Owning a swimming pool isn’t rocket science, but there are quite a few systems and tools you will need to keep your pool in pristine condition. In this article, I will go over the essential pool supplies that every pool owner should have.
- Water testing equipment is essential to keep track of the chemical levels (pH, chlorine, alkalinity, and muriatic acid) in your pool water.
- You will also need swimming pool chemicals and pool opening and closing kits.
- You’ll need a telescopic pole, a skimmer net, a pool brush, and some sort of vacuum to maintain your pool.
- Pool alarms, thermometers, and covers are not essential, but they are very helpful tools that many pool owners choose to use.
Pool Chemicals and Water Testing Supplies
Managing your swimming pool chemicals is integral to keeping it safe. These are the five supplies you should always have on hand. For more on this topic, head to my swimming pool chemistry guide.
- Water testing kit or test strips
- Pool shock
- Chlorine tablets
- Muriatic acid
- Cyanuric acid
- Calcium chloride
- Baking soda or soda ash
- Winterizing kit
Pool Water Testing Kit or Test Strips
The most essential of all products is the water testing kit. High-quality kits provide near-instant information on the volume of chemicals in your pool, allowing you to adjust them as needed. Without knowing how things are in your pool, adding chemicals could be dangerous, so test two to three times a week.
The primary thing to remember here is that you should always test for the chemicals you have. If you’re using unusual chemicals or cleaners, your tests should reflect that and help you monitor them.
There are two basic ways to test your pool water yourself: liquid test kits and testing strips.
These are both good options, though liquid test kits tend to be more accurate. On the other hand, testing strips are more user-friendly, so you are less likely to make a mistake.
If you don’t have a testing kit or strips, you can also take some pool water to your local supply store. They can provide additional information on the test results and help you learn how to interpret and resolve any issues.
Check out my best pool water testing kit article for recommendations on which one to get. Here is one of the best options, though.
Swimming Pool Chemicals
Water-balancing chemicals are the most common chemicals that most people use. These usually include chemicals for adjusting alkalinity, calcium hardness, pH, the stabilizer, and other dissolved solids within the pool.
As long as chemicals are present in the correct ratios, your pool is generally in good condition.
Many people get increasers and decreasers for most of these areas. After all, it doesn’t help to have an alkalinity reducer if you need to raise the alkalinity in your pool. Plus, make sure to record how long each chemical is good for and replace them as needed.
Pool sanitizer is one or more of several chemicals that help kill bacteria, algae, and other organic threats that can grow inside a pool. Many people use pool chlorine, which can come in several different forms. The most common types used in pools are tablets, powder, liquid, and even gas.
Other sanitizers include bromine, ultraviolet radiation, ozone, ionizers, hydrogen peroxide, or even plant-based systems. It’s possible to change the sanitizer you use, but most people prefer to pick one chemical or product and stick with it for the entire lifetime of the pool. Make sure you have enough for the whole season.
Pool shock is essentially a more powerful version of pool sanitizer. Most people need to shock their pools about once a week, although you may need to do this more often in certain circumstances, for example, after a pool party or a storm.
Pool shock comes in chlorinated and non-chlorinated versions, and it’s best to get both so you can pick which one to use based on how much chlorine is in your pool. If done correctly, pool shock will free up the chlorine in the pool and help it continue functioning as a sanitizer.
Pool shocking is usually necessary even if you use another type of sanitizer, such as bromine. It raises the sanitizer level quickly, which is often necessary for cutting off algae blooms and other issues before they damage your pool.
Read my guide on the best pool shock for some of my favorite supplies you can pick up. Most shock is pretty straightforward; here is one of the top options.
pH and Alkalinity Balancing Chemicals
Besides your sanitizer, your next most important chemicals are pH and alkalinity. The ideal pH level is around 7.4. If your pH levels get too high, your chlorine may not be as effective, causing an algae infestation and green pool water. To lower the pH of a pool, you will want to use muriatic acid; muriatic acid is a corrosive substance, so handle it with care and always be sure to dilute it before pouring it into your pool.
When your pH drops to low levels, the water becomes acidic and can corrode your pool equipment and harm the skin and eyes of swimmers. To raise the pH of your pool, you’ll need some baking soda or soda ash. Baking soda increases the alkalinity by more but only slightly raises the pH, while soda ash raises the pH by more but only slightly increases the alkalinity.
Calcium Hardness Increaser
Another chemical you definitely want to have on hand is calcium hardness increaser or calcium chloride. Your pool water’s calcium hardness is an important chemical to keep track of. If the calcium is too high, calcium scales may begin forming on the equipment and surfaces of your pool. When the calcium levels are too low, your water’s alkalinity can become unstable, the water can become acidic, and your equipment and surfaces may begin to etch and corrode.
Calcium chloride is your best bet for raising your calcium chloride levels.
Calcium Hardness Decreaser
Unfortunately, if you need to lower the calcium levels, you will need to partially drain or refill the pool.
If your water supply is high in calcium, you can also use a flocculant to help clump together the calcium particles in the water.
Pool Opening and Closing Kits
Finally, pool opening and closing kits are once-a-season gear. Each of these functions differently, but it’s best to think of an opening kit as a bigger version of pool balancing chemicals. They exist to bring an entire pool up to the ideal chemical levels before you start using it.
On the other hand, closing kits help maintain a pool over the winter by eliminating contaminants, stopping stains from mineral deposits, and so on. This isn’t as important if you drain your pool, but many people prefer to keep water in the pool at all times, and closing kits make that possible.
You only need one of each per year, but it helps to have an extra on hand, just in case. I have some specific recommendations on my best pool closing kits guide. In The Swim makes a good one.
In The Swim makes a great winterization kit that includes all the chemicals you need to close your above ground or inground pool.
Pool Cleaning Equipment
It’s a simple fact of life that pools get dirty. Fortunately, these basic supplies can make it easier to keep your pool safe and clean. Head over to my guide on how to clean your pool for more on the subject.
- Telescopic pole
- Skimmer net
- Pool brush
- Manual pool vacuum
- Automatic cleaner
- Pumice stone
- Vacuum hose
- Floating chlorine dispenser
A simple telescopic pole is easily one of the most helpful pieces of equipment you can have. The best poles have a screw-in end that you can attach to different cleaning tools, but the real value is quickly and easily reaching anywhere in your pool without getting into it.
The best length for a telescopic pole varies with pool size. Generally, poles should be long enough to reach the bottom of the pool from the closest edge, preferably with another foot or two to spare. This is long enough to reach out and interact with anything that might be in the pool. Anything shorter isn’t long enough for true practicality.
Make sure to get the sturdiest pole you can. We’re not going to recommend any specific brand, but sturdy poles are always a better choice because they hold up better at full extension. Cheaper poles may bend or crack if you put force on them while they’re fully out. Here is a decent option.
Telescopic poles are pretty basic - here's a good option from JED Pool Tools that should be a good length for most pools.
Pool Skimmer Net
Pool skimmer nets attach to telescopic poles and similar devices. These nets provide a simple and easy way to gather debris from the surface of the water without having to swim up and grab it.
The best nets have enough holes to let water drain through easily while still being sturdy enough to hold up to sticks and other sharp objects that might fall into the pool. You’ll find a couple of varieties: a surface skimmer net and a leaf net. Personally, I like the leaf net because it is deeper and does not have to be emptied as frequently.
It’s good to have a skimmer net on hand, even if you have a similar debris catcher near areas where water flows. Automatic systems can handle most of the work for you, but it’s always better to have a manual option available even if you don’t need to use it.
Fortunately, using a pool skimmer net rarely takes more than a few minutes if you use it daily. Debris tends to congregate in certain areas of pools, so a few quick swipes through the area should keep your pool safe and clean.
Once again, skimmer nets are pretty basic. Here's an affordable option from FibroPool.
Pool brushes help clean the sides and bottom of the pool. Most people brush the pool while it’s still filled with water, so all the dirt tends to end up floating around. This is where other chemicals and cleaning systems come in. In other words, it’s okay to have dirt in the water while you are brushing the surface of the pool. The cleaning chemicals, vacuum, and filter will take care of the rest!
Make sure to get a brush that you can handle. Larger and heavier brushes are generally better, but they can be challenging to use when your pole is 20 feet long. Check out my best pool brushes guide for specific recommendations; the one below is pretty affordable.
Manual Pool Vacuum
Pool vacuums are a more powerful version of brushing. They suck up the dirt and debris, dislodging more than regular brushing and leaving you with a much cleaner pool when you’re done. Best of all, you can usually connect these to existing pump systems, so you don’t have to worry about bringing electrical wires into the pool.
Manually vacuuming a pool is a moderately slow process, and it’s important to avoid rushing. Otherwise, you could create a cloud of dirt in the water. That means waiting for the dirt to settle again, resulting in a haste-makes-waste scenario. Always make sure to vacuum after brushing.
Automatic Pool Cleaner
Despite the name, automatic pool cleaners aren’t always electrical. While some are, these devices come in several forms and can often use flowing water to push them around the pool.
The crucial thing to note here is that most automatic pool cleaners can’t completely clean a pool. Like robot vacuum cleaners, they have flaws and limitations that stop them from being perfect devices. However, they can reduce the frequency you need to thoroughly clean everything, which is why you should always use one.
I have some recommendations on the best automatic pool cleaners if you need one. Dolphin is a popular brand and one of the best robotic pool cleaners you can get.
While not absolutely essential, chlorine dispensers or chlorine floaters make your life easier. Chlorine dispensers float around the surface of the water dispensing small amounts of chlorine as they go. This ensures your pool gets a continuous supply of chlorine and an even distribution. These are particularly good with a slow-releasing chlorine such as trichlor.
Finally, pool accessories can help make things more comfortable when using your swimming pool.
- Pool thermometer
- Pool alarm
- Pool cover
- Pool cover pump
- Air pillow
- Pool pump timer
- Safety life ring
- Safety hook
- Floats, toys, and others!
Pool thermometers are ideal for keeping pools at safe temperatures. In this context, safe means “a level that allows all pool chemicals to work as intended.” If things are too hot or cold, you might have to spend more money and use more chemicals to balance them out.
The US Masters Swimming Organization and the World Health Organization recommend keeping most pools between 78 and 86 degrees, which I agree is the perfect pool temperature. Recreational pools tend to be on the higher end of this spectrum, although staying hydrated even when using such pools is essential.
Some therapeutic pools may go up to about 90 degrees but should never exceed 95 degrees. Remember that bacteria and other pests tend to thrive in warmer water. The best cooling systems are natural, relying on shade or wind instead of powered systems.
Modern pool thermometers are smart devices that can send alerts to your smartphone to let you know if your pool’s temperature exceeds safe thresholds. Here are some of my favorite recommendations for the best pool thermometer. One of the top options is below.
Thermometers come in analog and digital varieties. Here's a digital option that I recommend often for new pool owners.
As builders are happy to explain, pool alarms are a helpful safety feature. These work in several ways, but the main purpose is to let you know if anyone is entering the pool area when they shouldn’t be.
While pool alarms could signal the presence of burglars or other unwanted guests, they can also help detect animals and small children that might drown if left unsupervised in the pool area.
The best pool alarms go off before someone enters the water. With the proper setup, you can have a control pad inside your house that you can use to enable, disable, or reset your alarm system as needed. If you’re worried about the alarm being spotted, you can even install underwater motion detectors that react to changes in water pressure.
For a milder alarm system, you can buy wristbands or collars for children and animals. These are handy when you want to know if they’re entering the pool without an alarm going off when other household members or visitors are using it.
Every household is different, so talk to pool security professionals about your household and expected needs to determine which type of pool alarm will work best.
Pool covers are a great way to protect your pool when you’re not using them. They’re especially helpful for the off-season, but you can even use them when your pool is open to stop animals and debris from getting in.
One thing to remember about pool covers is that they also stop UV light from reaching the pool. This can reduce chlorine consumption, but it can also interfere with sanitizers that rely on UV light to function.
That doesn’t mean you should avoid using a pool cover, but you may need to adjust how often you add sanitizer.
If you need a pool cover, read my article on the best pool covers for some recommendations.
Pool Cover Pump
A pool cover pump is a simple device that helps remove water from the top of your pool cover.
You don’t need this if you have an angled pool cover that already gets rid of water, but if your cover is likely to dent under the weight of rainwater, a simple pump can help it stay dry. Make sure you get a pump that works well even when submerged. Here are my picks for the best pool cover pump.
Pool pillows are companions for cover pumps. These are mainly useful in winter, but you can use them anytime you have the cover on.
Most pool pillows are inflatable vinyl balloons that prop up the middle of the cover to stop it from sinking. You might also find foam and other non-inflatable pillows.
The best pool pillows can also help with ice buildup. Without a pillow, ice can gather on the liner and ultimately damage it. Pillows absorb all that force as water freezes, protecting your pool liner and ensuring the harsh winter doesn’t harm your pool any more than necessary.
You may need several pool pillows rather than just one. Using several pillows is better because it is fail-safe if one gets damaged or destroyed during winter.
Pool Pump Timer
Another useful pool accessory is a pool pump timer. Pool pump timers allow you to simply leave your pump and filter system to their own devices. The timer turns your pump on and off at set times throughout the day. This ensures that your pool water circulates sufficiently, though you don’t have to remember to physically turn the pump on and off. You can even purchase a smart pool pump time that can be accessed via your phone!
Safety Life Ring and Safety Hook
Many pool owners overlook the importance of installing safety measures in their pool. As mentioned above, a pool alarm is a great way to alert you if children or pets fall into the pool, but a safety ring and hook are also essential to have on hand! Safety rings are sturdy pool floats that should be placed near a pool. You can throw them into a pool to allow someone to grab onto them if they are struggling in the water. A safety hook can be used to physically hook onto someone’s body and pull them out of the water.
Floats, Toys, and Others!
Finally, on a lighter note, floaties, water games, and other fun pool toys are always great to have. A swimming pool is a great way to have fun in and of itself, but throw some fun water games and toys in the mix, and you’ll have a blast!
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best pool cleaning product?
The most important product for cleaning your pool is chlorine. While alternative sanitation products such as bromine and biguanide exist, chlorine remains the most popular and effective way to clean a pool.
What should I add to my pool daily?
You should test your pool water every day that the pool gets used and adjust the pH, calcium hardness, chlorine, and alkalinity when needed. In an ideal world, you won’t need to add chemicals to your pool every day, but it is important to test the water to ensure all of your chemical levels are balanced before jumping in.
What should I add to my pool weekly?
You should shock your pool once a week. This essentially oversaturates the water with chlorine, killing bacteria, algae, and viruses in the pool and readjusting the chlorine levels.
What are the essential pool supplies I need to maintain my pool?
There are many materials and supplies needed to maintain a pool. The most important are chlorine for sanitation, muriatic acid and baking soda for pH balance, cyanuric acid for chlorine stabilization, a pool brush and vacuum for cleaning the surfaces, a testing kit for testing your chemical levels, a pump and filter for circulating and filtering water, and a pool cover to protect your water and prevent evaporation.
And That’s a Wrap on Everything You Need
Phew, that was a lot! Hopefully, this guide has helped identify the best pool supplies you need to keep your pool running clean and safe for your family and friends to enjoy.
Want some more curated advice on keeping your pool clean and well-maintained? Feel free to reach out to me; I am here to help you along the way.