How to clean a vinyl pool liner

How to clean a vinyl pool liner

While most of us would rather be enjoying the pool than cleaning it, cleaning your swimming pool is part of life for pool owners. When done regularly and properly, cleaning will help keep your vinyl pool liner in tip-top shape. As you pull out the sponges, vacuums, and pool scrubbers, check out these tips to help make your cleaning process more efficient and prevent major maintenance issues down the road.

1. Never drain your vinyl liner pool for cleaning.

We can’t stress enough that you should NEVER drain your above ground pool during a routine cleaning if you have a vinyl liner. The water in the pool helps secure the pool liner, and by draining the water you risk damaging it. Most cleaning can be done without draining your pool.

2. Clean your pool at least once a week.

Removing debris, vacuuming , and brushing the vinyl pool liner on a regular basis will help reduce the likelihood of major stains and pool maintenance issues. There are plenty of pool apps for your smartphone that can help keep you on a regular cleaning regimen. The more you and your family use your above ground pool, the more often you should clean it.

3. Use a tennis ball to absorb oils.

Whether you shower before using your pool or not, oils from sweat, hair products, and sunscreen get left behind in your pool while swimming. The solution? Throw a tennis ball or two in the water and leave it there. The fibers on a tennis ball can help absorb these oils, keeping your water cleaner longer and preventing long-term damage, stains, and fading to your vinyl pool liner.

4. Try using natural cleaners.

If you’re not one for harsh chemicals, there are plenty of natural and organic options for removing stubborn stains on your pool liner. White vinegar or organic dish soap are great alternatives and can help you tackle most mildew and stains with less health and environmental impact. They’re also cheaper than many of the other pool cleaners you can buy.

Pro tip: Be careful when using any cleaner to avoid bleaching or fading your liner. Always follow your manufacturer’s instructions and test new cleaning products on a small area before moving forward.

5. Always brush toward the floor.

When brushing dirt off the above ground pool walls, always start high and brush down toward the floor. That way, the debris will fall to the floor and be sucked up during vacuuming rather than floating around in the water.

How to clean a vinyl pool liner6. Don’t forget to pay attention to hard-to-reach areas.

Vacuums and brushes can sometimes have a hard time maneuvering around the obstacles in your pool, like stairs, ladders, skimmers and gaskets. When cleaning your vinyl pool liner, it’s best to give those hard-to-clean areas some love by scrubbing them by hand with a smaller tool, like a pool cleaning mitt . It will prevent dirt and debris from building up there over time and damaging your liner.

7. Invest in a robotic pool cleaner.

Robotic pool cleaners are awesome! They reduce the amount of cleaning you have to do and they’ll clean your pool faster and better than you can. You can’t beat the convenience, and you’ll be preventing stains and damage to your vinyl pool liner without doing much work yourself.

8. Test your water chemistry regularly.

Good water chemistry is incredibly important when it comes to cleaning your pool. Dirt and debris can impact your water chemistry, so you should always do a water chemistry test before and after you clean your pool to make sure levels are where they should be. Proper water chemistry will help prevent algae and other debris that can stain and damage your liner, so it’s an important preventative maintenance step.

9. Get the pool cleaned professionally at least once a year.

The most efficient way to clean your vinyl pool liner ? Have someone else do it! The advanced equipment professionals use goes beyond what you are able to do with your own cleaning accessories and water testing kits. A good cleaning service will also inspect your liner and all your parts to make sure your pool is in good working order, potentially saving you money on serious maintenance issues down the road. We recommend having a professional check out your pool at least once a year.

We hope these tips help you keep your pool cleaner and save you time, money, and energy throughout the swimming season. If your pool liner has seen better days and you need a replacement, we’re here to help. LinerWorld has a wide selection of bold, colorful liners for your above ground swimming pool.

For more about cleaning and maintaining your swimming pool, check out these links…

Over time the waterline justs dirty from oils (sunscreen, body), and I was wondering what I can use to clean it with? When I had a fibreglass pool, there was a spray that used to use that got it off, but can’t find it anymore and not sure if it’s safe for vinyl. I’ve tried a paste of bicarb but that doesn’t work well at all. Any other products or ideas? Thanks!


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  • Dec 23, 2019
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This has worked well for our vinyl lined pool BioGuard Off the Wall (24oz) : Patio, Lawn & Garden


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  • Dec 31, 2019
  • #8

Over time the waterline justs dirty from oils (sunscreen, body), and I was wondering what I can use to clean it with? When I had a fibreglass pool, there was a spray that used to use that got it off, but can’t find it anymore and not sure if it’s safe for vinyl. I’ve tried a paste of bicarb but that doesn’t work well at all. Any other products or ideas? Thanks!

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Cleaning up a swampy green pool is no walk in the park, it can take hard work balancing, cleaning and filtering the water to return a dark green pool to swimming condition.

And vinyl liner pools, they present a particular challenge. You’ve probably been told that it’s best not to drain a vinyl pool, and you may be rightly concerned about using very harsh chemical treatments that could harm the pool liner. So, what’s a vinyl liner pool owner to do?

Here’s my recipe for turning around a dark green algae filled vinyl liner pool.

Step One: Clean the Pool

The first thing that has to be done is to clean the pool, to remove as much organic debris as possible. There’s no way the water will come back if you have a layer of leaves on the bottom of the pool, or floating around on top. Cleaning should be done daily. Vacuuming, skimming and brushing the pool to remove accumulated dirt and algae from the walls and floor.

How to clean a vinyl pool linerVacuuming to Waste: If you have the ability to vacuum to waste (with a multiport valve), this will make the process easier. Roll out the backwash hose and put the multiport valve onto the Waste setting. Fill the pool up first, and keep a hose running while vacuuming if necessary, and vacuum fast – before the water level drops too much.

Cartridge filters are often plumbed without a way to vacuum to waste, unlike sand or DE filters that have a multiport valve. However, a handy homeowner could install a 3-way Jandy valve between the pump and cartridge filter, or a Tee fitting with a plug, to allow for vacuuming to waste.

Heavy Duty Floor Cleaning: Use Leaf Rakes to scoop the bottom of the floor, being gentle if there are large sticks and heavy debris in the pool. Keep at it until there is only very small dusty debris left in the pool, then vacuum the rest out of the pool. A garden hose vacuum, like the Leaf Gulper is also very helpful for pools that had a pool cover accident, or were left uncovered and neglected for many months, and are filled with large amounts of leaves.

Brushing the pool is very important after you get all of the debris out of the pool, and helps to get the small stuff off the walls and floor and into the filter.

Step Two: Balance the Water

There’s no real reason to add any chemicals until you get all of the gunk out of the pool, so make sure that the pool is about 95% clean before you try to balance the water. Check your pH, Total Alkalinity and add any adjustment chemicals to get these right first. Your pH level should be on the low side, adjust it down in the range of 7.2 – 7.4. Total Alkalinity for vinyl pools should be at least 70 ppm. If your water is less Alkaline, add Alkalinity Increaser.

Calcium Hardness is the next thing to check and adjust. For vinyl pools, calcium should test at least 150 ppm. If you are under this, add calcium carbonate to increase the hardness of your pool water.

Cyanuric acid is important to check before you begin chlorinating the pool. Bright sun can burn off a lot of chlorine in a pool without at least 20ppm of cyanuric acid (conditioner or stabilizer) in the water. Add conditioner to the pool if a test shows the level is less than 20 ppm. If you do not have a test kit that can check all of these water balance levels – we have kits and strips with 1-day service (or you can take a water sample to a local pool store).

Step Three: Replace Some of the Water

If you pump a liner pool completely out, especially an inground liner pool, the liner may relax and wrinkles can occur when it’s filled again. Using a vacuum to set the liner while refilling can be done, but if the liner is very old, it may shrink somewhat, and wrinkle or even tear when being refilled.

you can drain a third or half of the pool, and refill with a garden hose. Place a submersible pump on the top step in the shallow end, so that there’s no danger of pumping out the shallow end. As long as you leave 6″ of water across the shallow end floor, the liner should not relax, and give you no problems.

If you have a separate main drain line for your pool, use the main drain to drain the pool past the skimmers, just be sure to watch it, so you do not completely drain the pool! As the pool drains, hose and brush off the steps and walls if there are any dirt or stains, but do not use a pressure washer!

Step Four: Shock the Pool

After replacing 25-50% of green pool water with fresh water, and balancing the water chemistry again, your chlorine shock will be much more effective, so you won’t need nearly as much. This saves lots of money, but also is gentler on a vinyl liner.

Check your pH level again, and lower if necessary. Then dissolve 2 bags of pool shock per 10,000 gallons, by pouring them into a 5-gal bucket that is filled with water. Use a stirring stick to dissolve and then pour the mixture around the pool edge. Add enough shock until the water turns a cloudy blue color, which shouldn’t be more than 2 bags of shock per 10,000 gallons (some shocks are stronger than others).

Be sure that the pH level is on the low side before shocking, 7.2-7.4, where chlorine is most potent.

Tried all That, Still Green

Are you filtering the pool 24/7? Go ahead and let the pump run, backwashing or cleaning the filter as needed. If you really tried all of my suggestions above, and you have a clean pool with balanced water (some of which is fresh refill water), and it’s still not clearing after a few days… then I would recommend that you floc the pool. A flocculent is a chemical that bonds to anything floating in the water and sinks it to the pool floor. You have to be able to vacuum to waste all of the “jelly” that settles out the next day.

The only pool flocculent I would recommend for green cloudy pools is Phos Floc. Especially for pools that went very green, there is likely a high level of phosphates and nitrates in the water. PhosFloc not only clears the pool water, but it removes phosphates, which lead to algae growth.

Just follow the instructions, adjusting the pH to 7.0, and adding 4lbs of Phos-Floc per 10,000 gallons of pool water. At $5 bucks per pound, it’s not our cheapest pool floc, but it’s one that is almost sure to clean nearly any poor pool water condition (some pools may need secondary treatment).

Chris Low
SPP Pool Expert

How to clean a vinyl pool liner

Your pool can be in perfect working order with the ideal chemical balance and the perfect temperature just beckoning for a swim. Having unsightly stains on your vinyl pool liner, however, can quickly make your otherwise perfect looking pool look anything but appealing to swimmers in your household. Once you can properly identify and treat stains, you’ll be able to get rid of stains on vinyl pool liners for good and get back to enjoying your pool every time you swim.

First, it is important to understand how your pool liner can become stained in the first place.
Your pool can get stains from either organic or mineral and metal sources. Well water or corrosion from metal pipes can cause metal staining, while organic sources can be things like leaves, berries, flowers, insects and pollen and any other type of a natural source that fall into the pool.

How to identify stain types and colors:

  • Organic stains: These stains originate from the tannins in leaves, dead algae, plant debris, or small animals. The stain colors range from yellow, to brown, to black. If the stain lightens from a small application of chlorine on it, the stain is organic in nature.
  • Mineral and metal stains: Too much copper, iron, calcium or salts can all result in vinyl liner staining or marks. Too much copper usually results in blue-green staining, while iron results in brown, red, or yellow staining. Calcium and salts can result in white deposits on the liner. If the stain lightens from a small application of acid to the stain, then it is a mineral type of stain.
  • Fading: Vinyl pool liner fading can also be an issue worth mentioning. Fading can occur from the use of pool chemicals or from the sun. Low pH and high chlorine are both common reasons. Fading is not treatable, unfortunately. But it can sometimes be prevented by always pre-dissolving granular chlorine in a bucket of water before adding it to the pool.

How do you get rid of this problem?

We have come up with a process and solution for all of your vinyl stain removing needs:

Tools You’ll Need:


The first step in getting rid of pool stains from your vinyl pool liner is to test the balance of your pool chemicals. Pool balancers can sometimes lighten pool stains to the point that you can forego additional treatment. Improper pH levels, alkalinity and calcium can cause staining. The best way to determine your current pool water status is a pool chemical water testing kit; you can see our selection here.

Here’s a list of water testing kits that we recommend:


Treat your pool liner for your type of stain. Mineral pool stains are treated with acidic stain removers. Organic pool stains are treated by shocking the pool with a chlorine shock treatment . If that doesn’t work, try a Stain Remover . Doheny’s also carries a spray-on Vinyl Cleaner that can be used if your pool is drained.


Now that the stains are removed and you’re left with a once again sparkling pool, it’s time to think about upkeep and prepare for any other hard hitting stains. You can do this with ease using our chemicals and stain removers, and by testing your pool water regularly.


To prevent pool stains from developing on your pool liner in the future, always keep pool water balanced by checking the chemicals and using a pool cleaner on a regular basis to get rid of dirt and grime that tends to build up with regular use. Using pool stain control products to prevent staining is also highly beneficial in keeping vinyl pool liners clean, as they can make it hard for minerals in the water to stick to surfaces and cause staining. If you are tired of dealing with vinyl pool liner stains, then try a little bit of prevention – it can make all the difference in the world when it comes to the care and maintenance of your pool.

–General User–

Stubborn "bathtub ring" around vinyl liner

I have been a follower of the Pool Forum for several years now and appreciate all of the great information compiled here, thank you! I�ve usually been able to find answers to my questions/issues over the years by searching through the Forum. Somehow I cannot find my current problem addressed so I am posting for the first time � a newb.

I have a 24 ft. round AG pool with vinyl liner. I’ve had the pool for about 4 years now and noticed that over the past 2 years, it is developing a dark ring above the water line. We tried using some Soft Scrub but this was only very minimally effective. I�m a BBB�r so knew I might be risking water balance by using the Soft Scrub but fortunately it did not seem to have much negative affect on the 13,500 gallons of water. I have a couple of teenage daughters who like to have their friends over in the pool. They use tanning oil and my thought is that this ring is a result of their increased use of the pool and the tanning oil over the past few years. What is the best way to get rid of this ring and keep it away? Thanks for your help.

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Re: Stubborn "bathtub ring" around vinyl liner

On concrete pools, you can scrub the tile line with baking soda on a sponge, and that works. On liner pools, it’s my impression that the black ring tends to bond with the liner, and is harder (impossible?) to remove, but it won’t hurt to try.

There’s nothing quite like the look of a pool with a spotless vinyl liner and perfectly balanced, crystal clear water. But that idyllic moment might only happen when you first install a liner, unless you know how to remove stains from a vinyl pool liner.

Of course, cleaning your pool is a regular part of your swimming pool maintenance . But, until you know how to get rid of vinyl liner staining, you can do all the cleaning you want and your pool water and lining still won’t look its best.

The Two Main Types Vinyl Pool Liner Stains

Before you begin your liner cleaning, it helps to know what type of stain you are dealing with. Liner stains generally fall into one of two categories. Organic stains are usually a shade of brown or green and are caused by things like dirt, leaves, algae, bugs and other organic matter.

Metal can stain your pool in a variety of colours. Metal stains may be caused by pool ladders, pipes, heaters and even the pool water.

How to Clean Organic Liner Stains

Get rid of any debris in the water, vacuum the pool and clean the filter.

Use a soft-bristled brush to get rid of any easy-to-remove stains.

Balance the pool’s water chemistry.

Brush the stains again after shocking the pool.

For more stubborn stains, try pool liner stain remover, or a stain eraser tool, both of which should be available at your local pool supply store.

How to Clean to Clean Metal Liner Stains

Check for obvious sources of the stains, like rust around the pool ladder.

Get rid of any debris in the water, vacuum the pool and clean the filter.

Balance the pool’s water chemistry.

Use a metal test kit to confirm that metals are present in the water. And get rid of them with a metal sequestering agent.

Use a metal stain remover to get rid of tough stains.

You may need to change the metal parts of your pool, or even your water source, depending on what causes the stains.

If you suffer from ongoing staining, your best option may be to hire a professional pool maintenance company like Aveco to keep your pool looking great and avoid prematurely changing your vinyl pool liner.

To learn more about maintaining a vinyl pool liner, check out our post “How To Find A Leak In A Pool Liner”.

How to clean a vinyl pool liner

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How to clean a vinyl pool liner

Vinyl pool maintenance might sound like a chore, but it’s really an investment. That investment pays off in how much enjoyment you, your family and guests get from your swimming pool, and how long your vinyl pool liner lasts.

4 Steps to Regular Vinyl Pool Liner Maintenance

Vinyl liners need regular maintenance to help minimize the need for costly repairs and service. Here are the basic steps of maintaining and keeping your in-ground pool clean whenever you’re ready for a dip.

  1. Balance the Chemical Levels – The chemicals that keep your pool safe for swimming are powerful. The wrong water balance, too much free chlorine and the wrong pH levels can damage the liner – not to mention the potential harm to swimmers.

    To keep the water chemistry properly balanced, check the pool water twice a day with a water testing kit. Proper pH levels are between 7.2 and 7.6. Make sure your free chlorine levels are between 1.5 and 2.5 ppm. If levels are too low, add chemicals as needed. If they are too high, you may need to avoid swimming and regularly test the water until the levels fall into the correct range.

  2. Regularly Clean Your Pool – Proper pool care and swimming pool maintenance starts with regular cleaning, including vacuuming the pool. But how often you need to clean your pool depends on different factors. If the pool is located near trees, shrubs and grass, you may have to clean out organic debris more often. Covering your pool can reduce the frequency of cleaning and the liner damage that too much sun exposure can cause.
  3. Do Not Drain Your Pool – Especially if the pool liner is stained, it’s tempting to drain the pool to get to the stain. But the water in your pool balances the pressure of the earth that surrounds the liner. Draining even what seems like a small amount of water can cause the earth around the pool to push in against the liner. And solving that problem is definitely not as easy as just topping up the pool.
  4. Clean the Liner with a Soft-Bristled Brush – To get rid of dirt and grime stains on the liner, try brushing them first. For more stubborn stains, try pool liner stain remover or a stain eraser tool.

If you’re thinking about installing a swimming pool, check out our article “ 3 Reasons Why You Should Choose a Vinyl Inground Pool ’.

Here’s a question that just came up today. One of our dealer’s reported that a homeowner’s pool turned green with algae in August, so he added algaecide. All the algae turned brown and fell to the floor, like it is supposed to, but when he vacuumed it up he had brown stains left in certain areas. The stains are the same light brown color as the dead algae but appear to be glued to the liner and are rough to the touch. He tried scrubbing and rubbing, but nothing would remove these stains. As soon as I saw the photo (see below) it confirmed what I suspected. Pool Goo or Pool Tar. I recognized it because the same thing happened to my dad’s pool a few years ago.

The good news is that “pool tar” is not a big problem. It will resolve itself given time. As you can read below in a report from a vinyl manufacturer, plasticizer has come out of the vinyl. It is a sticky, gooey substance that attracts whatever dirt is in the pool and over time, under normal operation, the material is re-absorbed into the vinyl and the stains appear to vanish. I think it may have taken six months to clear up on my dad’s liner, but it does go away. I usually hear about this showing up when the pool is opened in the spring. That makes a lot of sense in that most winterizing kits contain algaecide, and that combined with a high chlorine level seems to create the problem. Do not try to remove the stain aggressively; this may permanently damage the liner. Just give it time.

How to clean a vinyl pool liner

* The following article comes from the Technical Manual of Canadian General-Tower Limited, a manufacturer of the vinyl sheet used to make pool liners.

Sticky Substances on Vinyl Liner commonly referred to as “Pool Tar” or “Pool Goo”

The consensus in the pool industry is that there are several sources of sticky substances, often referred to as “pool goo” or “pool tar” that adhere to and coat portions of the vinyl pool liner.

Some of these sources are:

1. Algaecide-humate or Quat-humate formed from the interaction of quaternary ammonum compound used in some algaecides and decaying organic material such as leaves, grass, insects, etc.

2. Interaction of quat algaecides with other substances. Even chlorine can interact with quats to form sticky material if both chlorine and algaecide exceed the recommended dosage levels. Quats can easily come in contact with high chlorine levels in automatic chlorinators, resulting in a gummy material gradually being fed into the pool, where it eventually precipitates on the liner. Many quat containers are labelled with cautionary notes warning against mixing with pool water having high chlorine concentrations.

3. Chlorinator goo can form when organic material from cosmetics, tanning lotions, etc. are oxidized by high chlorine concentrations resulting in a beige, waxy material.

4. A light coating of vinyl plasticizer may exude to the surface of newly installed liners during the first idle period of winterization. This material is clear and only turns dark if contaminated with dirt. It is attributed to lack of circulation, since it has never been observed in a pool that has been circulated over the winter. It will almost always re-absorb in two or three weeks if the water is allowed to warm up and is circulated and shocked with chlorine every couple of days. The problem is not known to occur more than once in the life of a liner and always the first time the pool is re-opened after winterization.

5. Pool scum is a ring that forms aroudn the pool at the water line and is made up of soil, contaminants from suntan lotion, environmental pollution, and organic materials from bather load, etc.

The following procedure has been recommended by experts in the pool industry as being effective in eliminating “pool goo” or “pool tar” problems.