How Long Do Pool Test Strips Last?

Written by Michael Dean
June 12, 2023

pool test strips and calendar

There are many different ways to test the chemical levels in your pool. One of the most popular methods is to use pool test strips. Pool test strips are popular because they are easy to use and incredibly budget-friendly. At a small price, they can accurately test the chemical levels in your pool to make sure you and your family are swimming in safe water. Whether you have a salt pool, chlorine pool, bromine pool, or even a spa pool, you’ll be able to find pool test strips suited for your specific needs. 

In this article, I will explore some of the most frequently asked questions regarding pool strips. I will cover how to use them, how long they last, whether they are reusable, and how to make them last as long as possible.

Main Takeaways

  • Test strips have a lifespan of around 24 – 36 months.
  • Dry storage conditions and limited exposure to external variables is the best way to make your pool test strips last long.
  • Pool test strips can cost as low as $7 for a pack, although this depends on the brand.

How Do You Use Pool Strips?

Using a pool test strip to check the chemical balance of your water could not be any easier. You simply take a test strip into your hand, dip it elbow-deep into the water being tested, and remove it immediately after. Do not shake, wipe or dry the test strip after dipping – unless instructed so by the manufacturer.

Hold the strip level and compare the colors on it to the color chart on the bottle, starting from top to bottom. Within seconds of dipping the pool strip in the water, you should be able to pick out the corresponding colors to get an idea of the pool’s chemical levels, to learn how to read pool test strips, check out my article. Also, if you want to learn how to test your water with other kits, check out my article on the best pool testing kits.

How Long Do Pool Test Strips Last?

Pool test strips have a lifespan of roughly a year or two (even longer, depending on the make or the manufacturing company). The pool test strips should come in packaging with a manufacturer’s label that includes the expiry date. This is the best way to keep track of when your test strips expire. It is important to keep track of the date as using a pool test strip that is past its shelf-life may lead to inaccurate test results.

For this reason, try to stay away from buying too many boxes of pool test strips. Calculate how often you use the pool test strips to check the chemical balance of your pool water. For example, if you test your water once a week for up to 12 months, that is roughly 52 pool test strips that you should keep handy. But if your pool test strips last longer than a year, feel free to purchase more.

If you test more frequently than once a week and live in a stormy region or host frequent pool parties, maybe go for a bigger box by a manufacturer that sells strips that last two or more years.

Please note that it’s a good idea to thoroughly vet and double-check the manufacturer and brand of the test strips you purchase since pool owners have reported encountering wildly different test results by faulty manufacturers. Always read the reviews of the brand you’re looking at buying and go first for a sample size to test the reliability and accuracy of the strips being purchased and avoid fakes.

How To Prolong The Life Of Your Test Strips

As is the case with any sort of equipment (especially when it comes to your swimming pool), it is in your best interests to make sure your test strips last as long as possible. A large part of this means keeping them in clean and dry storage conditions to ensure they do their bit in maintaining water quality.

Here are some of my top tips for making sure your test strips go a long way:

  • To preserve maximum freshness and avoid any external contamination, it’s best to keep the strips in a sealed and airtight container. 
  • Do not expose them to direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, bottles of chemicals (bromine or chlorine), and most crucially, any kind of dampness.
  • Always read the directions for usage and care on the packaging and make a careful note of the expiry date.
  • Do NOT touch any of the pads on the strip and limit their exposure to the outside air as much as possible.
  • Test strips ought not to be stored in a refrigerator or freezer – the ideal temperature for them would be 77F° although a range of 67F° to 86F° is also acceptable.

Following these pointers will make a difference in making sure your strips last a long time and do not spoil before their expiry date.

How To Tell If Your Test Strips Are Expired?

Pool test strips usually have a shelf life of around 1 to 2 years, depending on the brand. As the expiry can vary, make sure to keep an eye on that expiry date when purchasing strips. As labels can often fade, it might also be worth writing down the expiry date somewhere safe so you know when it’s time to get new test strips.

Besides the expiry date on the manufacturer’s label, there is no visual way of determining whether or not a pool strip has expired. What you can do in such a case is run a simple test.

In order to accurately gauge the chemical levels in the pool water, dip in the test strip elbow deep and immediately remove it. If there is no color formation within 15 minutes, it is likely that the test strip you are using is probably expired or unusable,

Additionally, the strip can also be tested for accuracy by using water with a known level of chlorine, pH, or alkalinity. This will tell you if the strip is perhaps expired and inaccurate.

How Much Do Test Strips Cost?

Luckily, pool test strips are a fairly inexpensive element in the wider process of looking after your pool. You can expect to spend around $15 – $30 for a pack of 100 test strips, and they can last you roughly 12 – 15 months or more.

If you want a smaller pack for a cheaper price, it’s easy to buy a pack of 50 test strips for around $7 – $10. This makes more sense for the average pool owner who tests their pool about once a week.

Either way, you’re not looking at spending too much money on acquiring your pool test strips on an annual basis, so don’t sweat it!

Can You Reuse Pool Strips?

No. Test strips are not reusable. Once you dip them in the water, that’s it!

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Bottom Line

Pool strips may seem like a small accessory but they are a necessary aspect of pool upkeep. Without them, your pool’s chemicals could be all out of whack, which could lead to pool equipment corrosion, eye irritation, and algae-invested water. If you want to find a substitute for testing strips, check out my article on how to test your pool without a testing kit! Learning how to read and use these test strips correctly is pretty vital for a healthy swimming pool, need more help on testing strips? Visit my article with instruction pdfs for pool test kits! For more on the chemicals you have in your pool, check out my article on pool chemistry 101!

Further questions? Let me know as I’m happy to answer them!

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