Bleach vs Chlorine for Pool: Which Disinfectant is Better?

Robert Wimberly

bleach vs chlorine for pool

Swimming pool water contains contaminants like algae, germs, and other harmful microorganisms. That’s why it needs serious cleaning now and then. You may use chlorine, and it’s effective, but can you use bleach instead?

In truth, both products have the same base chemical: chlorine. Pool chlorine, however, is much stronger than the typical bleach in your home.

The ongoing debate between bleach vs chlorine for pool sanitizing confuses swimming pool owners. Hence, this post will dissect the benefits, differences, and impact of these popular disinfectants.

But before we get into the details, here’s a summary of the differences between household bleach and chlorine:

Bleach Chlorine
Chlorine content 6% – 6.15% Up to 90%
Additives No stabilizer With stabilizers
Effectiveness in pool cleaning Less effective More effective
pH level Higher Lower
Availability Readily available in stores Sold only in big shops and specialty stores
Applications Cleaning and whitening Cleaning and disinfection
Product cost Inexpensive More expensive

Bleach and Chlorine: An Overview

1. What is Bleach?


Bleach, a vital household cleaning agent, takes center stage in many homes as the go-to disinfectant. But what exactly is bleach, and is it effective for pool cleaning?

The bleach solution contains water, salt, and calcium hypochlorite (Ca(OCl)2). While you can use it in swimming pool sanitation, it’s most common for household use.

Typically, bleach serves as a potent agent for cleaning, disinfecting, and whitening. It’s known for its ability to remove stains and eliminate a wide array of viruses, mold, and bacteria on surfaces.

Different types of bleaches are available for household and commercial use, including liquid and powdered formulas. The most popular type for household purposes is in liquid form.

2. What is Chlorine?


Looking for a chemical that will keep your pool shimmering clean? That must be chlorine! It’s the conventional treatment your swimming pools deserve.

Like bleach, chlorine is composed of calcium hypochlorite, but in a much higher concentration. Hence, it’s a powerful tool for disinfection and sanitation of your swimming pool.

Chlorine does it all to keep your water crystal clear and safe for swimming. When used correctly, this disinfectant is efficient at killing algae and oxidizing contaminants that may be present in your outdoor pool.

Chlorine is sold as liquids, powder, or tablets. Liquid chlorine is fast-acting, while tablets work slowly as they dissolve in water.

Differences Between Bleach and Chlorine

What keeps our pools crystal clear and bacteria-free: chlorine or bleach? It’s a tough question, but let’s compare them with the following factors:

1. Concentration


When discussing sanitizing strength, we refer to the product’s ability to eliminate harmful bacteria and algae. Bleach and chlorine-pool treatments are robust sanitizers. However, the quantity of their active ingredient concentration makes one better than the other.

Concentration-wise, household bleach contains roughly 6% to 6.15% of Ca(OCl)2. Pool chlorine ingredients have more of this chemical, approximately up to 90%. This lends to the latter’s superior sanitizing capability.

2. Additives


Additives are often mixed in with bleach and chlorine to stabilize the formula or prevent crystallization. Salt is added to bleach to keep the chlorine in its liquid state. Meanwhile, chlorine typically contains a stabilizer (cyanuric acid) to protect it from sun-related dissipation.

Additionally, bleach has some additives that may cause foaming or water clarity issues. Chlorine is specifically made for pool use, so it doesn’t have additives that may cause such problems.

3. pH level


A sanitizer’s pH level plays a critical role in the effectiveness and safety of pool water. Bleach products often have a pH level of 11-13, while stabilized chlorine pH ranges between 7.2 and 7.8.

It’s essential to regularly test the water’s pH and adjust it accordingly. If the pH is too high, the solution’s germ-cleaning power diminishes.

The ideal pH level for pool water is 7.4 with 1 to 2 ppm of chlorine.

4. Price and availability


Cost-effectiveness takes center stage when mulling over pool chlorine vs bleach. Though possessing a lower hypochlorite concentration, bleach is readily available and competitively priced.

Conversely, concentrated pool chlorine is generally costly yet promises higher effectiveness. Although you will need more gallons of bleach to make up for the strength of chlorine, you will still spend less than you would if you went with the latter substance.

5. Pros and Cons of Each Option

In relation to their disparities, let’s summarize the benefits and drawbacks of each cleaning solution.

1. Bleach

  • Accessible in most stores
  • Using bleach for pool cleanness is more affordable.
  • Weaker cleaning
  • No added stabilizer, which means a shorter lifespan
  • Corrosive

2. Chlorine

  • Highly effective
  • Convenient to use
  • No splashing in powder or tablet forms
  • Expensive
  • Can be corrosive

Which is Better: Bleach or Chlorine?

Deciding whether bleach or chlorine is better for your pool often depends on some factors unique to your situation. For example:

1. Effectiveness

Due to its reduced concentration, bleach in swimming pool has a weaker cleaning capacity when compared to chlorine. You often need 25% more bleach to achieve the same efficacy as using chlorine.

2. Convenience

Chlorine is more daunting to source than bleach, but it’s also more convenient in every other way. Bleach is a better option only if you’re in a hurry.

3. Budget

If you’re unwilling to splurge much on pool sanitation, bleach is a budget-friendly alternative. You may need to use more to achieve the same sanitizing power as chlorine, but the upfront cost is still relatively low.

For most professionals, using bleach instead of chlorine isn’t a justifiable shortcut for a sparkling clean and safe swimming experience. However, it’s up to you to balance your circumstances using the factors above.

Regardless, bleach can still be used as a pool sanitizer if applied in proper amounts and monitored regularly. If you’re looking for a more potent pool chlorine substitute for bleach, you can leverage other cleaning products like bromine.

Tips to Use Bleach or Chlorine Safely


Using bleach or chlorine in your pool requires care and attention. Follow these tips to ensure you handle and apply both of these sanitizers safely:

  1. Always wear the appropriate safety gear, including protective goggles and gloves.
  2. Handle all chemicals in a well-ventilated area to prevent the build-up of harmful fumes.
  3. Store bleach and chlorine in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight and out of reach of children.
  4. Choose unscented bleach or chlorine so that you don’t change the smell of pool water.
  5. Strictly follow handling instructions from manufacturers.
  6. Never mix these chemicals directly with other substances.


Choosing the best sanitizer for your wading haven depends on factors crucial to you. If you’re concerned about cost, bleach can be less expensive. However, if you prefer a more effective option, chlorine should be on your list of pool essentials.

We hope this article about bleach vs chlorine for pool has helped you pick the ideal product to keep microorganisms at bay. Whichever option you choose, it’s best to regularly monitor and maintain pool cleanliness to ensure it remains a safe and fun environment. Happy swimming!

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