Using bleach instead of pool chlorine seems to be becoming a trend. Largely, this has been due to the fact that products like chlorine tablets are more expensive than bleach. There is a belief propagated all over the internet that bleach and products like chlorine tablets are essentially the same things. Is this really true or is there a difference between chlorine tablets and bleach?
While chlorine and bleach have similar properties and uses, they aren’t exactly the same thing. Chlorine occurs naturally and isn’t generally mixed with as many other chemicals. Bleach on the other hand, is man-made and often contains a combination of chlorine and other chemicals.
If you’re trying to decide between using chlorine and bleach to clean your pool, this is for you. Below we’ll break down the differences between chlorine and bleach and then provide you with the pros and cons of using each one.
What are the Differences Between Bleach and Chlorine?
Before we get into whether you should use chlorine tablets or bleach, let’s first highlight the differences between the two. They are both used for some of the same cleaning tasks. You may have even heard of people using them interchangeably.
That said, there are many differences between chlorine and bleach. Below we’ve listed some of the key differences between the two cleaning agents that will be relevant to you:
- Ingredients: Chlorine is a naturally occurring element that can be found throughout the planet’s crust. Bleach on the other hand is a mixture of both chlorine and other chemicals. The chlorine comes from sodium hypochlorite and the other chemicals include, hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide, and calcium hypochlorite.
- Uses: You can clean a large amount of water with a small amount of chlorine. In order to clean something like a pool with bleach, you will need a little bit more. Chlorine also has some uses that go beyond cleaning, something that can’t be said of bleach.
- Forms: Chlorine can come in the form of gas, liquid or solid–like in the case of chlorine tablets. However, bleach only comes as a liquid. This makes chlorine in general a little more dynamic in how it can be used.
The difference between pool chlorine and bleach is admittedly small. However, as you can see, those differences do exist and may weigh in on your decision as to which one to use.
What is Stronger Bleach or Chlorine?
So is it bleach or chlorine that’s the stronger and more effective option? Is there any difference in quality even though they aren’t completely the same thing?
Chlorine tablets are stronger than bleach and more highly recommended for cleaning pool water. Bleach is more effective in smaller amounts of water, where the ratio of each is tilted in its favor.
We should note that just because chlorine is stronger doesn’t mean you can’t get a good clean with bleach. You can, you just have to use a lot more to do it.
Can I Use Bleach Instead of Chlorine?
Even if bleach may not be quite as effective as chlorine tablets, you may want to use it instead because of its availability and price. That begs the question, can you actually use bleach in your pool in place of chlorine?
Bleach can be used instead of chlorine. It will also clear up your water and get rid of the small amounts of algae that build up on the surface of the water. That said, you want to make sure that you don’t buy bleach that is scented, or packed with extra chemicals as it may be dangerous to your skin.
Most of the time your pool will do just fine whether you chose to clean it with bleach or chlorine tablets. Chlorine tablets may be the easier option however since they are more conventionally used.
How Do I Clean a Pool With Bleach?
If you do decide to go with using bleach, you’ll need to know how to use it. The process is relatively simple but before you start you want to make sure that you know the measurements of your pool. It will be part of what determines how much bleach you add.
Once you know the dimensions of your pool follow each of these steps to clean your pool with bleach:
- Test your water: The best way to test your pool’s pH and chlorine levels is with a pool tester kit. Make sure that your free chlorine level stays somewhere between 1 and 3 ppm. The ph level on the other hand should sit somewhere between 7.2 and 7.6.
- Pour in bleach along the perimeter of your pool: With half as much chlorine as normal pool chlorine, you need more bleach to clean a pool. The general rule of thumb is to pour in 8 quarts of bleach for every 10,000 gallons of water. Make sure that you don’t use too much or it could raise your ph and chlorine to dangerous levels.
- Take out dead algae: Wait a day or so and then go in and take out the dead algae. If all is working correctly, your water should look clearer and you’re going to want to be able to see the bottom of the pool.
- Test your levels: Continue to test your levels so you’re certain you didn’t use too much or too little bleach. If you find you made a mistake you can adjust accordingly.
Please bear in mind that while bleach can be useful in some situations, there’s several reasons why it’s not ideal. It requires you use more for the same result, and some brands can contain dangerous chemicals you don’t want to put in your water. If you chose to use bleach make sure you’re careful about which brand you use.
Where Do I Put Chlorine Tablets in a Pool?
If you’ve never used chlorine tablets, you’ll want to make sure that you know where to put them. You should never drop them directly into the pool. You can raise the ph of the water and damage the lining of your pool, or even cause the water to be dangerous to your skin.
Instead of dropping the tablets directly in the pool, you have a couple of different options to disperse your chlorine. Below we’ve laid out the two easiest ways to safely use chlorine tablets in a pool:
- Use a chlorine dispenser: The tried and true method for using chlorine tablets in a pool is to use a chlorine dispenser. Also sometimes referred to as chlorinators, these devices sit next to your skimmer and regulate the level of chlorine in your pool. All you have to do is place the chlorine tablets inside and set up the device.
- Use chlorine floaters: Chlorine floaters are a great option if you’re on a budget. They aren’t as consistently effective as dispensers but they still work pretty well. Basically, you place the chlorine tablets inside and spread the floaters around the pool so they can slowly disperse chlorine evenly.
Pros and Cons of Chlorine Tablets and Bleach
To bring everything we’ve gone over together, let’s lay out the pros and cons of both bleach and chlorine tablets. Hopefully, having a handy list like this, that you can feel free to come back to for reference, will help you decide which one serves your needs.
Pros and Cons of Chlorine Tablets
We’ve openly maintained that chlorine tablets are the preferable option all things equal, for a reason. They’re very effective, easy to use, and relatively safe.
Pros of chlorine tablets:
- More effective: Chlorine tablets are at least 50% more effective than bleach. They also often contain chemicals called algaecides, that help to break down algae.
- Easy to use: When it comes to how you use chlorine tablets, you have several options. On the less expensive end you can pop them in chlorine floaters. If you want great consistency you can use a chlorine dispenser. Either way it beats walking around the perimeter of the pool carefully pouring.
- The safer option: It’s really easy to buy a brand of bleach and not realize it has extra chemicals added to it for fragrance until it’s too late. With chlorine tablets on the other hand, you’re getting exactly what you think you are every time. That’s not to say that there is no risk with them, but rather that it is reduced.
Cons of chlorine tablets:
- More expensive: Chlorine tablets are usually more expensive than just buying bleach. This is probably the biggest reason why people choose bleach over pool chlorine in general.
- Less available: Another reason people end up using bleach instead of chlorine tablets is because bleach is more likely to be in stock. During the summertime it’s not uncommon for regular department stores to run low on pool chlorine. If you’re in that situation yourself, bleach may be the only quick option.
- Not completely safe: While it is true that chlorine tablets are the safer option, they can still damage your pool if they are just dropped in. Make sure you always use something like a floater or a dispenser with your chlorine tablets for the safety of your pool.
Overall, chlorine tablets are an excellent option for cleaning your pool… Assuming you can find them in stock. Otherwise you might want to consider the pros and cons of bleach.
Pros and Cons of Bleach
You could get the idea that we’ve been ragging on bleach as an option. Still, there are some really compelling reasons to use it. Especially if you’re in a sticky situation and need to clean your pool fast.
Pros of using bleach:
- It’s inexpensive: On the flip side to chlorine, bleach is relatively inexpensive. If you need your pool cleaned but you don’t get paid for a week, this might make a compelling case.
- It still has chlorine: When you use bleach, you’re still using chlorine. Just not quite as much of it. At the same time, this is what leads to the misconception that pool chlorine and bleach are the same thing.
- It’s easy to use: Figuring out the dimensions of your pool, and how they relate to the amount of bleach you need to use, is probably the hardest step involved. Once you get down how to clean your pool with bleach, it may require a little more leg work than chlorine tablets, but it will still be easy.
Cons of using bleach:
- It’s less effective: As we’ve stated before, bleach is only about half as effective as chlorine tablets. You have to use a whole lot more for the same effect. This should be taken into consideration when you’re deciding if the price difference is worth it.
- It can be dangerous: Make sure you always look at the exact ingredients in your bleach. Some may have chemicals you don’t want to be putting in your pool. Not only can they be dangerous to you, but sometimes to the siding of the pool as well.
- Harder to use than tablets: While it’s true that using bleach isn’t too difficult, it is still more work than tablets. If you want to have the easiest time possible, bleach isn’t the way to go.
Bleach is great for when you can’t find chlorine tablets or you just need to save some money. Still we can’t pretend it is quite as effective or safe as pool chlorine.
So Really, Are Chlorine Tablets the Same as Bleach?
While they have many similarities, chlorine tablets and bleach are not the same thing. Chlorine tablets are solidified chlorine. They sometimes contain algaecides like dichlor and trichlor, to help stabilize the chlorine. Household bleach on the other hand contains chlorine and several other chemicals. It can’t be made into a solid form in the same way chlorine can.
All things considered, chlorine tablets are preferable to bleach. Not only are they more effective at cleaning the pool, but they’re also safe from some of the added fragrance chemicals in some bleach brands. Still, if you’re in a pickle and you can’t find chlorine tablets, or you need to save some money, bleach will work.