Pool Shock vs Bleach: Which One is Right for Your Pool?

Robert Wimberly

pool shock vs bleach

Keeping the pool clean is important, but making sure it is safe is just as crucial for pool owners. Choosing the proper disinfectant is an essential component of pool upkeep.

This article compares pool shock vs bleach by exploring their purposes, strengths, and more. Through this article, you’ll learn about their know-how and make informed decisions regarding which option is most suited for your swimming bath.

Pool shock Bleach
Composition Calcium hypochlorite (Ca(ClO)2), Sodium di-chlor, Potassium monopersulfate sodium hypochlorite (NaClO)
Purpose Exclusively for swimming pools Household cleaner

Bleach for pool cleaning (or liquid pool shock) has higher concentration than standard household versions: 10% or more vs. 5%.

Effectiveness Stronger Weaker
Availability Online retailers and pool supply stores Grocery stores
Cost Expensive Cheap



Pool shock and bleach are like two related superheroes. Despite their similarity, they perform different tasks to keep your water clear. Bleach is the champion of regular cleaning, while pool shock is best in the battle against stubborn germs and algae.

So, when it comes to pool maintenance, remember: pool shock for the tough battles and bleach for everyday dirt.

Differences Between Bleach vs Pool Shock

1. Purposes


Is pool shock the same as bleach? No. Pool shock is designed for swimming pools with a stronger chlorine concentration, while bleach is for household cleaning with a milder formula.

Can you use bleach to shock a pool? Yes, but when you use bleach instead of pool shock, it’s vital to have twice as much regular bleach, so that the Clorox bleach in pool (at 5 or 6% concentration) can be as potent as liquid chlorine shock (at 10 to 12.5% concentration).

In this case, measure the amount of chlorine in the water in ppm; dilute and add liquid bleach to it, then wait until the chlorine level reaches 6 ppm before swimming.

2. Strength and ingredients

Above, we’ve talked about the concentration of regular bleach vs. liquid shock, both of which contain sodium hypochlorite, but what about other types of pool shock (i.e. cal-hypo, di-chlor, and potassium monopersulfate)? How do they compare to bleach?

Calcium hypochlorite stands out as the strongest and most favored among homeowners (with 65 to 70% chlorine), while sodium di-chlor is slightly less powerful but still very effective at cleaning (containing 56% chlorine).

The least potent of the three, potassium monopersulfate, lacks chlorine but enhances chlorine’s effectiveness with its oxygen content.

Note that bleach is vulnerable to degradation under sunlight, while Di-chlor and potassium monopersulfate do not have the same disadvantage. Cal-hypo, meanwhile, is similar to bleach in that it degrades under UV rays, unless paired with cyanuric acid.

3. Costs


Bleach typically costs 6 to 10 cents per fl. oz. or 0.065 pound, while the costs of pool shock are:

  • Cal-hypo: $5 to 10 per pound for powder, $250 per 50 pounds for tablets
  • Di-chlor and potassium monopersulfate: $10 per pound for powder

As you can see, bleach is generally more affordable than pool shocks.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Pool Shock and Bleach

When deciding between pool shock and bleach, consider these pros and cons:

1. Pool shock

  • Highly effective at eliminating bacteria, algae, and contaminants in water, ensuring safe swimming conditions.
  • Specifically formulated for pool maintenance, making it a suitable choice for pool owners.
  • The high chlorine concentration means you need to use less of it for pool treatment.
  • Not versatile for household cleaning or disinfection tasks beyond pool maintenance.
  • Requires careful handling due to its high chlorine content, posing potential safety risks.

2. Bleach

  • Usable for various household cleaning and disinfection tasks, from surface cleaning to laundry whitening.
  • Widely available at grocery stores and supermarkets, making it easily accessible
  • The lower chlorine concentration is safer for general household use.
  • While unable in pools, to put Clorox in a pool requires larger quantities and more frequent applications compared to pool shock.
  • Some bleach products may contain additives like fragrances, which may not be desirable for all cleaning applications.
  • Bleach degrades under sunlight.


Now that you know the difference between pool shock vs bleach, you can now approach your pool upkeep with confidence, armed with the knowledge needed to ensure a clean and safe swimming environment for all.

Whatever choice you will make, remember to take into consideration factors like your pool size, usage, and the extent of contamination to meet your desired outcome possible.

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