Can You Put Bleach In A Pool?

Written by Michael Dean
May 11, 2023

bleach being poured into a pool with a checkmark beside it

A properly sanitized pool helps eliminate harmful contaminants that can cause waterborne infections and prevents algae growth, keeping the water clear and inviting for swimmers. You can put various chemicals in your pool to maintain a properly balanced pool, but have you ever wondered if you can use common household ingredients like bleach in a pool? After all, you use this chemical in your house to kill bacteria, so why shouldn’t it also work in your pool water?

In this article, I’ll explore the ins and outs of using bleach in a pool and discuss its effectiveness, potential risks, and best practices.

Main Takeaways

  • You can use bleach in a pool as a pool sanitizer since it contains sodium hypochlorite (a type of chlorine) as its active ingredient.
  • Bleach and pool-grade chlorine differ primarily in terms of composition, concentration, and price.
  • Baking soda, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide are other useful household products you can use to maintain your pool.

Can You Put Bleach In A Pool?

I wouldn’t generally recommend it, but technically, yes, you can use bleach in a pool. Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite as its active ingredient, a type of chlorine commonly used as a disinfectant. As with other chemicals, apply the right dosage and follow safety precautions when using it. It’s also best to use regular, unscented bleach without any additives, dyes, or fragrances that might harm your water chemistry or equipment in your pool. 

When used correctly, bleach works similarly to pool-grade chlorine and can even clear a cloudy pool or clean up green pool water. But make sure to check the bleach label to ensure it contains only sodium hypochlorite and water as the main ingredients before you use it.

How To Use Bleach In A Pool

If you want to use bleach in your pool, here are the steps you should take.

Step One: Calculate How Much Bleach To Use

The amount of bleach needed for your pool will depend on factors such as the size of your pool and the current chlorine levels. Use a pool water testing kit to measure the current levels of chlorine in your pool, and use my chlorine calculator to help. Clorox, one of the most popular bleach products, recommends superchlorinating the pool with 100-200 ounces of bleach per 10,000 gallons of water.

Step Two: Pour and Circulate

Add the bleach to the water by pouring it in slowly while the pool pump is running. Pour it while walking the perimeter of the pool to ensure that the bleach circulates throughout the entire pool. Avoid adding too much bleach at once, as this can cause damage to the pool equipment. Run the pool pump and filter system for at least 15 to 30 minutes after adding the bleach so it mixes well.

Step Three: Retest and Adjust as Needed

Retest the pool water to check the chlorine levels. You may need to add more bleach to achieve the desired chlorine levels since it’s much weaker than pool-grade chlorine, so it’s best to double-check!

Difference Between Bleach And Chlorine

On the surface level, bleach and pool chlorine are pretty similar. Both chemicals contain chlorine as their active ingredient and can be used for cleaning and disinfection. But there are also a few differences, primarily in composition and concentration.

When it comes to chemical makeup, bleach typically contains sodium hypochlorite as its active ingredient, along with water and other additives. Chlorine, on the other hand, can refer to several different types of chlorine, such as calcium hypochlorite, lithium hypochlorite, and even sodium hypochlorite. Chlorine comes in three different forms: liquid, granular, and tablet.

The concentration of chlorine is also a critical difference between the two chemicals. Bleach typically contains a lower chlorine concentration than traditional pool chlorine products. The chlorine concentration in household bleach is usually around 5-6%, while chlorine products for pool sanitation can range from 35-90%, depending on the type and brand. Even pool-grade liquid chlorine will generally have a concentration of around 10%. This difference in concentration can affect each product’s effectiveness and dosage requirements.

Cost Of Bleach Compared To Chlorine

Of course, one of the main differences between bleach and chlorine is the price. Generally speaking, bleach is cheaper than traditional pool chlorine products.

Bleach is a common household item readily available in most grocery stores or supermarkets. At your local Walmart, for instance, prices can range from $5-$8 per gallon.

On the other hand, pool chlorine products, such as chlorine tablets or liquid pool chlorine, are specifically made for pool use, and the cost can vary widely depending on the brand, concentration, and quantity purchased. But generally, chlorine will cost around $75 for 25 pounds of tablets or $150 for 50 pounds.

The reason for the price difference is that bleach typically contains a lower chlorine concentration than traditional chlorine products. So while the price is lower, keep in mind that you will have to use a larger quantity of bleach to achieve the same chlorine levels in your pool.

Is Bleach Dangerous To Use In A Pool?

Bleach is not inherently dangerous to use in a pool. But as with any chemical, mishandling can be potentially hazardous for swimmers. If misused, bleach can cause skin, eye, or respiratory distress, and may even damage the pool infrastructure. When using bleach in your pool, follow all safety precautions and the manufacturer’s instructions. You should also wait 15-30 minutes after adding bleach to your pool before swimming.

Safety Tips For Using Bleach In A Pool

It is important to handle bleach with care. To help you, here are my top safety tips for using bleach in a pool:

  • Wear appropriate protective gear such as chemical-resistant gloves, goggles, and a mask to protect your skin, eyes, and lungs from potential exposure to bleach fumes or splashes when handling bleach.
  • Avoid mixing bleach with other chemicals. Mixing can be extremely hazardous, especially with chemicals such as ammonia or acids, as it can produce highly toxic fumes, such as chlorine gas.
  • Test your water regularly for chemical feedback. Bleach can affect your pool’s water chemistry, so it’s important to regularly test and balance the pool water to maintain safe and balanced levels of pH, chlorine, and other chemicals.
  • Most importantly, keep bleach out of reach of children and pets. Safe storage of any chemical is a part of being a good pool owner. Bleach is a strong chemical and should be stored in a safe place out of reach of children and pets. Keep the bleach container tightly sealed and store it in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area.

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Other Household Chemicals You Can Use To Clean Your Pool

While specific pool cleaning chemicals are available in the market, you may also use other household chemicals, just like bleach, in your pool.

But even when using household chemicals in your pool, always follow proper safety precautions and use them in the recommended amounts. Be mindful of the potential impact on your pool’s water chemistry, and always test the water regularly to ensure it remains properly balanced. It’s best to get in touch with an expert if you’re confused about anything related to chemical usage and pools. Safety first!

Baking Soda

Baking soda can be used to boost your total alkalinity. To use it, simply dissolve the appropriate amount of baking soda in a bucket of water and then add it to your pool according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


Vinegar is a mild acid that can help remove stains from the pool surface and equipment. It’s particularly useful for removing hard water stains and calcium deposits. You can dilute the vinegar with water and scrub the affected areas or soak pool accessories in the vinegar and water mix to remove deposits.


Lemon juice contains citric acid, a mild acid that can be used to clean your pool. It effectively removes stains, scale deposits, calcium buildup, and grime. To use lemon juice in your pool, simply mix it with salt and then scrub away the affected areas of the pool. For particularly stubborn stains, apply pure lemon juice directly.

Have questions about using bleach in your swimming pool? Send me a message; happy to help.

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