Cleaning Out Lots Of Dirt In The Pool

by Bruce Corbett
(Simsbury CT)

We were away on vacation and our pool was vandalized when we were gone. Somebody threw a bunch of potted plants in the pool.

There may be up to 10-15 gallons of potting soil on the bottom of the pool. Is this too much dirt to vacuum out of the pool?

Thank you for the question Bruce

I understand how frustrating it is when you have a filthy pool from vandalism. I've taken care of a bunch of them and it can be a real pain. First you will need to carefully scoop out as much debris as you can. Get a good leaf rake, not a blue square skimmer.

Go slowly because you're going to have dirt and debris floating around and you'll want to minimize that. The question says that there's 10 - 15 gallons of dirt in the pool. I would suggest that you vacuum to "WASTE" if you can.

The dirty pool water will bypass the filter and go straight into the sewer. But be careful and keep an eye on the water level. You'll want to keep it topped off, and no less than 1/3 up from the bottom of the skimmer. Anything less and the system will draw in air and that will reduce the suction of the vacuum.

If you do vacuum to "FILTER", you'll be backwashing every 5 minutes or so while vacuuming. Hope this helps and have a great rest of the Summer


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May 05, 2020
by: john

if there is debris in the pool. can we add the chemicals

It's best to remove all debris to have a clean pool, but there's no reason why you can't still add chemicals.

Aug 18, 2019
Sand and debris at bottom of half filled pool
by: Soraya

Hi Robert, i am a totally newbie to pools. I bought a house with a pool about two years ago, at the time when water restrictions came into effect. However, most of the water evaporated n the water level is about halfway it's a big pool about is on a slope so, just above the pool area is garden area.. And when it rains the water washes the soil into the pool. I couldn't top up yhe water due to the water restrictions so haven't been 'cleaning the pool. We tried to clean it last summer... But i gave up because the water level dropped below theinimum level for the pump to run effectively. Now i am sitting with a pool half way with water n loys of sand n debris.. Leafs etc.
I was thinking of emptying the pool and cleaning it out and hopefully fill it up. In the meantime i have been catching water in tanks.i
I read on another site that it isn't a good idea to empty the pool n there is ways of sorting out the sand and debris from the bottom of the pool.
Your advice and assistance will be highly appreciated


Oct 06, 2017
by: Help321

How do I clean up the pool from sand, dirt and debris. We got hit hard by a lot of rain and our yard got flooded which in turn flooded into our pool area. Our pool is now full of all mentioned above and is blackish/brownish. I wish I could just find a vacuum to vacuum it all out like I vacuum my home. Any such thing out there to help get all of this mess vacuumed out?

There are vacuums and hoses available on the retail level for pool owners. Just Google pool vacuums and hoses. If you have a sand or DE filter you can vacuum to waste, but you'll need to keep the water topped off.

If you have a cartridge filter, you have no backwash or waste cycle so you'll be cleaning the filter very often.

There are portable vacuums that pool guy's use but there are pretty expensive. Good one's start around $400.


Sep 09, 2015
Sand at the bottom of the pool
by: Anonymous

Hey there. I have a huge problem that I need to get fixed . The previous own of the house allowed the pool to get sand to get into the pool and I just dont know how to get it out . Please help me

Jul 30, 2015
Muddy Well Water
by: Frustrated Mommy

I filled my pool from our well and the lower the water got in the well the muddier the water 😞 it took us week to fill it and starting over would suck. It is a 19' diameter 42" deep kettle pool with pump. The water just looks muddy anything I can do to save it. I tried a vacuum that uses a water hose and VAC's into a bag but the dirt is too fine just goes right though it.

Thanks for the question. I first need your complete chemical readings, the actual numbers:

Chlorine, CYA (cyanuric acid/stabilizer), pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, and Metals (iron and copper) and names of any algaecides you may have used along with clarifiers, phosphate removers, and/or flocs. It makes troubleshooting much easier and the process of clearing up your pool will go much faster. I also need the kind of filter you have and if it's working properly. If it's not working it must be fixed in order to clear up the pool. I will also assume the water is high in metals. If so you need to get a good metal sequestrant. Jack's Magic has a good line. It must have the ingredient 1-Hydroxyethylidene-1, 1- diphosphonic Acid, a.k.a HEDP


Feb 19, 2015
Dirty Pool From Recoping Pool
by: Shaun

Have just had pool coping redone. They did a great job but had to cut the existing pavers to fit coping this left a lot of dust in the pool even thou we left the blanket on. Should they be expected to clean this mess up or me having to do it. If I should how do I get it out and clean up the milky water.

Thanks for the question Shaun

We live in a world of contracts so I'd encourage you to start there to see if the company is responsible for cleaning up the pool. Vacuuming would probably handle the dirt issue but then there's the possible issue of balancing the chemicals once again.

If you need to do the clean up I'd say to turn the system off and allow the dirt to settle to the bottom then vacuum to either FILTER or WASTE, depending on the kind of filter you have. Be prepared to either backwash or clean the cartridges often, depending on the amount accumulated dirt. If you vacuum to WASTE you need to keep the pool water topped off. You're going to be losing some water.

If you still have some floating dirt you can use a clarifier to help clump the smaller particles to make them larger particles. These get caught in the filter and backwashed out. Normally it's 2 oz. per 5k gallons for maintenance but you can double up on the dose.

Next is balancing the chemicals once again. Take all the readings and make the right adjustments. A good pool shock might be in order. Use liquid chlorine. It's 1 gallon to increase the FC level 10ppm per 10k gallons.

If you feel your situation is more complex than this, I do phone consultations for a donation of your choice. It makes things go much faster and many people have found it extremely beneficial, saving them time and money in the long run. All your questions will be answered. I have nothing to sell you so you know I'm not bias.

Pool Consultation

Hope this helps.


Feb 01, 2015
Spilled Paint In A Swimming Pool
by: Maria

Vandals threw in 5 gallons of latex paint into full size swimming pool it has settled to bottom. How do I clean it up? The water is clear.

Sorry to hear about this. I know it's frustrating. I've had a few calls about vandalized pools and had to clean them up.

Here are the steps you can take. More than likely you're going to need to drain the pool and refill with fresh water. Get a submersible pump and drain as much water as you can without clogging the pump. Don't allow any paint to get into the pump. If all the pain has settled to the bottom you can accomplish this by suspending the pump off the bottom.

  • Get a pair of rubber gloves and old clothes

  • Turn off the filtration system and take everything out of the pool i.e. ladders, chlorine tab floater, etc... and clean them with mild soap and water

  • Make a thick pile of newspaper where the spill is most concentrated or use a large plastic bucket

  • Get a swimming pool leaf rake and line the inside and outside of the net with a fine muslin mesh cloth. You can either tie or duct tape the muslin around the plastic opening.

  • Very carefully and slowly scoop out the paint starting at the most concentrated point. When the mesh cloth becomes saturated with paint, remove it and replace with new mesh.

  • Once you've removed as much paint as you can, it will be time to drain the rest of the pool and refill with fresh water. Don't use your pool pump or drain to WASTE as this might clog up the lines or get residual paint in the lines.

  • After the pool is drained it will be time to remove the remaining paint. Lots of paper towels and sponges will be needed. Be prepared for alot of work.

    Hope this helps and let me know how it turns out for you.


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