Skip to main content

Get rid of gross buildup: How to clean pool tiles for summer swimming

Backyard swimming pools are a homeowner’s dream, and they definitely come in handy during scorching summers. Pools require a good amount of work, though, especially when you consider all the necessary upkeep like winterizing maintenance and summer cleaning. Having a pool that’s easy to clean is always a plus, and that’s why pools with tiling are so popular. Tiles are often used as flooring and in bathrooms because they're easy to clean, but scrubbing your shower is a bit different than sanitizing a pool. So what's the best way to clean pool tiles? We’ll walk you through how to refresh these tiles the right way so you can enjoy your luxurious, sparkling pool all summer long.

Recommended Videos




3 hours

What You Need

  • Scrubbing brush, pumice stones, or toothbrush

  • Vinegar

  • Pressure washer

  • Commercial pool tile cleaner

how to clean pool tiles
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why are those waterline tiles so dirty?

The area of tile right on the waterline tends to collect an unsightly, ghostly film due to a buildup of calcium deposits. This calcium carbonate buildup occurs when pool water evaporates and leaves behind the solid minerals. While this is a common condition for most backyard pools, excessive calcium deposits may be a sign of other underlying issues.

  • High levels of pH or alkalinity. If your pH levels are high or you have high alkalinity in your pool water, the chemicals cause the calcium carbonate to separate from the water, leaving it behind on your pool tiles.

  • Hard water. Hard water (water with a high concentration of dissolved minerals) can also leave behind high levels of calcium carbonate buildup on your pool tiles, ladders, and other surfaces. If this is the case, use a water softener to sift out the minerals or call an expert pool cleaner for help.

  • Long bouts of extreme heat. Since evaporation is the primary cause of calcium residue, hot weather is a big contributor. If you live in a region with high temperatures, your pool water will evaporate more quickly, leaving behind that pesky residue.

How do you clean pool waterline tiles?

Now that you know where that grime on the waterline is coming from, it's time to get rid of it. Let’s review a few of the most effective methods for getting those tiles sparkling clean. The approach you choose will depend on the severity of the calcium buildup.

Scrub it away by hand

For a light buildup of calcium across a small area, simply use a scrubbing tool to remove the grime.

Step 1: Grab a scrubbing brush, pumice stone, or even a toothbrush (if the area is small enough).

Step 2: Gently scrub a small area first to be sure the tool won’t scratch the tile surface.

Step 3: Once you’ve determined the tool is safe to use, get to work scrubbing away the visible calcium deposits.

Can you use vinegar to clean pool tile?

Scrubbing with water alone may not yield the best results. Plus, it takes quite a bit of time and effort. Instead, use vinegar to loosen up the grime before wiping it away. Vinegar is a great cleaning agent and it’s natural and chemical-free, so you don't have to worry about inhaling any noxious fumes.

Step 1: Mix equal parts vinegar and water.

Step 2: Dip your scrubbing brush or toothbrush into the mixture and then scrub the calcium deposits away.

Use a pressure washer

If the calcium buildup covers a significant area of your pool tiles, washing them by hand won't get the job done efficiently. For more widespread, stubborn buildup, bring out the pressure washer.

Step 1: Check your pool tiles first for any cracked or chipped pieces. Pressure washing could damage these broken tiles even more.

Step 2: Use the pressure washer on a very low setting to avoid chipping or damaging tiles.

Try a commercial pool tile cleaner

If your calcium buildup is thick and won’t come off completely with a pressure washer, you may need to use some stronger chemicals. Mixing water and muriatic acid can do the trick, but you can also use a cleaning product specifically formulated for pool tiles. Before you begin, read all the instructions thoroughly, keep pets and small children away from the pool, and follow all the recommended safety precautions.

how to clean pool tiles
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Tips for keeping your pool tiles clean

Whether you clean by hand or with the help of a pressure washer, maintaining a spick and span pool is a lot of work. The last thing you want is to look at your pool a few months later just to see the buildup has returned worse than ever. Instead of deep cleaning multiple times a year, stick to a schedule of consistent, light pool maintenance.

Step 1: Monitor chemical levels in your pool closely to avoid imbalances in pH or alkalinity.

Step 2: Clean your pool regularly by keeping it free of debris and surface scum. Invest in a pool brush and give your tiles a monthly scrub to prevent buildup.

Having a swimming pool at your disposal makes those hot summer days bearable. However, no one wants to swim in a pool that’s grimy and slimy. Simply removing calcium deposits and cleaning the tiles regularly will ensure your pool is clean and pristine for the warm summer months ahead.

Editors' Recommendations

Veronica Sparks
Veronica Sparks is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who loves writing about gardening, home décor, and DIY life. She’s…
Wondering how to make laundry smell good? This is what you need to do to get that fresh scent every time
Here are some tried-and-true tips for fresh-smelling laundry
Woman folding laundry in living room

Tired of doing all that laundry only to have it smell funky even after it's clean? If you've been searching for how to make laundry smell good, your quest can end here. There are simple ways to prevent your your old sheets , towels, and clothes from coming out of the wash smelling awful. And adding more detergent is not one of them — in fact, you may need to use less!

Read more
This is what that gross pink mold in your shower is and how to get rid of it
Say goodbye to that yucky buildup in your shower with these helpful tips
Shower head

Having a sparkling clean bathroom relaxes the souls of neat freaks like us, but sometimes we fall behind in our bathroom cleaning schedule. Particularly in the shower, you might see that weird orange- or pink-colored mold forming on your shower walls, tiles, or shower curtain. Sometimes it even forms around your toilet. We're going to discuss how to get rid of this gross substance, but first, we'll dive into what that pink mold is and how it got there.

What is that pink mold in your shower?
You may be surprised to learn that this pink, slimy substance in your shower isn't actually mold. It's a bacteria called Serratia marcescens. This bacteria is airborne, so it can travel virtually anywhere, but it thrives in the moist, humid environment your bathroom provides. It likes to feed off of minerals and fats often found in the shampoo deposits and soap scum that builds up in your shower.
Is Serratia marcescens dangerous?
The bacteria isn't harmful when touched in the shower or breathed in from the air. However, it has been known to cause eye infections, particularly when it contaminates contact lenses and urinary tract infections when the tub is not cleaned before a bath. Plus, it's just slimy and gross to look at, so you definitely want it out of your shower.

Read more
This TikTok hack for getting gross smells out of thrift store furniture is genius
We love this cheap and easy trick for removing old smells from secondhand furniture
Antique furniture store

If you love weekends spent scouring vintage stores for furniture pieces you can either refurbish or find a place for in your home, but don't love the smells that come with them, you're not alone. Antique stores have a certain smell because, well, the items in them are old. With years of well-worn love and, oftentimes, storage, comes a smell that many want to get rid of. One TikToker called @onceuponabungalow heard about the perfect (and super easy) way to get old smells out of pre-loved furniture from @gocleanco, and you'll be happy she's shared her knowledge.
All you need is newspaper
The trick is simple. Just crumple up old newspapers and fill the shelves of old bookcases, cabinets, and vintage dinettes, and leave them in for up to a week. When you're done, simply take the paper out, throw it away, and you'll be rid of the aging smell that used to come from the shelves. Many agreed in the comments, saying it's the only trick they've used that's helped get bad smells out of furniture. Of course, if it's fabric, you can have it cleaned professionally as long as you know what type of fabric you're working with, but for old wood pieces, newspaper will do the trick.

Read more