Pool Stain Wars – Know your Enemy!

pool-stain-chart, image purch from dreamstime

The pool stain battles are fought every day in backyards across America. Stains have appeared in all pool types, plaster, vinyl or fiberglass, marring the beauty of pool surfaces, steps, rails and underwater lights.

If your swimming pool has stains or deposits, and these concern you, I understand, and feel your pain. I am also a stain-o-phobe.

Pool Stains – Intelligence

To defeat pool stains, a battle plan must begin with good intelligence. If you can identify the source of the stain, their weaknesses can be better exploited.

Colors: Identification by color is a useful classification.

red-stains - image purch'd thru dreamstime

RED: rust stains, berry stains, iron staining

brown-stain - image purch'd thru dreamstime

BROWN: dirt, leaf or worm stains, dirty scale deposits

teal-stain - image purch'd thru dreamstimeTEAL: staining from copper algaecides or copper heater

blue-stain-2BLUE: or purple stains could be manganese or cobalt, or berries


GREEN: or yellow stains can be algae, or other organic stains

Occupied Region:
Where have the rebel stains infiltrated? Is the stain an all-over discoloration, or are the stains concentrated in isolated areas? All over staining can be almost anything, but isolated stains could help pinpoint the source.toy-soldiers

Just around the main drain for example, is usually an organic stain. Isolated spots could be rust stains, or the beginning of an algae bloom.

Strength of Forces: Assess the strength of the stains by brushing it vigorously with a steel bristled pool brush (plaster pools only), or a nylon pool brush. A stain with a texture, or a scaly surface indicates a mineral deposit, possibly mixed with other [colored] contaminants.

Reconnaissance: Once you have cornered the enemy, conduct some tests to determine their weakness. Before you begin, balance the pool water, making sure your levels are correct for chlorine, pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness.

army-man-2Use Granular Chlorine (plaster pools only), in a small area to test for stain removal. If successful, you have an organic stain (algae, leaf tannins, worm stains).

army-man-2Use Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in a small area to test for stain removal. If successful, you likely have a metal stain (copper, iron, manganese).

army-man-2Use a PoolStone cleaning brush (plaster pools only) to test for scale and stain removal. If successful, stains are only on the surface, and not soaked in.

Pool Stains – Plan of Attack

Once you have balanced the water and done some tests to determine the type of pool stain you have, you can plan your attack. mineral-stain-treatments

Metal stains respond to stain removal chemicals like those pictured to the right, which can also work well on organic stains.

Iron and Copper stains can be the most difficult to remove, and mineral scaling mixed with dirt is also tough for removal chemicals. For extreme scaling and staining issues, draining and pressure washing or acid washing (plaster pools only) works well.

For areas with air quality problems, or lots of oiled-up swimmers, use an enzyme to launch a counter attack – before they stain!

vinyl-pool-stain-prevention-chemicalsIn The Swim has a full line of stain removal chemicals, in addition to sequestering agents to keep minerals and metals tied-up in solution, where they can’t stain your pool.

~ Keep your water balanced and your pool clean and chlorinated and stains are less likely to form.

At ease, soldier!

Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor




Pool Stain Wars – Know your Enemy! — 1 Comment

  1. I like to use the metal eliminator CuLator in such cases. Otherwise, those stains can come back again and again.

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