Using Household Products to Clean Your Pool

Written by Michael Dean
January 6, 2024

household cleaning products next to a swimming pool

A pool is a major investment, and to get the most out of it over the years, you need proper maintenance and cleaning. Top-grade pool cleaning products can drive up a hefty tab in a hurry, but fortunately for pool owners, there are plenty of budget-friendly and convenient items capable of doing the trick. As a plus, many household products found at the local grocery store also use natural and safe ingredients.

Here are just some of the household products you can use to clean your pool. Keep in mind, though – these should not replace important pool chemicals for keeping your water clean.

Main Takeaways

  • Some household products you can use to clean your pool include: baking soda, bleach, cola, dish soap, muriatic acid, olive oil, panty hose, plastic broom, rubbing alcohol, vitamin C tablets, and more.
  • Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions of the product you use.
  • Using a product on your pool can affect the chemistry and water quality, so make sure to test before and after using it.

16 Household Products Capable of Cleaning Your Pool

Here is an assortment of various household items that can serve as handy aids for cleaning your swimming pool. Many of them fall under typical cleaning supplies used elsewhere in your home, but others are non-traditional cleaning items that can also serve their purpose in your swimming pool’s maintenance.

Baking Soda

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can serve as a handy cleaning tool inside the home, and the same applies to tile and grout in and around your pool. Thoroughly mixing baking soda with water creates a non-abrasive paste capable of cleaning areas in the pool or even on the stone and tile surrounding it.

Baking soda is also an easy way to increase your pool water’s total alkalinity if it is low. Adding one and a half pounds of baking soda to every ten thousand gallons of water will increase the pool’s alkalinity by ten ppm. Pool water is recommended to have alkalinity between 80 and 120 ppm.

However, baking soda will not help clear algae infestations.

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

Good old fashioned Arm & Hammer pure baking soda is a great option.

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If baking soda doesn’t do the trick against tougher stains, a simple upgrade to household bleach (sodium hypochlorite) can solve the problem. Mixing a cup of bleach with a gallon of water will create a handy cleaning aid. Just be sure to rinse any areas with freshwater once they’re cleaned to wash away any excess bleach.

When done precisely, adding bleach to your pool water is also an effective way to help kill bacteria and algae. One gallon of bleach will raise the chlorine level by 5.25 ppm, though your pool water should not rise above three ppm. Bleach is also sometimes used to clear cloudy pool water.

Clorox Concentrated Regular Bleach

Sometimes you can use good ole fashioned bleach in your swimming pool.

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Like baking soda, borax is another common household cleaner capable of lending a hand in the pool. Mixing water to create a paste will allow you to tackle any stains, sticky residue, or slippery spots with ease. Similar to baking soda, you can also use it to aid your pool water. Simply add half of a cup for every 10,000 gallons of water to raise the pH level if needed.

20 Mule Team Borax Powder
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You might associate soda as a refreshing drink to enjoy poolside on a hot day. But cola can also come in handy as a nifty cleaning tool. The phosphoric acid in cola can help clean grime and gunk off metal railings inside and around the pool, all while giving them a brand-new shine.

Mix the soft drink with water before scrubbing down any areas in need of a shine, then rinse away with fresh water to finish the job.

Dish Soap

Oddly enough, dishwashing soap may not be the most effective tool for cleaning stains in your pool (especially metal stains), but it certainly has a use for the crafty pool owner. Use dish soap to help detect any cracks or leaks in pump lids and plumbing systems since those openings serve as an easy way for your pool water to become contaminated.

To see any cracks or leaks, simply mix the soap with water and spray it on the plumbing of your pool system. If bubbles form, it’s a sign of a leakage that you need to fix.

Lemon Juice

Citrus clearers are commonplace among household products, and for a good reason. So lemon juice is a cheap, practical way to help keep your pool in tip-top shape. The acid in lemon (or lime) juice can help remove calcium buildup, grime, and even rust.

Mix lemon juice with salt to create a slurry, then scrub away any dirty areas. For more stubborn stains, simply apply pure lemon juice directly without the addition of salt.

Melamine Sponge

You might know it as a Magic Eraser, but either way, that convenient scrubbing tool for removing marks or scuffs from the walls inside your home can also play a significant role in keeping your pool clean.

These sponges can scratch some surfaces, so be sure to test it out on your pool before going to town, but the simple addition of water makes a melamine sponge an easy solution. You can also use it for your outdoor furniture.

You may have also heard about the Magic Eraser “hack” to clean up algae in your pool. I do not recommend this technique. I explain more in my complete research on the topic (linked above).

Melamine Sponges Cleaning Eraser, 50 Pack
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Muriatic Acid

Depending on the type of material used to make your swimming pool, it may require an acid wash every five years. If it’s made of concrete or gunite, using muriatic acid will do the trick. The liquid helps stop the buildup of minerals and bacterial bloom in the water. It can be found at any pool supply store, but it’s also readily available at hardware stores.

Unlike some of the other natural clearers here, this is an acid, so proper safety precautions, such as gloves, should be used. Read my article on adding muriatic acid to your pool for usage tips. Here’s the brand I recommend if you’re shopping online. I highly recommend going to your local pool supply store, though.

Acid Blue Muriatic Acid

You can use this pool-grade muriatic acid to lower alkalinity and pH in your swimming pool.

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Olive Oil

Olive oil might not strike you as a typical cleaning product, but it has certain advantages, particularly in an outdoor setting like a swimming pool. Olive oil is particularly good at removing sticky residues, such as tree sap, which can be a nuance for any pool owner.

Add olive oil to a mixture of soap and water, and it can easily wipe away sticky stains. It has the benefit of being all-natural so that it won’t cause any damage to your pool.

Panty Hose

Pools have a natural filtration system, but adding pantyhose to the mix can help protect that cleaning system and retrieve more delicate fibers. Placing pantyhose in the filter basket will allow them to catch human and pet hair, plus grass and other loose debris, to keep it out of the filter.

The fine holes in the pantyhose will allow water to flow freely through the filter system without bringing any unwanted fibers along for the ride.

Plastic Broom

Plastic brooms serve a significant need inside the home and they can also have a role in routine pool cleaning and maintenance.

Taking a broom and sweeping free debris from the bottom and sides of your pool can make vacuuming much more manageable. Be sure to use a plastic broom with tough bristles that stay rigid to move dirt and buildup while underwater.

Rubbing Alcohol

If you need a quick substitute for lemon juice or vinegar, rubbing alcohol can step in to get the job done. Rubbing alcohol can tackle the stains on any shiny surfaces around your pool, and it can also take care of sticky residue on the side of the walls.

Keep in mind rubbing alcohol should be diluted before use as a cleaning product, though. Simply add water to create a mixture that is approximately 50-70% rubbing alcohol.

ForPro 99% Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA)
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Simple Green

Known as one of the top all-natural and non-toxic cleaners inside the home, Simple Green also has similar applications for cleaning your swimming pool. It is capable of taking care of grime and even rust. Be sure to dilute Simple Green, depending on the level of cleaning you need.

Your mixture should be one part of Simple Green and one part of water for the most challenging jobs. However, for tasks that require easier cleanup, you can use more than one part of water.

Simple Green All Purpose Cleaner Spray and Refill
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Tennis Balls

If you’ve ever thrown a tennis ball into your pool for a dog to retrieve, you’ve already been doing your part to help keep the water clean. Tennis balls can be a quick, effective way to absorb oil residue from the water.

Simply toss a handful of tennis balls into the water, then let them bob around and go to work. They can be an easy way to remove excess sunscreen, makeup, and skin oils from the water.

Vitamin C Tablets

Another product that might not fall into your usual cleaning supplies category, vitamin C tablets can have other uses outside cold prevention for your family during the winter. The citrus properties in these tablets also make them a highly effective stain cleaner.

To use them as a cleaner, simply crush several into a powder and rub the powder on stains to remove the dirt and grime. Be sure to use sugar-coated tablets since gel capsules won’t do the trick.

White Vinegar

The acidity of white vinegar makes it an ideal quick solution for cleaning some of the stubborn stains found in a swimming pool. In particular, white vinegar is excellent for tackling calcium buildups found in and around your pool. These spots aren’t harmful, but they aren’t fun to look at.

Just combine white vinegar with an equal part of water, and it can wipe away those white spots. White vinegar can also add shine to your metal surfaces in the pool.

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

Download my free, printable pool maintenance checklist to help you accomplish regular pool care tasks for any type of swimming pool.

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Final Thoughts on Natural Pool Cleaners

There are way more all-natural and household cleaning products capable of serving as clever hacks for cleaning your swimming pool, but the ones listed above should serve as convenient aids to almost any task.

As with any cleaning product, be sure to follow instructions and check for safety instructions before handling. You don’t want to risk damaging the lining or plumbing of your pool during routine cleaning.

Any product could impact the water quality in your pool, so be sure to test that before and after. Consistently testing the water is a must for any pool owner, and that’s particularly true when using products to clean it. To ensure your family’s safety, ensure the water is safe after using any outside substances.

To keep your swimming pool looking new for years and tackle even the toughest cleaning jobs, you don’t need to break the bank at a pool supply store. Many ingredients and solutions might already be under your nose. They can help ensure your summertime relief remains clean without the major hassle of constant trips to the pool supply store.

Any questions? Feel free to drop me a line.

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