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Reasons You Should Not Use Bleach In Your Swimming Pool

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

Disinfecting your pool is highly important. Maintaining your pool’s water will keep it free of harmful bacteria and help you enjoy a peaceful, healthy swim.

But, many pool owners have the same question – can I use bleach instead of chlorine in my pool?

Reasons You Should Not Use Bleach In Your Swimming Pool

The answer is not a straightforward yes or no. While bleach is deemed safe to use in pools, there are some drawbacks to consider.

Recently, there was a shortage of chlorine, which led many to using bleach in its place.

While it may seem like a good alternative, there are numerous reasons why you should not add bleach in your pool’s water. 

Today, we will be talking you through the disadvantages of using bleach in pools and what the consequences could be if you did so.

Thankfully, there are safer and more efficient ways to disinfect your pool, which we will cover below.

Can You Use Bleach Instead Of Chlorine In A Pool?

Perhaps surprisingly, it is feasible to use bleach instead of chlorine in your swimming pool (see also ‘How To Chlorinate Your Swimming Pool Using Bleach’). But, this entirely depends on the formula you add. 

When you look at the label of a bottle of bleach, it will state a ratio between the sodium hypochlorite and chlorine available to everything else found in the bottle. 

Overall, the more sodium hypochlorite present, the better. This is because you won’t have to use as much bleach in your pool to treat it sufficiently. 

Most retailers, both online and in stores, include information on the labels of chemical products, especially bleach.

Therefore, you can easily inspect how much chlorine is in the bottle alongside other chemicals or additives present.

It is also important to find a bleach that has no fragrances and, ideally, no other chemicals.

The last thing you want is to change your pool’s color with additives.

And, while it may sound romantic, changing your pool’s scent to something flowery through the means of bleach is certainly not recommended. 

Bleach should always be stored in a cool, dry indoor space. If you leave it outdoors, it will not last as long and will end up causing more havoc.

Although it is possible to use bleach in your pool, as we said, it is not recommended. Why? Because there are various drawbacks to using it.

Reasons Not To Use Bleach In Your Pool

Bleach may be used by some pool owners instead of chlorine, but we suggest not joining this gang with all types of bleach. Here’s why:

  • Bleach tends to have a very high pH level of pH=12. This can cause your pool’s pH to rise and necessitates a rebalancing using a pH- (acidity booster).
  • The active chlorine concentration of bleach is extremely low. In fact, it’s only about 2.5% to 5% active chlorine altogether.  To achieve the same disinfection effects that you get with appropriate chlorinated goods such as chlorine tabs, massive amounts of bleach will be required.
  • Bleach is deemed to be highly volatile and tends to degrade rapidly when exposed to the sun’s UV rays.  As a result, more treatments are required. Of course, this will lead to increased costs, and it can be damaging to the environment. It can also pose a threat to your health and whoever uses the pool. 
  • Bleach deteriorates rapidly when stored, especially if it is stored incorrectly. This happens because the amount of active chlorine lowers, and, as a result, the capacity to disinfect also becomes lower. This makes using doses of bleach potentially dangerous and unpredictable.
  • Bleach causes limescale (see also ‘What Is Limescale?’) to develop in the pool. If this occurs, it can lead to scaling issues with the pool and its technology. If you see a gray coating start to form on the pool’s base and the water turns hazy, this is probably down to the use of bleach.
  • If you do not dose the bleach appropriately, it might become hazardous to swimmers! Moreover, if your pool water contains too much bleach, it can become a serious hazard. You could end up harming people’s skin, eyes, and even their respiratory tract.

Yes, many pool owners use bleach to disinfect their pools, but you should do so with extreme caution.

Choose good old-fashioned, efficient, safe methods instead, such as chlorine.

The Differences Between Bleach And Chlorine

Reasons You Should Not Use Bleach In Your Swimming Pool (1)

Although household bleach, as well as clorox beach, and chlorine can all sanitize your pool, there are some key differences.

The main disparity is that household bleaches do not contain as much chlorine per gallon.

Therefore, you would need to use a lot more bleach to sanitize your pool compared to using liquid chlorine (see also ‘Are Liquid Chlorine And Bleach The Same?’).

Carry on doing this, and you will end up spending a lot more money than you would have ever hoped for.

On the other hand, clorox bleach has a longer shelf life than pool chlorine.

In general, clorox bleach should last for up to 6 months, while liquid chlorine (see also ‘ Liquid Chlorine Vs. Chlorine Granules ‘) typically only lasts for 6 weeks or so. 

All in all, household bleach contains about 5% to 6% of chlorine whereas liquid chlorine contains 10% to 12%.

Both do not contain a stabilizer.

The pH value of household b;each is usually around 12.5% while chlorine is around 13%.

And, the ounces to raise 1 ppm (parts per million) for household bleach is 21 ounces, but liquid chlorine needs 12.8 ounces. 

Bleach is somewhat cheaper to use than chlorine but, in the long run, you will need a lot more and will probably end up spending more dollars on sanitizing your pool. 

Bleach That Contains Fragrances Or Coloring

If you end up using a bleach with artificial coloring and fragrances, you will potentially end up causing terrible harm to your pool.

This could stain your pool’s surface, and the fragrances could damage the pool water so much that it may need to be drained and replaced.

Additive agents can be found in scented bleach. This is to help create and connect the fragrance.

By putting these additives in the pool, you could throw other chemicals in it off-balance.

And, trying to get those levels back to somewhere healthy will be time-consuming, difficult, and costly. 

If you do decide to use bleach in your pool, always use an unscented one that is free of further additives.

Bleach That Contains Unwanted Chemical

Some bleach products can cause foaming in pool water (see also ‘Pool Foam: Causes & How To Get Rid Of It’).

This is when the bleach’s additives bond with the pool’s chemicals and a reaction takes place.

Just one gallon of scented bleach mixed with another type of bleach with additives shouldn’t cause too much harm.

But, if you continue to do this regularly, the pool will suffer.

The pH of clorox bleach is pretty high, so adding it to your pool could see its pH levels rise significantly.

If this is added, a pH decreaser should be added. This should keep the pH levels balanced. You could also apply some muriatic acid if preferred.  

Calcium hypochlorite can also raise the levels of calcium in your pool. This is a kind of chlorine that is unstabilized.

If this is added, the pool will require additional cyanuric acid (see also ‘How To Balance Cyanuric Acid In Your Swimming Pool‘) to help the calcium levels remain proper. 

In Summary

As we have stated in this article, using bleach is typically safe to use in your pool to sanitize it.

However, there are some side effects to using too much bleach or the wrong type of bleach.

For instance, you should not use scented or low splash bleach. These can harm your pool’s chemical balance and even the surface of the pool.

If you decide to use bleach, take the side effects into consideration and make sure you only use the recommended types of bleach.

The main thing to remember is to keep your pool clean, so you can enjoy a healthy swim every day. 

author avatar
Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age


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