How to remove stains from a vinyl pool liner

how to remove stains from vinyl pool liner

A clean pool is very appealing and inviting. With the right weather, it’s difficult to resist a dive. Swimming helps to keep our bodies healthy and is also therapeutic, but dirty pools can be an eyesore.

In this article, we will show you how to remove stains from vinyl pool liners and ensure your swimming pool is always looking fresh, clean and ready to be enjoyed.

What causes stains on a vinyl pool liner?

Different types of stains can affect your vinyl liner:

Metal and mineral

Hard water contains minerals like copper, calcium, magnesium, or iron, all of which can leave stain marks on the vinyl liner over time.  


Corrosion from metallic pool pipes or dropping metallic objects inside the pool can cause rust stains on the vinyl liner.


These stains occur because of natural elements like leaves or flowers falling in the pool or pollen blowing in. Over time, if the swimming pool is not cleaned regularly, this will leave deposits of dirt on the vinyl liner. Read here for a more in depth look at dealing with organic stains in your pool.

Pool pH

Some stains are also caused by not maintaining the right pool pH balance and chemistry in your water.

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Vinyl Pool Stain Colors

  • Blue-green: This shows copper present in water or in the pipes bringing the water to the pool.
  • Reddish-brown: This shows iron or rust stains caused by corroded pool pipes.
  • Green, brown, red: Due to leaf deposits, flowers, pollen, or dust.
  • Black: Black pool stains on a vinyl liner show a mold build-up.

Removing stains from a vinyl pool liner

Now that you are aware of what causes the pool stains and the different types of vinyl pool liner stains you might be dealing with, it’s time to clean.

Tools you’ll need:

  • Pool water test strips
  • Pool stain remover
  • A towel  
  • A soft-bristled hand brush
  • A pool brush

Step 1: Examine the pool’s water chemistry

The first thing you need to do is to test and know the pH balance of your pool water’s chemicals. Use pool test strips to do the testing. Sometimes, you may not have to clean after the test because the pool balancer may lighten some stains if they are not so bad.

Also, note that incorrect pH levels cause the vinyl layer to stain or fade, so it’s necessary to test regularly.  

Step 2: Identify what kind of stain

The next step is to identify what type of stain you are dealing with. Being aware of the type of pool stain means you can choose the right product for cleaning.

  1. Mineral or rust stains are removed using acidic cleaning products.
  2. Organic pool stains are removed using chlorine shock treatment.
  3. You can also opt for natural household cleaners.  

Step 3: Choose a cleaning product

Listed below are some household alternatives that you can use to clean the vinyl liner of your home pool by yourself.  


Borax is an excellent natural vinyl pool stain remover.

  1. Put borax in a bucket and add a little water to form a paste.
  2. The amount of borax you use will depend on how big your pool is or how nasty the stains are.
  3.  Apply the borax paste on the vinyl liner and scrub.
  4. Borax also helps with raising your pool’s pH level.
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Vinegar is also good at getting rid of pool mineral stains on vinyl liner. The acetic acid will dissolve the minerals quickly, right before your eyes.

  1. Mix a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water.
  2. Dip a scrubber or soft towel in it.
  3. Scrub the stains. They will automatically transfer to the cloth.
  4. If you fear that vinegar might interfere with the pH levels, you can always test the water after the treatment and make necessary adjustments.

Baking soda

Baking soda is a superb mild abrasive cleaner that works excellently on stains and most vinyl pool materials.

  1. Make a simple paste from water and baking soda.
  2. Apply the baking soda paste on the stains on your vinyl pool liner, then scrub away.
  3. Just like borax, baking soda will also increase alkaline levels of your swimming pool.

Lemon juice and salt

Lemon juice works similarly to vinegar for removing those nasty rusty stains on the vinyl liner of your pool. Combined with salt, the result is a powerful stain remover. The citric acid in lemons works by dissolving mineral stains like iron, copper, and magnesium, plus it’s a natural bleacher and brightener.  

  1. Take a cup of lemon and half a cup of salt and mix to make a thick runny paste.
  2. Apply the mixture to the vinyl tile and scrape off with your cloth.
  3. If the stains are bad, you can scrub using a soft-bristled brush or scourer.

Step 4: Maintenance of the pool

Now that the vinyl pool liner is clean, some simple habits will help maintain hygiene and keep your pool sparkling clean in the future.

  1. Make sure the chemistry of your pool water is always balanced.
  2. Brush your pool weekly.
  3. Vacuum and shock your pool with chlorine regularly.
  4. Remove debris like dirt, leaves, flowers, and metals as soon as you notice them.
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Frequently asked questions about pool cleaning

Are household cleaners safe for removing stains from a vinyl pool liner?

Yes, household cleaners are safe for cleaning the vinyl liner of your pool, as most of them are natural and do not contain any harsh chemicals.  

Note; After every cleaning process, test the chemistry of your pool and make any adjustments needed to restore pH levels to what is required.

Can you use bleach to clean a vinyl pool liner?

Bleach is not safe to use for cleaning vinyl pool liners because it will mess with the water pH levels. Secondly, it is very unsafe for human consumption and when people swim, they swallow a bit of water. This is hard to control. Thirdly, bleach is toxic to you as the cleaner.

Apart from household natural products, what other products are best for removing stains from a vinyl pool liner?

In the supermarkets or hardware stores, there are some commercial products specifically made for cleaning swimming pools, and they work just the same, if not better. Household products are cheap and readily available. Try to see which options work for you.

Wrapping up

Removing stains from a vinyl pool liner is not an impossible task. You don’t need to hire a professional pool cleaner or use expensive products. If you follow the guidelines of weekly brushing and vacuuming your pool, and regularly do chlorine shock, you will never have pool stain problems. But just in case, these products will come in handy. Happy Swimming!

how to remove stains from vinyl pool liner

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