What Effect Does Sunscreen and Tanning Oil Have On Pool Water?

What Effect Does Sunscreen and Tanning Oil Have On Pool Water?
October 26, 2017 sdcpm
What Effect Does Sunscreen and Tanning Oil Have On Pool Water?

You are all set to jump in the pool, then you suddenly remember that you forgot to apply sunscreen. You grab the can, give yourself a quick spray, and jump into the water.  Do you think that sunscreen is going to adhere to your skin and protect you?  Probably not. Most likely, it will end up rinsing off of your skin and dispersing into the water as invisible beads of oil that can potentially damage your pool.

There is nothing worse than hosting a pool party and having guests be greeted by a rainbow-colored oil slick floating on the surface of the water.  Well, maybe there is something worse- having to get rid of that oil slick. So, how do you protect your pool from that nasty oil buildup that can cause slimy walls, cloudy water, and gunk filled filters?


Prevention and Treatment

One of the easiest ways to protect your pool from oil buildup is to make sure your backwash and flow are set to the proper levels. Be sure to run the skimmer the recommended number of hours according to the capacity of your pool. Even with regular maintenance, heavy usage can cause an accumulation of nasty oil-based chemicals in your pool water, skimmer, and filter. Prevention and treatment is easy, though.

There are a couple of things you can do to help minimize the buildup:

  • Insist that swimmers wait 20-30 minutes after applying sunscreen before entering the pool. This will allow the oils to absorb into their skin.  It will also provide them better protection from damaging rays because they won’t rinse off fresh oil by immediately jumping in.
  • Install a shower and insist that swimmers shower before and after entering the pool.  This will rinse off any residual oil and also remove any dirt or debris that may have attached itself to your swimmers.
  • Periodically add an enzyme treatment like Pool Perfect to help remove the oils.
  • Add an algaecide surfactant to help clump the oil, then skim the pool surface manually, using a long- handled, fine mesh skimmer.
  • Regularly clean your filter, even sand filters.  If you have a cartridge in your filter, replace it once a week if your pool is being used often.
  • Scrub the tile backsplash at the water line with a soft, abrasive pad.


Proper Maintenance

If you do notice excessive oil on the surface or black gunk built up in the corners of the pool, in the skimmer, or in the filter,  close the pool temporarily and add a shock treatment. Be sure to wait the recommended number of hours and test the water before re-entering the pool.

Sunscreens and tanning lotions are important for preventing skin cancer, but they can cause lots of damage to your pool if you don’t carefully monitor for buildup and take appropriate measures to get rid of it.  Don’t let your summer be ruined by sunburn or a nasty pool.  You can use your sunscreen and have a good time swimming, but be careful to avoid adding oils to the water unnecessarily.


If you are unsure of how to treat your pool to eliminate oil buildup, please contact us. We will happily run some tests and recommend the necessary products.

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