6 Ways To Use Baking Soda To Clean Your Pool

Updated: Aug. 02, 2023

Here's an inexpensive, easy-to-use secret weapon for keeping your pool clean and the chemicals balanced — baking soda!

It’s been a busy summer at our outdoor swimming pool. Between our daughter’s friends and our own friends and neighbors coming over to cool off in the midst of a heat wave, there’s been constant activity.

And while we love to see people enjoying the pool — that’s what we built it for, after all! — there’s always some clean-up to be done after the guests go home. We frequently need to clean at the pool waterline, where residue from sunscreen tends to build up. Left untouched, it can stain the solid surface of the pool.

The easiest trick I’ve found for cleaning the waterline? Jump in — not an unpleasant task in this heat — and clean it with baking soda. It’s just abrasive enough to remove the greasy residue without damaging the pool surface. It’s easy on my hands, dissolves in the pool without creating cloudy water or altering chemical balance, and it’s cheap.

It turns out my baking soda hack is one of six ways baking soda can be used to clean and maintain your swimming pool.

How Baking Soda Can Help Keep a Pool Clean

Make baking soda your secret weapon for pool cleaning and maintenance. Try it on these tasks:

  • Clean pool surfaces: Stewart Vernon, COO of America’s Swimming Pool Co. tells us “baking soda is a safe and natural way to clean pool tile, grout and pool furniture.” Make a paste of baking soda and water and grab a scrub brush to clean tiles, grout, furniture, pool toys and other accessories.
  • Eliminate algae: We have a beautiful stone wall where the water falls over the infinity edge of our pool. I love it, but I hate the algae that grows on the wall next to the waterfall. I keep it in check by sprinkling dry baking soda on the algae, then hitting it later with a wet scrub brush.
  • Balance pH: When I have a pool-full of little kids at the house and no one asks to use the bathroom, I have my suspicions. Urine, sweat, rainwater and bird poop can throw off the pH in your pool. But sodium bicarbonate — good ol’ baking soda — functions as an acid and a base, so it can rebalance the pH of your pool. “Baking soda has a pH of 8.3 and acts as a buffer for it, meaning it can either raise pH or lower pH and keep it from making rapid changes,” Vernon says. (More on how to add baking soda to your pool water below.)
  • Prevent corrosion: Water that’s too acidic (low pH) can corrode pool equipment, from ladders and drains to costly filtration systems. Using baking soda to keep pH levels between 7.2 and 7.8 — the ideal range — will prolong the life of your pool equipment.
  • Soften water: If you live in an area with hard water (i.e. that high in calcium and magnesium), you probably know it’s hard on your hair, skin, clothing and appliances. It’s also hard on your pool, leading to a scaly pool surface and calcium build-up on the filtration system. Baking soda softens hard water, making it more pleasant to swim in while reducing mineral scale and build-up.
  • Help chlorine do its job: By itself, Vernon says, “baking soda does not keep a pool clean or clear.” You still need chlorine for that, because even in a salt water pool, the filtering system needs salt to create chlorine. But adding baking soda can give chlorine a boost by contributing to balanced pH and alkalinity. Both make it easier for chlorine to do its job of sanitizing the pool water.

Psst! Don’t forget to learn about the best pool shock treatments to keep your pool clean, clear and sanitized.

How To Add Baking Soda To a Pool

To add baking soda to pool water, follow these steps:

  • Test the pH: Check the pH of the pool with a pH test kit. If it’s 7.2 or lower, you need to raise it — fast — as well as increase the alkalinity to 100 parts per million (ppm).
  • Figure out how much baking soda to add: This requires some calculations. For a 10,000 gallon pool, you need 1.25 pounds of baking soda to raise the pH level by 10 ppm. Figure out how much baking soda you need by increments of 10 ppm to get to 100 ppm total alkalinity, which means a balanced pH.

Note: If you’re not sure how many gallons your pool holds, measure its length x width x depth x 7.5. The total sum is the total gallons of your pool = volume (in gallons).

  • Pour in the baking soda. Add up to 2.5 pounds of baking soda per day, and let the water circulate for about eight hours before you run another test. Keep adding up to 2.5 pounds per day until you reach the right pH. Be sure to scatter the baking soda over a large area rather than dumping it all in one place.

Can You Add Too Much Baking Soda To a Pool?

Yes. “Adding too much baking soda to a pool will cause the alkalinity to rise,” Vernon says. Anything above 120 ppm is too high. And over-alkaline water, he says, “can create scale build-up and cloudy water.”

So as you add baking soda to adjust pH and alkalinity, remember to be patient. Allow the water to circulate (with the pool pump on) for a good eight hours before checking the levels. Even if it takes several days to get to the desired levels, your patience will pay off.