Pool Cleaning: Separating Fact from Fiction


When you buy a pool, you are never thinking about pool cleaning.  You are thinking about hot days, sitting in a floating chair with a drink in hand, or fun memories being created with your family.

However, pool cleaning is a necessary evil.  It can be overwhelming to track what tasks need to be done and what tools you need for the job.

As you look online, you will also see some claims of household products that can be used to keep your pool clean.  Some of them are simply not true, and others could be dangerous.

This article will outline why it is so important to keep your pool clean.  Then, we will talk about four products and processes to keep your pool clean, as well as debunk a couple of myths.

Why it is so Important to Keep Your Pool Clean

It is vital that you keep your pool clean, for a few reasons.  Yes, it is a time commitment, but the benefits outweigh any inconvenience.

Your pool looks much better when it is clean.  There is no feeling like looking out your window at a sparkling, clean pool and knowing you can jump in anytime you like.

You need to use more chemicals on a dirty pool and more chemicals cost more money.  A pool that is kept clean uses fewer chemical and therefore will save you money.

It is very unsafe to swim in unclean water.  There are various sicknesses associated with a dirty pool, including:

  • skin irritation
  • Swimmer’s Ear – an infection of the outer ear canal that causes irritation, redness and swelling in the ear
  • diarrhea
  • respiratory infection, which includes accompanying muscle pain, chills, fever, and headaches
  • stomach cramps

Finally, the dirtier your pool is, the more wear and tear it does on your equipment.  Your equipment, which is expensive to replace, will last longer when pool cleaning is done on a regular basis.

pool cleaning

Pool Cleaning: Four Different Ways

Pool Cleaning with UV Light

If you are looking for a cleaner pool with fewer chemicals, then a UV light system may be right for you. UV light sanitizers lower chemical levels, get rid of chlorine by-products and destroys over 99.5% of bacteria that may be in your pool water.

UV light sanitizers have been shown to lower your chemical usage by up to 90%.  Given how expensive chemicals can be, that is a real cost savings!

How do these systems work? First, the system pushes water through a UV lamp, which delivers UV light to neutralize bacteria and other pathogens.

It is important to note that the UV light system does not KILL the pathogens like chlorine does but stops them from reproducing.  UV light systems must be used with chlorine.

Another important aspect of a UV light system is that it stops the formation of chlorine by-products that lead to red eyes, skin irritations, etc.

Pool Cleaning with Hydrogen Peroxide

Chlorine can cause red and itchy eyes, and some swimmers’ skin reacts badly to chlorine.  There is another option – this is where hydrogen peroxide comes in.

When exposed to UV light, like sunlight, hydrogen peroxide reacts to get rid of the nutrients that bacteria and fungi feed on.  This is a quick process, meaning that it needs to be done repeatedly and that you need to test your water more frequently than you would with chlorine.

To start using hydrogen peroxide, or H2O2, in a chlorinated pool, you need to shock the water by adding food-grade hydrogen peroxide.  You will want a ratio of one cup to 250 gallons of water.

Start the pump to circulate the hydrogen peroxide, then shut off the pump for 24 hours to allow the peroxide to work. If your pool was just filled with fresh water, skip this step.

After the initial shock mentioned above, test frequently to make sure you have the right concentration of H2O2, about one cup per 500 gallons of pool volume.  You can buy testing strips at your local pool supply store.

There are a few concerns with hydrogen peroxide that are worth noting.  It should not be used with DE (diatomaceous earth) pool filters, as it will destroy the filter.

Natural rubber fittings or accessories will also suffer when exposed to hydrogen peroxide. If you want to use H2O2 in an indoor pool, it must be used alongside a UV light system.

Hydrogen peroxide has a short shelf life, so it only lasts for 30 days.  It should be stored in a cool, dark location.

Pool Cleaning with Baking Soda

Time for a chemistry lesson! When using chlorine and other chemicals, you need to make sure your pool water has a pH to be between 7.2 and 7.8.

Adding too much chlorine can lower your pool’s pH as well as its alkalinity. When your pH gets too low, it is more difficult to maintain a stable pH, creates negative effects such as itchy skin and stinging eyes for swimmers.

Baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) is naturally alkaline, with a pH of 8. When you add baking soda to your pool, you raise the pH and alkalinity.

Many commercial products have baking soda as their main active ingredient.  You can keep your pool up at a fraction of the cost by just using pure baking soda!

If your pool’s alkalinity is lower than 110 ppm, you need to add baking soda.  Buy baking soda in bulk since you will use up to 10 pounds in your pool.

To know how much to add, you will want to add 1.5 lbs. of baking soda per 10,000 gallons of water. Sprinkle evenly across the swimming pool water – do not add it all in one spot!

Retest after 6 to 24 hours and repeat if necessary.

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Pool Cleaning with Vitamin C

Vitamin C is great for keeping you healthy, but it is also very useful for your pool. Use Vitamin C tablets to get rid of metal stains in your swimming pool.

Rub a Vitamin C tablet, also called absorbic acid, on the stain until it disappears.  It is literally that easy!

If you are dealing with a larger stain, you can also get aborbic acid in a powder.  Sprinkle half of a pound of ascorbic acid for every 10,000 gallons of water evenly into the water to remove a larger stain.

Debunking Pool Cleaning Myths

Pool Cleaning with Dawn

If you Google, “Pool Cleaning with Dawn”, you will find some information about using Dawn Dish Soap within your pool.  The rumor goes that you can squirt some Dawn dish soap into your pool, and it will cause all the grime to go to the walls of the pool, making it easier to clean.

While that may have worked in the past, the current formula for Dawn Dish Soap will not work for that purpose. However, that does not mean that dish soap cannot be used as part of your pool cleaning and maintenance routine.

Use dish soap to clean your filter.  Fill up a bucket of warm water and mix in Dawn dish soap.

Leave your filter in the bucket for at least one hour.  Then, wipe it down using a cloth and let it dry.

Another place you can use dish soap does not relate to cleaning, but to pool maintenance.  Dish soap can help you find cracks in your plumbing.

Cracks are dangerous in your pool’s plumbing system, as debris can enter and contaminate your pool water. It can also damage your pool’s plumbing system over time, so you want to find these leaks as soon as possible.

Fill a spray bottle with warm water and add two squirts of dish soap.  Gently swirl to mix the two and spray the soapy water on your pipes and fittings.

If you see bubbles forming, that means that you have a crack in that area, and it is time to call your local plumber.

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Pool Cleaning with Magic Eraser

In 2018, a Facebook post went viral when Lisa Pack put a Magic Eraser in her pool’s skimmer and claimed that it cleaned up her water.  This seemed to confirm the “Magic” in “Magic Eraser”.

Pool owners flooded their pool cleaning provider’s inboxes with questions –

Alas, it is too good to be true.  Pool cleaning companies tested the claim and found that while the Magic Eraser could pick up some dirt, it simply would not keep your entire pool clean.

Not only is it ineffective but cleaning your pool with a Magic Eraser has the potential to be dangerous.  Depending on your water, introducing melamine (a product found in Magic Erasers) would create a toxic byproduct called melamine cyanurate.

Since there are much better ways to clean your pool, it is best to leave this one alone.

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Pool Cleaning – Is it Time for a Professional?

As you can see, pool cleaning is more than reading online, as there is misinformation out there.  You want to make sure you are using the right products and processes on your pool to keep it sparkling clean!

However, there is a way to enjoy your pool and not worry about the cleaning at all!  A pool cleaning professional can help you get all those maintenance tasks done and will have the right tools for the job.

Regardless of how your pool stays clean, may you and your family enjoy the memories you create this summer!

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