A theory called “the six-second rule” says that if you have just swum in the pool, then your skin and body will be safe from all types of germs for at least six seconds.
Bleach is a safe and effective cleaner for swimming pools. However, it is essential to understand how long bleach will take to kill bacteria in your pool water before you decide to use it.
It’s also important to know how much bleach you need to add, how frequently you should do so, and when to stop using it.
Moreover, if you want to ensure that your pool water is safe, it’s essential that you follow all of these guidelines.
The six-second rule depends on several factors such as the volume or size of your swimming pool, how long ago someone swam in the water and whether the chlorine or bromine was added to the pool.
What is bleach?
Bleach is a white, quaternary ammonium compound made of hydrogen and chlorine. When bleach is used to disinfect water, it breaks down the organic material into carbon dioxide and water vapor.
This leaves behind a clean slate for any bacteria or other microorganisms to not survive on.
The bleach you use in your swimming pool should be considered water-based and, therefore, safe for consumption.
There is no need to add any preservatives. It’s essential that if the treatment product states that it can be gold or copper coins on its label, it will also work with chlorine and bromine generators because this type of equipment also uses elevated pressures.
How can you use bleach?
The simplest way to use bleach is by using a chlorine or bromine generator.
If your pool’s water supply has been appropriately treated with one of these devices, then it will not have any bacteria or other microorganisms within its system.
Therefore, if your pool’s water has been treated and you’ve followed all of the guidelines to using bleach in your swimming pool, then it will be safe for you to swim.
The chlorine produced by a generator can also be used as an everyday cleaner if necessary.
There are some things to keep in mind when using bleach.
The small amount of chlorine and bromine generated by the generator will not produce a residual cleaner. You will need to add some chlorine or bromine tablets into your pool water if you want it clean after swimming.
Bleach is also considered to be a very acidic and corrosive substance.
Therefore, it should never be used with any metal or glass in your swimming pool area as this can cause damage to the equipment that is susceptible to corrosion.
Also, you should not use bleach if there are rocks or pebbles within the water because the bleach will eat through the material and damage it.
If you use a pool cleaner with chlorine or bromine as part of its formula, these chemicals will not be able to do their job if there are any bacteria in your water system.
If this happens, you’ll need to add the appropriate amount of chlorine or bromine tablets to your water. The tablets will then be able to sanitize and disinfect all of the bacteria within your swimming pool.
How much bleach should you add to your pool?
This can be done in one of two ways. First, you could add bleach directly to your pool and wait until it was gone before adding water.
This method is hazardous because when you leave the treatment dissolved this way, there’s a possibility that all of the sunlight on its own would overpower it within 24 hours and lead to oxidation (the most common problem with swimming pools).
The chlorine gas generated by bacterial action will no longer be a concern if this happens. However, you won’t have washed the bacteria into oblivion without weakening your chlorine levels.
So adding bleach avoids this problem rather than relying on food for later consumption.
What happens when bleach is added to the pool?
Adding bleach to the pool will cause a rapid drop in chlorine levels. When chlorine reacts with the food in the water, it produces chloramines and Hypochlorous acid.
Hypochlorous acid is what breaks down organic material. Adding bleach causes the pool’s chlorine level to plummet rapidly (within an hour or two).
However, this drop in chlorine levels causes free chlorine rise (albeit smaller). Adding bleach directly to your swimming pool will lead to a 2-3 day drop in chlorine levels.
For this reason, it is vital that you do not add too much treatment product at once as well any sand or something other than chlorine dioxide when doing maintenance on your chlorinator (this includes post-disaster situations).
You should also ensure that no critters are sneaking into your pool to cause bacterial issues.
How to determine how much bleach to add to water for swimming pools?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it will vary depending on the make and model of your pool chlorinator, the size and shape of the swimming pool, how much chlorine dioxide you are using, etc.
As a general rule of thumb, though, adding 1 ounce (28 grams) of bleach per 1000 gallons (3 liters) of water should be sufficient for most pools.
Some pool enthusiasts go as far as adding 4-5 ounces per 1000 gallons (6 to 8 grams per cup of water) and still maintain success.
According to published testing on chlorine dioxide by the EPA, a typical 30,000 cubic feet above ground swimming pool would use around 3 cups of bleach at a rate of 6%, or 4068 gm/day.
To give you an idea of the equivalent conversion to pounds, 1 ounce = 28 grams, so 6% would be .062 lbs/gal. So at a rate of 6%, that’s about 10 tsp (4 oz) per 1000 gal each day for flow into your pool.
How long after adding bleach to the pool can you swim?
The answer to this question depends on various factors. This includes the make and model of your pool chlorinator, how much chlorine dioxide you are using, etc.
It is generally not a great idea to swim after adding bleach. All sorts of chemicals can foul your eyes, skin, etc.
This may even lead you to get sick if the chlorine in the pool (undissolved) has also been added.
But if you’re in no danger of this occurring – like, say, on vacation or by yourself at home with none of those as mentioned above possible concerns – then skiing or other swimming activities can be carried out immediately after adding bleach to the pool.
The only caution is not to swim for a certain number of hours if you are concerned about possible pool circulation problems.
This might typically be on the order of 6-8 hours after adding bleach. Consult your local aquatic expert as well before diving into this activity.
Tips for using Pool bleach safely
Here are a few tips to ensure that you use bleach safely and effectively in your pool:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely when adding bleach to the pool. Do not exceed suggested rates or dilutions, and be careful not to splash yourself or other bystanders with any liquid bleach.
- Use caution when swimming after adding bleach to the pool; do not get immersed in water if at all possible. If necessary, wait a few hours before swimming.
- If your pool chlorinator does not have a “safe swim” feature, keep children and pets away from the pool while it is being treated with bleach.
- Be sure to check the water temperature before swimming, as chlorine dioxide will not work in cold water.
- Ensure that the pool and deck surface clean debris, oils, and aggregates before adding bleach. If you have water in your pipes or drains, be sure to empty it before treatment.
- Be sure to read and follow the equipment’s maintenance instructions before using chlorine bleach.
- Be very careful when adding bleach to pools with gyratory pumps – especially if your pool has a saltwater system installed in addition, as this can cause damage that may require expensive repairs or replacement of parts.
- It is best to test your pool’s pH before using bleach and be sure that chlorine levels are at or above 50 ppm for bleach to work effectively (test strips available from most hardware stores).
- Be sure to test the chlorine concentration regularly and adjust it accordingly.
- If you have any doubts about your pool’s condition, do not bleach! It is always better to leave an unhealthy swimmer in than risk injury by misusing bleach, especially if children or pets are in the pool.
If you are concerned about possible pool circulation problems, it is best to wait a few hours after adding bleach before swimming.
Disposable swim caps and other appropriate gear can be obtained from pool supply stores in case of any accidents. In an emergency, it is always best to contact a professional pool service company!