boy underwater in a swimming pool
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How to Keep Your Backyard Pool Clean and Clear

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boy underwater in a swimming pool
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The Right Chemistry

Many public swimming pools remain shuttered. Some beaches and lakes either are not open or feel too crowded to be safe. With COVID-19 affecting one of summer's greatest pleasures — plunging into a body of water on a scorching day — is it any wonder that Amazon reported that in April, sales of pools nearly doubled compared to last April? Whether you're new to pool ownership or just trying to refresh your memory as you prep your backyard pool for the season, here are a few maintenance and care tips from pool blogging professionals — and some essential supplies with solid reviews that'll help keep your swims safe and sparkling.  (If you're on the fence about getting a pool, here are 20 Reasons Not to Put in a Backyard Pool.)

Prices and availability are subject to change.

Related: The Best Above-Ground Swimming Pools

It's Pricey to Maintain
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Know the Basics

Matt Giovanisci, who runs the website Swim University, recommends in his post, "A Beginner's Guide to Pool Maintenance" that pool owners get to know four basic components that all pools have regardless of their design and complexity: the water, the interior wall or liner, the filtration system, and the skimmers and return system. "No two pools are alike, and you'll no doubt encounter pool maintenance challenges specific to your pool as time goes on," Giovanisci writes. "But if you've got a firm grasp on these four pool components, you'll be well equipped to face down most upkeep challenges."

Be a Schedule Stickler
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Create a Pool Maintenance Calendar

Whether it's in your head or on an actual calendar, there are few things you should remember to do on a regular schedule for optimum pool health and swimming conditions, say the experts at Pool Troopers in their blog post, "Pool Maintenance Checklist." Read on for suggestions on what to add to your list.

Pool Maintenance Made Easy
Amazon

Pool Maintenance Made Easy

Price: $18 on Amazon
Buy It
Want a home resource you can check to quickly answer questions? This pool-care manual receives high marks from readers and even comes in a free Kindle edition if you're okay with not having a paper copy.

Pool filter
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Perform Daily Maintenance

First on the Pool Troopers' list of daily tasks is to make sure your pool's water level isn't too high or low, both of which can affect skimming function. Second up is to check the filter and pump to ensure normal pressure, and inspect the pool cleaner, pump baskets, and in-pool skimmers to make sure they don't need to be emptied or cleared of debris.

Pool pressure gauge
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About That Filter Pressure

Davy Merino writes for discount pool supply and equipment provider In the Swim's blog, and he notes in his post, "Pool Maintenance for First Time Pool Owners," that irregular filter pressure shouldn't be ignored. "Higher-than-normal pressure indicates a dirty filter or obstruction after the filter," he notes, "and lower-than-normal pressure indicates a dirty pump basket or obstruction before the filter."

Pool filter
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Know Your Filter

Your pool likely has one of three types of filters: sand, cartridge, or diatomaceous earth, or DE, filter. According to INYO Pools' blog, each filter has its pros and cons, which pool owners should familiarize themselves with. The care, cleaning, maintenance, and replacement schedule of your filter will depend on which type you have and some other specifics of your pool, budget, weather, and so on.

HTH Filter Cleaner
Amazon

HTH Filter Cleaner

Price: $21 on Amazon
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It seems most Amazon buyers are pretty satisfied with this filter cleaner, but some note that it works better on smaller filters and is easier to use with DE and cartridge filters.

Filter Flosser Cleaning Tool
Amazon

Filter Flosser Cleaning Tool

Price: $26 on Amazon
Buy It
If you've got cartridge filters, buyers say this spray tool will make cleaning between those pleats a lot easier.

FairmountSantrol AquaQuartz-50 Pool Filter Sand
Amazon

FairmountSantrol AquaQuartz-50 Pool Filter Sand

Price: $28 on Amazon
Buy It
If you haven't replaced the sand in your filter recently, this 50-lb. bag of 20-grade silica sand is chemical-free, odorless, and claims to backwash easily and evenly. About 90% of buyers give it 4+ stars.

Reasons You Don't Want a Pool
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Know the Three 'Cs'

Giovanisci recommends that pool owners memorize the three Cs — circulation, cleaning, and chemistry — to remind themselves of the "foundation of effective pool care." Keeping these in the forefront of your mind will help ensure you're paying attention to the things that could make your swimming experience less than enjoyable if ignored.

pool filter pumping water
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More on Circulation

Giovanisci says that pool owners should ideally run their pumps 24/7 but acknowledges that's "not feasible for everyone's budget or equipment." However, the pump should be run at a minimum of 10 to 12 hours a day, he notes. In addition, he recommends frequently backwashing your filter, the method of which will depend on the type of filter you have (and note that some types of filters, like cartridges, aren't designed for backwashing).

Time Consuming
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More on Cleaning

At the very least, Giovanisci writes, you'll need a pool vacuum, pool brush, and net skimmer, and you should be using them weekly, at a minimum. And he recommends a couple of pro hacks. One, "Toss a few tennis balls into your skimmer basket, or even right into the pool, and they'll absorb surface oils left behind by suntan lotion, cosmetics, etc.," he notes. And second, wrap your skimmer baskets in pantyhose to create an "extra-fine filter that'll catch more contaminants than a skimmer alone."

The Wall Whale Classic Swimming Pool Brush
Amazon

The Wall Whale Classic Swimming Pool Brush

Price: $29 on Amazon
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While well-rated pool brushes abound, this one claims that its whale tail feature holds the brush against the wall with more than 10 times the usual force. Nearly 90% of buyers agree, giving it four or five stars.

U.S. Pool Supply Swimming Pool Skimmer
Amazon

U.S. Pool Supply Swimming Pool Skimmer

Price: $40 on Amazon
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Buyers seem to love the durability of this deep-bag leaf skimmer, using words like "super-sturdy" and "excellent design" to describe it. Note that it doesn't come with the attached pole (many well-made skimmers don't), but that any standard 1¼-inch pole will work.

Impresa Products Skimmer Socks
Amazon

Impresa Products Skimmer Socks

Price: $13 on Amazon
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Don't have a pair of pantyhose lying around? These "socks" can be used on filters, baskets, and skimmers for an extra layer of filtration.

Checking Pool pH
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More on Chemistry

The three components of water chemistry, Giovanisci notes, are pH levels, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels (aka the amount of chlorine, bromine, and such in your pool). Pool Troopers recommends that pool owners check these levels weekly at a minimum, or two to three times max, with a water testing kit. Get to know what levels mean, and also what to add to your water should levels deviate from the norm.

Poolmaster Water Chemistry Case
Amazon

Poolmaster Water Chemistry Case

Price: $22 on Amazon
Buy It
This well-reviewed kit tests for chlorine, bromine, pH, acid demand, and total alkalinity and includes a transparent round test block with integrated color chips for accurate color matching with your test strips.

Poolmaster Chemistry Test Strips, 50-Ct.
Amazon

Poolmaster Chemistry Test Strips, 50-Ct.

Price: $8 on Amazon
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These strips will test your free chlorine, bromine, pH, and alkalinity levels and come in an easy-to-store container.

pool brush
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Develop a Cleaning Schedule

Most pool experts agree that the surface of a pool should be skimmed daily, and that walls, corners, ladders, and other surfaces should be brushed down at least a couple of times a week. Finally, investing in an automatic pool cleaner will save you a lot of trouble and labor, and you should run it once a day in a regularly used pool, or weekly or bi-weekly in a pool that isn't often used.

Hayward AquaNaut Pool Vacuum
Amazon

Hayward AquaNaut Pool Vacuum

Price: $447 on Amazon
Buy It
This pool comes recommended by the In the Swim blog folks for inground pools. They call it "a speedy cleaner that gets the job done every time." Some pool cleaners cost two or three times as much, so this one is also pretty reasonably priced.

Zodiac Polaris Turbo Turtle Pool Cleaner
Amazon

Zodiac Polaris Turbo Turtle Pool Cleaner

Price: $240 on Amazon
Buy It
In the Swim recommends this pool cleaner for above-ground pools. It's suitable for pools up to 5 feet deep, and it's cute to boot.

Milliard 14" Flexible Spa and Pool Vacuum Head
Amazon

Milliard 14" Flexible Spa and Pool Vacuum Head

Price: $25 on Amazon
Buy It
Robotic vacuums can miss spots, so it's a good idea to keep a manual vacuum on hand, and this one gets high marks from Amazon buyers.

Destroyer Professional Swimming Pool Brushes
Amazon

Destroyer Professional Swimming Pool Brushes

Price: $16 on Amazon
Buy It
Sometimes your pool can start to look a little less than sparkling. If that's the case, it might be time to employ a bit of elbow grease via one of Destroyer's made-in-the-U.S.A. brushes. The line includes tile brushes, algae brushes, deck brushes, and more. In all, there are more than 20 brushes to choose from to fit your pool's needs.

pool chlorine tablets
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Don't Forget to Shock

If you've had a lot of people using your pool or there's been a recent storm, you should shock your pool — adding extra chlorine or other chemicals to your pool — to further help with sanitation. Giovanisci recommends doing this at night, as "the sun's ultraviolet rays will eat up the chlorine before it has a chance to do its job." After adding shock to your water he adds, "run the pump for at least eight hours to make sure it's fully circulated."

Pool Essentials Shock Treatment, 6-Pack
Amazon

Pool Essentials Shock Treatment, 6-Pack

Price: $15 on Amazon
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This shock treatment gets solid reviews from customers and can be used to clear cloudy water and control bacteria.

Environmental Impact
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Less Frequent Tasks

The Pool Troopers recommend that you also check calcium hardness, cyanuric acid (CYA), and — if applicable — salt levels monthly. Along with pH and alkalinity, proper calcium hardness levels help keep water in its ideal chemical balance. CYA helps stabilize chlorine loss from UV rays. And salt levels help keep saltwater pool chlorine generators running properly. All three are important but are less likely to fluctuate dramatically.

Pool Mate Stabilizer and Conditioner, 4-lb. Bag
Amazon

Pool Mate Stabilizer and Conditioner, 4-lb. Bag

Price: $27 on Amazon
Buy It
This cyanuric acid treatment will help prevent your pool from losing chlorine to sunlight up to 25%.

Rx Clear Pool Opening Chemical Maintenance Kit
Amazon

Rx Clear Pool Opening Chemical Maintenance Kit

Price: $168 on Amazon
Buy It
If you want to get a few chemicals for your pool in one fell swoop, this kit includes chlorine tabs, shocking chemicals, algaecide, clarifier, and test strips. It's for pools up to 15,000 gallons, but a larger size is available for pools up to twice that size.

Repairs Are Costly
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Reach Out to Professionals

If you're feeling confused about any aspects of keeping your pool clean, well-running, and safe, don't hesitate to reach out to experts. Pool supply and equipment store employees and pool-care professionals can help answer questions and/or perform tasks you don't feel comfortable doing.