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How to Clear a Cloudy Pool

By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

There are many great things about having a pool. However, for most pool owners, maintenance is not one of them. Among the more frustrating problems for pool owners is dealing with cloudy water and determining exactly how to clean it.

To accomplish clearing the cloudy water from your pool, it’s important to first understand what is causing it.  Dull pool water will appear cloudy and is caused by improper chemical balances or debris suspended within the pool water.  While the ugly appearance may seem like a huge issue to resolve, it actually can be quite easy when following the below, outlined steps.

Before diving into cleansing your pool, make sure your cloudy water is not caused by a recent addition of chemicals.  pH and Alkalinity can often be particularly cloudy following application.  Give your pool water 8 to 12 hours to settle after adding any chemicals and filter it for an additional 24 hours if necessary to clear up cloudiness caused by the application. If after 24 hours your water is still cloudy, than refer to the steps below.

The following steps will help determine how your cloudiness has been caused, as well as how to clear your pool water of the cloudiness:

  1. Review your chemical levels in the pool by testing the water for Combined Chloride, pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness.
  2. Identify the levels of each chemical. The suggested levels are:
    1. Free Chlorine – 1 to 3ppm
    2. pH – 7.2 to 7.6
    3. Alkalinity – 80 to 120 ppm
    4. Calcium Hardness – 200 to 350 ppm
  3. Alter the levels accordingly if they are not in the suggested range.  Wait 12 to 24 hours before re-testing the levels.
  4. The culprits of the cloudy water are most likely pH and the Calcium Hardness.  Pay close attention to these levels any time you test your water to avoid having cloudy pool water in the future.
  5. If the levels have been identified and are in range of the suggested levels outlined above, then the cause of your cloudy water is suspended debris in the pool water.  You will need to backwash or clean your pool’s filter following your manufacturer’s guidelines.  Make sure to follow the suggested filtering steps of your manufacturer to avoid additional problems.
  6. Once you complete step 5, you should run your pool’s filter system for at least 24 hours and no more than 48 hours. This will help aid the pool in clearing up the cloudy water for good – or at least until your next battle with unbalanced chemicals or excess debris.
  7. For extremely difficult water to cleanse of cloudiness, add a clarifying pool chemical to the water. Follow the instructions of the clarifier according to how much to add based on your pool size.
  8. Run your filter system for an additional 12 to 24 hours to process the clarifier.
  9. An additional dose of clarifier may be necessary if the conditions have not improved.  Your filter system will need to be run again for another 12 to 24 hours.
  10. If all efforts made still result in a cloudy pool, an application of Floc will be necessary. This extremely powerful pool cleanser will settle the debris on the pool’s floor, enabling you to vacuum it.  Although this can be time consuming, it is a sure proof solution.

Maintaining your pool is a responsibility that many pool owners pride themselves with, while others consider it a chore.  The key to keeping your pool water enjoyable for your guests, however, is to maintain clear and healthy water.  Avoiding cloudiness altogether or eliminating any cloudiness that does arise is an important step in achieving this.  Fortunately, the solution to clearing a cloudy pool can be easy accomplished by following the steps outlined above.

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18 thoughts on “How to Clear a Cloudy Pool”

  • Dudley Kirby

    My 32,000 gal pool is not registertering any chlorine levels. The pool is cloudy. I have used clarifiers, shock which last about a day and oxidizer.
    The water seemed to be fine until it started to get a lite tarnish powdery substance growing on the walls. I put this kill stuff in the pool as recommended last year and since then I can't get the pool to clear up. Can you help?

    Reply
    • Peter Murray

      That sounds like chlorine lock to us. I would guess that you aren't registering any free chlorine levels but if you tested your total chlorine levels they would be high. This is a somewhat rare occurrence. What we recommend to do for this is use 3-5 times more shock then you normally use. This will "burn" off the total chlorine and allow you water to return to normal.

      Reply
  • Mary

    My pool is cloudy. All levels are good put clearafier and does not look like anything is happening.

    Reply
    • Peter Murray

      I would make sure the filter is cleaned out super good and shock it again if all levels are good, gotta filter it all out. If you can tell me what "all levels" are I can tell you if there may be an element that isn't good that you may be overlooking.

      Reply
  • Ashley

    Our pool is cloudy. I've tested the pH (7.2), alkalinity 80 ppm, chlorine is not registering at all, the total hardness is 270 ppm. We have put in about 15-20 pounds of shock over the last 3 weeks because when we started the pool was green. We have put in about 5 pounds of chlorine granules in the last week, we also have chlorine tablets floating. We went all winter without putting any chemicals except for the occasional shock (bad I know). So basically we are starting from scratch here. How can I clear it up?

    Reply
    • Peter Murray

      It sounds like your off to a proper start. make sure to scoop out any organic matter sitting on the bottom of the pool to start. Organic matter eats up chlorine amazingly fast. I'm not sure how big your pool is so I can't tell if 15-20 pounds is a lot but generally the answer is to keep shocking and cleaning the filter. A good clearifier and algaecide will really get you going in the right direction to clear water as well.

      Reply
  • Ruben D

    I have shocked my pool cleaned filters every 3 days put chlorine tabs in a floater. Used clarifier put still looks a little cloudy.. It's nice and blue but cloudy. i've been trying to get it clear but can't. Can you help me?

    Reply
    • Peter Murray

      pH can make the water cloudy as well as total hardness in this particular situation. I would also make sure you keep cleaning your filter until it isn't dirty after the 3 day cleanings. A common answer if you've already checked all of that is more shock.

      Reply
  • sara

    We are hazy after floccing and scrubbing bottom of pool. Our ph is at 7.6. Alkalinity is 160. Chlorine is not registering. Put in algaecide and 6 oz of clarifier last night. What do we do about hardness in water ours is off the charts even after draining water and adding filtered water from hose.

    Reply
    • Peter Murray

      The haze should clear up if you can get the chlorine to register with more shock. The only thing I can think of to remove calcium from the water for you is Proteam Metal Magic. We don't currently carry that but you can find it a lot of places.

      Reply
  • Tracy

    My pool was green from all the rain we just had and I shocked it two days ago went back the next mornig shocked it again but the water is cloudy so I went to the store and they said I needed to put in a clarifier, so I did. The pump and filter have been running for about 5 hours now it seems to be a little better because I can at least see the bottom but still is cloudy. The readings say the chlorine is at 1 ok low and so is the free chlorine the total hardness is ok the ph is 6.8 low total alkaanity is 40 low and the stabilizer is low at 0. I dont know what to do My kids have been begging to go swimming can anyone help??

    Reply
    • Peter Murray

      I would add more chlorine, it gets eaten up fast when the water is cloudy. You should also aim to get your pH up to 7.2 - that will also bring up your alkalinity. Getting Stabilizer levels up will help your pool water hold onto chlorine longer but it shouldn't be responsible for the cloudy pool.

      Reply
  • Jennifer

    Have an above ground pool, recently had the water tested because it was cloudy, the total chlorine came back at 4.0, Free Chlorine test at 3.9, ph was 7.2, total alkalinity 0, Calcium Hardness was 37, Stabilizer 10 copper and iron was 0.0 we bought the alkalinity booster, calcium hardness increaser, stabilizer & conditioner, water is still cloudy and getting worse, this started last weekend 6-22. Ideas, suggestions

    Reply
  • Kevin Cercie

    It rained for 5 straight days where i live beginning on June 28th. During that time the filter ran 50-75% less than normal and now my 30,000/gal in ground gunite pool water is cloudy. July 2nd still light rain, I checked the chlorine level and found it to be extremely low. I did have on hand 2 gallons of shock and added that along with setting the chlorinator on the highest level ran the filter for only 8 hrs due to thunder and lightening storms. Today, July 3rd turned the filter on at 5am, added 2 more gallons of shock. Will it clear in time for the 4th of July if I leave the filter on for the next 24+ hours?

    Reply
    • Peter Murray

      Sorry for the delay, it sounds like it may of been able to clear up! I hope it did! I would of said clean out the filter as well for an extra filter boost.

      Reply
  • Curtis smith

    My pool chemistry is all in spec. Except for cya is high, my problem is the PH was at 6.8 so I added soda ash to raise it and pool turned cloudy as it normally does at first but has never cleared up for two days now, running pump 24/7, cl2 on the high end everything else is in check, now I have read to keep circulating letting filters almost completely plugging before back washing and then i read to back wash filters everyday, add floc if no improvement, so there's my dilemma , what do you suggest??? Thanks...

    Reply
  • Walleye

    After weeks of different methods, I finally got the cloud to settle to the bottom of the pool. (Sink and Sweep) Crystal clear water. I have a strong pump for the size of pool.. anyway, I went to vacuum, had the filter set to waste but then swithched to filter as i didn't want loose so much water... i figured i would be 1/3+ out by the time i was done. Big mistake, kicked up all the bottom stuff and now my pool is completely cloudy after just a few minutes. I want to pull my hair out! Any suggestion or trick to this... I know i can let it settle again then dump all of my pool water. But if i wanted that i would have done that on day 1. Now that the particles are heavier will the filter take care of it?

    Reply
  • amanda

    I accidently blew sand into my 21ft above ground pool when I hooked up the tubing/ports wrong...I reconnected the hoses correctly and tried to suck out the sand with my aquabug, but it jammed it up (and now its not working)...
    so, the pool started turning gree very quickly, despite fileter running, and after three days it was dark green...ugh...I used bunches of shock, algaecide and some clarifier, and the pool changed to a cloudy light blue (cant see below the first couple of feet), where it has remained for the past two days....the local pool store said my chemicals levels were all great when I took a sample of water in (after all the chemical adding), so I really don't know what else to do...

    Reply
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