How to Get Rid of Pool Foam [The Easy Guide]

Michael Keenan


Pool Troubleshooting

Is foam becoming a problem in your swimming pool? Bubbles are a good thing when they are from your air vents and the pumping and circulating process. But what if you end up with clumps of actual pool foam? It’s more common than you might think.

Don’t worry I’m going to explain all here – and teach you how to get rid of pool foam if it should raise it’s unwanted head!

If you are a pool owner, there are several things you need to take care of to enjoy the pool. While the recreational value of the pool is very exciting, maintaining the pool can take a fair amount of work.

You need to keep dirt and dust out of the pool, scoop out dried leaves and deal with other kinds of cleaning operations.

A thing you may not have heard of before you built the pool is pool foam. It is frequently mentioned on pool maintenance blogs and manuals. But what is pool foam and why is it a problem?

The following sections will take you through what you need to know about pool foam and how you can get rid of it.

pool foaming

Quick Answer:

Pool foam is a mix of oils and organic residue that can gather on the surface of your pool, caused by products like hair care and sunscreen, chemical imbalance, or even peeing in the pool!

To get rid of it, you can shock your pool with chlorine or a chlorine-free shock treatment. You should also practice good water hygiene and regularly check the chemical balance of your pool to avoid future build-up. With some preventive maintenance and regular tests you’ll have a foam-free pool to enjoy!

What Is Pool Foam?

You know what foam looks like – the bubbly top layer of your bubble bath or the frothy top layer of a cold glass of beer. Similarly, you may find foam in your swimming pool water. It may look only like harmless air bubbles but pool foam is actually mixed with various kinds of oils and organic residue.

You may have heard of the term ‘organic load’ when researching pool maintenance. Organic load simply means that there is a lot of organic material in the water that cannot dissolve or cannot be removed even by using sanitizer.

There will be some organic matter in the pool at all times, either from moisture or from people who use the pool. But when the matter reaches a saturation point that it can no longer be dissolved in the water, it begins to gather as a layer of foam on top.

The water becomes “thick” since the oils and organic matter can no longer mix. When there is movement in the water by someone swimming in it, from the pool jets or even from a breeze, bubbles are created. However, the surface of these bubbles is made of organic matter so they are not easy to pop and only gather on the surface as foam.

What Causes Pool Foaming?

There are various reasons there may be organic build up in a pool. Just by using the swimming pool there will be organic material introduced into the water from the various oils in your skin. The following are some of the most common causes of pool foam.

Hair Products

Whenever you are using a commercial pool, the pool authorities may have a rule about having a swimming cap on. This is not only to avoid hair from falling into the water but also so the residue from your hair products does not get into the water.

You may wonder how this happens if your hair is shampooed and does not have any oil. However, even your shampoo can leave behind residue and your residue, which holds moisture into your hair.

You do not need to have tons of gel or oil in your hair. Even the slightest shampoo residue can build up in the water over time.

Toiletries and Other Residue

Other than hair care products, there are several different products you may apply on your body. If you are using an outdoor pool, you will likely also use a sunscreen to avoid getting an uneven tan. That cream or oil will certainly leave behind a residue in the water.

Even other toiletries like deodorant, perfume, etc. will leave behind some residue. Some of these are unavoidable things and you need to use it especially before getting into the pool so you can protect your skin.

foaming water

Density and Residue Build Up

Now, you have seen that even the slightest product can leave behind a residue in the water. So multiply that residue by the number of people who are using the pool. The more people use the pool, the more residue is likely to be left behind.

In addition to organic matter that is coming from your body’s natural oils and cosmetic products, there are other types of residue that greater density of people in the pool can leave behind.

Ever been disgusted at the idea of people urinating in the pool? Well, don’t be so confident that has not happened in your pool. You have to consider the possibility that you cannot monitor who is and who is not taking a leak in your pool, especially if you have kids!

Even if you do not have to deal with the unsavoury possibility of people peeing in your pool, the body has other natural residues. If you have not freshly showered before getting into the pool, you can leave behind sweat and other types of bodily residue.

Chemical Imbalance

All pool owners know that chemically treating the pool is important so you can maintain its health and prevent swimmers from falling sick because of a dip in your pool. If your pool is not properly balanced with the right proportions of chemicals, stabilizer and sanitizers, you could end up with pool foam.

Even if you get the composition for the chemicals right, you could have a problem on your hands if you do not use good quality chemicals.

You may have bought something in bulk because the pool store had an ongoing discount. But while this may be a great offer, it is not necessarily the best thing for your pool.

swimming pool foam

How to Fix Pool Foam?

Shock Your Pool

One of the most effective ways to fix this and get rid of pool foam is to shock your pool regularly. For all the causes of pool foam that have been mentioned above, the common thread seems to be that the cure is to shock the pool.

Chlorine shock is one of the most effective cures. The shocking method is known as super chlorination and is a good way to rid your pool water of contaminants.

However, if you want to go the non-chemical way there are chlorine-free shocks available as well, though they may be less effective.

Shocking your pool is a simple enough process but it does take time. Even after shocking the pool, you cannot use it immediately. So if you are preparing for a pool party for the weekend, you need to time your pool shocking schedule accordingly so it is safe for everyone to use.

On the subject of getting rid of things! See my guide on how to get rid of copper from pool water. It covers how copper can be a problem and how you can fix it.

Pool Balance

You need to maintain the chemical balance of your pool, for which you need to carry out tests. There are test strips you can buy at any pool store. The following are the steps you can follow:

  • You need to check and balance the alkalinity of the water first. The range is between 100 ppm – 150 ppm and 125 ppm is the ideal measure.
  • The pH level of the water should be between 7.4 and 7.6, where 7.5 is the ideal measure.
  • The calcium hardness level should be between 175 ppm – 225 ppm if you have a fibreglass pool. For concrete and plaster pools, the level should be between 200 ppm – 275 ppm.

Cyanuric acid levels need to be monitored to maintain the effectiveness of the choline or sanitizer you use. Too much? Find out how to reduce cyanuric acid levels in your pool here.

Preventing Foam in Your Swimming Pool

As always, prevention is better than a cure. Instead of spending a lot of money on fixing the problem, you can try to prevent the problem from aggravating.

One of the most important things is to ask people to shower or rinse themselves before entering the pool. This will at least wash off sweat residue from their body and will remove products like deodorants and perfumes, even if you slap on sunscreen after the shower.

You should also test your pool regularly to check that the chemical balance is maintained. Carrying out frequent tests will keep you informed about the chemical balance and you can shock it in good time if required.

Keep your pool at sensible temperatures – too high pool temperatures can lead to increased bacteria and reduced chemical balance. Find out about the ideal pool temperature here.

Using an automatic pool chlorinator can help keep your chlorine levels constant – they can also help disturb the water surface reducing pool foaming.

Most importantly, you need to invest in good-quality chemicals so you do not have to keep shocking the pool and see no effect.

removing pool foam

Common Questions:

What are the best ways to prevent pool foam?

To prevent pool foam, using chemicals such as algaecides and clarifiers can help keep it from forming. Additionally, keeping the pH level balanced in your pool can help reduce the amount of foam.

What causes excessive pool foaming?

Excessive pool foam is usually caused by detergents, oils, and lotions that have been introduced into the water from swimmers’ bodies and clothes.

Is it better to use a manual skimmer or an automatic vacuum to remove pool foam?

It depends on the severity of the foam; for small amounts, a manual skimmer is best for quick removal but for bigger amounts, an automatic vacuum might be better since it will thoroughly clean the surface of your water without having to skim manually each time you use it.

Are there any chemical treatments for eliminating pool foam?

Yes, chemical treatments such as flocculants and enzymes are available to help eliminate existing foam in pools.

In Conclusion

From what has been described above, pool foam can be quite a task to deal with if you keep letting it accumulate or do not balance the chemical composition of your pool. Several things can cause pool foam, so you need to be careful about keeping all those factors in check.

Many of these factors are unavoidable as you will need to put sunscreen and you cannot prevent your body from secreting natural oils.

So what you cannot avoid, you should just work on managing the problem. Take care to shower or rinse off before you enter the pool and check the chemical composition of your pool routinely.

Practicing good water hygiene and having a swimming pool maintenance schedule that works will all ensure you have a foam free pool to enjoy!

Last update on 2024-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

michael keenan author

Author - Michael Keenan

I'm Michael Keenan the owner and creator of the Outdoor Care Guide. I'm a trained horticulturist with over 30 years of experience in pool care, plant care, and landscape care! Seemed like a good idea to share - I think I can make your life easier and save you some time and money!