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Pool Clarifier: How Does It Work and Is It Better Than Pool Flocculant?

By Matt Giovanisci | Updated: January 20, 2022

If you’re struggling with mild, cloudy pool water and you’re looking for an easy fix, pool clarifier is a great option. It’s a simple method for clearing up cloudiness in your swimming pool. But it won’t work for every cloudy pool problem. So when should you use a clarifier? And when should you use a flocculant instead?

Here’s a quick guide on the difference between clarifier and flocculant and how to use clarifier for crystal clear water. You can watch the quick video below. Or keep reading for the complete pool water clarifier tutorial.

What is Pool Clarifier?

Pool clarifier clears cloudy water by clumping together the small particles and contaminants. When you add a clarifier to cloudy water, those smaller particles coagulate into bigger particles that can be captured by your filter.

Most clarifiers don’t destroy the particles in your cloudy water. Instead, they bond the tiny particles together into larger clumps. Without a water clarifier, those small particles would simply pass through your pool pump and filter and head right back into your pool water.

Here’s the pool clarifier that we recommend:

Our Top Pick
Pool Water Clarifier by Swim University
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If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

What’s the Difference Between Clarifier and Flocculant?

Clarifier coagulates particles into small clumps that are removed by the pool filter. It’s easier to use than flocculant, but it’s not as powerful and generally takes longer to clear up your pool water. Pool flocculant, on the other hand, coagulates particles into larger clumps that sink to the bottom of the pool. Pool floc is faster and more effective than a clarifier, but it requires more work and the particles must be manually removed with a pool vacuum.

Pool Clarifier Versus Flocculant

What are the Benefits of Pool Clarifier?

If your pool is only mildly cloudy and you’re not in a rush to clear up your water, pool clarifier is an easy choice for several reasons:

What are the Downsides of Pool Clarifier?

Before using a swimming pool clarifier, there are a few instances when it’s not the best option to clear up a cloudy pool:

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How Long Does it Take for Pool Clarifier to Work?

Depending on your pool’s level of cloudiness, it can take 2-3 days to clear up your water using pool water clarifier. You’ll need to balance your water and run your filter 24/7 while the clarifier is at work. And if you have an algae problem, you’ll have to address that first before adding clarifier. Be sure to check out our guide on The Smart Way To Kill Algae In Your Pool Quickly.

How To Use Pool Clarifier

Pool clarifier is easy to use, but it’s important to follow the correct steps in the right order to help the clarifier work effectively. Remember: if you also have algae in your pool, address that problem first before using water clarifier. No amount of clarifier is going to get rid of algae.

1. Skim, Brush, and Vacuum Your Pool

You’ll want to make sure the clarifier can work effectively in your water, so start by removing any large debris with a skimmer net. Then brush your walls with a stiff pool brush and vacuum your pool manually.

2. Test and Balance Your Pool Water

Test your water with test strips or a liquid test kit. Then, adjust your pH and alkalinity as needed. Your pH levels should be between 7.4 and 7.6 and your alkalinity levels should be between 100 and 150 ppm.

Our Top Pick
Complete Liquid Test Kit for Pools and Hot Tubs
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3. Shock Your Pool Water

If you have any algae or high levels of combined chlorine (also known as chloramines), you’ll need to shock your water first. Adding a high dose of chlorine, also known as shocking your pool, will help kill any contaminants in your water. If your cloudy water was caused by pool algae bloom, you’ll have to double or triple shock your pool depending on the type of algae.

Run your filter and let the shock dissolve overnight or for at least 8 hours. Then retest your water.

4. Keep Your Filter Running 24/7

Over the next several days, continuously run your filter to help clear up the cloudy water. You can return to your regular filter schedule once your water is cleared up.

Because you’ll be using the power of your filter to clear up the water, your pool will clear faster depending on the type of filter you own. D.E. Filters have the strongest filter capacity and will clear up cloudy water very quickly. Cartridge filters will take a bit longer and sand filters will take the longest.

5. Increase Your Pool Circulation

In order to get all of your pool water through your skimmer and into your filter system, be sure your pool has good water circulation.

You can help churn the cloudy water up from the bottom of the pool to the top by pointing your return jets down at a 45° angle and all in the same direction.

For inground pool owners, make sure your main drain is pulling water from the bottom of the pool into your filter system. If you don’t have a main drain, you can use a manual vacuum cleaner and turn it upside down at the bottom of the pool to act as a main drain.

6. Add Clarifier

After your pool shock has dissipated, it’s time to add pool clarifier. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and add the correct amount for your size pool. Use a pool calculator if you need help figuring out your pool’s volume. Remember, keep the filter running 24/7 while the water clarifier is working.

Here’s our recommendation for a pool clarifier:

Our Top Pick
Pool Water Clarifier by Swim University
Buy Now From Swim University
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

7. Clean Your Filters and Retest Your Water

After 2 or 3 days your water should be clearer. Clean or backwash your filters and retest your water chemistry. Some pool clarifiers may increase your pH levels, so use a pH decreaser as needed.

Our Top Pick
pH Decreaser for Pools
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Should You Use Clarifier or Flocculant?

If your pool is only a little cloudy or you have a cartridge filter, use a pool clarifier. You can use this in any situation with any filter setup. It’s just not as powerful as flocculant and it takes longer to work. If you’ve got extremely cloudy pool water or you want to clear your water fast, use pool flocculant. The flocculant works more effectively at clumping together particles. But you’ll need to manually vacuum out your water while bypassing your filter.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pool Clarifier

Looking for more help using pool clarifier? Here are some common questions and answers.

When should I add Pool Clarifier to my water?

If you have cloudy water but your water chemistry (pH, alkalinity and chlorine) is balanced and your filters are clean, you can add pool clarifier. Pool clarifiers are helpful to use when you’re opening your pool or with mild cloudy water. However, be sure to kill any algae before using pool clarifier (this can usually be done by shocking your pool before using a clarifier).

Most pools can be treated with clarifier up to once a week. Just be sure to keep your pool water chemistry balanced and your pool filter running 24/7 as you’re using the clarifier. However, if you’re constantly experiencing cloudy pool water, you may have other underlying issues like poor filtration or bad water chemistry.

Can I put too much Clarifier in my pool water?

Like many pool chemicals, using too much water clarifier can create more pool problems, including murky water and bacteria growth. However, it is okay to use a clarifier once a week. Be cautious when using pool clarifier if you use a metal sequestrant in your pool water. These two products work counter to one another and can create even more problems in your water.

Be sure to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and add the appropriate amount of clarifier based on your pool’s volume. And be sure to keep your water chemistry balanced, including your pH, alkalinity, and chlorine levels. If you need more help with pool chemistry, check out our Basic Pool Chemistry 101 guide.

Can you use Pool Clarifier and Algaecide together?

Before using any water clarifier, you must treat any algae in your pool. No amount of water clarifier will eliminate algae in your water so you need to shock your pool first. If you have the early stages of algae growth, pool flocculant can help bind floating algae particles, making it easier to vacuum. Regardless, you should never add two chemicals to your pool water at once.

Can you use Clarifier in a Saltwater Pool?

Yes, a water clarifier works in any type of pool. Be sure your other levels, like your pool chlorine, alkalinity, and ph levels, are within range.

Can you swim in cloudy pool water?

We do not recommend swimming in cloudy pool water. Cloudy pool water is full of debris and contaminants that cause eye irritation. And because visibility is limited, there’s an increased risk of drowning. Avoid swimming in your pool until your water is clear.

What causes cloudy pool water?

Cloudy pool water is caused by poor filtration, low chlorine levels, poor water chemistry, or contaminants in the water, like debris or algae. Pool clarifier can help clear up cloudy water, but it will not solve underlying issues. So be sure your filter system is functioning properly, your pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness and chlorine levels are balanced, and your water is free of algae or debris.

Need More Pool Maintenance Help?

Matt Giovanisci is the founder of Swim University® and has been in the pool and spa industry since 1995. Since then, his mission is to make pool and hot tub care easy for everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people with water chemistry, cleaning, and troubleshooting.
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