thing you will be testing is the PH level.
A healthy PH level for a pool is right around 7.5, but for this project, we want it even lower—below 7.2.
This will keep the water from becoming even more cloudy in the following steps.
>>Related: How to clear a cloudy swimming pool
Once you know what the PH level is, you can use a sodium bisulfate product to reduce it.
Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions for adding the product to your pool and test it again in a few hours.
How much you add will depend on how acidic your pool is.
It’s always recommended to use about ¾ as much as it calls for to begin with so you don’t overdo it.
3. Shock your pool!
Now it's time to shock your pool with granular chlorine (calcium hypochlorite)!
Most pool shock products give great instructions on how much to use for various situations, but Pool Spa News states that scientifically, to de-structure the DNA of algae, you need to chlorinate the water to 30 ppm (or 30 parts per million).
Use your testing kit to reach the right balance.
4. Pump & filter
Next, you’ll need to pump the water and filter it to regain balance. How you do this will depend on the type of filter you have.
If you have a DE or a sand filter, you’ll want to backwash the filter (aka clean your filter) before you do anything else in order to remove dirt and sediment.
Pool Center gives great directions here on how to do this, but the basic steps are:
- 1Shut off pump, roll out backwash hose, check waste line for any closed valves.
- 2Turn the multiport valve handle to backwash, or slide a push pull valve.
- 3Turn on the pump. The water should flow out backwash pipe or hose.
- 4Backwash until water runs clear, about 2-3 minutes.
- 5Shut off pump, turn valve back to filter, turn filter back on.
- 6Note lower pressure on filter tank, and increased flow rate.
5. Floc your pool
After this process, your pool will still probably be a little cloudy from leftover residue—specifically, a “high concentration of microscopic particles of dirt, bacteria or other substances that are resistant to pool chemicals and small enough to pass through filtration.” (source)
Adding a flocculent helps the debris clump together so that it can easily be vacuumed from the bottom of the pool, leaving you with crystal clear water.
6. Kill the algae
You’ve probably eliminated most of the algae in your pool by now and you may even feel that another step is just not necessary, but taking this one extra step could possibly keep you from having to repeat this entire process again in another week.
The thing is that algae grows very quickly and can take over your pool from just a few tiny spores. Killing it will drop it to the bottom of the pool floor.
Tips for maintaining your pool going forward
The easiest way to clean your pool is to maintain it well enough that algae and debris don’t get out of hand.
Here are a few simple things you can do to make sure your pool water stays crystal clear:
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so they say, and that couldn’t be truer than it is with swimming pool maintenance.
A little extra TLC on your pool every week will keep you from having to muck out a dirty green mess once a month.
Now, go grab your suit and dive in!