How to Clean a Neglected Above-Ground Pool

By Charlene Thomas

It may look like your pool is in bad shape, but in reality it just needs a good cleaning. Pool chemicals like pool shock, algae guard, water clarifier and chlorine are your main defense against most pool wreckers like algae, brown slime and cloudy water. Check your pool's chemical levels often to maintain the correct balance. A pool skimmer, pool hose and brush, and a clean filter are your best ways of keeping the pool clean and ready to swim in. These items remove leaves, bugs, fine sediment, dirt and other debris which will inevitably enter your pool. By spending time and effort, you can have a clean, welcoming swimming environment.

Clean dirty water in a neglected pool.

Step 1

Remove the pool cover, if it has one. If there is an accumulation of water on the top, siphon the water off before attempting to remove the cover.

Step 2

Use the pool skimmer to remove large debris from the pool to prevent the filter from clogging. Skim any floating items from the top of the pool and then skim those items you can reach on the bottom of the pool.

Step 3

Clean your pool filter inside and out with a garden hose and spray nozzle. Saturate the filter fully with water.

Step 4

Install the pool filter into the canister of the pool pump. Make sure the filter is installed properly and the cover is tightly sealed. Connect the pump and filter to the pool and let the pool water flow through your filtering system. When ready, turn on the pool pump.

Step 5

Clean the pool bottom, in sections, using the pool brush. Connect the hose and brush to the pool pump. Fill the hose with water by setting the brush in the pool and submerging the hose until all the air is removed. Scrub stained areas thoroughly, but realize that some stains may be permanent.

Step 6

Clean the pool filter when it becomes full. You can tell this because the water shooting back into the pool will be dirtier than the pool water itself. Remove the filter from the canister and thoroughly clean the filter inside and out with the garden hose.

Step 7

Re-install the filter immediately into the canister and begin Step 5 again. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 until you have swept the entire pool bottom.

Step 8

Add double the amount of pool shock, algae guard and water clarifier that is required for the number of gallons in your pool. Read the package instructions to determine the exact measurements. You are trying to really blast the water and kill all the accumulated bacteria and algae.

Step 9

Sprinkle the shock powder around the edges of the pool. If the shock dumps out too quickly and creates a pile on the bottom of the pool, use the pool brush to stir up the powder and distribute it into the water. If you leave it, it will bleach the bottom of the pool.

Step 10

Add the water clarifier by distributing it around the edge of the pool. Stir the water with the pool brush, if necessary, to mix the clarifier with the pool water.

Step 11

Add the algae guard in the same manner as you did the clarifier. Monitor the pool for 15 minutes to make sure no chemicals sink to the bottom. If they do, stir them up with the pool brush.

Step 12

Remove the pool brush and hose. Cover the pool with a solar blanket or whatever you normally use to cover the pool when it is not being used. Let the pump keep filtering overnight.

Step 13

Remove the pool cover. Take one pool chemical test strip from the container and close the container tightly. Dip the test strip into the pool water, hold the strip level, keeping the pool water on the strip (do not shake the water off), then compare the strip to the container color levers for each category. You should keep the chemical levels at the high end of the pool scale while cleaning. Additional chemicals may be needed to balance the pH and alkalinity levels.

Step 14

Add more chemicals as needed. If the pool has not yet responded to the chemicals and the chemicals are low, add double the required chemicals. You will not be swimming in the water until it is clean and the chemical levels are stable.

Step 15

Start each new day of cleaning with Step 9 and then Step 6. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 as you did the day before. Finish the day with Step 8.

Step 16

Repeat the daily cleaning process until the pool water is crystal clear. Cleaning time depend on the amount of debris in the pool. Do not enter the water until it is clean.

You can use your pool, once it's clean and safe again.

Step 17

Check the chemical levels again--from Step 9--when you think the pool is ready for swimming. You will be doing this daily from now on. The chemical levels should be stable and not above the recommended range for pools. Adjust the chemicals as needed.

Step 18

Install and fill the pool's chlorine dispenser. This will distribute chlorine gradually into the pool and help keep the pool clean. Keep the container full the entire swimming season. During hot weather and high usage of the pool, you may need additional chlorine.