Will "Dye" From Clothing Affect A Pool?

by Cindy O
(Pasadena, TX USA)

Could you tell me if swimming in clothes affects the pool water or pump any differently than swimming suits?

Thanks for the question Cindy

The answer is yes, clothes do affect the pump, especially cotton clothes.

Probably the only thing that would affect the color of the pool would be to have something in the pool that is color-fast such as a bathroom mat. But it would need to somehow be agitated in the water to make the color run.

Most bathing suits are made from polyester, spandex, Lycra, or something similar. This is for a reason.

The fiber from cotton T-shirts and shorts will find their way into the pump basket and filter.

We don't allow YMCA members to wear cotton in the pool or hot tub because an excess of cotton will clog up the pump motor basket.

I didn't clean the hot tub basket out for about 1 month. The pump motor burned up and warped the pipes. I opened the pump pot, took out the basket, and it was impacted with cotton.

About 4 hours of work and $450 later, I told the guards to never allow anyone in the pool or hot tub with a cotton shirt or shorts. I now clean out the pump basket every week.

Hope this helps and have a fun and safe swimming season.


Bad Info. Due To Really Lax Maintenance
By: Gary
Jan. 3, 2012

Robert, with all due respect, if you work at a public place like the YMCA, and let a hot tub or pool go a month without cleaning the pump basket (and other components of the filtration system!) then you need to be fired.

My normal routine for maintenance of my backyard in-ground pool (I've owned several over the years) includes weekly maintenance of the filtration system.

Clean out the skimmer baskets (sometimes this needs to be done even more often), clean out the pump basket, empty the pool-sweep bag and backwash the filter. That takes a maximum of 15 minutes. Check pool chemistry with the test kit, and add chlorine/shock/chemicals as needed takes about another 15 minutes.

My wife and I end up in the pool in clothes often during the summer, and in the hot tub during colder months. We've also had a number of cocktail parties where lots of people ended up in the pool in clothes.

Have never had any problems whatsoever. Its a matter of intelligent and proper care of the pool and filtration/pumping system, pure and simple!

Comment By Robert

Thanks for the comment Gary. Yes, this is your opinion and the great thing about this board is that you can state your opinion.

Now here is mine...

It is true that I did allow the hot tub pump motor to get clogged with cotton from T-shirts and cut-off jeans. Yes, I did take full responsibility for this. In fact, I wrote myself up and presented that to my supervisor, and the steps I was going to take to ensure this wouldn't happen again.

It would have been very easy for me to completely omit this bit of information from this site. It would be very simple to say that I'm so perfect, that I've never made a mistake, and I'm the be-all-end-all of pool maintenance. But this simply is not the case.

I'm very quick to point out that I've made mistakes in the past when I started with my uncle's pool business in Arizona back in 1999. I've been very clear to my visitors that I've made the mistakes so you don't have to. This is evidenced on at least two pages:

About Me

Calcium Hardness

Sometimes the mistakes we make are our greatest teachers. I once changed out the timer on a pool and didn't turn off the breaker box. I cut through the wire case and got 110 reminders of why I don't mess with electricity. Lesson learned.

I fully understand the need for weekly routine maintenance and the importance of taking chemicals. These are some of the reasons why I put this site up in 2009, to give people the information they need, not from someone who has studied about pools, but someone who has actually been there and done that.

I've literally fried my arms (first and 2nd degree burns) and back doing acid washes in the 118 degree heat of Arizona. I scraped my forearms bloody scooping sand out of the filter with a coffee can and digging trenches for new electrical wiring and plumbing. I've drained a pool 1/2 way and hung upside down to install a new pool light. This is real world experience that you can't find in a book.

Next is your comparison between a private and public pool. There are similarities, but the big difference is the usage. While you may have had "a number of cocktail parties" I can safely assume you don't get nearly the amount of swimmers the YMCA pool gets each month, between 5000 - 6000 swimmers. I seriously doubt your home pool receives this volume of swimmers. This could be one reason why you've "never had any problems whatsoever."

And isn't part of intelligence simply a matter of those compiled experiences from which we learn? Wouldn't you agree to this?

Your opinion is that I should have been fired for my oversight. You have every right to express that. However, you're not the decision maker in this case, my supervisor was, and in his opinion and judgement, keeping me on as the pool operator and a supervisor was the best choice.

It would have been very easy to delete your post and hide any scrutiny or any opposing view points, but I wanted to address it publicly.

I'm glad you found this site and hope you return over and over again to glean the information you need.

Have a wonderful day.


Comments for Will "Dye" From Clothing Affect A Pool?

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Nov 16, 2012
Will Cotton Fibers Effect Pool?
by: Anonymous

Robert, touche I think no offense but is passive aggressive. Anyway, that said I don't know about baskets and filters.

Live in 40 unit complex with pool size of most private pools. Maybe 4 people on avg. At any given time in summer. Sometimes nobody often but sometimes lots of kids for b-day parties.

I saw a girl get told not to wear t-shirt cuss it clogs. I am older and heavy and don't stress tho i know from my younger days she was wearing a t-shirt over swimming suit most likely cuss she felt fat. Wasn't really but at her age i'm sure that was it. I hate the thought that she can't swim because of a possible cntl. Freak.

My question is given limited amount of times this happens in our case.is it really a big deal. Not every body does it and this kid I've never seen out there before. I don't know if it's the basket or filter but keep in mind that they have pulled gophers out of basket looking thing where you pull up a lid on sidewalk by pool to get them out.

They get inside fence and swim around throughout night cuss they can't get back out of pool. They eventually drown. This happens often I am told. Given that, with limited occurrence what's a few cotton fibers gonna do compared to gopher hair.

I just want do know if it's reasonable for me to make a stink about preventing some poor kid (I'm talking 20 something kid - kid to a 60 couple yr old) from using the pool cuss she's not comfortable in a swimming suit.

I think it's a cntl issue. Is it? What do u think?

Thanks for the comment and question

I am cautious when it comes to pools and their filtration systems. I do think that people shouldn't swim in T-shirts and denim or cotton shorts for the reasons already stated.

One of the reasons swim suits are made of Lycra, spandex, and similar materials is because of the issue of clogging filters, pump and strainer baskets.

Now, it does take alot of swimmers over a period of time to clog a basket with fibers, but why take that chance?

The information given here is from my personal experience with pools since 1999. I've seen baskets clogged with cotton fibers and for this reason I recommend to people to wear only approved swim wear. If the pool owner allows people to swim with cotton, well, that's their choice. I can only say from personal experience that, in my opinion, it's a bad idea.

This goes for taking showers before entering the pool. I recommend people doing this to lessen the organic matter going into the pool, thus reducing chlorine consumption and the need to shock the pool due to the high levels of chloramines, but this is generally for indoor pools. Regardless of whether the pool is indoors or outdoors, the rule of a hot soapy shower prior to swimming should always be followed.

I hope I answered your question to your satisfaction and thanks for visiting my site.


Jan 03, 2013
Told To Stop Swimming
by: Tom

I was just told by the guards at my condo in Singapore to stop swimming because I was not wearing "proper" swimwear. I was wearing boardshorts made by Billabong from a 53/47 Cotton/Polyester blend. They are designed as swimwear.

I was told that the dye from shorts like mine were clogging the filter. He said that only speedos or tight fitting swim trunks were acceptable because they use a different dye.

Does the guard's argument hold any water?

Thanks for the question Tom

To the best of my knowledge the dye from clothes doesn't clog the filters, it's the material fibers, especially cotton. I'm not a clothes dye expert so I can't intelligently comment on the kinds of dye swimwear uses.

If you have a residential pool and it's just two people who swim perhaps 1 - 2 times per week, it probably wouldn't be a big issue with cotton. However, I've always counseled people to be on the safe side and only use "100% non-cotton" approved swimwear. I've had to unclog filters because of cotton and I've seen first-hand what cotton fibers, over a period of time, can do to a filter.

I would say the guard is 1/2 correct. Your swimwear might be contributing cotton and introducing that into the pump pot strainer. One swimsuit won't clog it, but hundreds of cotton suits, over a period of time, will. It probably has nothing to do with the dye. I recommend using 100% non-cotton swimwear. It's not worth getting into an argument with the guard.


Jul 20, 2015
Rust on Bathing Suit From Pool
by: Linda Burnham

We have in ground pool I have rust spots all over my suit and the only that would take it out was wink. Is it possible there is to much rust in the water? What do we do?

Jun 04, 2016
In response to Gary (he is the reason I gave another star, it would have been 2)
by: Lynnette

I agree with Gary. And you can say what you want in your response to him, but I thought it was clear that you were blaming the cottons clothes and not your lack of good maintenance. I'm glad you learned a lesson. Not sure if I believe that you turned yourself in. It seems to me if you were completely honest you would have owned it in your original post, which you may have, but you also distracted from it by making excuses and blaming the people wearing cotton. It's hard to be authentic and not try to look good at others expense.

Thanks for your comment Lynnete. I would encourage you to read my post again, and perhaps you would revise your comment. My post says, "Yes, I did take full responsibility for this. In fact, I wrote myself up and presented that to my supervisor, and the steps I was going to take to ensure this wouldn't happen again."

And this one:

"I'm very quick to point out that I've made mistakes in the past when I started with my uncle's pool business in Arizona back in 1999."

And this one:

"Sometimes the mistakes we make are our greatest teachers. I once changed out the timer on a pool and didn't turn off the breaker box. I cut through the wire case and got 110 reminders of why I don't mess with electricity. Lesson learned."

As is more than evidenced and demonstrated through those direct quotes from my comment, I do take full responsibility for my actions. As I type this, at this very second, the cursor is over the DELETE button. How easy would it be to click it? Nobody would ever know you left a comment. Nobody would ever know what took place. Nobody would ever know that, heaven forbid, I screwed up. Comments only go live with my approval.

If you wish to judge all of my capabilities, the thousands of questions I've properly answered, and the mountain of evidence on my website and YouTube that clearly demonstrates that I not only know how to maintain and clear pools but teach others to do the same and have absolutely perfect results, at this very moment, by one indiscretion I had nearly 6 years ago, you have every right to do so.

That's a window into you, Lynnette, not me.


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