If you’re a regular follower of our blog, then you should know by now that a secret to a clean pool is a lot of elbow grease, patience, and a little bit of pool know-how. If you’re a new reader, then welcome on board! This is a great place to start you on your pool maintenance journey with an all-in-one pool cleaning guide!
Today we’ll teach you all about the basics of pool cleaning, why certain pool cleaning tasks need to be done, and how often you’ll have to do these to keep your pool clean and sparking the whole year round. This post will also serve as a jump-off point to our other more advanced pool maintenance guides so there’s something for everyone here, even for seasoned pool gurus!
When did you last clean your pool?
This is a great question to start with because let’s face it, having fun and relaxing in your pool is a lot better than cleaning it. And when we say “clean your pool” we mean a really thorough, deep-down, exfoliating, remove every bit of dirt and grime type of cleaning for your pool. The sad truth is, the answer will be something much longer than we would care to admit. Don’t worry though, we’re actually kind of guilty of that ourselves!
We’re only human after all, but we do have to remember that the more we put off cleaning our pool, the tougher it is to remove all of the dirt and grime build-up and the more likely it is that we’re going to be left with a green and unswimmable pool! The tougher the job, the more inclined we will be to put it off because it just seems to be too much work. And when the time comes that the pool will be unusable, what will we do to cool off then?
Hint: Sitting down under a shower or prancing around the lawn around our sprinkler systems isn’t as fun as diving into a crystal-clear swimming pool on a hot summer day!
Think of cleaning your pool as a never-ending journey with the goal inching away every single day. By moving forward in increments (routine pool cleaning) you’ll always have your goal in sight and it will be easily reachable. But if you don’t move forward, it will quickly be out of reach and the task will seem to be impossible before you know it!
But I regularly use pool chemicals! Why do I need to do anything else?
Pool chemicals are just one aspect of cleaning your pool. Yes, they clean and sanitise your pool water, but that’s just one aspect of it. The easiest analogy I can think of is to compare it with taking a bath. You can pour soap and shampoo all over yourself, but the only way to get truly squeaky clean is to give yourself a good scrub! Following me so far?
Pool chemicals sanitise your pool water and kill off bacteria, algae, and other stuff that might pose a threat to your pool. What pool chemicals cannot do is prevent other stuff from entering your pool like body oils, lotions, bugs, debris, and other stuff. Sure your pool’s circulation system and filters will take care of that, but there will be things that will be missed and those are the things that will build-up and cause your pool to be a hot mess.
Proper Equipment is the key to Proper Pool Cleaning
You know what they say, any job is easy as long as you have the proper tools for it. This is especially true with pool cleaning. If you have rickety cheap equipment then you’re surely going to have a hard time cleaning your pool because you’ll spend more time dealing with your equipment than actually doing pool cleaning tasks! Don’t worry though, we’ve come up with a solution to that with our line of professional-grade pool cleaning equipment! Water TechniX cleaning tools are heavy on the features, but light on the budget!
Basic Pool Cleaning Equipment
Don’t worry, if you’re guilty of not cleaning your pool in the past, forget about it. Today’s a new day and there’s no better time to start than today! Time for a clean slate! The first thing we should do is to take a good inventory of our cleaning equipment and make sure that we have the right tools to do the job properly.
Pool Cleaning - Telepoles
No pool owner should be without a good telepole. And if you’ve gotten this far without a telepole then you’ll have to share with us your secret! It’s easy to think that all telepoles are alike, but it’s actually one of the first pieces of pool equipment that fail due to low quality and it is one of the most important pieces of pool cleaning equipment that you’ll ever own.
So, what do we look for in a good telepole? Well, the first thing is to look for something that’s made right here in Australia to ensure that you’re getting top notch quality and to ensure that all materials used are rated and tested to survive Australian conditions. Let’s face it, a telepole that works great in other temperate countries can easily break when exposed to the conditions that we face here in Australia, especially during summer!
The next thing we look for in a telepole is the availability of spare parts like cam sets, clips, and wishbones. The reason for this is that you’ll want to be able to repair your telepole in the event that it breaks and not rely on duct tape (even though it fixes everything!) or purchasing a new telepole outright!
This is one of the reasons why we cannot help but recommend the Aussie Gold Telescopic Pool Pole, it checks off all of the requirements we have for a great telepole plus the fact that it’s made right here in Australia makes it a winner in our eyes! Not only that, but spare parts are always available on our online pool store so that any downtime is reduced!
How long should a telepole be? That actually depends on the size of your pool. But we recommend getting something long enough that you won’t have to walk around the pool to reach the deepest parts and easily scrub all of the floors and surfaces with ease!
Pro tip: All telepoles have pretty much the same shortest length (1.2M) but differ in their total extended length, so there's really no harm in buying the longest one available. Any unused length can stay retracted and it won't affect the performance of your pole whatsoever. At least the extra reach is there if you ever decide to get a Pole Saw Pruner to attach to the end of your telepole to prune overhanging branches or hard to reach shrubs.
Pool Cleaning - Leaf Rakes, Leaf Skimmers, and Leaf Shovels
Do you want to stop clogged pipes, clogged skimmers and clogged pumps? Then your leaf skimming tools are your first line of defense! There are many different types of leaf skimming and scooping attachments out there, some are shallow and some are deep with bags attached. While most pool owners can get away with just one type of leaf cleaning attachment, here at Mr Pool Man, we prefer to have both! (or three if the budget allows) Remember when we said the right pool tool for the right job right? The shallow or flat leaf skimmer will be the one that you will be using most of the time. It’s small, agile, and can easily fish out any loose debris that may fall into the pool.
The only time you will actually need to use leaf rakes or leaf shovels is after a huge rainstorm, or if you neglect to clean out the occasional leaf or debris and allow it to build up. Yes, we can prevent the latter from happening by fishing out any debris that we run across with a leaf skimmer, but once mother nature decides to dump a whole tree’s worth of leaves on your pool, then it’s time to break out the leaf shovel or leaf rake!
And remember what we said about getting quality tools? Well, we’ve solved the problem of losing precious time due to broken pool cleaning tools by making sure that you can get professional-grade tools at a home consumer price with our Water TechniX leaf skimmers, rakes, and shovels! Designed and made right here in Australia so can be sure that you’re getting the best value for your hard earned money.
Pool Cleaning - Pool Brushes
This brings us back to our shower analogy, it doesn’t matter if your pool water is clean and sanitised if you have slippery gunk (and part of that can come from chemical residues as well!) all over your pool surfaces. A good quality brush can spell the difference between uselessly scrubbing your pool surfaces with no effect and scrubbing your surfaces and taking off any dirt or grime in just a few passes, making pool cleaning a much more pleasurable task.
Now before you go out and buy just any brush, you need the right brush for your pool surface. After all, you don’t want to damage your pool surface while cleaning it right? As a quick guide, here are the different types of pool surfaces and the type of bristles you should be using to clean them.
- Vinyl Liners, Fiberglass pools (and spas), and Painted Concrete - These surfaces are kind of sensitive to scratching and damage so you should only ruse brushes with NYLON bristles.
- Gunite and Unpainted Concrete Pools - You can use any brush (nylon or steel) for these types of pools, but for faster cleaning, steel brushes are the way to go! Tip: Steel brushes are also called Algae Brushes
When should I brush the pool?
Well, to be blunt, as much as possible! Even if there’s no visible growth or gunk, it’s still good practice to scrub your pool surfaces at least once a week. Get rid of algae growth before it gets out of hand! If you think about it, by the time that algae growth becomes visible and noticeable, it’s almost too late and no amount of scrubbing can fully get rid of algae. For those situations, we have a comprehensive guide on how to deal with green pool water and algae which you can check out here.
Tip: If you’re adding powdered chemicals to your pool as part of your pool cleaning and sanitising regimen, be sure to brush the pool surfaces after a couple of minutes. This allows undissolved pool chemicals to become agitated and will cause them to dissolve properly instead of sitting there at the bottom of your pool and possibly eat away at your pool surface.
How to brush your pool
Yes, there is a method to our madness here at Mr Pool Man! Pool Cleaning (especially brushing the pool) isn’t just something to be done until it feels clean. There’s an actual method to brushing your pool clean so that you can get the job done more efficiently so that you can finish as fast as possible!
- Start at the shallow edge of your pool. This means your steps, benches, and the walls near the shallow end of your pool.
- Brush towards your pool’s main drain. All that loosened up pool debris has to go somewhere right? Instead of randomly scrubbing your pool surfaces, scrub towards the direction of your pool’s main drain. This allows the loosened up dirt to be sucked in and filtered out by your pool’s filtration system.
- After the shallow end, work your way towards the deep end while still brushing toward your pool’s main drain.
- Posture is the key! Keep your back straight and let your telepole do all of the reaching for you (this is why we mentioned earlier to get a long enough telepole). This protects your back from injury.
If done properly, arms should feel extremely tired and heavy, and this is normal (better tired arms than an injured back!). We said pool cleaning was necessary, we never said it was easy!
Manually Vacuuming your pool
Brushing your pool is just one of the steps to pool cleaning, we also need to suck out dirt and debris that’s too big for our main drains to handle but too small to manually fish out with a leaf skimmer. Before you say that you don’t need to learn how to manually vacuum your pool because you’re planning to get an automatic pool cleaner or a robotic pool cleaner, don’t click out of the page just yet! There WILL be times when you will need to manually vacuum your pool like after a storm or if you’ve been away for a while and the debris has just piled up in your pool. Automatic pool cleaners work best for regular pool cleaning, but when it comes to heavy days, then manually vacuuming your pool is still the best way to go about it.
Pool Vacuuming Equipment
To manually vacuum your pool, you’re going to need four key pieces of equipment. A telepole (we told you this was important!), a flexible vacuum head, a pool cleaning hose, and a vacuum plate. We won’t go over the telepole anymore since we’ve discussed it before so we’ll jump over to the other components.
Pool Vacuuming - Flexible Vacuum Head
There are many different vacuum head designs out there but the best one (and our recommendation) goes to the Water TechniX Flexi Vacuum head. And before you shake your head and think that it’s favoritism that we’re recommending the Water TechniX Flexi Vacuum head as our vacuum head of choice, well… Actually now that I think about it, it is due to favoritism that we picked it! It’s our favorite not because we had a hand in designing it, but it’s because it’s our go to flexible pool vacuum head for those heavy days where pool cleaning requires manual vacuuming.
The Water TechniX Flexi Vacuum head is a no-frills vacuum head designed for sucking all those dirt and debris out from the bottom of your pool. Some people will recommend those combination vacuum heads with bristles or brushes attached to the head, claiming that you can brush AND vacuum at the same and we’re here to set the record straight, those types of cleaners sound like a dream to use in theory, but in practice, you’re better off getting a separate vacuum head and brush.
Why separate? Well, vacuuming your pool is for sucking out dirt, leaves, and other debris from the bottom of your pool. What happens when you surround the suction portion of your vacuum head with bristles? Well, two things will happen:
- Debris will get stuck on the bristles instead of getting vacuumed out of the pool
- You’ll end up pushing debris around the pool since the bristles are effectively blocking the suction port.
Pool Vacuuming - Pool cleaning hose
These are different from your automatic cleaner hoses in both design and size. Pool cleaning hoses usually come in one continuous length so if you’re in the market for one, get a host that’s just right for your needs. A pool cleaning hose that’s too short will be a pain to use since you’ll have to keep walking around the pool to reach other areas while a hose that’s too long can be prone to tangles.
What’s the right pool length? Measure from your skimmer box to the point furthest from it, and then add 1 or 1.5 meters, with that, you should have enough hose length to easily clean the pool without doubling back or getting tangled up.
Pool Vacuuming - Vacuum Plates
These nifty little pieces of equipment allow you to get a proper seal in your skimmer box so that you’ll get constant suction pressure from your vacuum head all the way to your pool pump. Leading skimmer box manufacturers in Australia like Quiptron, Filtrite, Poolrite, Waterco, and others will have model-specific vacuum plates to ensure that you have an air-tight seal on your skimmer box so be sure to pick the right vacuum plate that matches the exact model of your skimmer.
Setting up your Manual Vacuum
A lot of beginners make the mistake of simply plugging in their hoses into their vacuum plates/skimmer boxes and expecting it to work immediately. There’s actually a step-by-step method on how to setup your manual vacuum for headache-free vacuuming.
- Prime your vacuum and hose - “Priming” means to remove all of the air from your hose and vacuum head. If you skip this step, then you’ll be introducing air into your pool’s plumbing and you won’t be able to get steady pressure. To prime your vacuum and hose, attach the hose to your vacuum, lower it into the pool (a good vacuum head will stay at the bottom since it’s weighted already) and move the other end of the hose to your return jets. Your pool’s returns will push water through the hose and in turn, fill the hose with water and will push all of the air out through the vacuum head.
- Wait till there are no more bubbles - This should take under a minute, but once no more bubbles are coming out of the vacuum head then you’ve successfully primed your vacuum hose!
- Attach hose to vacuum plate - Keep the hose underwater and move it towards your skimmer box with the vacuum plate attached. Cover the end of the hose with your handwhile lifting the hose out of the water and attach to the skimmer box, you should now have and air-free connection from your vacuum head all the way to your pump!
If you’re a visual type of person, be sure to check out our guide to manually vacuuming your pool here, complete with pictures!
Pool Vacuuming Technique
Much like brushing the pool, vacuuming your pool requires some technique in doing it properly. Here are some points to remember when cleaning your pool with a manual vacuum cleaner.
- Slow and steady - Don’t be in a rush to finish! Slow and steady wins the race! Aim for long, slow, and deliberate sweeping strokes when vacuuming your pool. Rushing it and moving around your vacuum quickly can cause it to kick up debris, and you’ll end up spending more time waiting for the debris to settle back down.
- Vacuum in a pattern - Aside from going slow, have a set straight pattern, overlapping with every pass so that you won’t miss a spot.
- Start at the shallow end of your pool - Start from the shallow end and work your way towards the deep end / your pool’s main drain.
After vacuuming your pool, detach the hose from your vacuum plate before taking the vacuum head out of the pool to prevent your pump from sucking in air. If the plate is “stuck” then this can be due to the pressure and just turn off the pump and wait a couple of minutes to relieve this.
Tips and Tricks for a Clean Pool
- Check your pool filter’s pressure gauge before starting a vacuuming task. Take note of this pressure level.
- If you’re dealing with heavy debris, check to see if your filter has a “waste” setting (all sand filters have this) or a two/three way valve to completely bypass the filter. This will waste a lot of water, but it protects your filters from becoming overly clogged up with debris. Only use for those extremely heavy debris situations, most of the time the regular “filter” setting works fine.
- If you vacuumed to “waste”, don’t forget to top off your water and rebalance your water because the addition of extra water is sure to mess up the balance of your pool chemistry.
- After vacuuming your pool on the regular “filter” setting, be sure to check your filter’s pressure gauges to check the pressure level again. If it has increased significantly after manually vacuuming your pool then you’ll need to backwash your sand filter, or hose down your filter cartridge to get optimal filtering.
- If your pool water looks cloudier after vacuuming, then be sure to check your filters. Cloudier water after vacuuming is a sure sign that your filter needs cleaning.
- After brushing or vacuuming your pool, be sure to give all of the equipment you used (yes, even the telepole) a good rinsing with some fresh water from a garden hose. This is to wash off all of the pool chemicals from the surface of your pool tools. Dried off pool water can leave chemical residues that might cause staining or damage to your pool cleaning equipment.
Automatic Pool Cleaning Options
Yes, cleaning the pool can be a chore, this is why automatic pool cleaners and robotic pool cleaners have become some of the fastest selling pool cleaning equipment online today! For automatic pool cleaning options, you’ll typically have three options available to you. Suction pool cleaners, Pressure-side pool cleaners, and last but not least, our favorite, Robotic pool cleaners.
Automatic Pool Cleaners - Suction Pool Cleaners
Time for a car analogy! Suction pool cleaners are the Toyotas and Fords of the pool cleaning world! They’re affordable, reasonably stylish and they get the job done every single time. These are far the most common automatic pool cleaners out there due to their price and ease of use. They attach to your pool like your regular manual pool cleaning options and they move around on their own!
So once you get a good vacuum going, you can sit back, relax (or do some other chore) while it goes about vacuuming your pool. Take note though that the performance of suction pool cleaners will depend on your pump. You may need to replace your pump or get a booster pump if your current pump is undersized or below the recommended specifications required by a suction pool cleaner.
Suction pool cleaners are good for light to moderate debris load, but this capacity can be increased by adding a leaf canister that catches the debris before they reach your skimmer baskets, effectively extending the time the suction cleaner can operate before emptying out your skimmer baskets.
We currently have two recommendations for suction pool cleaners. If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, then the Water TechniX Rapid Automatic Pool cleaner is your best choice. Price-wise, it just can’t be beat when it comes to cleaning performance. If you’re interested in learning more about the Water TechniX Rapid Automatic Pool cleaner then you can check out our product spotlight here.
On the other hand, if your budget allows for it and you’re looking for a few more bells and whistles for your pool suction cleaning needs, the Pentair Rebel 2 is another top choice here at Mr Pool Man. We’ve had one for over a year now and we’re still impressed. For more on the features of the Rebel 2, here are the Pentair Rebel 2's detailed specifications and our one-year review right here
Automatic Pool Cleaners - Pressure Pool Cleaners
These are like the Bentleys of the automatic pool cleaning world. They’re robust, can handle anything that you can throw at them(but not too practical), but like Bentleys, they come at a price. Pressure side cleaners are some of the most expensive pool cleaners out there, sometimes even more expensive than the more advanced robotic pool cleaners out there.
Not only that, pressure-side cleaners require additional plumbing to be done to your pool and will require a booster pump. These are the reasons why pressure-side cleaners have fallen in popularity over the years and people have been switching over to the more affordable suction cleaners or more advanced robotic pool cleaners.
But if your pool is already plumbed for pressure-side cleaners and you’re already invested in pressure-side cleaners then don’t worry, since Mr Pool Man stocks some of the of the best pressure-side cleaner accessories and spare parts at the best prices online.
Automatic Pool Cleaners - Robotic Pool Cleaners
These are the Teslas of the pool cleaning world! They’re advanced, a bit on the high end when it comes to the price tag, but when it comes to features, they can’t be beat. Unlike suction and pressure cleaners that just suck the debris out of your pool, robotic pool cleaners also scrub the surfaces and filters the water while it’s doing its job!
Robotic pool cleaners are also stand alone devices that don’t rely on your pool pump (so no booster pumps required!) and they reduce the load on your filters by having their own self-contained filtration units. The only downside we can think of when it comes to robotic pool cleaners (aside from the price of course) is that their filtration units are kind of limited in size and you may have to clean them out a couple of times during heavier cleaning sessions.
We don’t think of it as a huge downside though. With the ease of use of robotic pool cleaners (no more assembling hoses, priming hoses, cleaning skimmer and pump baskets and so on) and with their plug-and-play operation, you can clean the pool more often before it reaches the “heavy load” situation. You can even start up the robotic pool cleaner and work in tandem with it. Just plug it in, allow it to clean the bottom of the pool while you go about skimming and scooping the other debris in your pool.
Read more on the Benefits of having a robotic pool cleaner here.
Preventing Pool Debris
Did you spend the whole day scrubbing, vacuuming and cleaning the pool only to wake up the next day with a pool filled with leaves again? Well, that's part of life. The only thing you can do to fix that is to clean the pool all over again! This shouldn't be happening too often, but if it does, then we would suggest that you invest in a good quality pool cover like the ones made by Daisy. Not only do pool covers help protect against debris and leaves, but they have a whole range of other benefits that you can read about in our Ultimate Pool Covers guide and How to keep your water level during Australian Water Restrictions.
Pool Cleaning is only one part of the equation
You're Still here? Great!
Now that you’ve mastered the art of cleaning your pool, you should remember that it’s only part of the equation to a properly maintained pool. The other half is about sanitising your pool which we have covered quite intensively in other sections of Mr Pool Man’s Collection of Pool Maintenance Blogs.
To learn about how to test your pool water properly and how to determine how much of a chemical to add to a pool to maintain optimal levels then go on ahead to Mr Pool Man’s Ultimate Guide to Testing your pool water. If you want information on what each actual pool chemical does for your pool and how it keeps your pool clean and how it affects your pool cleaning, then we invite you to check out Mr Pool Man’s Ultimate Guide to pool Chemicals.
Saving up for a good pool cleaner? Be sure to check out our payments page for our many payment options. We have flexible payment options that allow you to get the pool cleaning equipment that's right for your pool so you can start cleaning today and have payments on your new pool equipment split up into manageable payment chunks, all interest-free and with no hidden charges!
Do you have any questions about this topic or the featured products? No worries, we're here to help! Drop us a question down below and we'll get back to you ASAP.
Happy swimming :)