Even sparkling clean, perfectly balanced pool water can’t hide unsightly stains in your swimming pool. Whether you have a vinyl or plaster pool, stains are common and can be prevented and treated with the right tools and products. If you’ve started noticing a dingy film on your tiles or ugly discoloration on your pool walls, it’s time to learn how to remove pool stains.

Types of Pool Stains

Your pool can develop stains from either organic or mineral and metal sources. Well water or corrosion from metal pipes can cause metal staining, while organic sources can be things like leaves, berries, flowers, insects, pollen, algae, or any other type of natural elements that fall into the pool. Stains on pool tiles are generally caused by sunscreens, lotions, and natural body oils.

How to identify pool stain types and colors:

  • Organic stains: These stains originate from the tannins in leaves, dead algae, plant debris, small animals, or other organic matter. The stain colors range from yellow to brown to black. If the stain lightens from a small application of chlorine on it, the stain is organic in nature.
  • Mineral and metal stains: Too much copper, iron, calcium, or salts can all result in pool staining or marks. Too much copper usually results in blue-green staining, while iron results in red, yellow, or brown stains. Calcium and salts can result in white deposits. To test for metal stains, apply a small amount of vitamin C powder (ascorbic acid) to it. If the stain is from metal, it will fade or disappear.
  • Fading: Vinyl pool liner fading can also be an issue pool owners will face. Fading can occur from the use of pool chemicals or from the sun. Low pH and high chlorine are both common reasons this occurs. Fading is not treatable, unfortunately. However, it can sometimes be prevented by always pre-dissolving granular chlorine in a bucket of water before adding it to the pool.

Still not sure which type of swimming pool stain you have? Take the guesswork out of stain identification with Jack’s Magic Stain ID Kit.

How To Get Rid of Pool Stains

Once you have identified the type of pool stain that you are dealing with, you can determine the best method of stain removal.

How To Remove Organic Pool Stains

Organic pool stains are treated with chlorine and can be removed by following these simple steps:

  1. Test your pool water, and balance the pH and alkalinity.
  2. Shock your pool. If staining is minimal, a normal dose of shock should do the trick, but you may need to use up to three times the normal amount of shock for extensive staining. For vinyl liners, always pre-dissolve pool shock in a 5-gallon bucket of water before pouring it in the pool.
  3. Brush your pool walls with a stiff brush.
  4. Run your pool pump for at least 8 hours.
  5. Brush again to remove any stubborn stains.

If you still see stains after following these steps, you can repeat the process or try a stain remover.

How To Remove Metal Stains

The most common types of stain from metal you will come across are iron and copper stains. Most types of metal pool stains can be removed with an acidic stain remover that is usually applied directly to the affected area. Use a pool stain remover that is designed to treat metal stains, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly.

If you have metals coming in through your water source, you’ll likely need to utilize metal sequestrants which bind metals and help prevent them from causing stains. There are a variety of common sequestering agents on the market that can be effective in treating stains; just remember that they do wear down in your pool water over time, so you’ll need to keep adding them.

How To Remove Grime and Scale From Pool Tiles

Over time buildup occurs at the waterline from our use of sunscreens and lotions, our natural body oils, and other materials that can make pool tiles dirty. The best way to get rid of all the buildup is to clean the entire surface using a pool tile cleaner that is formulated specifically for home pools. A tile and vinyl cleaning product that is intended for bath and shower use in your home isn’t the same as one created just for pools and spas, so be sure to read the label carefully before using any cleaning products in your pool. Follow these steps to clean grimy pool tiles:

  1. Pre-treat tough stains by scrubbing with tile cleaner spray and a scrubber sponge or pool brush.
  2. Run your automatic pool cleaner or manually scrub all of the pool surfaces.
  3. For really tough calcium buildup and soap scum that is hard to remove with a brush or pool cleaner, try using a pumice stone to get rid of the biggest deposits, and go over the stained area again with the tile cleaner to ensure that it’s completely clean. Never use tile cleaning products that aren’t formulated specifically for pools or overly stiff brushes or scrubbers, as these could scratch your tile or lead to cracks in the surface.

It’s important to get a handle on the problem before it spreads throughout your pool. So, if you are still having trouble with tough stains and buildup after cleaning, you may need to call in a professional pool cleaning company for pressure washing of the area.

How To Prevent Pool Stains Before They Happen

It is much easier to prevent pool stains than it is to remove them. Pool owners who practice good pool maintenance usually have far fewer stains to deal with. Here are some helpful tips for preventing stains in your swimming pool:

  • Always keep pool water balanced, including chlorine levels, alkalinity, and pH levels.
  • Frequently skim the pool surface to remove debris that may settle to the bottom of the pool and cause stains. Empty skimmer baskets regularly.
  • Run a robotic pool cleaner or manual vacuum regularly.
  • Test your water for metals, and use a metal sequestering agent to remove any metals that are present.
  • Keep pool equipment and plumbing well-maintained and free of corrosion to prevent rust stains.

When you understand the different types of pool stains and what causes them, you are better equipped to treat them and prevent them from recurring. If you need help dealing with staining in your pool, or have any questions about our pool products, contact us today, and one of our friendly pool experts will be happy to assist you.