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How to Fix Cloudy Pool Water

When you have a cloudy pool, it can be a very difficult and time-consuming process to get it clear. Sometimes, your swimming pool will turn cloudy overnight!

I’ll explain the reasons your pool got cloudy in the first place, then share a few methods on how to fix the cloudy water. It won’t be a difficult and time-consuming process if you follow these methods.

Before we talk about how to fix you cloudy pool water, let’s first understand what causes it.

Why Do I Have Cloudy Pool Water?

There are so many causes of cloudy pool water, but I have broken it down into three main causes.

1. The Environment

Everything around your pool can cause your water to be cloudy, that includes: weather, birds, construction, trees, gardens, the sun, people, and pool algae.

2. The Pool Filter

If you filter system is not working properly, or you’re not running your filter at least 8 to 10 hours per day, then you are at high risk for cloudy pool water.

Your filter system constantly cleans the water in your pool. Without it, you’re left with stagnant water that could become cloudy.

3. Pool Chemicals

An excessive amount of pool chemicals can cause your water to be cloudy. That includes: high pH, high alkalinity, high chlorine or other sanitizers, and high calcium hardness.

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You want to make sure you shock your swimming pool every week with the proper amount of shock for you size pool.

Sometimes you’ll get cloudy pool water after shocking. This is common and should dissipate over time. Just keep your filter running and it should clear up. Also, look into a new brand of shock (make sure you buy shock that has a main active ingredient of calcium hypochlorite). Cheaper shocks that you get from the big box retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, are not the best choices.

How To Clear A Cloudy Pool

Once you have fixed all the possible problems that can cause your water to be cloudy, now we can work on a cloudy pool water fix. Here are 3 ways to clear your cloudy swimming pool:

1. Use A Pool Clarifier

It’s always a good idea to use some sort of pool water clarifier weekly. Pool clarifiers work to gather the tiny particles that are making your pool water cloudy and bring them together to create bigger particles so that your filter will have a better chance of picking it up. This is called a coagulant which is a term used when describing blood clots.

The particles alone will have a hard time being picked up by your pool filter, so this chemical “clots” them together and your filter now will be able to trap them.

Most swimming pool chemical retailers will carry more than one form of swimming pool clarifier. Just ask if the chemical is a coagulant and you will be well on your way to a crystal clear swimming pool.

Kem-Tek 326-6 Pool and Spa Ultra Clarifier, 1 Quart

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Use this simple clarifier to bind small particles in your water to create bigger particles that your filter will have an easier time getting out of the pool water.

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2. Use Pool Floc (Flocculant)

A chemical called Floc or Flocculant is a great idea if you’re in a rush, or would like to see your swimming pool cleared up quickly.

Lets say you have a pool party tomorrow and your swimming pool is cloudy. By using Pool Floc, you can clear your cloudy swimming pool overnight (with a little extra work on your part). Floccing your swimming pool is a great method, but it’s very time-consuming and difficult.

Pool Flocculants work by gathering all the particles, that are making your water cloudy, and sending them to the bottom of your pool, creating a huge cloud on the floor of your pool. Unlike a water clarifier, this chemical WILL NOT help your filter to pick up the particles, because all of the cloudy pool particles are now at the bottom.

In The Swim Super Floc Pool Clarifier - 1 qt.

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One of the most under-rated pool chemicals. If you’re looking to quickly get rid of algae (and don’t mind a little hard work), use this to settle all the algae to the bottom of the pool and vacuum it out to Waste.

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At this point, you will need to manually vacuum up that cloud using your pool pump, not an automatic pool cleaner. When vacuuming, you want your filter setting to be on the “waste” or “backwash” option (if you are using a DE filter or Cartridge Filter make sure that the drain plug is removed.

[Here's a video on how to manually vacuum your swimming pool.]

The idea here is to vacuum up the cloudy water right OUT of your pool, because putting that much dirty water through your filter WILL NOT work and will send that dirty water right back into your pool.

By vacuuming out to “waste,” it will never run through your filter system. You are going to lose a lot of water in your pool, so make sure to keep a fresh hose of running water in your pool during vacuuming.

Also, you must use a manual vacuum for the process. Automatic pool cleaners will not work and will just end up blowing the cloudy you created at the bottom of your pool, right back up. Again, it is difficult and a lot of water is wasted, but it will clear your pool in 24 hours if done properly.

3. Use Your Filter System and Bottom Drain(s)

main-drainYour pool’s main skimmer is located at the top of your pool and helps to clear the top, which does not help to collect the cloudy particles that are at the bottom of the pool. Knowing this, we need to help the filter get to those particles.

You can achieve this two ways:

  1. Constantly stir up the water, by swimming or with a pool brush, so that it pushes the particles closer to the top of the pool.
  2. Turn on the bottom drains.

Every inground pool should be equipped with 1 or 2 bottom drains, so it’s easy for you to utilize them. This will allow the filter to start pulling water off the bottom of the pool, where the cloudy particles are, and circulate the clean water back to the top.

This works great, but what if you have an above ground pool that doesn’t have bottom drains? We have come up with a little trick to mimic the effect of a bottom drain in an above ground pool.

Simply hook up your manual vacuum cleaner, as if you were about to vacuum your pool, but instead, leave the vacuum at the bottom (in the middle of your pool) and turn it upside down. Now your pool filter will be pulling water from the bottom of your swimming pool using your manual vacuum and releasing the clean filtered water up top.

These are three different methods of how to clear a cloudy pool by using swimming pool chemicals and your pool’s equipment. Check out some of our related articles to get more information about cloudy swimming pools.

If you have any questions about your cloudy pool, be sure to ask in the comments below and I’ll answer ASAP.

Happy Swimming!

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  • John Coppola

    My problem is not killing the algae , I can do that . My problem is removing the dead algae from the bottom of the pool the next day . I use a product called ” Sink and sweep ” it works pretty good , but my pool is a older system and doesn’t have a back wash to discharge the water out of the pool , all I have is that filter and a purge valve on top . So when I vacuum, most of the dead algae bypasses the filter and goes back in circulation into the pool , and only 20 minutes later my pool is cloudy again . What can I do ?

    • Matt Giovanisci

      You need to vacuum to waste and NOT to filter. The water you vacuum you exit the backwash port instead of coming back into the pool. You’ll lose a lot of water, so keep your garden hose in there while you’re doing it.

  • shonda

    I just used sink and sweep on my pool and my vacuum is not getting enough suction to pick up the cloud of dirt on the pool floor. will it mess up my pump if i turned on my filter? to filter the cloud of stuff on the bottom of the pool.

  • tara kehoe

    I have an above ground pool with really cloudy water and nothing I do is working to clear it, I’ve heard of sink and sweep but I don’t have a vacuum to waste valve on my pump, any suggestions??

  • Rachel Treadway

    I have tried everything- yesterday even took the water to be tested- all levels were dead on except for the one that was way low that means it won’t hold chlorine once the sun hits it causing it to evaporate as quick as you put it in. He told me to try a conditioner, using about 1/2 the container and then adding 2 more jugs of chlorine. Well, this am, it’s still the same cloudy mess. It’s blue but cloudy enough I can’t see the auto vacuum running in the bottom. I’ve run the vacuum all weekend and the pump- and still no clearness and a whole bottle of clarifier the previous weekend they told me to use? I wish now I’d just emptied the pool and started with fresh water. What to do?????

  • happycamper64

    Love the idea of using the pool vacuum as the main drain is great. I’ve always been annoyed I have no main drain and now I can at least emulate one when needed.

    For those of you that have no way to bypass your filter when vacuuming up the floccullant, I offer up the trick I have done for years. Use your shop-vac. Most are designed to handle water as long as you remove the vacuum’s dust filter. I put the pool hose into the vacuum port of the shopvac and place the shopvac where I want the water to drain (because it will be too heavy to move later) and then fire it up. I can vacuum for a minute or so, until the shopvac is full an then I unscrew the plug at the bottom and drain it out. Yes, it takes a while, but it beats having to clean the pool filter 10.000 times. This will also drain a lot less water than your pool pump would suck out to get a similar job done.

  • Karen

    Where to start if you used excessive chemicals trying to clear up cloudy water?

  • Michelle

    I understand that you need to vacuum to Waste after using a flocculant, in order to prevent it from entering your sand filter and causing massive problems, but what keeps any remaining flocculant fluid in the pool from entering your filter AFTER you’ve vacuumed the debris & returned your pump to the Filter setting?

    Call me paranoid/overthinking, but I’d like to use this to clean out some dead algae material following a Shock treatment and can’t afford to encounter any more major issues.

    Any thoughts appreciated! Thanks! :)

  • John Bullock

    I have never read such absolute rubbish and you are blatantly being coerced into spending huge amounts of money on chemicals you don’t need and processes you don’t need by following this “advice”. Do not do anything advised in this article.
    Stabilise your chemicals using a simple kit you can buy for $25. No need for more expensive unless you have major water problems.
    Check and keep the water stabilised once a week in winter, twice a week in summer.
    Run your filter one hour a day in winter, two hours in summer (30C and above).
    Shock chlorinate only if you have a major algae problem and if it recurs, pull out the lights and kill the algae that will be living in the sockets. If that doesn’t work and your pool has been left stagnant a while, replace your filter/sand/etc. Do not keep shocking, you’re wasting your money and health.
    Use flocculant only as a last result to settle in-water particles and then vacuum them to ‘waste’ > to the drain and not back to the pool. Floc is highly toxic to humans.
    If the water is persistently cloudy, also suspect your grouting.
    DO NOT keep adding chemicals as suggested in this article.
    DO NOT waste your pump lifetime and electric running the pump constantly.
    If you have a water issue, there is a simple, logical solution that this article will not fix.