How Often Should You Clean Your Pools Skimmer Basket?

A skimmer basket.

The maintenance of your swimming pool is crucial to maintain a clean and healthy swimming pool.  Sometimes even the smallest and easiest things you can do in a matter of seconds each day can make a world of difference in the quality of water in your pool.

This brings me to the question of how often do you clean your swimming pools skimmer and pump basket?  Some pool owners neglect the skimmer basket for days and weeks until they decide to look inside and realize it is completely full of leaves, debris and sometimes even toys and other foreign objects that had been left in the pool water.

You should clean your swimming pools skimmer basket at least once per week.  The more often you empty out the debris caught by the basket, the better you pump filtration will be.  During the most active swimming season or if your pool is being used heavily, twice a week or even daily is not a bad routine to have.


Your swimming pool skimmer’s are the first parts of your pumps cleaning process.  The water that is circulated through the pump is first met with your pool skimmer and basket.  This will stop many objects by being caught by the basket and preventing them from making their way into the filter.

In doing this, it will allow your filter to work more efficiently, become less clogged and the need cleaning as often.  The skimmer also stops and prevents foreign objects and items that could potentially damage your pool pump as well.

Some pools are also equipped with a second skimmer just before the water enters the pump.  This will catch anything that the first skimmer missed leaving only the finest of particles being sent through the pump and into the filter for final filtration.

For maximum filtration and pump performance, if you keep the skimmers clear from debris, the swimming pools filtration system will have more suction and less suffocation, enabling better performance resulting in a cleaner pool.


If you would like to help keep your skimmer from accumulating a lot of debris and requiring less maintenance, her are some tips that can extend the length of time needed between cleaning out your skimmer basket.

Toys caught in the skimmer basket.

Toys and goggles trapped in skimmer basket. Pump struggling to maintain proper suction.

  • When swimming, have a net skimmer handy.  When you are in the water, use it to remove leaves, bugs, grass and other unwanted items from the swimming pool.  If you live in an area where cottonwood trees are present, use it to remove the cotton from the top of the water as well.
  • Keep tree’s, tall grasses and other natural growing habitats a distance from your swimming pool.  As limbs grow close, clip them so they are not near or over the edges of the pool.  This will limit the amount of leaves and buds blown in the water during a breezy day.
  • Remove toys, goggles and other items that were used during swimming.  If you leave even a couple of toys that float, the skimmer will catch them and reduce the filtration of the pool.  Bigger toys and goggles can completely block water access to your pump.
  • Have a clean pathway if possible when entering your pool.  If  you must walk bare foot on grassy areas, try to bag the grass around the pool when mowing.  Little things like this will reduce the amount of grass entering your pool, thus keeping your skimmer basket cleaner.
  • Anything that reduces the amount of debris that gets inside your water.  If you have an indoor pool, or a mostly concrete area around your pool outside, your skimmer will likely need less maintenance than one that is surrounded by more wild habitat.


The main thing you want to do when cleaning your skimmer basket is to rid any objects from the basket and making sure all the holes are cleared on the basket.

If you clean your basket daily, you simply just need to take out the basket and dump out the items inside and then replace it.  You may need to hit the basket lightly against the side of the pool to make sure everything is gone from the basket.

Now if you are only cleaning it once per week, there is likely going to be more items that has been collected by your skimmer basket.  In this scenario you may need to get a water hose and spray the basket to completely clean it.

I also recommend spraying your basket with a water hose once per week as well even if you are cleaning it daily.


If you swimming pool is equipped with two skimmers, you will also need to clean the one near the pump as well.  I do not recommend cleaning this one daily as it will be less dirty since the first basket will catch the majority of objects.

Each swimming pool will vary slightly, but the steps should be similar and take less than a few minutes to complete.

  1. Turn your swimming pump off.
  2. If using a sand filter, switch your filter to CLOSED.  This will stop any water from entering the pump from the return.  You can also block the return with a plug.  Filter pumps may have a shutoff valve.
  3. Plug the skimmer.  In doing this you will need to remove the skimmer basket.  Next, place a plug in the pipe so that water can no longer enter the pump from the skimmer.
  4. After you have confirmed no water can enter the pump from the return or the skimmer, open the lid that is covering your pump skimmer basket.  This usually requires turning it counter-clockwise, although this is not true in all cases.
  5. Pull out the basket and empty it.  Spray it have handily with a sprayer on your water hose and replace it back into the cradle.
  6. Cover and close the lid.  I usually add a little Vaseline from time to time on the seal of the lid.  This will keep it from becoming stuck when opening next time.
  7. Remove the plug in the skimmer, set your filter back to filtration mode and turn the pool back on.

Due to the nature of the suction placed on your swimming pool pump’s basket, you may find one side of the basket is all that needs cleaned.  The force of the water will usually push all the debris toward the side that the pump is on.


Skimmer basket floating up.

Skimmer basket floats the the top.

Be sure you have your skimmer basket secured so that it is locked in place after you have finished cleaning it.  When the pump is running if the basket is floating it will allow some debris to get past the basket and enter either your 2nd pool skimmer basket or the pump and filter directly.

Some skimmer’s and baskets will have a notch on the basket.  Once you place the basket into the skimmer you turn it to lock into place.  This will prevent the basket from floating.  When you remove the basket, you simply have to turn it the opposite way to remove it.

If your basket and skimmer does not have a way to lock it in, it will probably begin to float.  If this is the case you can simply place a heavy rock in the bottom of the skimmer to hold it in place.

If you place a rock in the basket, be sure it is not one that will dissolve and slowly deteriorate into the pool water.  Also be sure it isn’t too big and the pump is not affected by it being placed in your skimmer.

Do not place metal weights or anything that can rust.  This will likely cause damage to your swimming pool basket or skimmer if used for long periods of time.

Your local pool store may also have a skimmer pool weight you can purchase and use as well.  I would go with the free route, however and find a rock and place in the basket to keep in securely in place by not allowing it to float.


Sometimes your skimmer basket may become overfull.  When this happens it will reduce the amount of suction your pool pump has and your return will not be flowing at maximum capacity.  This will probably be noticeable as well by looking at your pool’s pump pressure gauge.

This can happen quickly if you are vacuuming your pool and there are a lot of leaves and other objects being collected quickly on the bottom of the pool.  When vacuuming your skimmer will catch most the larger items before entering the filter.

If this occurs you need to clean your basket right away and clear the path going toward the pump.  It may also be a good time to clean your pool pumps basket as well if equipped.

After you have cleaned out your skimmer basket’s, if your suction has not improved to your standards, your filter is clogged.  For sand filters you will need to backwash.  Cartridge filters will need cleaned or replaced and then your water suction should return to normal.


As I have always stated, getting in a routine is the best way to keep your swimming pool clean and making it last much longer.

Many people add chlorine and shock their swimming pool once per week.  When adding the chlorine, make this the time to check your skimmer baskets and empty them if needed.

Add bleach to your pool daily or have a different routine in keeping your pool healthy?  If that is you, why not empty the few leaves caught on a daily basis.

No matter what your system is, keep to a schedule and you will find your pool is clear, clean and welcoming to anyone that says, “Can I come over and swim?”  You will never have to worry about a dirty pool again.

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