How to clean cloudy pool water

Wondering how to clean cloudy pool water? You’re in the right place. On this page, we’ll cover everything you need to know to return your pool to its former glory. You’ll learn how to clear a cloudy pool and how to keep it clear for many months to come.

We’ll be discussing the following below:

  • Answers to the question, ‘why is my pool cloudy?’
  • Easy ways to clean a cloudy pool
  • How to tackle cloudy water in a saltwater setup
  • How to prevent cloudy water from returning

From chemical balance to keeping your filters shipshape, we’ve got you covered.

Click the following link to learn more about pool maintenance.

What Causes Cloudy Pool Water?

Before we can learn how to fix cloudy pool water, it’s necessary to pinpoint exactly what causes things to cloud up in the first place.

So, what causes cloudy pool water? The following may be causing you grief:

  • Your free chlorine (FC) levels
  • Your levels of calcium hardness
  • Rampant algae and bacteria growth
  • Your pH levels
  • Your pump and filter systems
  • Mineral and chemical deposits
  • Your level of chloramines

Your goal should be to:

  1. Identify which causes you’re dealing with from the list above
  2. Use a clearing method that works for your specific cause

Don’t worry – we explain all of this in more detail below!

Cloudy Water in Pool – The Equipment You’ll Need

The specific method you use to fix your cloudy pool will determine the equipment you’ll need. That said, you may need the following:

  • A pool vacuum and pool brushes
  • The right shock chemicals for your setup
  • A new filter/ cleaning tools for your existing filter and pumps
  • A pH testing kit
  • Other chemical testing kits or a full water tester
  • Pool sanitiser – pool still cloudy? This is a great way to prevent it from returning!
  • Salinity testers

How to Get Rid of a Cloudy Pool – The Three Main Pillars

Asking yourself, ‘why is my pool cloudy?’? You’ll need to think about the ‘three pillars’ of pool maintenance:

  1. Circulation – are your filters and pumps working correctly?
  2. Chemistry – are your pH and other chemical balances in order?
  3. Cleaning – have you been regularly sanitising your pool?

Can Too Much Chlorine Cause Cloudy Water?

In short, yes. Too much of many common pool chemicals can cause cloudiness to occur. The three main things to look out for here are your total alkalinity levels (TA), total chlorine levels (TC), and your pH levels. There are a few other factors to consider like hardness and bromine.

The good news is that pool test kits can be picked up fairly cheaply online. These will help you determine the chemical balance present in your pool. Once you know what levels you’re dealing with, you can address any imbalances. We discuss this below.

How to Fix Total Alkalinity Levels

In general, you should be aiming for a TA of between 80 and 120ppm. If you’re sitting somewhere below or above this range, myriad problems can arise.

To raise your pool’s alkalinity, you can add sodium bicarbonate or use a purpose-made product to increase your TA.

To decrease your TA, you’ll need either muriatic acid or sodium bisulphate.

To figure out how much of each chemical to add, you’ll need to know the volume of your pool. If you’re unsure, online calculators can help you get a good estimate.

Remember that if you’re decreasing your alkalinity levels, it’s worth checking your pH too as TA and pH levels influence one another.

Can High pH Cause Cloudy Pool Water?

In general, it’s a good idea to keep your pH levels between 7.2 and 7.8. Double-check your local guidance if you’re unsure. For those who don’t know, 0 on the pH scale indicates extreme acidity and 14 indicates extreme alkalinity. Go too far either way on this scale and cloudy pool water is bound to follow.

To raise your pH, add sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, or a commercial pH raiser.

To lower your pH, use sodium bisulphate, muriatic acid, or a product that’s designed to do the job for you.

Why is the pool water cloudy white after I put in chlorine?
In general, your chlorine levels should be 1-3 parts per million. So, why is the pool water still cloudy after adding chlorine? Isn’t it supposed to keep things clear?

The trouble is, chlorine’s half-life is remarkably short. After just 45 minutes, your levels of free chlorine (the active version of chlorine that can keep your pool clean) have reduced by up to 50%.

Contact with direct sunlight, bodily fluids, and oils from natural sources can all cause chlorine to convert to what’s known as chloramines. Chloramines won’t help keep your pool clear and can even be harmful at certain levels.

Your saviour here will be cyanuric acid. Cyanuric acid helps to protect your chlorine levels from direct sunlight and other contaminants. When added in sufficient quantities, your free chlorine levels can stay steady for significantly longer.

If you’re new to this, it’s best to rely on a commercial stabiliser. Follow the guidance on your stabiliser’s packaging and monitor your free/ total chlorine levels throughout the day. Just make sure you only add the correct amount!

Cloudy Water in Pool – Calcium Hardness Levels

The amount of calcium in your pool matters. If your calcium hardness level gets too high, cloudy water is never far away. So how much calcium should you have in your water?

If your pool lining is made from plaster or concrete, your calcium hardness should be somewhere between 200 and 275ppm.

For vinyl and fiberglass pools, aim for between 175 and 225ppm.

To lower your calcium hardness back to non-cloudy levels, try some of the following:

  • Drain your pool and add fresh water with appropriate calcium levels
  • Use a pool flocculant to clump your water’s calcium and manually remove it
  • Add muriatic acid in the form of ‘balance tablets’
  • This won’t actually lower calcium levels, but it will increase saturation and potentially improve the appearance of your water

Check out our pool chemistry post to dive further into the world of pool maintenance.

What to do if the Pool is Cloudy but the Chemicals are Fine?

So, you’ve checked all your chemicals and everything seems to be in order – what else should you check? If your pool is cloudy but chemicals are fine, your filters and pump system should be your next port of call.

Your Circulation System

To keep your pool clean and healthy, it’s vital that your circulation system is in good working order. Stagnant, cloudy water is an inevitable consequence of poor pool circulation.

A common problem with many home pools is that owners have installed a pump that isn’t the right size. To make sure you’re using the right size pump for your setup, you’ll need to determine:

  1. How many gallons of water your pool holds
  2. The subsequent ‘flow rate per hour you’ll need for your pump system

To figure out how many gallons of water you’re dealing with, use an online calculator. Next, divide this figure by the number of hours you’ll need your pump system to run per day to keep everything nice and clean. This number is usually 8.

Finally, divide this new figure by 60 to get your ‘gallons per minute’ (GPM) figure. Practically all pump systems are rated by GPM so you’ll need to know this figure to make sure you’re using the right setup.

Next, you’ll want to take a look at your return fittings.

Most pool circulation systems use return or ‘eyeball fittings’ like these. Make sure your fittings are pointing directly downwards. This stops the water at the bottom of your pool from becoming stagnant.

Your Filtration System

When was the last time you changed your filter cartridge? Have you been cleaning out your filter regularly? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, your filter may well be the cause of your cloudy pool water.

In some cases, you’ll be able to clear out particulates and dirt from your filter to get things back to where they should be. In others, it may be necessary to completely replace your cartridge. Keep in mind that most pool filters are rated for about 2000 hours of continuous use.

Backwash your filter to help remove stubborn dirt from its cartridge. In general, you should be doing this every 4-6 weeks.

Check out our guide to learn more – how to clean a pool filter.

At a bare minimum, your filter should be running for around 8 hours a day. In pools with a high level of traffic, it may be necessary to run it 24/7.

Pool still cloudy? The link below may help:

Does Dead Algae or Dirt Cause Cloudy Pool Water?

Poor filtration, circulation or free chlorine levels can allow germs and bacteria to thrive in your pool. Other contaminants like algae can also tarnish your pool’s appearance. So, how do you get rid of algae in a pool? Follow our tips below.

Brush and Vacuum Your Pool

Thoroughly brushing and vacuuming your pool can help the chlorine in your water do its job more effectively, thus helping to eliminate problems like algae. Use pool brushes to disrupt stubborn algae and then vacuum up as much as you can.

Robotic pool cleaners can be a great way to remove the hassle from this process – robots and vacuums.

Check out our how to vacuum a pool guide to learn more about using these products effectively.

Shock Your Pool

‘Shocking’ your pool with chemicals like ammonia can help solve your algae woes. The age and severity of your infestation will determine how much to use. Your best bet will be to rely on commercial products. Most cleaners on the market contain chlorine, ammonia, or a combination of the two.

My Saltwater Pool is Cloudy – How do I fix it?

When it comes to cleaning cloudy water from a saltwater pool, much of the guidance listed above will help.

In general, follow these steps:

  1. Check your pH, alkalinity, and free chlorine levels and adjust accordingly
  2. Check the age and effectiveness of your filter and adjust accordingly
  3. Make sure you’re using the right pump size and clear any blockages you find
  4. Adjust your return fittings and make sure that your water is being circulated properly

Use the sections above to help if you need more detail.

The Saltwater Difference – Salinity

One extra detail to consider with a saltwater pool is salinity. For your filters, chlorine, and other sanitising elements to function properly, you’ll need to make sure there’s the right level of salt in your pool.

As a very general rule of thumb, you should be aiming for a salinity level between 2500 and 3500ppm. Remember that different chlorine generators and cleaning products call for varying salinity levels so check your manufacturer’s guidance if you’re unsure.

Salinity test strips can help you figure out where you stand. For best results, you should be testing your pool weekly.

How to Clean a Cloudy Pool in 24 Hours?

So, what should you do if you’ve got guests coming over in 24 hours? Follow these basic steps and your water should be looking great in no time!

Step 1 – Brush and Vacuum

If you’ve got green algae or other large debris in your pool, you should first brush up and then vacuum this away. This will make the following steps much more effective.

Step 2 – Shock Your Pool

Next, it’s time to shock your pool using products. This should help eliminate the short-term causes of your pool’s cloudy water. Check the volume of water you’re using in your pool and adjust the amount of product you use accordingly.

Step 3 – Run Your Pool’s Filter

Once your pool’s water has been treated, it’s time to run your filter for at least a few hours. You should notice that your cloudy water begins to turn clear!

Please note that the quick method described above won’t necessarily address the underlying causes of your cloudy water. You’ll need to test your chemical levels and circulation system to fix your pool in the long term.

If you’re wondering how to clean a cloudy pool in 24 hours, though, this is the way to go!

Why Is My Pool Cloudy? Final Thoughts

We hope the tips above will help you return your pool to its former glory. Remember that while a quick fix is convenient, you’ll still have to address the underlying problems for long-term results. To keep your pool clear year-round, you should be backwashing, vacuuming, and filtering on a regular basis.

We hope you never have to search for ‘how to fix cloudy pool water’ again. Good luck!

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