4 Ways to Deal with Sunscreen in Swimming Pools

In Blog by Kate Cunha


I do some of the maintenance and upkeep on our website, which includes monitoring the key words and phrases that bring people to our site. I recently ran a report for last month and this is what I found:

“Sunscreen in pool water”

“Can sun screen lotion make pool water cloudy?”

“Can sunscreen cause a pool filter…”

“Damage to pool from sunscreens”

See a pattern? That’s not even half of them! You guys are dealing with some serious sunscreen issues right now!

This makes sense, of course, seeing as though we’re really moving into the dog days of summer. Even normally temperate Washington State is seeing a run of hot days that are pushing people toward the oasis that is a pool. So, let’s talk a little about sunscreen and just what you can do to minimize the issues that sunscreen in pools bring.

  1. Prevention. Prevention, in this case, is the best medicine. Manage an indoor pool? You’re in the best position for this tip. Get your patrons to shower before entering the pool. Easier said than done, I know, but clear “shower rules” signs throughout the locker rooms and some patron education can go a long way.
  2. Action. Outdoor pool? Your swimmers are going to be reapplying sunscreen as they lay poolside, so preparing your water to handle it is the better bet. Start routinely adding an enzyme treatment to the pool. A quality enzyme additive is critical in order to break down the oils and other ingredients in the sunscreen, allowing them to be sent along to the filters. You may have times when you’ll have to use more to treat the results of a particularly busy day, but having the enzyme in the water before the bathers hit will help you stay ahead.
  3. Filtration. This one is for all pools. Do you have proper flow rate into the filter(s)? Is your turnover rate correct? Are you backwashing on a pressure based basis (8-10psi higher than clean), rather than a schedule? Any channeling? Evaluate your filtration and correct any issues, if any are found. Properly functioning filtration is critical for clear water.
  4. More Filtration. So the mechanics are looking good. How about the media itself? For cartridge filters, be sure to have a spare set clean at all times, to reduce down time, and be sure to clean with a enzymatic cleaner designed specifically for cartridges. For sand and the like, there are fantastic cleaners available as well. For particularly tough cases, a filter additive can be employed to increase the efficacy of the filter media.


Here’s feedback directly from one of our clients who employs all of the steps listed above and in turn has a sparkling pool all summer long.

“During the summer season we are quite busy, and with that usage comes the sunblock, oils etc. We utilize the ZymePure and FilterAid (TMI Exclusives) religiously to keep the water quality up. If we don’t maintain the schedule, we start seeing a sheen on the water, a film develops in the corners of the pool, the water starts to look dull and the clarity suffers. Over the last two weeks (around the 4th of July) we were getting an average of 500-700 kids per day through the outdoor pool, with the day starting off with around 200 kids in the swim teams and classes. I make it a point to take a look at the water throughout the day and have been increasing the amount of ZymePure going in as the usage increased and water quality started to diminish. Keeping the pool sparkling is an art as much as a science, it’s a dynamic thing you have to stay ahead of. You have to pay attention to it and adjust treatments accordingly, not just follow instructions on a label. If you wait until the water starts to look dull, you’re too late, You have to be proactive with it. The ZymePure is great stuff, it does the job keeping the oils and film to a minimum and the FilterAid helps the filters scrub out the smaller particles adding to the clarity. We maintain our backwash schedule, and adjust the chemical treatments year round and that helps keep everything where it should be.”

Chuck Richards, Owner – Sunset Athletic Club – 7.9.14

As mentioned in the above testimonial, they haven’t had to increase their backwashing, even with the added oils from sunscreens in the water. Compared to the alternative, that’s a lot of time, money, and energy saved from excess water loss and replacement.

So there you have it. Do your best to keep the sunscreen out in the first place, routinely dose your water with a strong enzyme treatment, and have properly functioning filter systems with clean filter media. These 4 tips can help you maintain a clear, clean pool all season long.

Need more help? Check out our previous posts on dealing with sunscreen in pools, here. If you’re struggling with this issue, feel free to contact us for help.