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Household Chemicals for Pool Maintenance

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boy looking over the edge of an aboveground pool

With proper testing, you can safely maintain your pool water pH balance using generic household chemicals. This is a guide about household chemicals for pool maintenance.


Solutions: Household Chemicals for Pool Maintenance

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Tip: Household Chemicals For Pool Maintenance

For pool maintenance, you can use these generic household chemicals to replace most of the pool store ones.

  • Baking soda is the same thing as pool store total alkalinity increaser (sodium bicarbonate or the more proper sodium hydrogen carbonate). 1.5 lbs per 10,000 gallons of pool water will increase total alkalinity by 10ppm.
  • Household bleach (sodium hypochlorite) can be used to shock the pool. This is especially important if you don't want to deal with calcium precipitation (especially in hard water). 1/2 gallon of household bleach (non scented) per 10,000 gallons of pool water will increase the chlorine level by 5ppm.
  • Muriatic acid can be used to lower the total alkalinity of a pool. You can find this in almost all hardware stores and it's sold as a cleaner. 1.3 pints per 10,000 gallons of pool water will decrease the total alkalinity by 10ppm.
  • Borax (yes, the stuff in the green box in the laundry isle) can be used to buffer the pH and raise it. 1/2 cup per 10,000 gallons will increase your pH. How much depends on quite a few factors so you will have to adjust according to the results you receive in your particular pool.

By Rob from Gig Harbor, WA

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Here are questions related to Household Chemicals for Pool Maintenance.

Question: Homemade Pool Chemicals

Can a person make their own pool chemicals? It really cost a lot of money to keep my above ground 14 x 18 foot ring-style pool clear.

Joy from Summers, AR


Most Recent Answer

By Cher (Guest Post)08/05/2008

Can this bleach method be used for smaller above ground pools? My pool is 3ft deep and 10 ft wide, round. How much bleach should be used for this size pool?

Question: Using an Above Ground Swimming Pool

I just bought my son a huge above ground swimming pool for his birthday party. I have run a little short on cash and do not have the money until this following payday to purchase chemicals. I was wandering if it is safe for a bunch of kids to go swimming in it just for the day of party? The water is freshly being put it now, and no one has yet been in it.

    By Shawna L. [1]


    Most Recent Answer

    By Louise B. [6]07/02/2015

    As a mom, I would have no problem with that. I assume you are using treated water from a city system. Or drinkable water from a rural home system. If you have concerns, you could inform the parents of these children, and they could decide for themselves if their kid can swim in your pool. Certainly if it was a small pool, no one would worry about it.

    Question: Using Bleach in a Small Wading Pool

    Many years ago, I added bleach to our kids' wading pool to keep the water from going "bad". Now my daughter would like to do the same with my 4-year old grandson's small wading pool. I don't remember the measurements? Would anyone know? Thanks.

    By mkymlp

    Most Recent Answer


    The eczema study was one short term study of about three dozen children in 2009 and reported in a journal of pediatrics. The baths were done in conjunction with using antibiotics and/or steroids. Here's a short article with a bit more detail and some warnings:

    Question: Using Baking Soda in a Swimming Pool

    I am told you can use baking soda in the swimming pool to keep the water clean and not use chlorine. Does anyone know how to use just the baking soda?

    Diane from Columbus, GA

    Most Recent Answer

    By Rick (Guest Post)07/12/2008

    You MUST use a sanitizer in your pool. For most people, that means Chlorine. You can reduce the amount of chlorine you use by keeping evaporation down and ultraviolet light from the pool (which breaks down the chlorine) with a solar blanket. Having enough stabilizer also helps to reduce the Chlorine need.

    You really need a decent test kit to determine how much of anything to add to a pool. If you have an above ground pool and drain it every year, you may be able to get by with the test strips that come 50 in a bottle from the local *-mart store. As indicated by the Arm & Hammer tip others posted, you can use baking soda to bring up the PH (reduce acidity) OR to increase alkalinity, but if you don't know where you are starting, you may only make things worse.

    If you have an in-ground pool or don't drain your pool yearly, then a good, full test kit is essential for keeping the pool from growing things.

    Personally, in my indoor pool (about 25000 gallons), I use a Bromine/Ozone sanitizing system and it is much less expensive and easier to deal with than the typical Chlorine regimen, once it is set up properly. I keep my pool in the high 80's most of the time, and the Bromine cycle makes it much easier to keep it properly sanitized.

    Unfortunately, just calling a pool guy won't necessarily get you what you want either, because most of them are poorly trained and follow rules of thumb that just may not apply to your situation, depending on the type of pool, temperature, type of filter, amount of pool usage and pollutants added by the users (suntan oils, etc). Besides improper or insufficient training, many are in the business of selling the chemicals they use, so often want to put in a lot more than really needed.

    If the reason you don't like Chlorine is because of the smell and eye irritation, the problem is probably not chlorine itself, but the Chloramines that result when Chlorine breaks down as it does it's job. The only ways to get rid of Chloramines is to super-chlorinate (super shock) the pool on a periodic basis, or by changing out a significant portion of the water. If your pool is outdoors and not covered, you may be increasing the residual chemicals because of evaporation. As water evaporates, only pure water goes away, not the residual chemicals. Adding more water only makes the level better, it doesn't reduce the residuals in the water. On the other hand, emptying the pool yearly (or making periodic, partial water changes) can reduce these chemicals, making the pool more comfortable. Of course, after any major water change, the water balance needs to be tested and adjusted as necessary. Typically, most people need to monitor at least Hardness (Calcium level), Alkalinity (buffering capacity) and PH (acid/base level). If you use stabilized chlorine, you should also check fur cyanates (CYA) to make sure it isn't getting too high, or it's water change time...

    If any of the major items are out of balance, the comfort of the pool will be affected, and quite possibly the life of the pool and/or equipment as well.

    I know it sounds like a lot to be aware of, but with a little reading you can get take care of your pool without needing a lot of support or spending a lot of money, and have a much more comfortable pool as well.

    Good Luck
    --Rick AH7H
    rickf (at) rickfrazier (dot) com

    Question: Alternatives To Shock For Pools

    Is there anything I can put in my pool instead of Shock?

    Most Recent Answer

    By Laura Knox (Guest Post)08/06/2007


    Instead of a chlorine system, my husband and I have switched to a pool ionizer. It is an upfront investment of about $900, but we have spent less than $20 on chemicals this year. In the long run, it is a fantastic investment, because you only need to replace one part every 2-3 years at a cost of about $130. Also, instead of lots of chemicals, our little boy swims in basically mineral water. It uses copper & silver ions to purify the water, using NASA technology that is utilized in all gov't pools and on the space shuttles to keep water clean. The company we bought the system from is top-notch in customer care. We have called so many times with questions, and they have always been more than helpful. The bottom line is that they're helpful because they're not trying to sell us pool chemicals--our pool store was always SO helpful when we were going to need lots of stuff for our pool...

    The company we got our unit from is in GA like you are (and so am I), and it's called Check it out, and let me know if you have any questions!