How to Clean Your Pool That Has Been Sitting: Quick Steps

Cleaning a neglected pool is necessary to maintain its water quality, safety, and appeal, but it can be difficult. Unattended pools can collect trash, grow algae, and change water chemistry, making them unsafe for swimming. Reviving a stagnant pool after a long winter, neglect, or temporary disuse takes a disciplined approach and hard work.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through reviving an idle pool. From debris removal and algae control to water chemistry rebalancing and filtration system maintenance, you’ll discover how to turn a neglected pool into a sparkling haven. Following these expert-recommended measures and adding extra recommendations, you can confidently reclaim your neglected pool and enjoy safe, pleasant swimming all season. This post will teach you how to revive your dormant pool, whether you’re a pro or a beginner.

What is a Neglected Pool?

A neglected pool is one that hasn’t been taken care of regularly, leading to a bad swimming environment. Neglected pools look bad and have problems like dirty water, algae, debris, and broken equipment. Neglected pool water can turn cloudy or change color because of algae, debris, and imbalanced chemistry.

Algae can grow and make the water green and slimy in pools. Leaves, twigs, insects, and debris in the water can clog filters, disrupt circulation, and create a breeding place for microorganisms. Neglected pools can have equipment problems like clogged filters, pump issues, and worn-out accessories.

If you don’t take care of it, the pool can develop structural problems like cracks or damage to the liner. To fix a neglected pool, you usually need to clean it, adjust the water chemistry, and inspect and repair the equipment.

How Can You Tell If Your Pool has been Sitting for a while?

You can tell if a pool has been neglected for a long time by looking and smelling it. Stagnant pools often have discolored water, usually green or murky. The water color change is mainly caused by algae growth and organic debris buildup.

Also, algae can grow on the pool’s surface, making it slimy and slippery. Neglected pools collect leaves, twigs, and debris on the surface, showing a lack of care. A bad smell coming from the water is a clear sign of a stagnant pool caused by decaying organic matter.

Stagnant water can attract insects like mosquitoes and pests that hover around the pool area. By looking at the pool, you can tell if it has been neglected for a long time and needs to be cleaned and maintained.

How to Clean a Pool That Has Been Sitting: Step-By-Step Guide

Cleaning a neglected pool is important to make sure the water is safe and clear for swimming, even though it can be a bit of work. Here’s a guide to cleaning a neglected pool:

Best way to clean pool that has been sitting

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Pool skimmer
  • Pool vacuum or automatic pool cleaner
  • Pool brush
  • Pool chemicals (chlorine, pH adjusters, algaecide)
  • Test kit or test strips
  • Pool filter cleaner
  • Pool shock treatment
  • Hose and water source
  • Pool cover (if available)
  • Protective gear (gloves, goggles)

Step 1: Safety First [Prepare Protective Gear]

Before cleaning a sat-down pool, prioritize safety. Wearing protective gear is crucial. Start with well-fitting gloves to protect your hands from pool chemicals. Wear goggles that seal your eyes from pool water and chemicals. This first step assures safe and comfortable cleaning.

Step 2: Skim Pool Surface to Remove Debris

Debris on a neglected pool’s surface must be removed first. Use a pool skimmer to gently collect leaves, twigs, insects, and other debris from the pool’s edge. To ensure uninterrupted skimming, empty the skimmer basket into a waste container as needed. By carefully eliminating this top-layer trash, you prepare for a deeper clean.

Step 3: Vacuum the Pool to Remove Sediment and Dirt

A pool vacuum removes silt, filth, and particles from the pool floor and walls. Set your automatic pool cleaning to brush the bottom and walls to remove filth. If you don’t have an automatic cleaner, use a manual pool vacuum with a pole and hose. Be thorough when vacuuming to eliminate any debris and clean the pool’s inside.

Step 4: Brush the Walls and Floor to Remove Algae and Buildup

After removing the bulk of debris, address algae growth and other stubborn buildup on the pool’s surfaces. Scrub the pool walls and floor with a robust pole-mounted brush. As algae hotspots, pay attention to areas with reduced circulation and sunlight. Brushing loosens impurities and prepares the pool for cleaning and treatment.

Step 5: Check the Pool Filter for Efficient Filtration

Water purity and quality depend on your pool’s filtration system. Check the pool filter. Refer to the manufacturer’s cleaning or backwashing instructions for your pool’s sand, cartridge, or DE filtration system. This regular maintenance keeps your filter running smoothly, improving pool water quality.

Step 6: Water Test—Chemical Balance

Before continuing, check the pool water’s chemical makeup. Use a trustworthy pool water test kit or test strips to evaluate pH, chlorine, alkalinity, and other indications. This examination reveals your pool’s water chemistry, suggesting cleaning actions.

Step 7: Shock the Pool for Chlorine and Algae

Note chlorine and algae levels in water test findings. A pool shock treatment is needed if chlorine levels are low or algae is found. Follow the shock treatment product’s manufacturer’s directions. Shocking the pool removes bacteria and algae, making it cleaner and healthier.

Step 8: Filter and Circulate water

Turn on the pool’s filtration system to speed chemical dispersion and filtration. Allow the system to run 8–12 hours per day. This extended filtration cycle circulates chemically treated pool water, removing impurities. While running the system, monitor the filter pressure gauge and backwash or clean as needed to maintain effective filtration.

Step 9: Retest and Balance to Adjust Chemical Levels

Retesting the pool water after a long circulation period and chemical treatment can help you evaluate your efforts. Measure pH, chlorine, and other parameters again using the same pool water test kit or strips. Use this updated data to modify the water’s chemical balance to the appropriate range. Water quality and swimmer safety depend on adequate water chemistry.

Step 10: Set a Routine

With the pool revived and water chemistry regulated, focus on maintenance. Establish a weekly pool maintenance program that includes skimming, brushing, and chemical testing. Consistency in pool maintenance prevents negligence and keeps it clean.

Step 11: Cover the Pool to Keep Debris Out

Use a pool cover to prevent debris from gathering when not in use. A pool cover prevents leaves, twigs, and other impurities from entering the water. Covering the pool during non-use reduces cleaning and upkeep, keeping it clean longer.

Step 12: Get Expert Help

If the pool has been neglected or you’re unsure of its state, use a professional pool care business. These experts have the skills, tools, and expertise to manage difficult problems and can help you clean and maintain your pool. When in doubt, expert help keeps your pool safe and fun.

By carefully following these instructions, you may clean a neglected pool and make it safe for your family to use. Remember that regular maintenance prevents neglect and keeps your pool clean and appealing throughout the swim season.

Are there any Alternative Methods to Clean a Pool that Has Been Sitting

Yes, there are other ways to clean a neglected pool, depending on your preferences and situation. Here are some other options to consider:

Pressure Washing

Pressure washing is a strong way to clean a dirty pool, especially if it has tough stains or algae. This method uses strong water jets to clean pool surfaces like walls, decks, and some interiors by removing dirt, grime, algae, and stains. Pressure washing is great for making your pool area look better by getting rid of tough dirt that regular cleaning might not be able to handle. Be careful when using high-pressure equipment as it can harm pool surfaces or grout.

Robot Pool Cleaners

Robotic pool cleaners are a modern and efficient alternative for cleaning pools. These devices clean your pool’s floors and walls without manual labor. Robotic pool cleaners have their own filters and run on electricity, so they don’t need your pool’s circulation or filtration system. These devices have different models with various features. They can clean your pool by removing debris, algae, and sediment, making it ready to use. Robotic cleaners save time and are convenient for pool maintenance.

Chemical-Free Pool Cleaning

Chemical-free pool cleaning is an eco-friendly option for those who want to reduce traditional chemical use. These methods often use natural alternatives like enzyme-based pool cleaners or advanced sanitation systems like UV or ozone treatment. Enzyme cleaners break down organic matter in water, reducing chlorine usage. UV and ozone systems sanitize and clarify pool water without using many chemicals. These methods can lower chemical use in your pool, but may need special equipment.

Drain and refill

If the water quality is really bad or the pool is in really bad shape, you might need to drain and refill it. This method empties the pool and refills it with new water. Starting fresh is sometimes necessary when the pool is too contaminated to be treated effectively. Be aware of local rules and water conservation guidelines, as this method may use a lot of water and have restrictions in your area. Also, think about how draining and refilling your pool can affect its structure and water chemistry.

Pool Covers

Investing in a good pool cover can help prevent neglect. Pool covers come in different types, like automatic covers and safety covers. These covers keep debris out of the pool when it’s not being used. Using a pool cover when the pool is not in use reduces cleaning and maintenance, keeping your pool water clean and clear. These systems provide convenience and protection for your pool investment.

Maintenance Services

Hiring professional pool maintenance services can save time and effort for pool owners. Pool maintenance professionals have the knowledge, experience, and tools to clean, test water, balance chemicals, and maintain equipment. They can regularly maintain your pool to keep it in good condition during swimming season. By hiring experts to maintain your pool, you can have a stress-free and worry-free pool ownership experience.

Green Pool Cleanup Services: Another Option

Green pool cleanup services are necessary when a pool turns green from algae and neglect. Pool professionals offer specialized services for this. These experts can quickly and effectively treat and clean neglected pools. Green pool cleanup includes shock treatments, algae removal, cleaning the filtration system, and balancing the water. Professionals can quickly make the pool safe and enjoyable for swimming by restoring water clarity and quality.

These pool cleaning methods offer different options to meet your needs and preferences. When choosing a different method, assess your pool’s condition, budget, and environmental concerns to find the best way to keep it clean and inviting.

Additional Tips for Effective Pool Cleaning and Maintenance

Keeping a pool clean and safe requires careful attention and regular maintenance. Here are more tips to keep your pool clean and in good condition:

Pool Cleaning and Maintenance

Create a Cleaning Schedule

Having a cleaning schedule is important for maintaining your pool. By dividing maintenance tasks into daily, weekly, and monthly routines, you can make sure that you don’t miss any part of pool care. Removing leaves and debris daily keeps water clean by preventing contamination buildup. Weekly tasks, like brushing the pool walls and vacuuming the floor, help clean the pool thoroughly and maintain its appearance. Monthly tasks, like inspecting equipment and cleaning filters, prevent big problems. This maintenance approach keeps your pool clean and prevents neglect, making it a consistently inviting oasis.

Monitor Water Level

The water level in your pool is important for filtration and circulation. Low water levels can damage the pump, causing expensive repairs. If the water level is too high, skimming efficiency may decrease and debris can build up. Check the water level regularly and adjust as needed for best performance. Maintaining the right water level is an easy way to keep your pool equipment working well and the water clear.

Keep Water Chemistry Balanced

Water chemistry is important for pool maintenance. It is necessary to keep the chemicals balanced for safety and clear water. Besides pH and chlorine levels, it’s important to also check alkalinity, calcium hardness, and cyanuric acid. These factors impact pool water stability and quality. Keeping water chemistry balanced prevents problems like pH changes, calcium buildup, and ineffective chlorine. Regular chemical maintenance helps keep pool equipment working well and the pool environment healthy.

Clean Pool Filters

Pool filters trap particles and contaminants in the water. Filters can get clogged and less effective, causing water quality to decrease. Regularly clean and maintain pool filters as instructed by the manufacturer to keep them working well. Dirty filters can damage the pump and cause poor water circulation, which can lead to problems like cloudy water and algae growth. Regular filter maintenance helps keep pool water clean and clear.

Trim Trees and Shrubs Nearby

Trees and shrubs near your pool can make it look nicer, but they can also make it dirty with debris. Leaves, flowers, and seeds make pools dirty and harder to clean. To fix this, trim and prune trees and shrubs regularly to reduce organic matter in the pool. This helps keep your pool clean and reduces the need for frequent skimming and cleaning.

Use Pool Enzymes

Enzyme pool products are eco-friendly and break down organic matter in the water for pool maintenance. These enzymes help break down oils, lotions, and other contaminants, making it easier for the pool’s filtration and sanitation systems to remove them. Using pool enzymes in your maintenance routine reduces the need for chlorine and other chemicals. Enzyme products are safe and non-toxic for swimmers, making them a valuable addition to pool care.

Store Pool Chemicals Correctly

Pool chemicals’ effectiveness and longevity depend on how they are stored. Store pool chemicals properly to maintain their potency and safety. Store in a cool, dry place with good airflow, away from sunlight and moisture. Proper storage prevents chemical degradation from extreme temperatures or humidity. By keeping your pool chemicals in good condition, you make sure they work properly and help keep your pool clean and balanced.

Prepare Your Pool for Winter

Pool owners in cold regions must winterize their pools to prevent damage from freezing temperatures. To winterize your pool, drain the water, add chemicals, and cover it. Winterizing your pool protects equipment, prevents freezing damage, and makes opening easier in spring. Winterizing your pool is important for its long-term health and durability.

Inspect for Leaks and Cracks

Regularly inspecting your pool for leaks and cracks helps prevent water loss and damage. Pools can develop leaks in plumbing, liners, or concrete structures over time. If not controlled, they can cause water waste and expensive repairs. Regularly check your pool for water loss or structural problems like cracks. Addressing these issues quickly can save you money and protect your pool.

Get Yourself Educated

Knowing how to properly maintain your pool is crucial for responsible ownership. Learn by reading books, using online resources, and visiting local pool supply stores. Staying updated on pool care helps you choose the right products and techniques. Consider taking pool maintenance courses or workshops to learn more about maintaining your pool.

Safety is a Top Priority

Safety is key when cleaning and maintaining your pool. Use safety guidelines when handling pool chemicals. Wear gloves and goggles for protection. Check and maintain pool equipment regularly for safe operation. Adding pool alarms and fencing improves pool safety.

Hire a Pool Expert

If you have difficult maintenance or big repairs, ask a certified pool professional for help. Experts have the skills and tools to handle challenging situations. Pool professionals can diagnose and fix equipment issues, balance water chemistry, and inspect your pool to keep it safe and enjoyable. Their expertise is crucial for keeping your pool healthy in the long run.

By following these extra tips for pool cleaning and maintenance, you’ll keep your pool clean and safe while enjoying it more. Taking good care of your pool is important for keeping it beautiful and functional.

How Often Should You Clean Your Pool That’s Been Sitting?

How often a pool needs cleaning depends on different factors like the situation, environment, and maintenance during its idle time. It’s important to address a neglected pool quickly.

Clean the pool as soon as possible if it hasn’t been maintained or used regularly. Stagnant water can breed algae, bacteria, and other contaminants, causing water quality problems and health risks. The longer a pool is neglected, the harder and longer it takes to clean.

Clean and maintain a pool that has been unused for a long time, like after winter or a vacation, as soon as you reopen it. This involves clearing debris, inspecting the filter, and testing and adjusting water chemistry. Neglected pools need shock treatments, brushing, and more filter maintenance to make the water clear and safe again.

Regular maintenance is important for pools that are closed during certain seasons or not used often. This helps prevent neglect. To keep your pool clean and safe, make sure to regularly skim the water, vacuum, and check the water chemistry.

How Do I Keep the Pool Clear of Debris in the Future?

Preventing debris in your pool can reduce cleaning and maintenance. To keep your pool clean and inviting all season, use effective strategies. To prevent debris from getting into the pool, follow these steps:

Put on a Pool Cover

To keep debris out of your pool, use a good pool cover. Pool covers keep debris out of the water when the pool is not being used. They also reduce evaporation and heat loss, making them a practical choice for cleanliness and energy efficiency.

Trim Trees and Shrubs Regularly

Trimming trees and shrubs near your pool can reduce debris in the water. Trimming branches and cutting overhanging limbs can reduce the amount of leaves, flowers, and seeds that end up in the water.

Read Briefly Every day

Skim the pool’s surface daily with a pool skimmer. Regularly removing leaves, insects, and debris prevents them from sinking and becoming harder to clean. Skim your pool for a few minutes each day to keep it clean.

Use a Pool Enclosure or Screen

Adding a pool enclosure or screen can protect your pool from debris and bugs. These structures keep out unwanted elements while letting you enjoy the outdoors. Pool enclosures are helpful in places with lots of debris or bugs.

Tidy up the Deck and Nearby Space

Keep the pool area clean and clear of debris. Sweep or blow away leaves, dirt, and grass clippings to keep them out of the pool. Regular maintenance keeps the pool clean.

Check and Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Make sure the gutters and downspouts of nearby buildings are clean and clear. Clogged gutters can cause rainwater to bring debris into the pool during storms. Regular cleaning and maintenance can reduce this risk.

Arrange Pool Furniture Carefully

Be careful where you put your pool furniture and accessories. Move them away from trees or structures where debris can collect. Also, clean the furniture regularly to avoid transferring dirt or debris into the pool.

By following these steps, you can reduce debris in your pool and make maintenance easier. This will keep your pool clean and enjoyable for swimming and relaxing.


What to do if a neglected pool turns green?

If your pool turns green from algae, fix it quickly. Use pool shock treatment to kill algae. Clean the pool walls and floor to get rid of dead algae and loosen any remaining debris. Keep the filtration system running all the time and clean or backwash the filter often to get rid of floating particles. Test and adjust water chemistry regularly, focusing on chlorine and pH levels, until the water clears up. It can take a few days to a week to deal with algae, depending on how bad it is.

Can I use bleach to disinfect my pool if I don’t have chlorine?

Household bleach has chlorine, but it’s not good for pools because it has additives that can affect the water. Bleach can harm your pool equipment and water chemistry. Use pool-specific chlorine products or ask a pool professional for help if you run out of chlorine.

Is it safe to swim in a pool right after shocking it?

No, it’s not safe to swim in a pool right after shocking it. Pool shock treatments use concentrated chlorine, which can be harmful if levels are too high for swimmers. Follow the product guidelines and wait for safe chlorine levels before swimming. It could take a few hours to a day, depending on the product and pool size.

Can baking soda raise my pool’s pH level?

Yes, baking soda can raise pool pH. Baking soda can raise pool alkalinity and pH without much impact on total alkalinity. To use it, dissolve baking soda in pool water, then spread it evenly in the pool. Be careful not to add too much at once, as it can cause pH and alkalinity spikes. Test the water regularly and adjust as needed.

How often should I clean my pool filter?

How often you backwash your pool filter depends on the filter type and pool usage. Backwash sand filters when the pressure gauge is 8-10 psi higher than the clean pressure. Clean or replace cartridge filters when pressure increases by 8-10 psi. For DE filters, backwash when the pressure gauge is 8-10 psi higher, then add DE powder. Regularly check the filter pressure and clean or backwash as needed for efficient filtration.

Can I use a pressure washer to clean my pool’s walls and deck?

Yes, you can use a pressure washer to clean your pool, but be careful. Pressure washers can be strong and might harm pool surfaces or grout if used at high pressure or too close. Lower the pressure and stay far away to prevent damage to the pool surface. Make sure to clean the pool before pressure washing to avoid pushing debris into the water.

How can I keep leaves and debris out of my pool?

Use a good pool cover to keep leaves and debris out of your pool when you’re not using it. Pool covers are effective options for safety. Trimming trees and shrubs near the pool helps reduce debris in the water. Using a pool skimmer and keeping the deck clean can prevent debris from getting into the pool.

Can I empty and refill my pool to save cleaning time?

Be careful when draining and refilling a pool. Only do it when necessary. It’s not a cleaning shortcut, but a way to fix water quality or structural problems. Check local regulations and water conservation guidelines before draining to ensure compliance with any water usage restrictions. Emptying a pool can be risky for some pool types due to groundwater pressure. Ask a pool expert before draining and refilling your pool.

Are automatic pool cleaners worth it?

Pool owners can benefit from automatic pool cleaners for easy and efficient pool maintenance. These devices have different models, like robotic cleaners and suction-side or pressure-side cleaners. They clean the pool and collect debris, saving you time and effort. Although there is an upfront cost, the long-term benefits of less manual work and better water quality usually make the investment worthwhile. Pick the right model for your pool’s type and size to get the best results.

Final Words

Reviving a neglected pool takes dedication, but the result is clear water and a safe place to swim. By following a systematic approach, you can turn a stagnant pool into a welcoming oasis. This includes removing debris, treating algae, balancing water chemistry, and maintaining equipment. Consistency in routine maintenance is important to keep your pool clean and enjoyable for a long time. Follow these steps and tips to be ready for swimming season.


Hi, I'm Asim! I love giving you cleaning guides, tips and tricks that will make your place sparkle and shine. Through years of practice, I've learned effective ways to clean and can't wait to help you. From tough spots to general cleaning, I can help you. Come along with me on this cleaning adventure, where I'll give you tips and tricks to make your cleaning process easier. Let's work together to make clean haven.

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