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Can I Pressure Wash a Vinyl Pool Liner?

Owning a pool is great for recreational opportunities for both your family and friends.  However, owning a pool can also involve lots of upkeep and annual maintenance. When you own a pool, you have to make sure to clean it regularly. If you fail to clean the pool properly, you will notice the liner can become discolored and coated in grime.  While this is frustrating to see, it can be remedied.

Can you pressure wash a vinyl pool liner? No, you should not use a pressure washer to clean a vinyl pool liner.  A pressure washer is very powerful and could easily tear your liner, resulting in a very costly repair.

So, if using a pressure washer to clean a vinyl pool liner is out of the question, you may be wondering how in the world to clean it.  This article will help you to understand why a pressure washer is not a good option for cleaning a vinyl pool liner. It will also provide you with some other options to get your liner clean without damaging it.

Pressure Washers and Vinyl Pool Liners

When opening your pool for the first time each season, you will likely notice some dirt around the edges of your pool liner.  You will see this in both in-ground and above-ground pools. Not only is it grimy, but it also makes the pool look less appealing.  As you run your hand over the dirt, you will notice it is not easily removed, which may lead you to think about using a pressure washer to obliterate it.

Before you grab the pressure washer, you need to realize that not only will you obliterate the dirt on the edge of your liner, but you will also likely create irreparable holes into the liner. If your pool liner becomes severely damaged, you will need to replace the entire liner. 

What is a Vinyl Pool Liner?

According to the article Swimming Pool Liners and In-Ground Pool Resurfacing, vinyl is one of the most commonly used materials for pool liners.  The vinyl liner is what makes the pool look bright and inviting.  They come in a variety of colors and patterns so that you can choose what fits your family best. 

Vinyl is a humanmade plastic material that can easily take the form of the pool it is being placed in.  Not only is it relatively easy to manufacture, but it is also a way to keep the initial cost of a pool low.  Because of this, vinyl liners are a popular choice.

The Durability of Vinyl Pool Liners

When choosing a vinyl liner for a pool, you have options of different thicknesses.  Keep in mind, the thicker the vinyl, the more durable it will be. In the article 20 Mil, VS. 27, 28, or 30 MIL Swimming Pool Liners? Which is Better? Johnny Davis explains the difference between thick and thin vinyl pool liners.

  • When you choose a thick liner, you are going to be safeguarding against punctures, but it may be challenging to fit the liner to the pool, which can limit the life of the liner.  
  • When you choose a thin liner, you forego the extra protection from punctures, but it will likely fit the pool better, which can increase the life of the liner.  

Cleaning a Vinyl Pool Liner

Although your pool liner is mostly submerged in water, you need to be prepared to clean and maintain it.  This routine cleaning, although time-consuming, will ensure the liner lasts for many years. While pressure washing is not the best way to clean the liner, many other options will safely do the job. 

Cleaning Tools

You are in luck because there is a minimal list of tools and cleaning agents you need to keep your pool liner in pristine shape.  Remember, you will be using these items often, so you don’t want to cut corners when purchasing. Buying cheap items will only cost you more in the long run because replacements will likely be frequent.  

Nylon Pool Brush

This is going to be one of the best investments you make when it comes to keeping your pool liner in tip-top shape.  Nylon is an excellent material because it isn’t abrasive, and it is durable even when being used in chemical-laden water. 

When going to purchase a nylon pool brush, you will find many different shapes and sizes.  Keep in mind the size of your pool and the number of hard to reach areas you may have. Hard to reach areas are those areas in the corners of steps or behind the ladder.  You will want to be able to reach these areas for regular cleaning. 

Homga Swimming Pool Brush, 18″ Pool Brush

This brush is a must-have in the pool maintenance world!  The wide swath is ideal for cleaning down the sides of your pool and on any slopes to the deep end.  It attaches easily to a telescoping pool pole.

The Wall Whale Classic Swimming Pool Brush

This brush comes with an extra bit of wow factor because of an attached plastic feature in the shape of a whale tail (hence the name).  The purpose of this attachment is to help the brush stay more closely connected to the wall as you are brushing. 

Noa Store Corner Brush

This brush will be a lifesaver when it comes to cleaning hard to reach areas in your pool. It looks very similar to a bottle brush but is much more durable and suitable for pool steps and corners.  This brush can also reach behind ladders if needed. 

Pool Mitt

This is not the mitten you are thinking of wearing in cold weather.  It is like a carwash or exfoliating mitten. The mitten will provide the ability to get between pool ladders and the wall, as well as the ability to clean steps and ladder rungs that just can’t be reached by a traditional brush. 

Mytee Mitt

This mitt is equipped with tiny bristles that are just abrasive enough to clean algae and dirt from both pool liners and accessories, such as steps and ladders.  You can use this mitt with or without a cleaning agent.  

Cleaning Agents

When you think about cleaning, you likely think about sprays or pastes that you can apply to get the job done.  While there are many cleaning agent options for a vinyl pool liner, be sure to research them carefully. A quick search may turn up several ideas, but not all have been tested or proven to protect the integrity of your vinyl liner.  Remember, your pool liner is durable but can easily be weakened if the wrong chemicals are used.  

Here are some cleaners that are safe for your pool liner:

Wipe Out 6012 All Purpose Surface Cleaner for Swimming Pools

Natural Chemistry Clean & Perfect

Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid

Vitamin C can be used to clean your vinyl pool liner.  However, please don’t just grab the first Vitamin C that you find.  It is essential to use a compound that is formulated for a pool or vinyl.  

Here are some options you may want to check out:

Bosh Chemical Vanish Pool & Spa Stain Remover

Natural Chemistry 07400 Stain Free Pool Stain Remover

The above-listed items are not an exclusive list of items that you can purchase to maintain the liner of your pool; however, they are the essential tools and products you should have in your pool cleaning arsenal.  As you go through pool ownership, you may need to add to this collection, depending on the level of cleaning your vinyl liner needs.

It is recommended that you thoroughly clean your pool liner at least twice a year and do regular maintenance cleaning in between.  Typically, you will do a heavy-duty cleaning when your pool is opened and then again before it is closed for the season.  Taking time to do this will save you a tremendous amount of money as well as time over the summer months. 

Keeping the Liner Clean

The most important thing to remember as you begin to clean the liner is that it is not indestructible, so you need to practice care when cleaning.  While you can feel comfortable using gentle force to scrub the side of the pool, you don’t want to use anything extra abrasive because it will harm the liner.  

By using the tools and cleaning agents mentioned above and following the steps detailed below, you will likely be able to maintain a pool liner that is clean for the entire pool season, without too much hassle or expense. 

To clean your vinyl pool liner, follow these steps:

Clean your pool frequently

The more often you clean your pool, the cleaner it will stay.  That probably sounds like common sense, but not everyone realizes the importance of daily maintenance when it comes to pools.

  • You will want to pay close attention to the waterline of your pool. This is where you will notice a build-up or possible discoloration.  The discoloration can be caused by a variety of things, but the two most common causes are dirt and metal.
  • If you notice an extreme amount of discoloration or staining that keeps returning after cleaning, you may need to have the copper or metal level checked in your pool.  If any of the components of your heater are going bad, copper can be leached into the water. When this level is high over a long period, it can result in damage to both the liner and your pool pump and filtration system. 
  • When you clean the edge of the pool, you can use a handheld brush or mitt. You may see pool cleaning stones on the market.  STAY AWAY from these! They are made to clean stains but not for vinyl liners.  They are too abrasive and will destroy the top of your liner. 

Brush down

This tip is going to be a lifesaver for many.  When you get ready to clean the walls of your pool, you ALWAYS want to brush down.  Don’t fall into the trap of scrubbing up and down.  When you do this, you are just breaking the particles free from the side and allowing them to mix with the water.  If you brush down, they will likely settle on the bottom of the pool, which will allow you to vacuum them up quite easily. 

  • Take your time when brushing the pool sides, especially after you first open the pool because there is likely build-up, even if you can’t see it.  The more slowly you brush, the less chance you have of stirring up the build-up, which makes clean up easier. 

Vacuum the pool

You will need to vacuum your pool frequently to get rid of leaves, algae, or any other debris that may be present in the pool.  It is crucial that you vacuum because, when organic matter is left in the pool, it will begin to decay and can cause problems with algae.  

There are many different pool vacuums on the market.  Some attach easily to your telescoping pool pole while others attach to the filter and move independently through the pool.  Both serve the same purpose to remove organic matter from the pool.   

Here are some options that you may want to check out: 

Telescoping Pole Attachments

Aquatix Pro Pool Vacuum Head Half Moon Premium Flexible Swimming Pool Vacuum Head with EZ Clips

Milliard Pool and Spa Vacuum Head

Hose Attachments

PAXCESS Automatic Pool Cleaner, Robotic In-Ground/Above Ground Pool Cleaner with Wall Climbing Function

Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner

VINGLI Automatic Pool Vacuum Cleaner Swimming Pool Cleaner with Additional Hoses & Diaphragms

When you prepare to purchase a vacuum for your pool, there are some things you need to take into consideration.  First of all, you need to make sure you are purchasing a vacuum that is appropriate for your pool.  

If you have an above ground pool, the vacuum options are going to be a bit different than those for inground pools.  Some vacuums can be used in both, but not all. You also need to be prepared to spend a significantly higher amount on an automatic vacuum. 

Keep your chemicals in balance: The key to keeping your pool crystal clear and the liner bright and appealing is maintaining the balance of your pool chemicals. Thomas Kennedy speaks of this in his article, How to Keep Your Liner Looking Beautiful. The proper balance of pool chemicals will inhibit the growth of algae and other problem-causing bacteria in the water.  It is essential to check the chemical levels each day before swimming.  

To check the chemical content of the water, you have different options for at-home use. 

Test Strips

These are the most widely used testing mechanisms because they are convenient and relatively inexpensive.  You aren’t going to get number readings on these strips, but you will see a color progression that indicates the amount of chemicals in the pool water. 

Beterwater Pool Test Strips

Poolmaster 22211 Smart Test 4-Way

AquaChek 551236 7-Way

Testing Kits

These are a more advanced way to test your pool water, and they provide more accurate readings of your chemical levels.  You need to follow the directions to make sure you are receiving an accurate reading of the numbers. Testing kits are also a bit more expensive.

Poolmaster Pool & Spa Test Kit with Case 

Taylor Technologies K-2005 Pool Test Kit

SplashTech 2-Way Pool Water Testing Kit

No matter which method you choose to use for testing, you need to make sure the test kit is going to meet your specific needs.  Some testing kits are limited in what they can test for, such as only chlorine and pH levels, while others test for a much broader array of chemicals.  

Pool Supply Store

It is a good idea to take water to your actual pool retailer for a comprehensive test at the beginning of the season to make sure you are adding the correct chemicals to get your pool started.  It is also helpful to take water to the store throughout the summer to ensure your chemical levels are where they need to be. 

Hiring a Professional

If the thought of maintaining your pool is overwhelming, you may want to hire a professional company to maintain the pool for you.  Be aware, not all pool companies deal with above ground pools, so this may not be an option for you.  

It would also be advisable to seek the guidance of a pool expert when you have stains on your pool liner that are difficult to remove.  While it may be tempting to try a mixture of chemicals or treatments to remove the stain, this may not be best for your liner. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, cleaning the vinyl liner of your pool isn’t difficult, but it does take thought and time.  You cannot safely clean a vinyl liner with a pressure washer, so don’t even attempt it. While there are all kinds of gizmos and gadgets you may be tempted to purchase, simple is better in this case.  Take care of your pool liner, and you will be able to enjoy it for years to come. 

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