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How To Get Dirt Out Of Your Swimming Pool (For Good)

When we think of a dirty pool, we picture things in the water like chloramines, algae, leaves, and worms – pollutants that are affecting both the chemistry of the water and the sanitizing chemicals.

But what about plain old dirt, dust, sediment, or silt?

This age-old headache is still causing issues in swimming pools, but we’re here to help you get your dirty problem under control.

How Dirt Gets Into Your Pool

Dirt comes in a few different forms. Ranging from fine soil, to dry powdery dust, to sandy clay known as silt, dirt will be found in your pool at some point. It can be introduced to the pool on the feet of swimmers, or it can be blown in by a simple gust of wind.

While larger debris such as bugs and leaves get sucked up and caught in your skimmer basket, dirt usually falls to the bottom of the pool, creating a sediment that doesn’t get circulated through the pool system and filtered out.

Note: Dead algae is often mistaken for dirt. If you can’t capture it between your fingers, it’s probably algae. No stress, we have a separate guide on how to get rid of dead algae.

Is Dirt A Problem?

Dirt is a contaminant and needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.

This is because the chlorine in your pool recognizes dirt as a pollutant and will work to sanitize it. When your pool chlorine is sanitizing, it’s also becoming more and more depleted.

Dirty pools will require additional chlorine as the water chemistry becomes unbalanced and needs to be restored. This increase in chlorine consumption will also cause a dent in your wallet, which could’ve been avoided by simply removing the dirt from the water.

Additionally, if left for extended periods, dirt can actually stain the bottom of your pool depending on the particular finish you have.

How To Remove Dirt From Your Pool

Getting rid of dirt in your pool is not difficult at all, and can be easily done without the need for hiring a professional service.

Brush Your Pool

Most dirt accumulates and sinks to the floor of the pool, but it also can stick to the walls – you just can’t see it.

For this reason, you should brush your pool at least once a week to loosen up any debris that may be present.

Be mindful of your pool’s finish when selecting the proper brush for your pool. Fiberglass and vinyl liner pools need a soft bristle brush for their delicate finishes, while hard surfaces like plaster and concrete require a brush with steel bristles.

Brushes are inexpensive, costing around $20.

Use A Pool Vacuum

Brushing down the pool walls loosens the dirt so it can either float and be filtered out, or sink to the bottom of the pool. 

To get rid of all the sediment on the pool floor, you vacuum it up! Using a manual or automatic pool vacuum (robotic, suction-side, or pressure-side), you can easily suck the dirt off the bottom of the pool.

Pro tip: Some pool owners will also install a skimmer sock or hair net on the skimmer basket to help decrease the filter’s workload.

As with pool brushes, ensure the vacuum head you are using is safe for your pool’s finish. The last thing you want to do is accidentally poke a hole in your vinyl liner.

Run Your Pump (Longer)

Most pools need to run around 6 to 8 hours per day to complete a single sanitization cycle of the water. While this is adequate, running the pump for a longer period will filter out any dirt that’s floating around before it has a chance to settle at the bottom of the pool.

Think of it like a cup of coffee. Depending on the brew, you may end up with some sediment at the bottom of the cup because coffee just sits there, waiting to be consumed. But when you stir it up, the sediment is disrupted until the coffee becomes still again.

The same goes for pool water. Once the pool pump is turned off, dirt is no longer circulating, which means it won’t be filtered out and it will eventually settle at the bottom of the pool.

How To Prevent Dirt In Your Pool

Keeping dirt out of your pool entirely is a nice idea, but in reality, you’ll still have to deal with it at some level – so let’s talk about some preventative measures.

Use A Pool Cover

Installing a pool cover is a blanket solution (pun intended) to keep undesirable things from entering the water.

  • Winter cover. The winter cover is essentially a tarp to protect the pool during the months it’s not in use. It covers the entire pool so no debris can get into the structure, which will make it easier for cleaning and balancing the pool water when reopening the pool. Winter covers last between 1 to 3 seasons and cost around $150 on average.
  • Safety cover. Available as solid vinyl or mesh, a safety cover looks like a big trampoline over your pool, and is tied down to the pool deck with straps. Both will keep out various forms of debris, but the solid vinyl cover will protect the pool more from fine dirt entering the pool. These covers don’t come cheap (between $1000 and $3000), but they will last a long time.
  • Solar cover. Those who want to save on heating bills usually install a solar cover on their pool. This cover resembles a big sheet of bubble wrap, and keeps heat from escaping the water. Additionally, it doubles as a barrier to keep debris like dirt from getting into the pool. Depending on the size of the cover, you can expect to pay anywhere from $75 up to $500.

Check Your Filter

Your filter works for multiple hours every day, catching and storing all kinds of debris (not just dirt).

Regularly monitoring it and cleaning it out is important so it doesn’t become clogged and potentially damaged. You can clean out your sand or DE filter simply by backwashing it, which is essentially flushing or detoxing the filter. 

If you are new to this concept, you can read our article detailing how to backwash your pool filter.

Enforce Showering

If you’ve ever swam at a public pool, you know there’s usually signs posted asking you to shower before jumping in the pool. 

Doing so will pre-clean your body so it doesn’t transfer pollutants like dirt into the water. Showering will also get rid of oils on your skin that can contribute to the creation of chloramines.

When you pollute the pool, chlorine consumption goes up!

It’s All Down To Earth

The problem of dirt has been around forever, so you’ll never fully get rid of it. 

But by knowing how to properly clean it out of your pool, and how to take preventative measures to keep it out, your backyard oasis will be in pristine condition all season long.

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