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Pool Party's Over: Clearing Cloudy Water

Rounding out our 3-part Pool Party Maintenance Series, we take a look at how to get your pool water back to that pre-party sparkle. The party-goers have come and gone; all that’s left is a full recycling bin, and milky, cloudy pool water. With a splash of this and a dash of that we can whip that pool water back into shape just in time for next weekend’s pool BBQ.  Let’s jump right in.

Testing 1-2, Testing 1-2

Taylor Test Kit from In the Swim

After all your hard work and prep to get your pool picture perfect, it can be disheartening to lose site of your pool floor or to notice a ring around your pool's waterline. Your initial reaction could be to reach for your pool chemical reserves and attack your pool with big doses of clarifiers, algaecide, and stain removers. This could potentially make things worse. An overdose of clarifier can have an opposite effect and adding algaecide and shock together is a waste of algaecide.

First things first!  Make sure your chemical levels are within the ranges below, before moving onto the the next step:

  • pH: 7.2 – 7.6.
  • Total Alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm.
  • Calcium Hardness: 200 – 400 ppm.
  • Cyanuric Acid: 25 – 50 ppm.

Shock First, Ask Questions Later

In The Swim Pool Shock

When your levels are balanced, your first plan of attack should be to shock your pool. Your guests may be gone, but there is likely a microscopic bacteria party raging on in your water. As clean as your guests may have been, we all carry bacteria, and when there has been a heavy bather load, it's certainly better to be safe and wipe-out all the lingering bacteria and algae.

Perhaps the most overlooked step in recovering your pool water clarity is brushing your pool surfaces frequently, especially after shocking. Not only does this expedite the process by kicking up all the dirt and other debris clinging to your pool floor and walls, but it also helps stir up the pool shock.

You may see an improvement right away after a few hours after you shock your pool, but it isn't the time to stop your quest to clarify your pool water. There is more work to be done.

Test your pH and Alkalinity levels again to be sure they haven't drifted, and when the chlorine level drops below 3 ppm, your water is ready for the next step; clarification.

I Can See Clearly Now

Pool First Aid to clear up cloudy pool water

After balancing the water and shocking the pool, restore that shine and sparkle with a clarifier, designed to help your pool filter trap tiny particles.

Choose your weapon: In The Swim Clarifier, is effective and budget friendly and easy to use. For a non-chemical attack, check out Natural Chemistry pool enzymes like Pool First Aid or Pool Perfect + PhosFree.

There are advantages to each of these pool clarifiers. Follow label instructions for water chemistry, apply the recommended dosage and run the filter longer than usual each day. Flocculents like Super Floc will require a slow vacuum-to-waste after treatment. Brushing the pool, or running a pool cleaner can also aid in clearing up cloudy pool water.

Enzyme products cost a bit more, but they also help eliminate stains, allow your chlorine to work better, and in the case of Pool Perfect with PhosFree, act as an algae prevention solution. So, while Natural Chemistry products may cost slightly more, you will ultimately save money by getting more mileage from your chlorine and reducing the need to buy stain prevention chemicals and algaecide.

As always, all of these products need certain water conditions to optimally work to their fullest strength, so be sure to closely follow the instructions. Do not overdose in hopes of speeding things up. It could end up slowing things down.

Did We Mention Brushing Your Pool?

brushes to clear up cloudy pool water

Brushing the pool is good for pool surfaces, good for water clarity, and a great exercise for you! So, brush your pool...again.

And if your pool brush seems too small, or if the bristles are worn halfway down, buy a new pool brush this season!

Looking Good, Time For Some Prevention Methods

At this point, (several days into the process) your water will be looking sparkly and pristine and ready for your next shin-dig. If you haven't used a product like PhosFree or other phosphate removers, we suggest adding the recommended dosage of your algaecide of choice. Since it doesn't take much algaecide, you probably have some stored away. Now's the time to use it.

This is also your opportunity to apply a stain prevention or removing chemical. If you have already added enzymes to your pool, there is no need to add these chemicals, because the enzymes will already be hard at work cleaning your pool.

Test your pool water one more time, and if if you are feeling particularly thorough, yep, you guessed it, brush your pool!

If your pool was particularly hit with body lotions, oils, and to be perfectly blunt--human sweat - it might be a good idea to use a filter cleaner specialized for your pool filter. It certainly couldn't hurt!

Let's Party!

If your party ended Sunday your pool should be looking fresh, clean and sparkling by Wednesday or Thursday - although it could be sooner. It's important to trust the process and give it some time to clear, while running the filter longer than normal each day.


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.