6 Cheap and Easy Home Remedies for Cloudy Pool Water

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Even the most experienced pool owners are faced with various obstacles in keeping the water sparkly blue.  

Sometimes the challenge may be removal of tiny black bugs, while other times it may be a battle against the dreaded green algae bloom.  And, just when we think we’ve achieved the perfect water, a white cloudiness can appear.

Cloudy water can occur somewhat spontaneously or can be triggered after a pool party.  

While cloudy water not only affects the pool’s aesthetic appeal, but it can also signify underlying issues.

While there are commercial products available to fix cloudy pool water, there are also quick and cheap DIY solutions.  In this post we’ll look at various home remedies for cloudy pool water.

Let’s dive in!

Why is Pool Cloudy?

Cloudy water in the pool can vary in intensity.  It may appear as a slight haze or fog that takes away some of the water’s sparkle, or it could truly look like a large cloud has been engulfed in the pool.  

At an early stage, cloudy water may not even be noticeable to the untrained eye.  More severe cases of cloudy water can make it nearly impossible to see the bottom of the pool.  

The pool may become cloudy for multiple reasons:

Poor Filtration

The pool’s filtration system is critical in keeping the water clean.  

The pump circulates the water between the pool and filter.  This process not only removes debris and contaminants from the water, but it also helps distribute pool chemicals throughout.  

It’s important that the volume of the water in the pool is circulated through the filter at least once every day.  The amount of time the pump needs to run to achieve a turnover of water will depend on how large the pool is and how much flow can be achieved.  Some pool pumps may only need to run 6 hours to achieve a full turnover of water, while other systems may need to run 10 hours.

If the filter is clogged or damaged, the flow rate may become restricted which could prevent the pump from achieving a full turnover of water each day.  This could ultimately hinder removal of impurities, leading to cloudiness.

High Swimmer Load

While most pool owners enjoy having guests swim, this can contribute to cloudiness in the water.  It’s not uncommon to find a hazy pool immediately following a pool party with a large number of swimmers.

Every person that enters the water could be adding contaminants into the water.  Swimmers will add body oils, skin cells, sweat, sunscreen, and other organic matter into the water.

This bioburden from humans can overpower the sanitizers and filtration system, resulting in cloudy water.  Ammonia from sweat and urine can also result in high chloramines (aka combined chlorine), which can contribute to cloudiness.

Inadequate Water Circulation

Water circulation goes hand-in-hand with filtration, as key principles in maintaining water clarity.  

Proper circulation will ensure chemicals are evenly distributed throughout the pool.  Without even distribution, there could be dead spots in the pool that are not being adequately sanitized allowing for growth to overtake the pool.

The circulation aspects include not only the pump and flow rate, but also the orientation of the return jets back to the pool.  If the jets are angled in opposite directions, this could create stagnant zones where contaminants settle, leading to cloudiness.  

Poor Water Chemistry

It’s important to maintain chlorine, pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness at proper levels. Improperly balanced chemicals can contribute to cloudiness in the pool.  

For instance, low free chlorine levels can lead to algae growth.  When adjusting chlorine in the pool it’s important to factor in the stabilizer, pH ,and alkalinity, as these can impact the sanitizer’s effectiveness.

Often overlooked, high calcium hardness (CH) can also cause cloudiness due to the formation of calcium particles.  Calcium can enter the pool during filling with municipal or well water sources.

pH that is too high or low can also lead to cloudy water by causing calcium build-up and scaling.  High pH can also reduce the effectiveness of chlorine.  


Nearly every pool owner has dealt with algae in the pool at one point or another.  It tends to come about when water conditions are favorable, such as warm temperatures, sunlight and inadequate chlorine levels.

Algae may take on different appearances depending on the type and its stage in growth.  At an early stage the water may actually look clear, but feel slimy. As the growth progress it may transform to a slight cloudiness or a green swamp.

Particulate Matter

Unsurprisingly, physical contaminants floating in the water can cause cloudiness.  This can include dust, dirt, pollen and other fine particles.  In such cases, the pool may be cloudy but chemicals are fine.

These contaminants can enter the water from the surrounding environment.  Heavy rains and winds commonly drag the debris into the pool where it then makes the water appear cloudy.  

Home Remedies for Cloudy Pool Water

A cloudy pool can quickly jeopardize any upcoming swimming activities.  And, while there are products specifically marketed to clear up a cloudy pool, there are also home remedies for cloudy pool water.

The right type of home remedy for cloudy pool water will vary depending on the cause of the cloudiness.  Many of these are cheap and easy solutions that will quickly restore the shine to the pool without needing to call a pool professional.

1 – Increase Filtration Time

Regardless of why the pool is cloudy, increasing your filtration time should nearly always be included as part of the solution.  

 Whether the pool is cloudy due to growth or debris, more filtration will be useful.  If the cloudiness is due solely to sand or debris, running the filter may be the only action needed to clear it back up.

Consider running the pump for 24 hours which will increase the number of times the water is filtered.    The more that the water is filtered, the quicker it will become clear again.  

Additionally, ensure the pump is scheduled to run long enough each day to filter the entire volume of the pool at least once.  

2 – Clean the Pool and Filter

In a similar vein as increasing filtration, it’s also important to keep the pool clean when battling cloudy water.  This includes skimming the surface, scrubbing the walls and vacuuming the bottom.  

Additionally, the debris or growth that is causing the cloudiness can quickly clog the filter.  As the filter becomes dirtier less water will be circulating back to the pool, which can hinder your ability to clear the water.

When the pool is cloudy it’s crucial to monitor the filter pressure regularly.  Backwash and clean the filter if the pressure becomes too high.

3 – Increase Sanitization Level

Free chlorine should typically be maintained at around 2 to 4 ppm.  However, higher levels of chlorine may be needed if either the cyanuric acid (CYA) or pH levels are high.

If chlorine levels are too low, the door is opened for an algae bloom which may take on a milky white appearance in the pool.

If the pool is cloudy and chlorine level is low, it’s important to shock the pool in order to kill off any growth.  Bleach is a normal household product that can be used to elevate the chlorine level.  

During shocking, the goal is to raise the free chlorine level to approximately 10 times the combined chlorine level.  This could mean that you may need to add enough bleach to achieve upwards of 30 ppm, depending on the combined chlorine level.

To shock the pool with bleach, pour it directly into the deep end and allow the pump to run for at least 12 hours.  General rule of thumb is to use 1 gallon of bleach per 20,000 gallons of water for an increase of chlorine by 5 ppm.  

Using a high quality pool test kit will help you acquire accurate readings of your chlorine level.

4 – Reduce pH

The ideal range for pH in a pool is 7.2 to 7.6.  If the pH is above 7.8, it’s important to lower it back in range otherwise scaling or poor sanitization can result that may cause cloudiness.

pH can be quickly lowered by adding muriatic acid to the pool, which will also reduce alkalinity.  Carefully add the acid to the pool and allow the pump to run for at least half an hour afterwards.   

Start by adding about one quart of acid for each 15,000 gallons of water.  Re-check pH afterwards and add more acid as needed for further pH reduction.

5 – Increase pH

While high pH can cause cloudy water, low pH level can also cause it.  Low pH can disrupt the overall water chemistry, leading to inadequate sanitization.

Low pH is acidic and can also lead to corrosion of metal pool equipment, such as ladders.  This corrosion can release metal ions into the water, contributing to cloudiness.

pH of the pool can be quickly raised by using borax, which will also increase the alkalinity slightly.  In general, 40 ounces of borax is recommended per 10,000 gallons to raise pH by 0.5 ppm.  However, the actual amount needed can vary based on the overall water chemistry.  

Borax can be pre-dissolved in a bucket containing water and then slowly poured into the pool.  Allow the pump to run for at least half an hour afterwards for circulation. Re-check pH afterwards and add more borax as needed to further increase pH.

If you don’t have borax on-hand, simply aerating the water will provide natural increase of pH in the water.   Aeration is exposure of the water to air.  

Aeration can be accomplished through various ways such as splashing around, incorporating water features, or even exposure to rainfall.  

6 – Prevent Cloudy Pool Water

While there are home remedies to get rid of cloudy water, there are also some simple ways to help prevent it from turning cloudy to begin with:   

Pre-Party Preparation 

If planning a pool party, it’s particularly important to ensure the pool water is properly balanced before the party begins.

Additionally, ensure the filtration system is clean before the party begins.

Shower Before Swimming

Encourage all swimmers to take a quick shower before entering the pool.  This will help rinse off sweat, lotions, and cosmetics that could build up in the water causing cloudiness.

Cover the Pool

If expecting heavy rain or wind, a pool cover can be used to help keep out debris.  This can keep the pool cleaner and minimize the chance of cloudiness.  

Other Ways to Clear Cloudy Pool Water

While home remedies can often clear up cloudy pool water, sometimes more specialized products are also useful.  Here are a couple of other considerations to clear up cloudy water.


Algae can cause a milky cloudiness in the pool.  While shocking the pool can often kill algae, an algaecide is also an effective product.

There are several types of algaecides available, such as copper-based, polymeric or quaternary ammonium compounds.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using the product.

The algaecides can be used in higher dosage to fight off an active algae bloom to clear up the water.  Otherwise, routine smaller dosages can be added as a preventative means.  

Clarifiers and Flocculants 

Pool clarifiers and flocculants are chemical agents that aid in removing fine particles suspended in the water.  

Clarifiers work by binding to the particles, making them easier for the filtration system to remove.  Flocculants cause the particles to clump together, allowing them to settle to the bottom of the pool for vacuuming. 

While they have slightly different mechanisms, they can both be used to help clear up cloudy pool water.

Is it Safe to Swim in Cloudy Pool Water?

Swimming in cloudy pool water is not typically recommended, but doesn’t always pose a health hazard.  

Both the severity and cause of the cloudiness factor into whether it’s still safe to swim.  

Visibility is a huge safety consideration.  If swimmers cannot see the bottom, there’s risk of injury due to not being able to judge depth or position in the water.  

If the cloudiness is mild and the water is still transparent, then there’s less risk in swimming.

Beyond just the amount of cloudiness, it’s important to determine the cause of the cloudiness. This includes figuring out if the water is cloudy due to potential unsanitary conditions, or whether it may be more benign physical contamination.

The first step that should be taken to determine whether it’s safe is to measure the pool chemistry.  Most importantly, measuring the free chlorine level will help confirm whether the water remains sanitary.  

If pool chemistry is OK, then it may be more likely that physical contaminants –such as body oils or fine particulates– are causing the cloudiness.  In this instance, there’s less risk of the cloudiness posing health hazards as long as visibility remains OK.

Final Takeaway

A cloudy pool can put a damper on upcoming plans to swim.  While it’s not always dangerous to swim in a cloudy pool, it’s a situation that should be addressed before it cascades into bigger problems.

Fortunately, home remedies for cloudy pool water are generally cheap and easy to use.  Some of these methods can work just as well as more expensive, specialized pool products.

When trying to clear up the pool water, the most important factors are to ensure the water chemistry is balanced and that the filtration is continuously running.  A shock treatment with bleach can be used if the chlorine level has fallen too low, as the cloudy water could actually be algae growth.

Measures can also be taken to help prevent cloudy water to begin with.  Having swimmers rinse off before entering the pool can help you avoid the cloudy water that often arises after a party!

Happy (Crystal-Clear) Swimming!

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