Pool Tile Cleaning

Pool Tile Cleaning – How to Make your Pool Shine

Pool tile cleaning can be a bit more complicated than you may think. While there are easy-set steps for cleaning your pool that you can follow for average results, making your tiles bring out their shining potential requires other necessary tricks.

Scum can build up pretty easily years or even months after you first have your pool installed. This, of course, depends on many factors. White haze on your tiles or a green ring on the surface of the tile indicates calcium deposits and algae.

Pool tile cleaning
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom

Other types of contaminants can be common just as well. It is important to know the right type of build-up and how to combat it with different materials and methods.

From scrubbers to vinegar and all the tricks in between, there is a sure-fire way to clean up your pool tiles and leave them shining as much as they did the first day you had them. With information and method, this will be an easy goal.

Preparing the Tile

To clean up your tiles properly, you first have to expose them to make them readily accessible for your tools and methods. Also, by exposing your tiles you will be able to properly access the amount and type of buildup, along with the type of cleaning needed to combat dirt and grime.

By setting your pool pump filter to backwash, you can drain the water level to below the bottom of the tiles to expose them. Once the level is low enough, the tile is ready and you can begin whichever method you need for cleaning.

Also, take care not to drain the water level too low. You will need the pool water level relatively close to the tile to do the cleaning properly.


The first important phase of actually beginning pool tile cleaning is to evaluate the residue that you need to clean. As mentioned earlier, darker green rings indicate algae while white buildup indicates calcium. When it comes to cleaning up algae, a good choice would be a stainless steel brush.

However, if you have a vinyl pool, you might want to opt with a nylon brush. Brush the pool tiles using a bit of water. If the residue begins to disappear simply continue in this fashion.

Although, in most cases, people will need another solution, especially if you have had your pool a little longer. If this case is true for you, you should opt for the vinegar method.

Spray your tiles with a bit of vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes before returning to scrub your tiles with a brush. The vinegar does a great job of getting rid of any buildup by eating away at it.

The vinegar method is especially good when it comes to instances of stubborn calcium build-up. Instead of using a brush in this case, you may want to try using a pumice stone.

Keep in mind that the pumice stone can be a bit harder and there is a risk it may scratch your tiles. To avoid this, make sure both the pumice stone and the tiles are appropriately wet. It also helps if you have information on how hard your pool tiles are so you can know if you can scrub away accordingly.

Use a back and forth motion to use the pumice stone to clean your tiles. You may even want to experiment on a tile in a much less exposed location to figure out if the pumice stone may damage your tiles. When it comes to ceramic tiles however, you usually will not have to worry about scratching and damage.

Some calcium deposits may persist, however. This is because it takes a much longer time and a bit more effort to clean up calcium deposits as they may get in the very texture of the tiles rather than simply sticking to the surface such as algae.

However, the vinegar method persists in being one of the best but natural ways to clean up the tiles of your pool. This time, your best option would be to come back stronger with 100% vinegar. Spray vinegar on the tiles and let it sit for about 5 minutes before returning to scrub it off.

Clean a small group of tiles at a time then rinse off the vinegar with pool water. After evaluating the cleaned group of tiles you can decide if they need more vinegar, or to move on to your next group.

Certain people decide to get inside their pool to scrub tiles. Though this is fine while using natural products, be careful if you choose to use other methods and chemicals such as pool acid or tile cleaners.

Hard staining

If your pool is older or you may have forgotten to clean it for a long time, certain stains, buildups or residue may be harder to get out. Calcium deposits can be incredibly persistent. In this case, lots of vinegar and a pumice stone may not cut it.

You may need to use certain extra products and chemicals to get that shining effect. One option that has great results and people usually opt for is pool acid. Also called Hydrochloric or Muriatic acid, pool acid is a colorless inorganic chemical that is available in high concentrations and is used in restoration and maintenance projects.

Pool acid uses this same chemical buildup but the concentration is specially adapted as a pool cleaning chemical. You should, however, take safety measures whenever using pool acid on your tiles.

Make sure not to splash the concentrated solution directly on pool walls. Wear rubber gloves and even safety glasses when working with pool acid. Keep a certain distance as the vapors may irritate your respiratory tract.

Make sure to add acid to the water and not water to the acid. You may add pool acid to the tiles and then begin to brush it off. Although pool acid is a weaker acid, it may cause chemical burns if caught on the skin or eyes so be sure to take precautionary measures.

Let the acid sit on the tile for about 5 minutes before scrubbing it off. The excess acid tends to flow into the pool water. You do not have to worry about the acid affecting pool chemistry, much less when you add water back into the pool after the cleaning process is completed.

There are also other options when using chemicals. Commercial tile cleaners are a great choice if you are more worried about safety.

However, these agents are still very strong and contain hydrochloric, hydrofluoric and phosphoric acid or a combination of the three. Be sure to still take safety precautions and follow the instructions written on the product carefully as they are very potent.

Cleaning up

After you have cleaned up your pool tiles and evaluated them, deciding that you have finished, you can choose to fill up the pool back to its normal level.

Do this by running the pool pump for a few hours then checking the chemical balance to makes sure that everything is right. Pumice stones usually wear down pretty quickly so be sure to rinse any leftover pumice stones.

Afterward, put the cap back on any acid container or pool agent you may have used before putting them back into storage. Also, be sure to rinse your tool brush when you are finished with it.

If there is any cleaning residue left at the bottom of the pool, you can use a vacuum to get rid of brush brittles or reside from your pumice stone. Cleaning pool tiles can be a lengthy process that includes cleaning up afterward as well.

After getting the water back in, you can fully evaluate exactly how clean your pool tiles are as opposed to when you started your pool tile cleaning process. If you want to keep your pool tiles cleaning the future, you may want to repeat the process periodically to keep your tiles as shiny as possible.

You can also opt to consult with any pool supply stores in your area as they can analyze your water and determine the exact cause of the type of residue or contaminant that tends to build up in your pool based on your specific pool chemistry. Observe your pools water and periodically engage in pool tile cleaning to keep your tiles as spotless as possible.

Also, keep in mind that brushes can be a little hard to use as it makes the work completely manual. Instead of using a regular brush, you may want to opt for a tile floor scrubber.

Though you should choose one specifically right for you, there are many picks for under $200, which makes it an affordable solution to solve a problem you will struggle with in the future.

You can also use different attachments to make the process of cleaning pool tiles even easier. By making the switch from regular brushes to tile floor scrubbers, you can get a stronger shine.

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