A Guide to Cleaning Pool Steps Underwater

Having crystal clear water makes swimming more enjoyable. However, in addition to keeping the water clean, you should also clean the surfaces in the pool – including the steps.

It is common for pool steps to accumulate stains over time and change color into an unsightly shade. If the stains are caused by harmful chemicals, they may ruin the aesthetic appeal and even be dangerous.

It is likely that the first thought when determining how to clean the steps is to drain the pool of water. Certain types of pools, such as vinyl-lined pools, may be damaged by draining, which isn’t always practical.

Most of the time, cleaning the steps does not require draining the pool, just like cleaning the liner. 

Our goal in this post is to show you how to clean pool steps underwater without draining them. You’ll also learn how you can get your steps spick-and-span without draining the pool.

How to Clean Acrylic Fiberglass Pool Steps?

The following steps will show you how to clean acrylic fiberglass pool steps efficiently:

1. Keep Fiberglass Steps Above Waterline Clean:

Keep Fiberglass Steps Above Waterline Clean

With a sponge containing non-phosphate detergent, like the Magic Eraser, you can most easily clean fiberglass pool stairs.

A soft, non-abrasive product is ideal, as it won’t scratch or damage your swimming pool, even if you don’t buy a name brand product.

2. Thoroughly Clean The Fiberglass Steps Below The Waterline:

Thoroughly Clean The Fiberglass Steps Below The Waterline

The best time to clean your pool stairs is while they’re partially submerged, not when they’re drained. You could damage your pool liner if the water level is lowered, resulting in unsightly wrinkles and expensive repairs.

Method #1

By shocking your pool, you can raise the chlorine levels and keep them elevated for 24 to 48 hours.

Method #2

The submerged portion of your steps can also be gently buffed with a rag, cloth, or sock soaked in a mild acid or cleaning agent. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is used by some pool owners.

How to Clean Vinyl-Over Steel or Vinyl-Over Polymer Pool Steps?

It is important to clean vinyl-covered steel or vinyl-covered polymer pool steps carefully to avoid damaging the vinyl surface. To clean these pool steps effectively, follow these steps:

1. Ask Your Pool Builder For A Second Opinion:

Ask Your Pool Builder For A Second Opinion

Contact your pool builder before buying anything for cleaning your vinyl pool steps to ensure you’re not damaging it.

Keep in mind that vinyl liners were printed with ink that can easily be damaged or removed by cleaning products.

The paint on vinyl steps and pool liners will almost immediately be removed by petroleum-based cleaning products (like Goof-Off or Goo Gone).

2. Gather Vinyl-Safe Cleaning Supplies:

Gather Vinyl-Safe Cleaning Supplies

The sponges or cloths you use should be soft and clean. You will also need a mild detergent or cleaning agent that can be used on vinyl. Pool supply stores or online retailers carry these products.

3. Use a Sponge or Cloth for Cleaning:

Use a Sponge or Cloth for Cleaning:

The pool stairs can be gently scrubbed using a soft sponge and vinyl-safe detergent. For best results, move slowly and circularly.

It’s a good idea to repeat the process twice if possible since you may miss a spot when you first try. A Magic Eraser can safely be used to scrub vinyl stairs like fiberglass stairs

4. Try Raising Your Pool’s Chlorine Levels:

Try Raising Your Pool’s Chlorine Levels

You can shock your pool to raise the chlorine levels for several days if the washcloth and detergent method doesn’t work.

Your vinyl liner pool and steps will look better after you increase the chlorine level to make it easier to remove deposits.

How Do I Get My Pool Steps White Again?

Staining is most likely to occur on white pool steps out of all the colors you could choose. In other words, stains on white steps would be more visible than those on other colors.

For this reason, stairs need to be routinely cleaned thoroughly. Cleaning the steps is usually best done with water in the pool. To help you, here are some tips and tricks:

1. Vacuum The Debris From The Pool

Vacuum The Debris From The Pool

You should first remove all the visible dirt, leaves, and debris from the steps before tackling the discoloration.

In most cases, a pool vacuum or a pool brush is the fastest and most convenient way to clean a pool.

2. Spray And Scrub Chlorine

Spray And Scrub Chlorine

The use of chlorine allows the removal of many organic stains almost instantly. It is, however, possible to damage the liner by simply throwing in chlorine granules.

Chlorine should be sprinkled on the area. It is also possible to use a PVC pipe filled with chlorine and move it slowly over the stains to ensure the chlorine granules hit exactly where needed.

The pipe should have a diameter of two inches at a minimum. The chlorine granules will not be stuck or spread haphazardly if it’s too tight or too wide.

After that, scrub the steps with a pool brush and telescopic pole, paying special attention to the corners.

3. Removing Calcium from Pool Steps

Removing Calcium from Pool Steps

It can be difficult to remove calcium deposits. You may find success using a pumice stone to remove calcium from concrete or tile stairs.

Pumice stones may scratch or damage fiberglass or plastic steps, however. Your best bet is usually a descaler product.

You can use the descaler to treat the entire pool rather than just a small region, and you can also use it to remove certain metal stains.

4. Sponge Cleaning for Stubborn Stains

Sponge Cleaning for Stubborn Stains

The use of telescopic poles, sponges, or stiff brushes to scrub crushed ascorbic acid or even enzyme cleaners may work if general water treatments don’t provide immediate results.

If you do this, you will be able to focus your cleaning action only on the area where the stain originates.

5. Try Acid Treatments for Metal Stains

Try Acid Treatments for Metal Stains

Iron-based pool stains can be removed with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). For copper-based stains, citric acid may be more effective.

A pool brush can be used to swirl the acid around in the water if you need to remove metal stains from a small section of the steps. In no time at all, you should see the stains lift and the steps return to their original color.

If you want to clean stairs more precisely, you can put the dry acid powder into a sock and scrub them with it. You will be able to remove stains directly from your socks using the acid that slowly releases from them.

The final step is to consider an acid treatment of the pool if you have widespread staining beyond the stairs. Here’s how:

  • Maintain a balanced pH and alkalinity level. In addition, you should keep chlorine levels below 0 ppm in order to prevent clashes with acid.
  • For every 10 thousand gallons of water, add half a pound of ascorbic acid powder.
  • Make sure the pool pump is running for at least 12 hours to allow the acid to circulate.
  • The steps can be repeated until all stains have been removed. Acid can also be applied directly to more concentrated stains.
  • Make sure the pH and alkalinity levels of the pool water are corrected once you’ve finished.
  • Make use of a sequestering agent in order to prevent metal stains from returning. By doing so, the metals will be prevented from precipitating back onto the surfaces.
  • It’s important to note that lowering chlorine levels might increase the growth of algae. During the process, add some algaecide.

6. Remove Organic Stains With Shock Treatments

Remove Organic Stains With Shock Treatments

A procedure known as shocking involves adding a high concentration of chlorine to pool water in order to remove stains. For best results, follow these steps:

  • To boost the effectiveness of the treatment, measure the pH level and make sure it’s 7.2.
  • If you’re adding chlorine to a pool, make sure to read the instructions, as some require dilution. The surface of the pool might be damaged if chlorine granules are not diluted.
  • If the pool is small, add a smaller amount of shock. If the pool is large, add more shock.
  • By brushing the pool, you can distribute the shock. Furthermore, it removes any film or layers of dust that keep contaminants in place on the surface.
  • Ensure that the chlorine concentration has returned to a safe level before testing the pool again after about 12 hours.
  • Backwashing, vacuuming, and brushing the pool may be necessary after shocking.

Stains On Pool Steps: What Causes Them?

In routine cleaning and maintenance, pool stairs are often overlooked, and they can become stained fairly easily.

Plastic or fiberglass steps are often used with vinyl pools, which means stains can stand out like a sore thumb. Check out the common culprits that could be causing the unsightly discoloration.

Insect or Animal Stains

The stains from insects and other animals are similar to the stains from leaves and other debris, as they are organic in nature.

It is possible to find bugs in the pool frequently depending on the environment around it. It is likely that some of them will accumulate in the skimmers, while others will fall to the bottom of the stairs.

Typically, worms sink very quickly before they can reach the skimmer. Eventually, they may rest on the edges of the steps and stain them.

Metal Stains

As a result of chlorine oxidizing metals in the water, this occurs. Colors caused by iron are brown or orange, those caused by magnesium are black, and those caused by cobalt are blue.

There is the possibility that metals will be introduced into the pool from the water supply, or even from objects in the surrounding area, such as water features, decking material, and chemicals.

There’s almost no way to entirely prevent metals from entering the water.

Mineral Stains

In the event that calcium in water mingles with oils and dirt, it can discolor steps when it deposits back onto them in the form of gray or brown stains.

Hard water with high calcium content results in more mineral staining.

Organic Stains

A pool’s steps can become stained organically by algae, mulch, seeds, or leaves that fall into them.

In pools that haven’t been maintained for a long time or that have been winterized with debris, some staining is likely.

A brown or green color may be present in these stains. The easiest stains to remove are organic ones.

Final Words

Clean ups and stain removals do not require draining a pool completely, which is great news.

For pool steps to be cleaned underwater, you must understand what’s causing the stain so that you can choose the best solution. If you mix several options together, you may be able to keep those stairs looking like new!

Check the correct water balance before swimming again if you’ve added chemicals, such as shock. The best time to start treatments is often after sunset in the summer, in order to keep swimming time as long as possible.

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