Cleaning and maintaining your swimming pool is vital for its longevity as well as your health. In most cases, a pool is kept clean with chlorine.
But, is it possible to use bleach instead? This has become a common question among pool owners and one that many people do not know the answer to.
Now, you may think it is a crazy alternative to chlorine but due to chlorine shortages in recent times, pool owners have been searching for substitutes to maintain their pools.
Even if you can purchase pool-grade chlorine, it’s probably somewhat more expensive than a year or so ago. Even if you can not find chlorine, you will still need to keep your pool clean.
In today’s article, we will be discussing the possible pros and cons of using bleach and whether it is safe to use instead of chlorine in your swimming pool.
Bleach or pool chlorine?
Okay, first thing’s first, you need to know that bleach is chlorine. However, while pool-grade chlorine and Clorox are essentially the same chemicals, they do not have the same concentrations of chlorine.
Pool-grade chlorine is usually found in the form of tablets, liquids, or granules.
These can be bought in formulations between 65% and around 100% chlorine. 100% chlorine, or pure chlorine, is referred to as hypochlorous acid.
Most pool-grade chlorine use is formulated as calcium hypochlorite in a tablet or granule form. These tend to be on the lower end of the chlorine concentration range.
The majority of the chlorine tablets available are formulated as trichloro-s-triazinetrione or tri-chlor. Tri-chlor tablets are capable of delivering around 100% of pure chlorine when they become dissolved in pool water.
When we consider a jug of bleach, such as Clorox, it is mostly made up of water. Bleach contains approximately 5% to 6% sodium hypochlorite.
This means around 95% of the bleach will not help clean your pool at all.
A few bleach formations can include colorings and fragrances which, when placed in a pool, can actually negatively affect the quality of the water.
The majority of liquid chlorine treatments are also mostly water-based.
However, these typically have at least 10% sodium hypochlorite in their solutions without any unneeded colors or fragrances that could hinder the water.
So, can you use bleach in your pool?
In short, yes, you can. But, this will depend on its formulation.
Every bleach bottle has a label that should inform you of the ratio of sodium hypochlorite and chlorine that is present in the bottle compared to everything else.
On the whole, a higher percentage is usually better because you will need to use less bleach to treat the pool.
An effective bleach should not have any fragrances or other chemicals in its formulation. In other words, you do not want to dye your pool’s water or try to change the scent of it.
Most online retailers provide label information for their chemical products such as bleach. This is so you can inspect the concentration of chlorine and any other chemicals or additives that may be in the bleach.
If you use bleach and have some leftover for future pool use, ensure that it is stored in a cool, dry space indoors. Leaving jugs of bleach outdoors will see them go off and become ineffective.
How to sanitize your pool with bleach
Just like all kinds of pool treatments, bleach is used best when in specific concentrations. In other words, it should be able to detect a certain amount of chlorine in your pool’s water.
If you have too little, the water and pool’s surfaces will not be effectively sanitized. If there is too much chlorine, the pool water could become too harsh and unusable.
Ideally, the range of chlorine should be between one and three parts per million (1 - 3 ppm). Try and aim for 2 ppm and you should be able to move around a little in either direction.
Take Clorox as an example. This recommends using between 100 and 200 ounces of regular-strength bleach per 10,000 gallons of water.
Most bottles of bleach are available in one-gallon or half-gallon containers with one gallon being 128 ounces.
Most recommendations are based on the idea that you will be using standard bleach. This is generally about 5% to 6% chlorine.
If you use a formulation that is above the standard 5% to 6% ratio such as concentrated or extra-strength bleach, you will need to use various amounts.
Most pool cleaning professionals suggest using smaller amounts of bleach when possible. Some recommend using one-quarter of a gallon per 10,000 gallons of pool water to raise chlorine levels to around 2.5 ppm.
Others suggest one gallon per 30,000 gallons of pool water to make 2 ppm of chlorine.
There is also the possibility of utilizing a salt-water system rather than chlorine-based treatments. While it can be more costly to change from chlorine to a salt-water system, it can be hugely beneficial over the long run.
In terms of enjoyment in the pool and overall maintenance costs, this is certainly an option to consider.
Stabilizers are critical. Remember, if you keep bleach outdoors, it can become exposed to sunlight. This can break down the chlorine making it ineffective when cleaning the pool.
This is why most chlorine-based pool treatments include an additional stabilizer.
Generally, the most common chemical stabilizer for chlorine in pools is cyanuric acid.
Adding this chemical to your pool at the same time as adding bleach can prevent chlorine from breaking down under the sun’s UV rays. Therefore, it will remain effective for disinfection and sanitization.
We recommend using approximately 30 ppm of cyanuric acid for the best stabilization of chlorine in your pool water.
While you can use bleach to clean and sanitize your pool, we highly recommend consulting with a cleaning professional beforehand.
They can guide you on the exact amount you should add to your pool water so you do not negatively affect its quality.