How to Keep Your Pool Clean with Products from the Grocery Store

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  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-40
What You'll Need
Baking soda

How much did you spend on pool chemicals last year? If you're like most pool owners, the answer is too much. The truth is that much of what you add to your pool is unnecessary. Utilizing the "BBB" method of pool care described below, we will show you what you need for your pool. Happily, it’s a lot less than you might think.

The BBB Method

What is the BBB method? It's a pool care technique that requires only bleach, baking soda, and borax—that’s it. I’ll also let you in on another secret: if you utilize a pool service, this is how they maintain your pool. They do this for two reasons: it works, and it’s cheap! I know what you're thinking—"BLEACH? Isn’t that bad for me?" Ask your local pool store and they will give you any excuse in order to convince you that's true, but it's simply not the case. Like most things, we can find the truth by looking to science.

The active ingredient in bleach is sodium hypochlorite. The active ingredient in liquid chlorine guessed it, sodium hypochlorite. So as you can see, both bleach and liquid chlorine have the same active ingredient. The ideal bleach for this method will contain roughly 8%+ hypochlorite and no perfumes or other additives. You should purchase this from places like Walmart that regularly turn over their stock. Avoid Lowe’s and Home Depot since their bleach may sit around for months and they also tend to be more expensive.

With this BBB method we address pH, chlorine levels, and alkalinity. Other balances such as calcium hardness, metals content, etc. are still important, but if these levels get high, the best way to deal with it is to drain off some of the water and refill with fresh water that does not contain these potentially damaging components.

Over the long term, a partial drain and refill is much more cost-effective than continually using chemicals to control mineral content. Simply put, use bleach to increase chlorine levels, baking soda to increase alkalinity, and borax to increase pH. Most of the time you will not need to deviate from this formula. One exception to this formula is if your pH gets too high. In this case, you will need to add some muriatic acid, but these situations are rare.

Calculator and Cost

two people floating in a pool

You will need a test kit that is capable of testing the levels of your pool at home. I recommend the Taylor K-2005 test kit you can find on Amazon or in a pool store. Use the information from your test kit and an online calculator (or Google “BBB pool method calculator.”) This calculation will tell you the exact quantities you will need for your pool. That’s it! Now to the best part—the average pool owner spends about $950 in chemicals to maintain a 25,000 gallon pool for a season. With the BBB method, you can expect to spend about $450 for that same pool! I highly recommend the forum at Trouble Free Pool Care for any help you might need in getting started with the BBB method.