How to Clean a Swimming Pool After Winter

Michael Keenan


Pool Maintenance

Your swimming pool was probably neatly covered up throughout the winter when it was not needed. But with summer coming up, you have to clean it up and get it up and running pretty soon.

Getting the pool ready after the winter is a tedious task that takes a lot of time and effort. Let’s see the various things you should and shouldn’t do to clean your pool after the winter.

how to clean a swimming pool after winter

Note: Never Drain the Pool Completely

While cleaning the pool it’s quite easy to assume that all the water has to be drained out. But this is a terrible idea because if the inner liner or the pool dries up it can cause bowing and cracking, thus damaging the integrity of the pool in the long run.

While cleaning a pool, only drain a third of the water at a time. Use a submersible pump for draining, instead of your pool pump.

Swimming pools should only be drained completely once in three to five years or for doing any major repair works. Unless you want to fully winterize your pool. See my guide on how to winterize an intex pool for more details.

Gather Cleaning Materials

Before you start cleaning, gather your cleaning materials. For cleaning your pool, you will need test kits, scrubbing supplies, pool vacuums, brushes, skimmer nets, etc.

Check that all these materials are in their best condition and get them repaired or replaced if needed. Also, get a hose for draining water as well as for adding fresh water. Get the chemicals you would need for balancing the pH of the water too.

Clean the Area around the Pool

Clean the entire area surrounding the pool. You wouldn’t want more trash getting into your pool while you’re still cleaning it.

Clear all the dry leaves and other debris that could fly into the pool before you open the pool cover. Prune any overhanging tree branches and trim the shrubs and bushes all around the pool.

Clean and Remove the Pool Cover

It might be tempting to drag off the pool cover in one swift move. But if there is a lot of dust and debris on the cover, these will slide into the pool, thus increasing the cleaning work.

You should either clean the pool cover before removing it or use the help of a few other people so you can all hold the cover at different ends of the pool and carefully lift it off the pool.

Either way, once you remove the cover, wash it well with water and soap and let it dry completely in the sun before storing it away.

Inspect the Pool Structure

Check the entire pool structure for loose tiles, cracks, staining, black algae growth or any other repairs required. Rectify these issues before you start cleaning.

  • Replace the loose tiles by lowering the water level and removing the damaged tiles. Replace the tiles, seal them and let them dry before raising the water level.
  • Seal off any cracks by plastering, stapling, applying putty or injecting epoxy.
  • Use a pool stain remover on the stains.

To remove algae, shock the pool with a heavy dose of chlorine. Lower the pH by adding hydrochloric acid to make the chlorine more effective. Keep the pool system on for the next 24 hours so that the shock treatment gets dispersed all around the pool.

Inspect the Pump and Filter

Before turning the pump and filter on, check them for damages. Did you know that a damaged sand filter is the main cause of sand in the bottom of your pool? I have a guide on how to remove that sand from the bottom!

Clean the pool filter cartridge or replace the cartridge if needed. Open the pump valves and remove the winter plugs.

Turn the pump on and check for any leaks. Allow the pump to circulate the water continuously for 8-12 hours.

Vacuuming and Scrubbing

Scrub the dirt accumulated on the floor and walls of the pool. If you have any pool accessories like steps and ladders, scrub them as well. Next, set the pool vacuum to remove any more debris in the water.

After the pool vacuuming, keep the pump on for the next 24 hours so that the water keeps circulating. This will again push out the dirt and debris into the filters. Clear the filter again after this is done.

Test the Pool Water to Check the Composition

Fill the pool with fresh water and restore the water level before you test it. Next, using your testing kits check the values of various chemicals in the pool water.

Here are the ideal values for balanced water in the pool.

  • pH value: between 7.2 and 7.4.
  • Calcium level: 150 to 250 ppm.
  • Alkalinity: 80 to 120 ppm.
  • Chlorine level: 1 to 3 ppm.

Remember some facts about chlorine! Learn the difference between stabilized and unstabilized chlorine in this article.

Add Pool Care Products

If the water composition is not right, add the necessary chemicals to attain the ideal composition.

  • To raise the pH, add soda ash.
  • To lower the pH, add sodium bisulfate.
  • To increase the calcium level, add calcium chloride.
  • To reduce the calcium level, use pool flocculant or muriatic acid.
  • To increase the alkalinity, add sodium bicarbonate.
  • To decrease the alkalinity, add muriatic acid.
  • To increase chlorine level, just add more chlorine.
  • To reduce the chlorine level, drain some of the water and dilute the chlorine by adding fresh water.

Now might be a good time to make any changes to your pool systems. See my guide on saltwater pool conversion for ideas on ways to improve your pool and reduce maintenance costs.

Final Steps

After the cleaning and chemical treatment is complete, the pool is still not completely ready for a swim. For the next five to seven days, clean the filter daily as more dirt can continue getting filtered from the pool. This will improve the water quality a lot and you will be able to achieve the ideal chemical balance.

Parting Words

Cleaning your pool is a tiresome task, more so when it was closed up through the winter. Nevertheless, it has to be done so you can make the most of it in the upcoming summer. Even after cleaning it after the harsh winter, regular cleaning and maintenance should not be ignored.

Now that your pool is all cleaned up and ready, it’s time to enjoy it all through the summer! Have pool parties, poolside barbeques and just soak up the sun while it shines for the next few months.

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!