4 Salt Water Pool Cleaning And Vacuuming Tips

Salt Water Pool Cleaning Tips

Salt water pool maintenance tends to be less than a traditional chlorine or bromine pool given that a modern salt water system makes maintaining water chemistry easier. But any pool requires maintenance including vacuuming, brushing and emptying of skimmers.

Here are a few salt water pool cleaning and vacuuming tips I’ve learned over the years to make your maintenance work less of a chore.

This is similar to the replacement pool vacuum head that I bought to replace my old heavy hard plastic one. This new one wasn’t heavy enough and required more work to use as gravity kept pulling it to the surface of the water when I vacuumed.

4 Salt Water Pool Cleaning And Vacuuming Tips

Get a heavy, solid vacuum head

See the picture above? I replaced our old heavy, solid vacuum head with a light plastic one like the one shown in the pic. If I threw the old vacuum head in the pool, it would sink to the bottom whereas the new one would probably float, it’s so light. The new one requires me to use force to hold it down because it will rise to the top otherwise.

Regularly brush the sides and bottom of the pool

I’m always amazed by the debris that I see coming off the walls of the pool when I brush it even when the walls look clean. Same goes with the bottom of the pool. We have a medium blue pool vinyl pool liner and it does a pretty good job of hiding dirt.

If you see algae growing on your pool walls or floor, check chemistry quickly to ensure it’s not out of line. Brush the algae off so that it can’t continue to grow and vacuum the pool completely. You might have to rinse or backwash the filter if the algae is severe.

Get rid of the air first

If you’ve never worked with liquid pumps or vacuums before, it’s probably good to mention right off the bat that air + liquid pumps don’t mix. Air inside a pump or hose isn’t good and they won’t work properly so before you attach your hose to the skimmer to begin vacuuming, put the hose into the pool and completely fill it with water to force out the air. Then quickly attach the end of the hose to the skimmer while it’s still full of water to start with suction. An air lock shuts off or at least restricts water flow quickly.

Some automatic pool vacuums work well…

…and some don’t. When we bought our house, the pool came with what appeared to be an older style automatic pool cleaner. A creepy crawler as a friend who also owns a pool calls it. The pool was only 3 years old but this particular auto vac was a basic one. You attach one end of the pool hose to the skimmer opening for the suction like you would when you vacuum the pool, and then attach the other end of the hose to the vacuum head, drop the vacuum into the pool and let it do its thing. The pool pump sucks water in through the vacuum head and hose, which is how it operates.

It’s completely made of plastic, isn’t particularly heavy and gets filled with water to hold it down on the floor of the pool, has a few moving parts and has small wheels on the bottom. It’s very basic.

In a word, it was disappointing. I tried using it a few times but it got easily stuck around the walls of the pool and also when trying to travel from the deep to shallow end. It would get stuck in the corners of the pool and missed entire sections of the floor. Sometimes if I left it on its own – which is kind of the idea of having it – I’d come back and it’d be stuck somewhere, just jiggling back and forth a bit.

As I learned with the manual vacuum pool head, you really need something heavy that if thrown into the pool will quickly sink to the bottom. This auto vacuum is too light to do that. It’s too basic to be useful and is a waste of time and money.

If you’re going to invest in an automatic vacuum I think you should look at one of the more expensive, solid options perhaps with its own motor inside. The weight alone will at least keep it down on the floor of the pool to clean it properly.

How To Siphon Water Out Of Your Pool

A good water level is about midway up the height of the skimmer so that it can actually skim the top of the water.
A good water level is about midway up the height of the skimmer so that it can actually skim the top of the water.

Part of keeping a pool clean also involves keeping the water level right. For us it’s the midway point on the height of the skimmer so that debris on the top of the water can actually be skimmed.

Is your water level too high and you need to reduce it but don’t have a separate pump and you have a filter with no backwash filter? Our Sta-Rite filter system requires no backwashing so we have no quick way to lower the water level in our pool…

So I figured one out on my own. I take my pool hose and lay one end in the pool near a water return and drag the rest of the hose out of the backyard as far as it will go. I then go back to the pool and hold the end of the hose right up to the water return jet (the pump is running) and water gets forced out though the hose. Once all the air is out of the line, it creates a siphon and as long as the end of the hose remains in the pool submerged, water drains out of the pool just by keeping one end of the hose submerged int the pool. So I can leave the hose in the pool draining water while it empties through the other end of the hose onto the road.

If the hose end that is in the pool keeps bobbing up to the water surface, pin the hose down with a rock or something heavy to keep it submerged.


  • I find that a heavy, sold vacuum cleaning head is better than a cheap, light plastic one which isn’t heavy enough to stay at the bottom of the pool on its own.
  • Brushing your pool regularly keeps the walls and floor clean even when you can’t see dirt on them. The darker your pool liner or walls in the case of a fiberglass pool, the better it is at hiding dirt.
  • Get rid of air in your pool hose before attaching it the skimmer for vacuuming otherwise you’ll create an air lock which will negatively affect water flow and might stop water from pumping completely.
  • For automatic vacuum machines, a heavier solid one is needed to defy gravity and stay on the bottom of the pool floor on its own. In my experience, a lighter one that floats to the top of a pool is useless and won’t vacuum properly.

Carl Mueller

I bought a home with a salt water pool in 2006 and soon realized the benefits over traditional chlorinated pools. On this website I'll discuss all the tips and tricks I've learned over the years. I'll also help you troubleshoot various problems with pools in general and ones specific to salt water pools that I've experienced personally!

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