Unprecedented times mean that we have to answer unprecedented questions. One question that I didn’t expect to be asked is, “Is it okay to use bleach for cleaning my pool?” Since the beginning of the year, I have seen people asking me about bleach on Facebook, our social media channels, blogs, YouTube comments, emails, and panicked phone calls.
Why would you choose bleach over pool chlorine?
You’ve likely noticed a chlorine shortage if you’ve been watching the news recently or trying to purchase pool chlorine.
Likely, you won’t be able to find pool-grade chlorine. You’ll still need to maintain your pool’s cleanliness if you don’t have any.
Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of bleaching instead of chlorine. But first, let us explore what bleach is and its differences from the pool-grade chlorine we’re used to.
Bleach vs Pool Chlorine: The basics
Let’s start by clarifying: bleach refers to chlorine. Chemically, pool-grade chlorine is the same as Clorox. They are, however, not made with the same levels of chlorine.
Pool-grade chlorinated chlorine is available in tablets, liquids or granules. It can be found in formulations ranging from 65% to nearly 100%. Hypochlorous acid is the name for pure chlorine.
The most popular pool-grade chlorine formula is calcium hypochlorite, available in tablet or granule form. This concentration tends to be at the lower end. Many tablet-based treatments are formulated as trichloro-s-triazinetrione or tri-colour. A tri-colour tablet can provide nearly 100% pure chlorine when dissolved in water.
Bleach jugs, such as Clorox, are mostly water. Bleach is a mixture of 5% to 66% sodium hypochlorite. This means that approximately 95% of the bleach you buy won’t be able to clean your pool. Some bleach formulations can contain colourings or fragrances that could negatively impact the quality of your pool’s water.
Although liquid chlorine treatments are mostly water-based, they should contain at least 10% sodium hypochlorite. This is in a solution that does not include any unwanted colour or fragrance.
Can you use bleach to replace chlorine?
The short answer is yes.
The formulation is the key.
Every bleach bottle label should indicate the amount of sodium hypochlorite and available chlorine in the container. Higher percentages are generally better as you will need to use less bleach to clean your pool.
A formulation without any fragrances or chemicals is also important. It is not good to dye your pool water or make it smell like a summer breeze.
Online retailers often include label information on chemical products such as bleach. This allows you to check the chlorine concentration and the presence of other chemicals or additives before purchasing.
You can keep some bleach in your home for future treatment, but make sure it is dry and cool. Your bleach jugs should not be left outside.
How to disinfect and sanitize your pool with bleach
Bleach, just like all other pool treatments, should be used in specific concentrations. You will need to be able to detect chlorine in your pool water. You won’t be able to effectively disinfect your pool water or surfaces if you use too much. Too much and the pool water may become unsuitable for swimming.
The ideal level of added chlorine should be between one and three parts/million. This refers to between 3 and 5 ppm. It would be best if you aimed for 2ppm.
Clorox recommends using between 100 to 200 ounces of regular-strength bleach for every 10,000 gallons of pool water. One gallon of bleach is 128 ounces. Many bleach bottles are also available in half-gallon and one-gallon sizes.