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How to Acid Wash a Pool: The Complete guide

How to Acid Wash a Pool

Swimming pools develop stains and baked on dirt over time, sometimes the usual deep clean or vacuuming treatment just does not get the job done. Therefore, to get the pool sparkling clean and fresh again, you might need to acid wash the swimming pool. 

You need to be very cautious when it comes to using acid, you don’t want to rush it and end up destroying your pool or hurting yourself in the process. It is vital that you take the necessary safety precautions to ensure that you don’t cause unnecessary damage to yourself or your swimming pool. 

What is Acid Washing?

Acid washing goes beyond the realm of your regular pool clean, it is almost like giving your swimming pool a full-on exfoliation treatment. It gets rid of all the old dirt, grime and staining to reveal a brighter and more radiant swimming pool. 

Acid washing totally strips one layer of plaster off your swimming pool surface. It also gets rid of baked-on stains and other stubborn dirt or marks. It does sound pretty extreme to use acid to clean a swimming pool but if you have been battling with difficult to remove staining for a while now, this might just be the only way forward. 

What Type of Pools are Suitable For Acid Washing? 

Not all pools are suitable for acid washing, only consider acid washing your swimming pool if you have an inground concrete or gunite swimming pool. Other swimming pools are not suitable for acid washing, check with the company that installed your swimming pool to be 100 percent sure. 

When to Consider Acid Washing Your Pool 


Despite regular cleaning and general maintenance, at some point, you will find that regular cleaning is no longer giving you the desired result. The walls will begin to look aged and in need of some extra tender, love, and care. 


Chlorine, minerals and general dirt and debris will eventually cause staining. After years of cleaning and vacuuming, you will probably notice that the stains are no longer budging. This is the time that you might need to consider making the decision to acid wash. 


Regular algae outbreaks can cause excessive staining. Even when algae only appears once in a while, you will eventually notice some staining. Regular cleaning will eventually become ineffective therefore, you might need to consider performing an acid wash. This will get rid of the spores that are causing the staining. 

Bear in mind, however, that acid washing should be seen as something you resort to if you have no other choice. It certainly should not be something that you do as your first port of call. There are other methods that you can try first before you consider acid washing. Before you acid wash, you might need to change your pool filter media to remove excess dirt and algae. 


If you haven’t used your swimming pool in a while, you might need to perform an acid wash because a stagnant pool breeds algae and other dirt and debris. However, if you winterize your pool, you might not have to acid wash. This is why it is advisable to winterize your swimming pool if you are not going to be using it for a while. 

Pool Repairs 

If you need to carry out some repairs, you might only need to acid wash a small section of the plaster. This is if you are carrying out some pool plaster repairs, you can just acid wash the area that you will be repairing. 


General Aging 

General aging will cause staining, years of sun exposure, stagnation and algae breakouts can discolor the plaster. Acid washing can help with returning the color back to  its original color. 

How Often Should You Acid Wash Your Swimming Pool ? 

When it comes to acid washing, you really don’t want to overdo it. You certainly should not be acid washing every single year. Consider acid washing once every five years instead of every year. If you experience a serious algae outbreak before you reach the five-year mark, you can perform an acid wash to get rid of it if you feel it be necessary. However, you certainly don’t need to acid wash your pool too often. 

Be Safe 

Safety is key when it comes to acid washing, you need to make sure that you are taking the necessary safety measures to ensure that you don’t get injured during the process. 

Protect Yourself by Wearing a Safety Mask 

Muriatic acid is the most common acid used to wash swimming pools. Muriatic acid is a caustic substance that can be very dangerous if it touches the skin or gets into the eyes. Therefore, you should make sure that you wear the right kind of safety mask when you are using muriatic acid. Make sure you wear a mask that will protect you from breathing in acid fumes. Also, make sure kids and pets are kept far away when you are acid washing your swimming pool. 

Wear Safety Gloves 

Safety gloves are crucial when it comes to using acid to wash your swimming pool. You need to make sure you purchase the type of gloves that are acid-resistant. Any other gloves just will not do for example, the latex gloves that you use to wash the dishes, or even the surgical gloves that are used in healthcare facilities are not suitable for acid use. Purchase the appropriate gloves from your local hardware store or online but make sure they are clearly marked acid-resistant. 

Make sure you thoroughly clean your acid-resistant gloves when you have finished using them. Also, if somehow you do get acid on your skin, rinse the area with room temperature water thoroughly, You will probably experience a minor skin surface burn, however, but just make sure you rinse off thoroughly. 

Wear Goggles 

Safety goggles are an absolute must, you cannot use acid without wearing some kind of safety goggles. If you get acid into your eyes, it could lead to permanent damage therefore, it is vital that you take safety precautions to ensure that you do not get any acid in your eyes. Be careful! It could lead to blindness if you get acid in your eyes. 

When you are acid washing your pool, make sure you put the goggles on prior to commencing the acid washing process, remove them when only when you have finished. Remember to take the safety gloves off first, clean them and put them away. Also put the acid away and then clean remove your goggles, make sure you clean and dry your goggles and store them away safely. 

Caution: If acid does come into contact with your eye, wash your eyes with fresh water for at least 15 minutes. When you have finished rinsing your eyes, see a medical professional straight away. 

Wear the Appropriate Clothing 

Regardless of how hot it is outside when you plan to acid wash your swimming pool, it is vital that you wear long sleeve pants and a long sleeve top. You should also pay attention to the shoes you wear. This is certainly not the time for wearing sandals or any type of shoes that shows your bare feet. Wear shoes that totally cover your feet, there are actually special safety boots that you can wear when you are acid washing your pool. In fact, you can actually wear a whole acid-resistant outfit if you want to, this is probably the safest option.

Totally Avoid Acid Splashes 

Avoid splashes by taking extreme precautions when you are pouring the acid. Pick the acid bottle up slowly and put it down slowly, when you are pouring it, take caution. When you have finished using the acid, make sure you put the lid on properly and put it away in a safe place. Also, keep the acid away from children and pets. 

Acid Dilution 

Before you actually use the acid, you will need to dilute it, you cannot use full-proof acid to wash your pool without diluting it. The safest way of diluting your acid is to add the acid to the water instead of doing it the other way around. Bear this in mind, acid and water combined produce heat therefore, when adding the acid to the water, it stops the acid and water combination from bubbling over. 

Caution: Do not ignore this, you could get injured if you try to do things differently. Also, make sure you do not mix acids or add any chemicals to the acid and water mixture. 

Keep Kids and Pets Away

Be careful when it comes to kids and pets, keep them away from the pool area when you are in the process of acid washing your swimming. Ensure that they are in the house or away from the house completely. Even the fumes alone can have an adverse effect on both children and animals. 

Refrain From Acid Washing Your Swimming Pool on a Windy Day 

Totally refrain from acid washing your swimming pool on a windy day, the wind can enhance the effect of the fumes and distribute them around the area where you are acid washing, therefore, it is vital that you avoid acid washing your swimming pool on a windy day.

Avoid rushing when you are carrying out an acid wash. If you don’t have much time, wait until a day when you have plenty of time to acid wash your swimming pool. Rushing the job can lead to injuries and other issues that might cause problems for your swimming pool. Schedule an acid wash for a day when you don’t have much else to do. 

Ensure That the Pool Deck is Clear 

Clear the pool deck completely, make sure there are no deck chairs, tables, plant pots or anything that could cause an accident. Remember that your swimming pool is going to be empty therefore, you really do not want to trip up on something that is cluttering the deck. Falling into a pool without water in it could be very dangerous. Therefore, it is better to be safe than sorry, clear the deck fully before you start anything. 

Decide How You Are Going to Dispose of The Water 

To perform a total acid wash, you will need to drain the pool water, make sure you know exactly how you are going to get rid of the water that you dispose of. It really does depend on where you reside, because some cities and districts have specific guidelines on how to dispose of wastewater. If you fail to adhere to these guidelines, you could be ordered to pay a fine. 

You will also need to be fully aware of how you are going to get rid of the acid and water that will remain when you have completed the acid washing job. Acid is dangerous when it comes into contact with animals and plants therefore, plan exactly how you are going to get rid of the acid and water when you have finished using it. 

Prior to commencing the acid washing process, speak with your water company to find out how to get rid of waste water and acid. 


Read The Directions 

Be cautious by following the directions exactly as you see them on the packaging. Do not take things into your own hands and follow your own rules. Carefully read the instructions on the acid packaging and follow them exactly as you see them. 

Take it very seriously when it comes to using acid because if you neglect certain safety measures, you could injure yourself very badly therefore, it is vital that you pay close attention to any safety recommendations that the acid manufacturer highlights on the packaging. 

Remember to dress appropriately, wear goggles and gloves and do not rush the job. 

Acid Washing- Step by Step 

Prior to commencing the acid washing process, ensure that you gather all the things that you are going to need to carry out the job. You really do not want to find yourself stopping half way through to look for certain items. 

Here is a comprehensive checklist of the things that you are going to need to begin the acid washing process. 

The Tools 

  • Underwater pump( with a long cord, because it needs to be able to reach pool floor without using an extension lead) 
  • Drainage hose 
  • 2 water hoses + spray gun nozzle 
  • Algae scrubbing brush 
  • Acid brush 
  • Watering can 
  • Water testing set 
  • Muriatic acid (Acid magic) 
  • Soda ash 
  • Goggles 
  • Acid-resistant mask 
  • Acid-resistant gloves 
  • Full shoes or acid-resistant boots 
  • Suitable clothing 

Let’s start! 

Drain the Pool Water 

 Fully drain the pool water, whilst the pool is draining, clean the walls using an algae brush. Get rid of all excess dirt before the pool water fully drains. Spray the walls with water as the water levels go down. Continue scrubbing the walls, when you have drained all the water from the swimming pool, remove the dirt that would have collected at the bottom of the swimming pool. 

At this point, consider using a pressure washer to remove some of the baked-on dirt. You never know, using a pressure washer sometimes eliminates the need for a full on acid wash. 


  1. Replace Valves 

When you drained the pool water, you would have probably taken out a few valves. Put them back at this point to reduce the risk of acid mixing with the groundwater. 

  1. Acid Dilution

You cannot acid wash your pool with pure acid therefore, you would need to mix it with water. Add the same amount of acid to a bucket as you would water. If you pressure wash your pool beforehand, you might not need to use so much acid.

  1.  Get the Garden Hoses Ready 

Get the hoses ready before starting, you will need to use lots of water during this process therefore, it is vital that you get the hoses ready properly. Attach one hose to a spigot, then place the other end into the pool, switch the water on. Now attach the other hose to a spigot and place the other end in the pool, connect the spray gun and switch the water on, allowing the water to continue to run.

  1. 5. Acid Wash 

Begin the process at the deeper end of the pool, look for the drainage area, this is where you want to start. Take the hose that does not have the spray gun attached and spray the pool. Make sure you spray down all the areas before you put the acid on to them. 

Apply the acid to the surfaces, follow up with an acid brush and scrub them thoroughly, allow the acid to remain on the surface for about a minute, then rinse with the spray gun. Now take some soda ash and add it to the acid that has collected near the drainage area. This will neutralize the acid. 

Repeat this process over and over again until you have managed to cover all the surfaces in the pool. 

Check to ensure that the stains are actually being removed. If you notice that they are not being removed effectively, you might need to adjust the acid/water ratio to incorporate more acid and less water. 

Approximately 2 pounds of soda ash per 1 gallon of acid should be sufficient to neutralize the mixture.

  1.  Neutralizing the Acid

You need to ensure that you neutralize the acid before you dispose of it. Add about 2 pounds of soda ash to one gallon of water, this should work well to neutralize the acid. 

Get Rid of The Waste Water 

Use the underwater pump, placed in the area where the water is being collected. Drain the water and rinse the deep part of the pool with fresh water. Then pump the water out, neutralize the rest of the water with soda ash and then pump that water out. 

  1.  Double-Rinse 

Rinse the deep part of the pool again, and pump the wastewater out. 

  1.  Refill the Pool 

Now you can refill the swimming pool, make sure the deep end is clean and the rest of the pool has been thoroughly washed. 

To conclude… 

Acid washing should always be seen as a last resort as opposed to something you do every time you notice stains in your pool, or after severe algae outbreak. There are other steps that you can take to clean your pool instead of acid washing however, sometimes it is necessary to acid wash and start fresh. Make sure you always take precautions prior to, during and after acid washing. Wear the appropriate safety gear, and continue to rinse and rinse and rinse when you pour the acid on the surface of the pool. Never leave acid on the surface for more than a minute, be cautious and follow the necessary manufacturer guidelines when you are using acid to wash your swimming pool. 




Posted in pool maintenance

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