Our home came with a pool when we purchased it. The original thought was “Awesome! The kids will love it”. One Summer of costly pool chemicals later and we were ready to tear it down.
$100 a bucket on Chlorine. $25 a bottle on algaecide. $40 for a bucket of PH down. $20 for PH up. And you’re purchasing more all summer long. Puke.
Thankfully, we learned about the cost saving combo of Bleach, Borax, and Baking Soda before Mr. Beatles could get his sledge-hammer out.
Bleach, Borax, Baking Soda
Bleach, Borax, and Baking Soda are three easy to access, cheap, store-bought items, which contain nearly every necessary chemical to maintain your pool properly.
Want to keep your pool at a proper chlorine level? That’s where household bleach comes in, with an 8.25% level of sodium hypochlorite.
Need to raise your PH? Enter Borax, the household detergent booster.
Total alkalinity out of whack? A little baking soda will fix that.
Staying on top of your Pool Chemistry
Our pool was taken over by algae last summer, and it took us a week and hundreds of dollars worth of supplies to get it back to normal.
The chemical composition of pool water is fragile, and you have no idea what is about to happen unless you’re consistently testing.
If you don’t have just the right amount of chlorine in the water, you’re going to have issues.
Too much chlorine- burning eyes, faded bathing suits, and itchy skin.
Not enough chlorine- the walls of your pool start growing things that nobody wants to be swimming in.
So how do you keep your pool clean without emptying your pockets?
The trick is to stay on top of your pool care and use cheap household products.
I know, life gets busy and it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to test the pH of your pool every day, but it does make a difference. You can catch a catastrophe before it happens if you just check your pH and your chlorine levels every day.
The five minutes it takes you every morning is worth it. If you get a reading that is way off normal, that is when you need to take action before your pool becomes a money pit.
Using bleach and baking soda for cheap pool care
Okay, so if you take your daily pH reading and it is too high, how do you lower it? In the past, I’ve gone to the pool supply store freaking out that my pool is about to explode in some alkalinity nightmare, but that is the time when the salesperson is going to take advantage of you.
Keep your cool and head to your local grocery store. When you’re in a pool supply store, you will see Sodium Bicarbonate and Sodium Carbonate listed as alkalinity raisers. Well, sodium bicarbonate is the exact same thing as baking soda. You probably have a whole box of it sitting in your pantry or your fridge.
It is less than half the price of the “pool brand” chemicals and will have the same effect.
Borax, which is a detergent enhancer you can find at the grocery store or hardware store, will raise the pH. It is a “generic” version of a pool supply you will see as sodium tetraborate – aka, “pH UP.”
Up next, Chlorine. Everyone knows that Chlorine is the end-all-be-all of pool supplies, but why? Well, it sanitizes and cleans your pool, killing bacteria and algae that love to grow and make you sick.
Stay away from Granular Chlorine. The granular stuff deposits cyanuric acid, or CYA into your pool. CYA is essentially sunscreen. You need a certain amount of this, but if you are regularly adding lots of chlorine to your pool, you can end up with a number that is way higher than you want.
In layman’s terms; Too much sunscreen and bad stuff can grow in your pool. Therefore it takes, even more, chlorine to keep your pool clean, and more granular chlorine means more CYA (sunscreen).
It’s a never ending process.
To combat this, you can use regular bleach to sanitize your pool, instead of granular chlorine. Make sure you find a bleach at 8.25% strength and unscented.
So, honestly, the best way to make sure your pool stays clear and healthy to swim in is to stay on top of your regular maintenance.
I know it can be tough on busy summer mornings to find the time to go outside and test your levels, but it can save you from a warm-weather algae nightmare.
If I had known how easy it was to test and correct my pH levels, I probably wouldn’t have had that algae in the first place and I also would have saved a lot of money.