Can You Use Dawn To Clean a Vinyl Pool Liner?

An essential part of pool maintenance is selecting suitable cleaning products that are both effective and safe. Vinyl pool liners are more vulnerable to damage by harsh chemicals, so you need to make sure that the cleaning chemicals you use are suitable before you apply them.

You can use Dawn dishwashing detergent to clean a vinyl pool liner. It’s mild and doesn’t corrode vinyl pool liners. It is also gentle on your hands and effective at eliminating tough stains. However, Dawn contains chemicals that may offset pool water chemistry and harm the environment.

The rest of this article will discuss how to use Dawn to clean your pool liner and the pros and cons of using Dawn to clean a Vinyl pool liner. I will also suggest safer alternatives for better or similar results as Dawn.

you can use dawn dish sop to clean a vinyl pool liner

How To Use Dawn To Clean a Vinyl Pool Liner

To prepare a cleaning solution for your vinyl pool liner using Dawn, add some detergent to a bucket filled with warm water and stir to combine. The precise amount of detergent you use will depend on how dirty your vinyl liner is.

The caveat is that your pool has to be partially or entirely drained to prevent contaminating the pool water with the detergent. 

You can use this cleaning solution to remove grime along the vinyl liner water line by following the following steps:

  1. Lower the pool water level to at most a third way up the skimmer. 
  2. Pour the cleaner into a spray bottle. 
  3. Spray the cleaner directly onto the stains where the water line previously sat. 
  4. Using a sponge or washcloth, gently scrub off the grime from the water line. 
  5. Rinse thoroughly with water. 

If your pool has already been drained, follow these steps:

  1. Use a vinyl-friendly, soft-bristle pool brush to remove excess dirt from the pool liner.
  2. Apply the cleaning solution directly onto the dirty liner. 
  3. Gently scrub the liner by starting from the top and working your way downwards. Using circular motions will be less tiring.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with water.

Remember that you should only drain a vinyl-lined pool with the help of an expert, and even then, the swimming pool should not remain empty for extended periods. Schedule a cleaning as soon as it is drained, and refill it soon after.

How Not To Use Dawn To Clean a Vinyl Pool Liner

Some pool owners recommend pouring Dawn detergent directly into the pool water to eliminate the following: 

  • Boatman bugs
  • Sunscreen
  • Body oils
  • Dirt

However, experts advise against pouring the dishwasher detergent directly into the pool water. This may interfere with the pool water’s chemistry by offsetting the pH level of your pool. 

Unbalanced pH levels in pool water encourage algae growth. Regularly pouring Dawn into your pool water will lead to a green pool, which is harder and more costly to correct.

Pouring Dawn directly into the pool water is not worth the risk.

How To Prevent Pool Damage After Cleaning Your Pool Liner With Dawn

As stated earlier, Dawn contains chemicals that may offset your pool water chemistry and promote algal growth. Since residual cleaning products may contaminate your pool water, it would be best if you shocked your pool soon after cleaning the vinyl liner. 

I recommend scheduling your vinyl pool liner cleaning just before the regular pool shocking sessions. It’s more convenient this way.

Advantages of Using Dawn To Clean Your Vinyl Pool Liner

Below are some of the benefits of using Dawn to clean your vinyl pool liner:

  • Effective at eliminating tough grease and stains.
  • Does not contain harmful phosphates, phthalates, or triclosan.
  • Contains biodegradable surfactants.
  • You can also use it to get rid of annoying boatman bugs.
  • A mild cleaner and does not corrode the vinyl liner.
  • Gentle on your hands.
  • Relatively cheaper and more accessible than specialized cleaning products.
  • A multi-purpose cleanser that you can use for an array of household cleaning tasks.

Disadvantages of Using Dawn To Clean Your Vinyl Pool Liner

Despite the attractive benefits of using Dawn to clean your vinyl pool liner, there are some significant downsides:

  • Not entirely environmentally friendly. It contains chemicals such as methylisothiazolinone that can harm aquatic life and contaminate groundwater and soil.
  • Methylisothiazolinone is also linked to nerve damage, allergic reactions, and lung toxicity.
  • Another risk associated with methylisothiazolinone is that it causes damage to septic systems.
  • Dawn contains chemicals that can offset pool water chemistry and promote algal growth.

Safe Alternatives for Cleaning Vinyl Pool Liners

Now let’s consider some safe and effective alternatives that you can use to clean your vinyl pool liner:

Household Bleach

Chlorinated bleach is an effective vinyl pool liner cleaner. You can use it to eliminate bacterial and fungal stains. You can also use bleach to clean the water line that’s common in vinyl liners.

Here’s how to use a homemade bleach cleaning solution:

  1. Mix bleach with water in a ratio of 1:1.
  2. Spray this solution directly onto the stains.
  3. Allow it to sit until almost dry, then gently scrub using a soft-bristled brush, sponge, or washcloth.
  4. Rinse with water.

Pool Liner Stain Removers

Check your local hardware store for pool liner stain removers. Ensure that the product you buy is made for vinyl pool liners, as not all cleaning products are safe to use on them. Some products are quite harsh and may turn your vinyl liner white and corrode it, which will incur replacement costs sooner than should.

Ascorbic Acid

To remove metal stains on your vinyl pool liner, dissolve some ascorbic acid crystals in water and apply the solution to the stains. Using a sponge or soft-bristled pool brush, scrub off the stains from the vinyl liner.

You can buy ascorbic acid crystals from your local hardware store.

dawn dish soap can be used to clean a liner


Dawn dishwashing detergent is suitable for cleaning a vinyl pool liner. Nonetheless, it has significant disadvantages, as highlighted above. 

As a safety precaution, shock your pool water soon after cleaning the vinyl liner with Dawn to prevent any product residue from offsetting the pool water chemistry, which will only create more problems for you.

Because vinyl pool liners are pretty sensitive, be very gentle when cleaning them. Avoid using abrasive cleaning tools or chemicals—you risk causing premature rips and tears to the liner, which will incur extra costs.