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How to Pressure Wash a Pool and Spa

    title card for how to pressure wash a pool post

    Most pressure washer owners are always on the lookout for other projects and items around the house they can use the pressure washer on. In this article, we’ll explain how to pressure wash a pool and spa.  

    If you already own a pressure washer, then you are keenly aware of how fun and satisfying they can be to use. Many first-time owners will hunt around their property looking for new things to try it out on and see how great of a job it can do. Swimming pool owners especially tend to ask how to pressure wash a pool? If you own a pool and spa, depending on what it is made from, a pressure washer can help make quick work of cleaning and maintaining your pool.

    There’s a large variety of different types of backyard swimming pools from inground, above ground, concrete, vinyl, fiberglass, Pebble Tec pools and even more. Not every type is okay to use a pressure washer on. The power that a pressure washer uses to clean can damage soft types of pools, so you’ll need to make sure your pool and surround deck is able to hold up to the power of your pressure washing unit.

    Some types that are NOT okay to use a pressure washer on:

    • Vinyl
    • Fiberglass

    Most pools that are constructed with more hardy materials like concrete, plaster and other durable materials.  For all pools, you will be using chemicals to help clean it. What and how many will depend on what kinds of issues you need to clean up. Some get algae growth and the treatment for that will vary based on the color of algae you have. Others have basic dirt and grime buildup; some will have mineral deposits or discoloration from decaying plant matter or metal.  

    Whatever your reason for needing to clean your pool, it is not an easy a quick job. However, cleaning a pool with a pressure washer will help make short work of the task.

    How To Prep Your Pool For A Power Wash

    1. Drain Your Pool

    To start, you are going to need to drain your pool. There are some tools you can use which will make it seem like you can pressure wash underwater, but it greatly reduces the effectiveness of your system. The regular pool water acts as a force that will slow down and reduce the pressure of your system.  Make sure you drain your pool in accordance with all local laws and regulations and do so in an eco-friendly manner.

    2. Clean Your Pool 

    Next, you will need to clean out anything that is leftover in your pool. From plant debris like leaves and branches to dirt and dust that is large enough to sweep up. A large thick broom can make quick work of this leftover debris. Wither scoop or sweep it out and dispose of it.

    3. Protect Your Furniture 

    Secure your surrounding outdoor furniture and decorations. For this process, we are just talking about cleaning your pool and not the surrounding deck, but it is still a good idea to make sure any items near the pool are removed or covered securely. This also includes nearby lighting fixtures, power outlets, pool heaters, lights, and anything else electrical. This just ensures there won’t be any overspray that reaches these items to cause damage.  

    4. Prepare Your Washer 

    Once this is all done your pool is ready for a pressure wash. All you need to do next is prepare your cleaner soap and your machine. If you do not already have a washer then this Briggs and Stratton could be a good option for you.

    What Are The Best Soaps And Chemicals To Pressure Wash A Pool?

    If you do a search on Amazon for pressure washer soap or detergent and you’ll see how many different types you can choose. Some are pretty specific, and some are more general. In the case of your pool, it will depend on the material the pool is made of and what stains or issues you need to clean.  

    If you have a concrete pool then a concrete cleaner will work.  In general, your all-around favorite soap or detergent is a good place to start. Since you are working in your backyard you just want to consider if it’s biodegradable and that it won’t harm your yard or garden.  

    Some pool cleaning issues like algae could be too much of a boss battle for a general cleaner. In that case, you’ll want to adjust to an algae specific cleaner and even changing up your attachments to something powerful and targeted for those areas.  

    If you have a deck or fence around your pool something general that works for both surfaces would be great to use like this simple green cleaner. You’ll have an easy transition from the pool to the deck and then to the fence.  

    clean underwater pool image with swimmer

    Can You Use A Pressure Washer Underwater?

    As stated above you probably can technically use your pressure washer underwater. However, it will not be able to actually clean much. The water that is already in the pool will zap the strength and power of your system and it just will not be able to do much of a clean.  

    It seems like an easy and quick method for a pool surface touch up, but you will have to drain your pool to get that full deep clean that you are used to from your pressure washer. 

    Cleaning Your Pool With A Pressure Washer

    Now that you’ve taken the proper steps to prep your pool, your washer, and your yard you can get started on the actual job of pressure washing a pool.  

    1. Start with Soap

    First and foremost, you’ll need to apply your detergent or soap mixture to the surfaces you want to clean. You’ll want to be thorough at this stage and let make sure you cover every inch of the pool that you want to clean.

    2. Let the Soap Sit

    Once you have given everything a good soaking you will want to let it sit for a bit and have the detergent work its magic. A good rule is about five minutes or so. Just make sure there aren’t any sections that fully dry out. If that starts to happen, go over it again, you want to make sure the surface stays wet with detergent.

    3. Choose Your Nozzle

    While you’re waiting, choose the correct pressure washer nozzle for your machine and the surface of the pool that you are working on. What one is best will vary based on those conditions and if you have any upgraded nozzles to make the job go faster like one with a rotating head. If you are in doubt you can always start small and work up from there. Just be aware some high-pressure nozzles can cause damages to some surfaces. Always test them out first in a small inconspicuous area first.  

    4. Switch to Rinse 

    Once you have the surface covered, you’ll need to switch from soap to wash with your pressure washer. For some, that’s as easy and letting it run until all the soap runs out and it is just water again. Others may want to change the nozzle to a low-pressure nozzle and drain out the rest of the water soap mixture that way. When you’ve let things sit for a few minutes and your back to just water, then it is time for the fun part of the job.

    5. Start Spraying 

    Use your pressure washer to start rinsing and washing away all the dirt and grime that the detergent has loosened up. Hold your wand with both hands and work carefully to make sure you don’t miss any sections. Move the wand from the top down so you don’t blast any dirt and water out and around your backyard and pool area. Work in one direction going the same way around the pool until you complete the entire surface area you want to clean. You’ll want to work on the vertical walls first, and then transition to the floor after those are complete. Always working to sweep the water and dirt towards the drain.

    6. Do Detailed Work

    If after a first pass there is still some stuck on stubborn dirt or debris then give it another round with the soap and detergent mixture and repeat these steps.  

    You may run into certain conditions in your pool that will need extra care or tools to clean which we will detail below.

    How To Remove Algae From A Pool With A Pressure Washer

    algae on rock

    Algae is something no pool owner wants to discover lurking in their water.  It’s a hardy nuisance that when not taken care of properly will not go away. In fact, even if it does go away, algae tends to come back. The secret is to treat your pool with algaecide after you pressure wash the algae away. Here are the complete steps to remove algae from your pool for good:

    1. Prepare the Pool 

    First, you have to wash the pool as we outlined above. Do everything from letting the soap sit to rinsing it off.

    2. Remove the Algae 

    This first clean may get a good deal of algae off. If so, be sure all of the algae gets down the drain. If it is too thick, don’t hurt the drain or attempt to break up the algae. Just scoop it out and dispose of it in your trash. 

    See, algae is so small that being hit with the pressure washer doesn’t kill it. If you leave some behind, it will grow back faster.  

    3. Higher Pressure 

    If there are any areas on the pool where there is still a thin green or black algae layer, take your pressure washer to it again. Use a smaller nozzle/spray pattern or increase the pressure to help get the rest off. If it doesn’t come off, try leaving a layer of your soap on it for a bit.  

    4. Bleach Solution 

    Now that the visible algae is removed, we have to tackle the microscopic algae. A diluted bleach solution will help. Choose any household bleach and mix it 1-part bleach and 4-parts water. Cover the pool with it, especially any spots where there was algae build up. 

    Do not put this mixture into your pressure washer! It can damage the machine. It can also irritate your lungs, so take safety precautions and wear gloves. 

    5. Rinse the Pool 

    After the bleach solution has had a few minutes to work, you should wash it away. You can do this with your pressure washer, on a low setting. Just be sure to get every spot, as bleach can react with pool chemicals. It needs to be well-rinsed before you fill the pool back up. 

    6. Maintain Your Pool 

    Now that you have an algae free pool, it’s important to keep it healthy to prevent another algae bloom. Proper circulation of water and proper shocking can help. You can also use an algaecide treatment.   

    How To Pressure Wash A Pebble Tec Pool

    It is possible to pressure wash your pebble tech pool without harming the pebbles. However, you do need to be careful. If any spots are damaged or cracked, a pressure washer can make it worse. You should avoid cleaning a damaged pool. If your pool is in goo condition, follow these steps to safely wash your Pebble Tec pool:

    1. Prepare the Pool 

    As with any pool, a Pebble Tec pool needs to be drained before you clean it. Once drained, take the opportunity to survey it carefully for loose pebbles or cracked spots. 

    2. Apply Soap 

    You’ll be pressure washing the Pebble Tec pool on very low pressure, so you’ll need to use soap to loosen up the dirt before you start. You can use simple dishwashing soap if you like. Or, you can use muriatic acid for a more powerful clean. This chemical can irritate your skin and eyes so it is important to use gloves, eye protection, and be sure the fumes can ventilate safely. 

    3. Wash the Pool 

    Once you’ve applied your cleaner, it’s time to rinse it off. Use the pressure washer on a low setting, especially at first. If the grime doesn’t come off, you can up the power a bit. However, be sure to test the pressure on an inconspicuous spot. Pressure washers ae powerful enough to damage this type of pool. 

    4. Maintain your Pool 

    You shouldn’t have to pressure wash a Pebble Tec pool very often. The pebble finish are resistant to staining, as long as you keep your pool pH at the right level. Check your pH daily and adjust as necessary to prevent staining. 

    How To Clean Pool Tile with Pressure Washer

    If your pool has ceramic or porcelain tile inside or around the edges, you may find that’s following the pool cleaning steps above hasn’t quite cleaned them off. They may still have a rough texture, indicating that grime or scale is still stuck on. 

    You can’t simply up the pressure to remove this dirt. If you do, you may damage the tile and the caulking that’s holding it on. Instead, you need to use other solutions to try to remove the grime. Here’s how you can do it:

    1. Prepare the Pool 

    As always, you have to follow the pool cleaning steps we’ve outline above. The pool should be empty when you start, and the other surfaces should have been cleaned first. 

    2. Apply Cleaner 

    Don’t use just any cleaner on your tile, use a special release agent or a product that says it works on calcium build-up. This chemical will loosen up the calcium and help the stuck-on grime come off too. 

    3. Scrub First 

    You may have to scrub the tile with stiff bristle brush before you take the pressure washer to it. A pressure washer is powerful, but does remove the cleaner, and you want it to stay on for a while to work. 

    4. Rinse 

    Once the scale is coming off with the scrub brush you can rinse everything off with the pressure washer. Remember, this cleaning solution can interact with pool chemicals, so it needs to be rinsed off and drained away before you fill the pool. 

    Also, while you’re rinsing, don’t spray the tile caulking directly or on high power, or you may damage it. 

    5. Maintain Your Pool

    Now that your tile is clean, there are a few things you can do to keep it that way. Specifically, pool clarifying treatments that remove calcium and phosphorous can prevent them from building up on the tile. 

    clean pool coping with a pressure washer after photo

    How To Clean Coping Around A Pool

    Your inground pool’s coping is the material that lines the pool along the pool edge. It may be concrete, tile, plaster, or other materials. If it is a fragile material that can’t be pressure washed, the only way to clean it is to take a scrub brush to it. 

    1. Check for Damage

    If the pool coping is cracked, chipped or damaged it is a bad idea to use a pressure washer, as the powerful spray can make the damage worse. You should inspect the coping to be sure there’s no damage. If there is, it needs to be repaired before you start. 

    2. Start with Soap 

    Using a cleaner is optional, as a pressure washer may be able to remove all of the dirt from your coping without soap. However, if you wish, you can scrub on an acidic wash such as oxalic acid. You could make your own diluted vinegar solution for this purpose. 

    3. Pressure Wash  

    Now simply take your pressure washer and spray along the coping. You can turn up the pressure if you’re not getting all of the grime off. Be sure you rinse down every spot and wash away the cleaner before you refill the pool. 

    How to Power Wash Around a Pool 

    You may want to tidy up your concrete pool deck, wood pool deck, or other surfaces around your pool after you’ve cleaned your pool. Why not brighten up your deck now that your pool is spotless? Depending on your material, you’ll need to pressure wash your pool deck differently. 

    Tips for Pressure Washing a Wooden Deck 

    If your deck is made of wood, you can pressure wash it to remove dirt and stains. However, you have to be careful about how you do so. Wood is a sensitive material and most pressure washers can damage it. We suggest you start at a very low pressure, like 500 psi, and test it on your deck in an area that is mostly out of sight. If the water doesn’t damage the deck, you’re good to go. There’s no need to use soap or other products on wood, it should easily come clean from the just the pressure washer. 

    Pressure Washing a Concrete Deck Guide

    If your concrete deck has collected some dirt and stains a quick pressure wash can clean it right off. Here’s how to do it:

    1. Choose a Cleaner

    You don’t have to use a concrete cleaner on our deck, but it can help remove tough stains. You can buy a concrete cleaner or use a simple dish soap. Scrub the dish soap on with a stiff bristle brush or follow the cleaner’s instructions. Be sure to remove any deck furniture before you start applying the cleaner! 

    2. Let it Sit 

    Allowing the soap or cleaner to sit will help loosen up the dirt. If you’re using a specific concrete cleaner be sure to follow the directions on the bottle, leaving it on too long could cause problems. 

    3. Wash it Off 

    Now you can rinse off the concrete cleaner with your pressure washer. Concrete can handle a lot of pressure, so you can set your washer to a high pressure. 

    4. Seal the Concrete 

    If there was any remnants of the old sealant on your concrete, the pressure washer removed it. Adding a new layer of sealant now will help the concrete remain cleaner for longer. They can even add some texture to the concrete so it’s harder to slip on. 

    Can You Power Wash an Above Ground Pool Liner? 

    So far, we’ve covered how to pressure wash inground pools, pool coping, and pool decks. Those of you with an above ground pool my wonder if you can pressure wash your liner while you’re at it. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Pressure washing your liner is likely to cause significant damage to the liner. If there is already a small rip or tear, the pressure washer will make it even worse. 

    While you can’t pressure wash an above ground pool liner, it is helpful to pressure wash your other outdoor surfaces, including your deck and pool furniture. If you’re looking for more excuses to pull out the pressure washer, we have other guides you can check out.

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