How to Get Algae Out of Your Pool—The Right Way

Let’s just say I’m not exactly green with envy for you. Algae is never what anyone is asking for, but it can strike virtually any pool—and the standard amount of chlorine is no match against it. This little green (or yellow or black) organism has the ability to grow and spread surprisingly fast, and before you know it, you’ll have less of a swimming pool and more of a giant, expensive fish tank in your backyard. With algae of any size, you’ll need to act now. And I mean now. Here, I’ll explain how to use a little elbow grease to get algae of out your pool today—as well as routine ways to protect your pool from future infestations. You’d better grab the gloves for this one.

So My Pool’s Got Algae. Does It Even Matter?

I know, I know. As with all pool issues, it’s much easier to shrug your shoulders and go back to all the other things you planned to do today. But although the algae that occurs in pools won’t hurt you directly, it’s a killer for your chemical balance. When algae is present in your pool, your sanitizer and chemicals exhaust themselves working against it. And when that happens, the potentially harmful bacteria that your sanitizer is supposed to neutralize is thriving—and surrounding you and yours on every swim. Not only is it gross, but it can also make you sick.

Is poor circulation the culprit for your algae-infested waters? Try a more powerful unit like this Blue Torrent 2 HP Variable-Speed Pump, which qualifies for rebates, comes with a lifetime warranty, and pays itself off in energy saved. As customer Bill Britton says, “Runs great. Super quiet.”

Is There Really Algae in My Pool?

If you’re looking to identify algae, first take a quick look at your pool water. If it’s cloudy and has taken on a green, yellow, or even black hue, you can be sure algae is the culprit.

Next, check the corners of your pool—and this includes the hidden parts of your stairs. If you’re at the beginning of an algae infestation, you’ll see green, yellow, or black spots around these covert areas. Wait a bit, and the algae will make itself known—and will be a lot harder and more costly to clean out. Again, if there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s this: don’t wait.

Oftentimes, it’s hard to see the actual color of algae—especially if your pool is extra cloudy. If this is the case for you (and if it’s not), it’s probably helpful to know exactly what you’re dealing with.

There are three types of pool algae:

  • Green algae is the most common, and the easiest to remove. This slimy algae will float in your water, cast a greenish hue, and attach to your pool walls, steps, and floor. It can enter your pool if your chemical balance is off or your filter isn’t quite right, but it can also be introduced to your pool thanks to microscopic pieces on swimsuits and water toys.
  • Yellow algae is not as slimy as pool algae, and can even pass as pollen or sand in a shaded, hidden part of your pool. This type is rare, which is great because it’s also chlorine resistant, meaning you’ll need to really scrub to get it gone. This one won’t be easy.
  • Black algae is especially beastly: it creates its own food, so it’s guaranteed to be strong and fast-growing. Plus it puts roots down in concrete. I’ll let that one sink in. If you don’t eradicate the roots themselves, there’s no guarantee black algae won’t come back and back again.

how to get rid of algae in your pool

Let’s Get That Algae Gone

When it comes to eradicating algae, there’s no cutting corners. You’re going to need some physical strength for this one, but it’s better to take a rest when you need one than skip a step. The good news is, this is a straightforward process—no guessing here.

1. Commit to a Deep Clean  

The grunt work comes first—you’ll need to uproot that algae before you can make sure it’s gone for good. Scrub your pool floors and walls using a brush like the patented 360-Degree Bristles Pool Brush, which was developed by pool maintenance experts to help get tight corners without any of the aches or pains associated with a good clean.

Once you’ve scrubbed your walls, floors, and steps clean, remove large debris like leaves and twigs with a skimmer net on a telescopic pole, and then vacuum out all the algae to waste—or, if you’ve invested for the long haul, turn on your powerful robotic pool cleaner and clean it out automatically. You don’t want any algae to circulate back out, or you’ll be here again before you know it.

As algae found a home in your above-ground pool due to poor circulation? Above-ground pumps are notorious for not firing up, but the Copper Force Above Ground Pool Pump, has a start capacitor to circumvent this very issue. According to customer Doug Paar, “The pump is very quiet and has good pressure. I would recommend.”

2. Test Your Chemicals 

If you have algae sucking up your sanitizer and other chemicals, you can be sure your pool water is far from balanced. Now’s the time to get your levels right, so that the pool shock you’re about to use has the space to do its job right. Two chemicals you’ll need to pay special attention to are pH and alkalinity—if you have a high pH or a low alkalinity, it’ll prevent this next step from working. As always, test strips are your friend.

3. Shock That Algae Away

If this is your first time with algae, you’ve probably never used pool shock quite like this before. Depending on the type algae you’re dealing with, you’ll need to shock twice or four times as much as the average dose. Make sure you use conveniently-packaged one pound bags to make sure you’re using the right amount for your pool.

For green algae, double the average dose. For yellow algae, you’ll need three times as much. And for black algae, you’ll need four. Extreme circumstances call for extreme measures.

Just remember, as always, to shock your pool at dusk or night. You don’t want the sun burning down your pool shock’s ability to work when you need it the most. Also, don’t swim for at least eight hours—certainly not while your pool is still cloudy with shock. Yikes.

How to get rid of algae in your pool

4. The Filter Is Your Friend 

While the pool shock is doing its job, you’ll need to run your pool filter and pump to make sure the killing chemicals are circulating properly. If you have the right pool pump and the right pool filter for you, an eight-hour run time should be right on the money—and save you money, too.

Since you just ran your vacuum or robotic vacuum, make sure that your water level is still about halfway up the skimmer, and top it off if it needs a boost. The last thing you want during an algae infestation is for your circulation system to run dry in your moment of need.

5. Test Your Chemicals—Again 

Algae can seriously mess up your chemicals, even for the short amount of time it was in your pool before the shock did its job. Go ahead and get out your test strips one more time, and make sure everything is in order—before jumping back into your pool.

6. Clean Your Filter—With More Than a Hose 

The water that goes through your filter comes back out into your pool, remember? So now imagine that your filter has microscopic deposits of algae from when you shocked your pool and turned on your pump. Yeah, let’s make sure that algae isn’t coming back in. You’ll need to clean your filter, meaning a chemical rinse if you have a cartridge filter and a backwash if you have a sand or D.E. filter. But my recommendation? Just replace the filter media entirely. It’s not risking a return of the plant you’ve already worked so hard to get out of there.

Always looking to cut operating costs—especially if you get even better perfomance as a result? Try the 1.5 HP Variable Speed Blue Torrent Thunder In-Ground Swimming Pool Pump—it pays itself off in under a year, is eligible for rebates, and also comes with a lifetime warranty. As customer Eric D says, “Day one, I fired this pump up and it ran clean and fast.”

how to get rid of algae in your pool

But Why Did I Get Algae in the First Place?

This is a tough one, because again: it could just have been a microscopic piece of algae on a swimsuit or pool toy that gets your pool growing. But good sanitizer levels, proper circulation, precise chemical balance, and consistently removed debris? These are sure to do a little damage against algae. There’s also more you can do, like some specific routine maintenance measures and a tiny bit of algaecide.

Routine Maintenance to Keep Algae Away

  1. Shock every single week. It’s easy for pool owners to skip this step, but if you have an algae problem, it’s just inviting trouble.
  2. Clean and sanitize all pool equipment and toys—before you let them into your sparkling waters. On, and wash (not rinse) your swimsuit. You know, with detergent.
  3. Check your pool for cracks, breaks, or any kind of fun algae hideouts. You might need to resurface your pool, or do a bit of spot maintenance.

Repeat Offender? Try Algaecide 

Despite its name, algaecide doesn’t hold a candle to pool shock when it comes to actually killing a major algae infestation. It’s much better as a preventative measure, and if you have a recurring algae problem, it’s an effective chemical to add to your pool after you’ve cleaned and shocked. Just add a dose of algaecide after your chlorine falls below 5 ppm, and give your pool an extra scrub to make sure any algae too small to see is detached. The algaecide will make sure any microscopic remaining algae is long gone, and your pool is back to inhabiting humans, and humans only—and maybe the occasional swimming dog.

Want an easier maintenance routine—and more comfortable swim? For the lowest, safest, and most consistent chemical levels, make a smooth transition with the Salt Ways Eco Friendly Salt Chlorine Generator. It’s ultra-reliable and comes with a lifetime warranty.

how to get rid of algae in your pool

It’s a Pool, Not a Fish Tank—Let’s Keep It This Way.

If you wanted a thriving wetland ecosystem of your own, you’d have installed a pond—which, by the way, is great for deterring bees and wasps. But your pool? It’s just not it. The fact of the matter is that pool algae presents a problem for swimmer safety, even if the plant itself isn’t toxic. So let’s make sure it stays gone—and if it comes back, you’ll know what to do. And now that your pool is back to being clear and blue, don’t you want to take a dive? Enjoy the impact of your hard work: just like that, your pool is back to being clean, sparkling, and safe.


This article explains how you can backwash your pool filter efficiently. Want to know how to clean the bottom of your pool? Read more here.

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