How Long After Adding Bleach To Your Pool Can You Swim?

Written by Michael Dean
May 11, 2023

bleach next to person diving into swimming pool

Running a pool is a full-time job, and sometimes if you are out of pool chlorine, it may seem easier to grab a bottle of bleach from Walmart to dump in your pool. After all, it is a fairly common way to maintain proper chlorine levels and keep the water sparkling. But you might be wondering, how long do you need to wait after adding bleach before taking a refreshing dip?

In this article, I will answer the above question, go over what happens if you jump in the pool too soon after adding bleach, and more.

Main Takeaways

  • Wait at least 15 to 30 minutes to allow the bleach to fully dissipate in the water so it’s safe to swim.
  • If you jump in the pool too soon, you risk eye, respiratory, and skin irritation.
  • Bleach is useful for pool owners simply because of the convenience it offers despite the lower concentration of chlorine available in it.
  • You should use bleach at least once a week to keep your pool sanitized.

How Long After Adding Bleach To Your Pool Can You Swim?

After you’ve added bleach to your pool, it’s best to wait at least 15 to 30 minutes to allow the bleach to fully dissipate and the chlorine levels to return to safe levels for swimming. This, of course, depends on your pool size and the type of bleach used. But to be on the safe side, check the water with a test strip before allowing anyone to swim in the pool to ensure that the chlorine levels are within safe limits.

As always, I must stress how crucial it is that you carefully read (and follow) the manufacturer’s instructions and follow any specific safety recommendations provided by the manufacturer.

What Happens If You Jump in the Pool Too Soon After Adding Bleach?

Adding bleach to a pool can sharply increase chlorine levels for a short time, posing risks to swimmers. Bleach is a disinfectant commonly used to sanitize and kill harmful bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants.

So if you get into a pool too soon after adding bleach, this can cause issues such as skin and eye irritation, redness, itching, and coughing. It can even lead to serious respiratory distress or other allergic reactions in severe cases. The risk is higher for individuals with pre-existing health conditions.

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How Long After Adding Other Pool Chemicals Can You Swim?

The time required to wait before swimming after adding other pool chemicals can vary depending on the specific chemical used, the dosage, and the type of pool you have. Here are some general guidelines for common pool chemicals.

Cyanuric Acid

Cyanuric acid (or CYA) protects chlorine from sunlight degradation and acts like a sunscreen for chlorine. Swimming after adding chlorine stabilizer is generally safe, as it dissolves quickly and does not pose immediate health risks. But still, I recommend waiting about 4 hours for the stabilizer to disperse throughout the pool before swimming. Keep in mind, however, that it will take another couple of days until the CYA completely dissolves.

pH Adjusters

pH adjusters (like soda ash or sodium bisulfate) regulate the pool water’s pH level. These chemicals are usually added in small amounts and dissolve quickly. It’s safe to swim around 15 minutes or so after adding pH adjusters since they’re quite harmless.

Muriatic Acid

Wait around 2-3 hours after adding muriatic acid to your pool. But even after waiting the recommended amount of time, make sure to test the water to ensure that the pH is in the recommended range of 7.2 to 7.6 before jumping in.

Alkalinity Adjusters

Alkalinity adjusters, such as baking soda, regulate the pool water’s total alkalinity, which helps to buffer pH changes. They’re similar to pH adjusters in that sense, and once you’ve added them, you can usually jump back into the pool after 15 minutes.

Pool Shock

Pool shock is a high-dosage, fast-acting form of chlorine used to quickly raise chlorine levels and kill bacteria and other contaminants. It’s a powerful substance, so depending on the type and dosage of the pool shock used, it may be necessary to wait at least 12-16 hours or follow the manufacturer’s recommended wait time before swimming.

It’s worth noting that factors such as the size of the pool, water circulation, temperature, and sunlight exposure can also affect the time it takes for pool chemicals to disperse and stabilize in the water. Additionally, it’s important to test the chemical levels in your pool to ensure they are within the recommended range and that the water is safe for swimming.

How Much Bleach to Use in a Pool

The amount of bleach to use in a pool depends on the size of the pool and the desired chlorine level. Here’s what you can do to calculate how much to use.

Calculate Pool Volume

Measure your pool’s dimensions (length, width, and average depth) and use my pool volume calculator to determine the total volume in gallons.

Calculate Bleach Dosage

Once you know your pool’s volume and desired chlorine level, you can calculate the amount of bleach needed using my chlorine calculator. Bleach typically contains around 5-6% chlorine concentration (check the label for the exact concentration) as opposed to pool chlorine, which is usually around 35%-90%. The recommended chlorine level for most residential swimming pools is typically between 1-3 parts per million (ppm).

Add Bleach

Pour the calculated amount of bleach slowly and evenly around the pool’s perimeter while the pump and filter system keeps running. Avoid adding bleach directly to the skimmer or in concentrated areas to prevent potential damage to pool equipment or surfaces.

Adjust and Monitor

After adding bleach, check the existing chlorine levels using a test strip and adjust if needed. Remember to also check and balance other water chemistry parameters such as pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness to keep your pool water balanced and safe for swimming.

Why Should You Use Bleach in a Swimming Pool?

Bleach can be used in swimming pools for several reasons.


As a disinfectant, bleach helps kill harmful microorganisms in pool water, such as bacteria, viruses, and algae. Regular chlorination helps reduce the risk of waterborne illnesses and keeps the water clear and sparkling.


Bleach also acts as an oxidizer, helping to break down organic contaminants such as sweat, urine, oils, and other debris that may enter the pool from swimmers, air, or other sources. This helps to remove unpleasant odors and reduce the formation of chloramines.

Algae Control

Bleach effectively controls and prevents algae growth in the pool, which can cause water to turn green, creating slippery surfaces and clogging pool filters and circulation systems.


Bleach is easy to find in most grocery or department stores, making it a convenient option for pool owners to grab when on a grocery store run.

How Often to Use Bleach in a Pool

How often you use bleach will depend on a few factors, including the pool size, the amount of use it gets, and the level of contaminants in the water. But as a general rule, add bleach at least once a week. You should also add bleach:

  • If you notice any signs of algae.
  • After heavy pool traffic.
  • After extreme weather events, such as rainstorms.
  • After prolonged exposure to sunlight.

You should also test the pool water regularly to ensure your chlorine levels are at the recommended levels of 1-3 ppm. If chlorine levels are low, add bleach to your pool.

Keep in mind that while bleach is useful, it doesn’t fix everything. You still need to take other steps to keep your pool clean, such as skimming and brushing the pool and maintaining proper pH and alkalinity levels. In addition, you should never mix bleach with other pool chemicals, as this can create dangerous reactions and fumes.

Have more questions about maintaining your pool effectively? Feel free to reach out!

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