Why Is My Salt Water Pool Liner Slippery? (Or Slimy)

Why Is My Salt Water Pool Liner Slippery? (Or Slimy)

Your standing in your salt water pool or happen to touch the liner and notice a slippery or slimy feeling. You know something isn’t right because it wasn’t that way the last time you swam.

What could it be?

A slippery or slimy feeling on the liner of your salt water pool is most likely the beginning of algae. Salt water pools are particularly susceptible to green algae when chlorine levels drop and the first sign before visibility can be a slippery feeling.

What are the main problems with a slippery or slimy pool liner?

The two main problems with a pool liner that feels slippery or slimy due to algae relates to pool cleanliness and safety:

Algae blooms are insidious and messy – A full algae bloom is what you end up with when your pool water turns green like pea soup. This typically occurs over the winter and when you’re about to open your pool in the spring.

Once a full algae bloom kicks in, it can take time (diagnosing the problem), money (chemicals) and effort (vacuuming the pool and rinsing the filter) to get it fixed so that the pool water is crystal clear.

The sooner you get the problem addressed, the quicker, cheaper and easier it will be. Plus you’ll be able to swim again. No one wants to swim in a green swamp.

Algae blooms make parts of the pool dangerous to walk on – If you have a plastic staircase leading in and out of the pool, it can already be somewhat slippery to begin with. This is why the design often has an uneven surface rather than flat so that it isn’t quite as slick.

But a developing algae bloom that isn’t yet entirely visible can make the stairs a trip hazard. The last thing anyone wants to do is fall while climbing in or out of a pool and knock themselves out.

Green algae problem in a salt water pool.

Could the salt water itself be slippery and slimy?

Many people who add a whole house water softener often remark how the water suddenly becomes silky smooth, certainly when compared to the hard water they had previously. I personally didn’t notice that silky feeling but some people do.

One of the benefits of a salt water pool is that it produces a milder form of chlorine that doesn’t give off an odor and gives you chlorinated water that is easier on the skin, your eyes and your clothing.

So does that stand to reason that your salt water pool might also have a silky feel to it due to the salty water?

Most likely not. The salt level in your pool should be kept between 1 part per million and 3 parts per million. It’s enough to properly supply your salt water chlorinator and you may very well notice the difference on your body and clothing.

But normally the liner of your pool doesn’t have a slick feel to it when it’s clean. The salt water in your pool isn’t salty enough to give you a slippery or slimy feeling. That feeling tends to come from algae beginning to form on your liner.

Where does pool algae come from?

In order to have algae present in your pool, it needs to first have been introduced into the water – usually from rain, wind, dirt or another external source such as clothing – and there has to be a chemical imbalance of some sort, usually low chlorine.

If one or both of these conditions don’t exist you won’t see an algae bloom.

But it’s possible you have some algae in your pool but the chlorine is able to ward it off and keep it at bay.

Your filtration system can also do a great job of removing algae spores and keeping them in the filtration system and out of the water you swim in. Then when you rinse your filter medium (cartridges) or backwash (a sand filter) it removes the dead algae from the system completely.

What to do first to get rid of a slippery or slimy pool liner

Do a water test to check that all aspects of water chemistry are in line and pay particular attention to chlorine and also stabilizer (cyanuric acid) which is like sunblock for chlorine. If you have no or low stabilizer and sunny weather, it’s possible the chlorine being produced by your chlorinator is quickly being burned off.

It’s likely you have low chlorine at a minimum so it’s important to get that corrected while also figuring out why it happened in the first place.

Brush the walls and floor of your pool with a telescopic brush daily to loosen algae and other debris from the liner. The goal is to prevent algae from taking root and growing. The floating algae will make its way into the filter and stay there.

Once you get rid of the slippery feeling, rinse or backwash your filter to get rid of the algae that is undoubtedly in the system. Continue brushing the pool walls and floor weekly as this should be a normal part of pool maintenance.


A slippery or slimy feeling on the floor or walls of your salt water pool is typically the start of algae. If you’re new to salt water pools and don’t see any visible algae, there’s always a small chance it’s nothing but the water itself. Salt water does to some people have a silky feel to it especially if they’re used to hard water.

More likely than not, it’s algae beginning to take root which means you have to act fast to get to the root cause.

Check out my pages on green algae and mustard and black algae to learn more about how to deal with it quickly before it becomes a bigger problem.

I’ve also written about why salt on its own won’t kill an algae bloom as the purpose of salt in a pool is often misunderstood.

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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