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Tiny particles and debris can be challenging to get out of the pool water. When debris, contaminants, and algae spores become too plentiful, pool water can look unpleasant.

Pool clarifiers work by clumping small particles that are too small for the pool filter to collect. Without the particle clumps, these small pieces of debris would pass through the filter system and recirculate in the swimming pool.

Swimming pool clarifier helps make cloudy water clear and free from contaminants. It will also make the water safer and more appealing for swimming. So, if you’re looking for an easy and effective way to clear your cloudy water, keep reading.

How Does Pool Clarifier Clear Pool Water?

A pool clarifier works by binding small particles in the water and pulling them out through the filter system.

Every pool filter system has a medium that collects debris and filters it out from the pool water. However, sometimes debris can be too small for these filters to catch and are recirculated into the pool.

These small particles can accumulate so much that they make cloudy pool water. Adding a pool clarifier makes these particles clumps large enough to get trapped in the filter medium.

Pool clarifiers usually contain one or more of the following compounds:

  • Chitin
  • quaternary ammonium chloride
  • polyacrylamide

Each of these substances attracts elements in the water and makes them clump together. This clumping makes the debris and elements in the water large enough to be trapped in the filter media so the water clears.

How Do Pool Clarifiers Differ From Pool Flocculants? 

Both pool clarifier and pool flocculant bind elements in the water and draw them out in the filter system. However, your choice depends on how bad the murky water is and your time constraints.

Pool clarifiers work slower than pool flocculants since it takes several days for the particle clumps to be flushed out. This time frame makes a clarifier less ideal if you need your pool cleared in a day or two. However, a clarifier is less wasteful than a flocculant since you won’t have to backwash your pool several times during the treatment.

Pool flocculant also requires more work on the part of the pool owners. Flocculant makes larger clumps of foreign particles drawn to the pool’s bottom. These clumped particles are too large to fit through the filter system.

To clean your pool after a flocculant treatment, you’ll have to vacuum the pool floor and backwash your pool’s filter. With a pool clarifier, you won’t have to do anything but test your water and add the clarifier.

The clumped particles will float on the pool’s surface and get flushed out of the system automatically. It’s an easier and less potent coagulant.

You should use a pool clarifier if your pool is only mildly cloudy and you don’t need your water clear immediately. Flocculant is much more potent and works faster. It’s better if your pool water is very murky and needs a powerful cleaning.

However, you must manually remove debris with a vacuum and waste a few gallons of water. Both are effective tools for cleaning pool water, but you should select the variety that best suits your needs and time constraints.

How to Use a Pool Clarifier in a Swimming Pool? 

Pool clarifiers require much less work and effort than flocculants. However, they’re not completely hands-off, and there are a few things you should do before adding the chemical and after the treatment.

The first step is to shock your cloudy pool water. Shocking your swimming pool will help clear and balance your pool pH levels before adding a pool clarifier. Wait at least 24 hours before adding the pool clarifier to your swimming pool.

Each pool clarifier has instructions on adding it to your swimming pool and how much you should use. Generally speaking, you can add this clarifier directly to your pool water and adjust the dosage based on your needs.

Using a pool clarifier is pretty simple; you don’t have to vacuum or skim your pool to remove the clumps. However, if you notice small particles of organic debris, you might want to remove this with a pool net so it doesn’t throw your pool chemistry off balance.

Does it Matter What Kind of Pool Filter You Have? 

Unlike pool floc, pool clarifier works with cartridge, sand, and diatomaceous earth filters. The particles are so small they won’t get lodged in the pool’s filter and break or disrupt it.

Diatomaceous earth (DE) filters are the best option since they have the highest capacity. This filter will be able to sort out more debris before you need to clean it. They’re the best choice, but the other varieties will work fine too.

You’ll need to clean your filter system after the pool clarifier finishes cleaning the water. You should backwash your filter system afterward, but you’ll only have to do this once, unlike with flocculants. You might need to replace the filter medium if you’ve used the clarifier several times.

How Long Does Pool Clarifier Take to Clear Water? 

Pool clarifiers usually take 2-5 days to clear your swimming pool water. Depending on how dirty your water is and how well your filter’s working, it may take longer. If your filter system doesn’t seem to be doing its job correctly, you might need to check it for a clog or contaminants.

The presence of algae growth can also impact the time frame. If you have a large amount of algae growth in your pool water, you’ll need to shock your pool 2-3 times before adding any pool clarifier.

This can kick the time frame up to five days before you see the crystal-clear water you’re after.


A pool clarifier is an affordable and effective way to clear cloudy pool water. While sometimes cloudy water is harmless, it can indicate dangerous contaminants and bacteria in the water. Using pool clarifiers and making your swimming pool water a safe environment is always best.

A pool clarifier is a less involved option for clearing up cloudy water. However, sometimes you might need something a little more potent. If the pool clarifier isn’t making the cut, you might need to use a flocculant.

If you want to learn more about how to use pool flocculant, check out our article on the subject!


Can You Add Too Much Clarifier to Your Pool? 

Yes, adding too much clarifier to your swimming pool is possible. You must know the capacity and size of your pool and follow the directions on the bottle before adding the chemical.

Too much clarifier can make your pool cloudy all over again due to excessive levels of chemicals in the pool water. The only way to rebalance your swimming pool is to drain about half of the water and add fresh water.

Can Clarifiers Remove Algae Bloom From Swimming Pools? 

No, clarifiers will not kill algae in the water. To remove algae with a clarifier, you’ll need to kill it first. Add shock to your pool first to kill the algae growth. After the algae are killed, you can remove debris with a clarifier but can’t kill it with this chemical.

Can Pool Clarifiers Remove Calcium Hardness From Water?

Yes, a clarifier can remove calcium and other minerals from the swimming pool water. However, it won’t remove calcium that’s clinging to the pool walls and floor. You’ll need to scrape this from the surface to have it removed as larger clumps with a clarifier.

How Should You Clean Your Pool Filter After Adding Clarifier?

You should backwash your pool filter after using a pool clarifier. If you have a DE or sand filter, simply backwashing and rinsing the filter system should suffice. However, a cartridge filter will be more difficult.

Since these filters use a cartridge, they can’t be backwashed. You’ll have to remove the filters, wash them by hand, and rinse them with a garden hose.

Does Pool Chemistry Matter to Keep Your Pool Clear?

Yes, your pool’s chemistry is one of the most important parts of keeping your pool clean. Balanced pH and chlorine levels keep the water free from bacteria and break down hardness in the water.

How Can You Balance Your Pool Water After a Clarifier Treatment?

You’ll need to test your water after the treatment is finished to determine if you need to add anything. Add acid or base to your water depending on the current levels of your swimming pool water. If you want to learn more about balancing your pool water, check out our article on how to keep your pool clean!

Can You Use a Pool Clarifier in Saltwater?

Yes, you can use clarifiers in saltwater pools. After the treatment, you might need to add more salt to your saltwater pool.

Can You Swim in a Pool with Clarifier?

Yes, you can. But you’ll want to avoid splashing too much water out of the pool, or it can lower the water levels below the skimmer line.

Is It Safe to Swim in Cloudy Pool Water?

This depends on why your pool has cloudy water. But, as a general rule, avoid swimming in a cloudy pool. Cloudy water can indicate high levels of bacteria or chemicals which can hurt your body or irritate your skin.

Do You Need to Vacuum Your Pool After Treatment?

No, you don’t need to vacuum your pool after adding a clarifier. Unlike flocculants, the clarifier is carried out of the pool filtration system as the particles clump together. However, vacuuming the pool floor after treatment can ensure all the leftover clumps are picked up.

What Kind of Pool Filter Medium is Best for Pool Clarifiers?

Sand and DE filters are the best option since they’re easier to clean. However, you can use a clarifier if you have a cartridge system. Just make sure you rinse the cartridges after the treatment finishes.