How to Clean Anything Around A Pool

I’ve been around pools all my life, and I think I’ve cleaned everything there is around a pool. Todays post is not how to clean a pool, or how to skim and vacuum, today we talk about cleaning specific pool surfaces.

Few pools are located in spotless environments, without rain, birds, dust and other things that smudge and stain our pool surfaces.

So then, here’s my tips on how to clean the various surfaces around a pool.


Solid Winter Pool Covers and Solar Covers can be cleaned with dish soap, but residue left on the cover can transfer to the water. I suggest using the all-around Tile & Vinyl cleaner, in small amounts, with heavy scrubbing with a stiff brush or broom. But more important than what you clean it with, is where you clean the cover. A clean, sloping surface is best. Clean a 5-10’ section, fold the cover over the cleaned area, and repeat.

Automatic cover stains are often hard to remove completely, but can be removed with a natural cleaner like Orb 3 Enzyme Cleaner, or Simple Green. Small amounts of automotive buffing compound can be rubbed into the surface, and buffed clean to remove stubborn stains or watermarks. Applying vinyl conditioner to the auto cover material also helps to resist stains and make it easier to keep it clean. Never use any harsh acids or chlorine-based cleaners on auto cover fabrics.


The pool caulking is the strip of rubbery sealant used around the perimeter of the pool. When standing water sits inside of low spots in the expansion joint caulking, it can grow into all sorts of colors. Caulking can be cleaned with a pressure washer, or by hosing wet, sprinkling Comet or your favorite abrasive cleanser, scrubbing with a brush on a pole, and then hosing clean. For delicate plants in the area, use very little or switch to our natural Orb-3 enzyme cleaner or use Tile & Vinyl cleaner, in small amounts.


The best tool for cleaning a concrete pool deck is a pressure washer of 1500-2500 psi, and a nice fan-spray tip that can cover 6-9” swath of concrete. For areas with dark mildew or darkening, use a hand-pump sprayer to spray on a diluted 10% bleach mixture, or use a deck cleaner chemical to pre-treat the area, and brush with a stiff broom before rinsing clean, and then pressure washing. Concrete can be sealed with our Concrete Sealer to protect it from salt, mildew or leaf staining.


Precast coping stones, or bullnose brick coping and natural stone coping will also respond well to pressure washing, however be delicate in the grout and caulking areas with the pressure washer. For coping stones with dark stains, a diluted solution of acid like Acid Magic can be sprayed from a hand pump sprayer and then quickly hosed clean, within 20-40 seconds depending on strength. Use our Stone Sealer for protection from salt and stains.

Vinyl pool coping can be cleaned with our Tile and Vinyl cleaner, or Super Tile & Vinyl Cleaner. You can also use Simple Green or small amounts of Soft Scrub (plastic coping only). Aluminum coping can be sanded and painted as needed.


Diving boards typically have a gelcoat surface on all four sides, with a rough textured top surface. Gelcoat is a fairly resistant surface, so you can use abrasive cleaners like Comet, Ajax, Bon Ami, or spray cleansers like our Super Tile & Vinyl cleaner to clean diving boards and dive stands. You can also use a pressure washer, lightly to clean the textured top surface.


Fiberglass pool or spas are generally coated in a gelcoat, similar to an ocean-going vessel, and as mentioned above, gelcoats are fairly stain resistant to begin with, and the surface can handle more aggressive stain treatments, such as mild abrasive cleansers, rubbing compound, or chemicals with mild acids. Be careful not to use heavy household cleaners or disinfectants and don’t scrub too hard on fiberglass, or you may leave a ‘reverse stain’. Tile & Vinyl cleaner or Spray Nine can also be used.


Yes you can clean your pool filter. If you would ever want to that is – I know most people, probably 98% of people would never think to clean their filter tank, but they can get grungy. So if you wanted to, gently hose the filter tank, or wash with a bucket of water, then scrub it clean with any abrasive cleanser or spray cleaner like our Super Tile & Vinyl Cleaner.


I have cleaned a lot of pool furniture in my day. For resin or strap pool furniture, if you have a pressure washer handy, that works well, but if too powerful it could be damaged. Most pool furniture is fairly sturdy and can handle cleansers like Comet, or 409, Spray Nine, or once again, you could just use our Super Tile & Vinyl cleaner, which also cleans pool furniture without even wiping (in most cases). ORB-3 is also a wonderful product for quickly cleaning pool furniture.


Stainless steel ladders and hand rails can be cleaned with any metal cleaner like Brasso to remove scale and water marks. Rusty rails can be rejuvenated by scrubbing in some Naval Jelly. Avoid using any automotive chrome cleaners, which may be best left out of the pool water. Saltwater pools will want to protect their metal pool surfaces from galvanic corrosion (which makes spotty stains on rails, lights and niches) by using a sacrificial zinc anode.


Pool plaster is always a bit mottled in appearance with shading variations. Scale film deposits on most pools but since they are mostly white, they aren’t as visible on white plaster pools. Acid washing is a method of draining the pool and applying an acid solution to the surface, scrubbing briefly and quickly hosing off. Acid washing strips off a fine layer of plaster, so it’s not something you normally do every year. Jandy Stain Master is a tool that will deliver acid from a gallon jug on-deck, for localized spot removal. And of course, we have many granular stain removers that can be sprinkled onto plaster, or poured into an old sock to make a ’stain bag’.


Just about every skimmer I know of is made of ABS plastic. Hit it with a scrub brush and your favorite chlorinated abrasive cleanser like Ajax, Bon Ami or Comet, or use our Tile & Vinyl cleaner to scrub skimmer lids, throats and wells. If the inside walls of the skimmer are kept clean, the pool tile or waterline will stay much cleaner. Orb-3 Enzyme cleaner continues to protect even after cleaning, consuming oily waterline deposits.


Fiberglass slides and acrylic slides have a gelcoat like a fiberglass pool, (or a boat), so they can handle a good scrubbing. TIP: Tape a trash bag to the bottom chute, to catch any chemicals and you can use a hose to spray sections clean after rubbing. Slides can be cleaned with our Tile & Vinyl cleaner, or you can use Spray Nine, Formula 409, Windex, Comet or rubbing compound. Avoid using automotive or bathroom cleaners, although you can use automotive wax to protect the finish and liven the color and shine.


Pool tiles can be cleaned with a textured sponge and a bit of Comet or other abrasive cleaner, or of course our Tile & Vinyl cleaner won’t add any phosphates or nitrates or soaps to the pool, so it may be a better choice. Our Super Tile & Vinyl Cleaner has a convenient spray top and is a stronger formula for tougher stains. Orb-3 Cleaner will clean the tiles most naturally, with enzymes that are a benefit when they wash into the water. Heavy scale deposits on tiles in hard water areas can also be removed by hiring bead blasting companies that specialize in pool tile cleaning.


Vinyl liners are much more resistant to staining than plaster pools, and about the same as fiberglass pools. They are however more delicate than either other pool type, and in treating stains on a vinyl pool, one must exercise care. Our Tile & Vinyl cleaner and Super Tile & Vinyl Cleaner is great for waterline stains, but for stains on the walls and floors, you can add a stain chemical to an old sock to make a stain bag with EZ Stain Remover, or A+ Stain Remover.

VINYL POOL STEPS                         

Plastic vinyl pools steps can get a tough waterline marks or develop an all over discoloration. For a waterline scum, scrub it off with Comet or use a Tile & Vinyl cleaner. To keep it from coming back, try Pool Perfect to naturally dissolve waterline scum. For an all-over step discoloration, a brown/orange colors, this is usually caused by metals dropping out of solution. Balance the chemistry, and add Super Stain Away and brush the steps the following day. Top step leaf discoloration can be bleached out with a chlorinated Comet type cleanser. After lowering the pool water, put on rubber gloves and apply the powder and a little water to work up a paste. Scrub it into the step with a textured sponge, and rinse off with pool water.


Wood decks, benches, pavilions or pergola that are in moist areas can turn green, but sunny wood decks can also fade with sun, salt and dirt. You can remove most wood deposits using a commercially available deck cleaner solution, applied with a brush or sprayer, scrubbed in and rinsed off completely. A 10% bleach solution can also be used, with just a few drops of dishwasher detergent added for suds. Scrub it in, rinse off well, and if you have a gentle pressure washer, that makes a fine next step. Following any good deck cleaning, seal and stain in one step with a Premium Wood Stain to keep it looking good for many years.

In The Swim makes every effort to provide accurate recommendations based upon current ANSI/APSP/ICC-5 2011 (R2022) standards, but codes and regulations change, and In The Swim assumes no liability for any omissions or errors in this article or the outcome of any project. You must always exercise reasonable caution, carefully read the label on all products, follow all product directions, follow any current codes and regulations that may apply, and consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. In The Swim assumes no legal responsibility for your reliance or interpretation of the data contained herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the quality, safety, or suitability of the information, whether express or implied, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.