Properly cleaning your pool is one of the most important things you can do as a pool owner. It keeps the water looking clear and reduces bacteria and contaminants. Crystal clear water is also more inviting for family and friends than cloudy water and slimy pool walls. It will take a little work to ensure that your pool is maintained correctly, but it is the best way to make sure you can thoroughly enjoy your investment. 

Your pool owner’s maintenance guide will ensure that you know how to use the filtration system correctly, how to measure and balance pH levels and alkalinity, and when to use appropriate pool chemicals to keep the water clean and safe. However, when it comes to those pool chemicals, are all products created equally? There is no denying that some traditional chemicals are essential for pool cleaning. However, some ordinary household cleaners are just as effective as many pool chemicals and supplies explicitly marketed and sold for pool cleaning. So, if it’s time to clean the pool and you are looking for an alternative cleaner, this guide is for you. 

When Should You Use Household Cleaners? 

Whether you’re in a bind and ran out of your regular pool supplies, your local pool store is out of stock, or you’re simply looking for affordable alternatives to clean your pool, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that there are several products in your cabinet right now that can help you do the job and do it well. The active ingredients in many household cleaners are the same as what you will find in traditional store-bought pool chemicals. Therefore, these items you already own are an effective and simple solution when you need an alternative to conventional pool chemicals. In addition, if you want to use more natural products when possible or save on pool costs with a DIY approach, this list of household products for pool cleaning will help. 

Household Products to Try Out – And How to Use Them

There are several everyday products that you probably keep on hand for regular cooking and cleaning jobs. These are the products that are considered the versatile workhorses in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room, and for a good reason. You probably use them for a myriad of jobs throughout the house without thinking about it. Fortunately, many of those everyday cleaning products probably have more uses than you can imagine, including helping you tackle a dirty pool area. Here are eight common items you can grab from your cabinet or pick up at any grocery store to get the job done quickly. 

1. Baking Soda or Soda Ash

Many commercial pool products use baking soda, typically listed as sodium bicarbonate, as their primary active ingredient. Baking soda increases alkalinity in pool water, since it is a natural alkaline. Generally, you can use 1.5 lbs of baking soda per 10,000 gallons of water to increase alkalinity by 10 parts per million (ppm). Using baking soda to maintain alkaline levels can help you prevent or reduce algae buildup, corrosion, pool scaling, and cloudy water. 

Baking soda is also frequently used as an inexpensive, natural, and safe cleaning agent. First, you simply need to mix it with water to make a paste. Then, use it as a non-abrasive cleaner for your pool tile and grout. You can have your entire pool cleaned and looking fresh in no time. 

Soda ash is another great option, sometimes even better than baking soda since it’s significantly more basic, thus more powerful. However, soda ash should never be used if your pH is already balanced or on the higher side as this will raise the pH even more. But, if your pH happens to be low and you also need to increase alkalinity, then soda ash is a great choice.

2. White Vinegar

If you have annoying white buildup at the pool’s water line, that is calcium buildup. It is not particularly harmful to the pool liner or the water, but it does not look good either. It doesn’t help to put in all that hard work to keep the water clean and the pH balanced if you are still dealing with annoying and unsightly calcium buildup. 

White vinegar is an easy way to remove this residue. You can dip a soft cloth or sponge into a 50/50 vinegar and water solution. Then, scrub away the chalky-looking residue. Vinegar is also effective at shining metal pool surfaces, so it can be an excellent choice for cleaning up the pool before guests arrive. 

3. Bleach

Bleach, or sodium hypochlorite, can be used as an alternative method to shock your pool. Shocking is also known as super-chlorinating. You will need to make sure you go slowly to ensure that you do not raise the chlorine level past the 3 ppm level. You should also make sure that you always use an unscented variety to avoid any sensitivity issues.

It’s important to note that household liquid bleach is typically less concentrated than liquid pool chlorine. It’s critical to check the numbers on the label and do the math to determine how much bleach is needed to increase pool sanitizer levels and what the cost comparison to pool chlorine would be. That said, both liquid pool chlorine and liquid household bleach are generally just as effective as “shock” products at super-chlorinating a pool, and are typically less expensive for the same level of chlorination.

Another way that bleach is helpful around the pool is to get deep stains out of the grout, so it might be another option if the baking soda doesn’t cut it. Bleach is also a disinfectant, so you can use it to clean and disinfect surfaces if necessary. Just remember that bleach is corrosive and can irritate the skin and eyes – use caution, and consider wearing gloves and protective goggles. 

4. Olive Oil

This one is for cleaning pool supplies or areas around the pool. Olive oil effectively cleans up sticky substances and residue, so it can come in handy for cleaning sessions. For example, if there is a sticky buildup on pool toys or the pool deck, grab the olive oil and dab a little on it to break down the sticky substance. It should then be wiped clean with a sponge and soapy water. Of course, you do not want oil in the water, so be sure to thoroughly wash any items before they make their way into the pool. 

5. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is another kitchen staple that many people often use as a natural cleaner. Citric acid can clean grime, calcium buildup, and rust. Lemon juice (or even lime juice) is easily accessible, making it great to use for a quick pool cleaning. You can use the juice to shine up metal surfaces, and it smells better than vinegar, too. Add enough salt to a cup of lemon juice to make a slurry. Use a sponge, apply the mixture to the metal or tile, and scrub away any filth or rust. 

6. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another alternative to lemon juice or vinegar for cleaning those shiny surfaces. Check your medicine cabinet for isopropyl alcohol, and dilute with water first. You want a mixture of at least 50% alcohol, but up to 70% alcohol to 30% water will work as well. 

Rubbing alcohol is also a disinfectant, so you can use it as a quick solution for disinfecting high-touch surfaces, such as pool gates and entry handles on pool ladders. However, it is essential to remember that rubbing alcohol should never be mixed with bleach, so use caution if you have both products out at the same time. 

7. Vitamin C Tablets

Do you have Vitamin C tablets in your medicine cabinet? It may sound strange, but since they are ascorbic acid, you can use them in a pinch for removing stains or rust. Simply crush the tablet and then scrub away the staining or residue on pool surfaces. 

8. Melamine Sponges

These versatile cleaning sponges are popular for a reason. Commonly called by the popular brand name Magic Eraser, any brand of melamine sponge (sometimes also called eraser pads) will work. Unless you specifically purchase a brand with soap or cleanser, all melamine sponges are essentially the same. You only need to dampen the sponge, and it will loosen grime, dirt, and sticky residues from nearly any hard surface. Then, the porous material traps the dirt inside the sponge. Just be careful, since they are abrasive, and test a small spot first to make sure it doesn’t scratch the surface you intend to clean.  

The sponges are flexible, and you can cut them, so they fit nicely into small or oddly shaped spaces. They will also work well for cleaning things like pool toys and vinyl patio furniture outside of the pool. The sponges are durable and reusable, so they can be used for a long time if not too dirty. They are a reasonably inexpensive investment to keep on hand for household and pool cleaning. 

Proper pool care is critical to keeping your investment safe and functional.

In many cases, you don’t need designer pool care cleaners to do the job. When applied appropriately, household cleaners can be an effective method for cleaning in and around your pool and save you money. However, there are other aspects to pool cleaning that you must consider as well. When it comes to routine cleaning, you need high-quality pool tools. ProTuff Products has you covered. You have to clean debris from your pool regularly, so there is no suitable replacement for a good pool rake or skimmer.

Our tools not only get the job done right the first time, but all of our products still come with a lifetime guarantee, which adds to your savings. This means you only have to make one purchase from us, and you’ll never have to have to worry about suitable backups. Contact us to learn more about pool maintenance with our reliable tools. 

Disclaimer: Pool ownership and maintenance is very complicated, and we know every situation is unique. While we’ve done our best to cover the best practices here, we encourage you to reach out to ProTuff directly at with any specific questions you may have.

8 Household Products to Clean Your Pool
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