Foamy pools might look kind of cool sometimes—sort of like a giant bubble bath.
But a foamy pool is actually not a good thing, because what it usually means is that your water is too “thick.”
And that’s just as gross as it sounds!
So in this guide we’ll go over what causes pool foam, how to get rid of it, and how to prevent a foamy pool from happening again!
What causes pool foam?
Just like in an ocean, pool foam usually means there is a lot of organic debris in the water, like skin, hair, sweat, oils, beauty products, leaves, algae etc. (source)
It can also be caused by either too much algaecide or other cheap chemicals that tend to have additives.
Either way, all this gunk makes your water thick and the air from the pool jets adds volume to it, causing bubbles.
Not so cool now, huh?
So, how does this happen?
Usually, if your pool has a lot of organic matter, it’s either because the water has not been changed out in a very long time, you continually have a lot of swimmers, the filtration system is not working right, or a combination of any of those factors.
How to get rid of pool foam in 5 steps
The good news is that pool foam is not too difficult to combat, but it can be pretty time consuming.
It just depends on what caused the foam in the first place!
For example, if it was caused by algaecide or cheap chemicals, it will usually break down on it’s own if you just give it a few days.
But if it’s caused by a high concentration of organic matter, it will probably require some pretty heavy duty cleaning.
Step 1. Test your pool chemistry
The first thing you need to do is test your pool chemistry levels.
>>Read: How to choose the best pool testing kits
In this situation, it’s pretty likely that your chlorine levels are off, and you’ll correct those in this process.
But the main things you need to check is pH and alkalinity.
Your pH level should be between 7.2 and 7.6 and your alkalinity should be between 100 and 150 ppm.
>>Read: How to lower alkalinity in your pool
If either of these levels are off, correct them before you begin.
Step 2. Shock your pool
If your pool is just slightly foamy, adjusting these levels might be all you need to do to get rid of it.
But if it’s really dirty or has been a while since you cleaned it, you’ll need to shock your pool with either chlorine or non-chlorine shock. (It’s best to shock your pool at dusk and allow it to work overnight).
Check all your levels the next morning and balance any that are needed. Repeat the process if needed.
Step 3. Drain & refill
If your pool chemistry is way off or if you’ve had a high bather load for a while, you might need to drain a little of the water and refill it with fresh water.
>>Read: How to drain an above-ground pool
Once you do this, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and shock the pool as well.
Then test your chemicals and balance what is needed.
Step 4. Use an anti-foam chemical
If these methods don’t work, you can buy an anti-foam chemical or make your own, which should work to dissolve the foam immediately.
This is a good solution if your pool has been cleaned recently and you just have a little foam.
But if your pool is extremely dirty, this is just a bandaid to the underlying solution, and your pool should be shocked and cleaned well.
Step 5. Check your filtration system
If you’re unsure of the cause of the foam, you also need to check your filtration system to make sure it’s working properly.
Clean out or backwash the skimmers, check for calcium buildup, and make sure the motor is running when you turn the pump on.
>>Read: How to troubleshoot your pool pump
How to prevent pool foaming
If you’ve had a problem with foam in your pool, chances are you have a good idea why.
1. Shower before swimming
The first thing to do is ask your swimmers to take a quick shower before entering the pool: this will wash off any lotions or products they might be wearing that can build up in the water.
2. Watch your algaecide
The second thing you can be careful of is the type of algaecide you’re using.
If foaming has become a recurring problem, it’s probably time to look for a better quality product than what you’ve been using. You can actually buy a non-foaming version as well.
3. Clean your pool!
Thirdly, keep your pool as clean as possible, checking your chemistry regularly and shocking it once a month during regular use—more often during heavy use.
It’s much easier to keep things like this controlled if your chemistry levels are staying balanced.
Pool foam isn’t some kind of neat party trick, and it usually signals some kind of filth that needs to be dealt with.
It’s pretty easy to get rid of, but definitely easier if you take the steps to prevent it in the first place.
What methods have you used to remove pool foam?
Hi, I’m Matt Harper, the founder of poolcareguy.com, a site I started with one simple mission: to help people around the world clean and take care of their pools and hot tubs on their own, without the hassle.
I’m not a professional pool cleaner and don’t have any formal training, I’m just an average guy who loves hanging out by his pool and hot tub and taking care of it. After many years on the job, I’ve become quite good at it.
On this website I will be teaching you absolutely everything I know about pools and hot tubs.