Are Pool Test Strips Accurate?

Written by Michael Dean
June 13, 2023

pool test strips and magnifying glass

Having a pool in your backyard is a great way to cool off during the summer. But keeping your pool clean and safe to swim in takes work. Part of that work is testing the water to ensure the levels of chlorine and other chemicals are optimal.

There are a few different ways to test pool water, but the easiest method is test strips. Test strips are simple to use – you just dip them in the water and compare the strip’s color to the provided color chart.

Are pool test strips accurate? Do you want to know how to properly use test strips? In this article, I will answer those burning questions and other frequently asked questions.

Main Takeaways

  • Pool test strips are simple to use and give you an idea of the chemical levels in your pool water.
  • A few factors can affect the accuracy of pool test strips, including how they’re stored and how old they are.
  • By properly storing and using pool test strips, you can be sure you’re getting accurate results.
  • Liquid test kits are more accurate than pool test strips.

Are Test Strips Accurate?

Test strips are a great way to test your pool water’s chlorine and pH levels. They are easy to use and relatively inexpensive. But are they accurate?

The answer is yes and no. It all depends on how you use them.

If you follow the directions that come with the test strips, they are pretty accurate. But, if you don’t, the results can be off. For example, if you don’t dip the strip in the water long enough, it won’t have time to react with the water, and you will get an inaccurate reading.

Another thing that can affect test strips’ accuracy is whether the water is too cold or too hot. The ideal temperature for pool water is between 77 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The test results can be inaccurate if the water is outside of this range.

So, if you want accurate readings from your pool test strips, follow the directions and use them at the right temperature. With a bit of care, you can be confident that your pool test strips are giving you accurate readings.

The other thing to remember is that test strip readings can be affected by human error. As you will personally be comparing the colors according to the color chart, there is a chance that you may read the color wrong. If you have any color blindness, it may be worth investing in a digital reader to interpret the results.

Pros of Using Test Strips

There are a few advantages to using test strips over other methods of testing pool water.

Easy to Use

You simply dip the test strip in the water and then compare the color to a chart. This takes only a few seconds and is much easier to use than a liquid test kit.


Test strips are relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to digital test kits.

Provides General Idea of Water Quality

Test strips will give you a general idea of the chlorine and pH levels, making them perfect for regular daily water testing. You can use a digital test kit if you want more specific and accurate readings.

Cons of Using Test Strips

There are also a few disadvantages to using pool test strips.

Not As Accurate As Digital Test Kits

If you want the most accurate at-home reading possible, you should use a digital test kit. The test strip results can vary depending on how you interpret the color, not to mention other environmental factors that can affect the results.

Not As Precise As Laboratory Tests

If you want to know the exact levels of chlorine, pH, and alkalinity in your pool, you should send a water sample to a laboratory. Test strips can only provide a general idea of these levels.

Affected By Environmental Conditions

Test strips can be affected by environmental conditions such as heat, humidity, and sunlight. This means that the results of the test may not be accurate. Pool test strip results can also be affected by water temperature. In other words, you may not get an accurate reading if the water is too cold or too hot.

How To Accurately Use Test Strips

First and foremost, ensure you’re using strips meant for your type of pool. There are different pool test strips for saltwater pools, chlorine pools, and bromine pools. Once you have the correct kind of strips, follow the instructions on the packaging to the letter. This means using the right amount of water, waiting the proper amount of time, and comparing the strip to the color chart included in the packaging.

If you do all of those things and you’re still not getting accurate results, there are a few other things you can try:

  1. Make sure you test the water at the right time. The ideal time to test your pool is about an hour after the pool has been used when the chlorine levels are at their highest. You can also try testing in different areas of the pool, as the chlorine levels can vary from one end to the other.
  2. Make sure you store your test strips properly. If they get wet or are exposed to light, they can give inaccurate readings.

If you’re still having trouble, it might be time to invest in a digital tester. These testers are more expensive than test strips but are also more accurate. And unlike liquid test kits, they are still effortless to use.

Are Pool Test Strips More Accurate Than Liquid Test Kits?

As a general rule, liquid test kits are more accurate than pool test strips. Liquid test kits use a chemical process to test for chlorine, pH, and alkalinity. On the other hand, pool test strips use a color-change process to test for these same things. The chemical process used by liquid test kits is more precise than the color-change process used by pool test strips.

However, liquid test kits are more complicated to use than test strips. The different tubes, required water levels, and reagents can get confusing – creating more room for error than simpler test strips.

Another thing to remember is that both liquid test kits and pool test strips rely on the human eye to read the colors to determine the pool’s chemical levels. The slight variations of color may be challenging for some to distinguish. For this reason, digital testers are the best at-home method to get the most accurate readings.

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Bottom Line

Pool test strips are a great way to read the chemical levels in your pool. They may not be as accurate as liquid test kits, but they still do a great job of giving you an idea of the chemical makeup of your pool water. Making sure you store them in a covered and dry area can help you give a more accurate reading. However, consider investing in a liquid test kit or a digital tester if you want more accurate results.

More questions? Let me know!

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