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Pool chemicals are a vital part of your DIY pool care system. Pool maintenance will only be possible with chlorine, cyanuric acid, and other essential compounds.

Each compound works together to balance your pH and prevent algae, bacteria, and other contaminants. If you want to know everything you need to know to balance your pool water and keep it safe for everyone, keep reading!

What Are The Basics of Pool Maintenance? 

There are several basic components to proper pool maintenance. The first element is proper pool chemistry. Pool chemicals keep your pool clean and free from contaminants like bacteria and algae growth.

Having balanced pool chemicals keeps these contaminants and also helps remove unpleasant oils and bodily fluids. However, these chemicals can’t work all on their own. Keep your pool pump and filter system running regularly to keep the chemicals flowing through the swimming pool.

Finally, you’ll need a few tools to keep your pool walls and floor free from calcium hardness and algae growth. Swimming pools require regular brushing and the occasional scrubbing to remove the buildup and prevent it from making your pool water chemistry unbalanced. If you own an inground swimming pool with a deepened, you’ll most likely want to invest in an automatic vacuum.

Chemicals You’ll Need for DIY Pool Care

Chlorine or Bromine 

If you own a regular freshwater swimming pool, then you’ll want to have a substantial supply of chlorine. Chlorine reacts with particles in the pool water and creates a substance known as chloramine.

This process dissolves the particles and neutralizes the compounds so your water’s clean and sanitary. Chlorine is a close chemical relative to bleach, making it a powerful cleaner and purifier. It’s often used to clean tap water for drinking because it dissolves parasites, pathogens, and organic matter.

Bromine isn’t the best choice for swimming pools since the chemical doesn’t work well with stabilizers. Hot tubs and spas work much better with bromine since they use hot water, and bromine’s more stable than chlorine in hot water.

You can get chlorine as granular chlorine, chlorine tablets, or liquid chlorine. Chlorine tablets are an excellent way gradually add chlorine to your water, while liquid or granular chlorine is best for regular maintenance.

Pool Shock Treatment or Calcium Hypochlorite

Chlorine shock is the most potent shock treatment for swimming pools. Shock is a high dose of either chlorine or other sanitizers that remove high levels of bacteria, chemicals, or algae growth.

Whenever your pool water gets out of hand, it can take a long time to rebalance your swimming pool. Keep your pool pump running for several hours after adding shock to ensure the sanitizer distributes appropriately.

Cyanuric Acid or Pool Stabilizer 

Cyanuric acid is the most effective pool stabilizer. This acidic compound creates a protective barrier around the chlorine molecules, prolonging their lifespan in water. It also prevents damage to chlorine due to the sun’s UV rays.

The sun’s UV rays can dissolve between 50-90% of your chorine in the water in under two hours. Stabilized chlorine has stabilizers like cyanuric acid that protect the chlorine. You can add cyanuric acid separately or buy chlorine with stabilizers already in it.

Keep stabilizer, stabilizer chlorine, and pure chlorine in your supply. Unstabilized chlorine is more effective at killing bacteria and algae in the water. But it should be added at night so it can sanitize the water before the sun’s UV rays damage it.

Muriatic Acid 

Muriatic acid is a highly acidic compound used to raise the acidity of swimming pool water. Water acidity is an essential part of the sanitation process. You don’t want the acidity to be too high or too low since it can impact the water sanitizer’s work.

However, if your water pH is too high (or base), add an acidic compound to rebalance the water. Keep your pool pH levels between 7.4-7.6 for the best water balance. Between these levels, your pool’s chlorine will work effectively, and the environment will be inhabitable for bacteria and algae growth.

Always wear protective gear whenever adding this acidic compound to your swimming pool. It can burn your skin and eyes if it splashes while you prepare it.

Baking Soda

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a common cooking element. Baking soda is the best option for raising your swimming pool’s alkalinity levels.

Like muriatic acid, you’ll want to test your pool water’s pH levels and ensure they’re between 7.4-7.6. If your pH level is low (or acidic), then you need to add an alkalinity increaser.

Baking soda is affordable and widely available. It’s also not dangerous like muriatic acid, so adding it to your water won’t be difficult.

Flocculant or Clarifier 

Flocculants and clarifiers are essential for intensive cleaning. These substances bind with particles in your swimming pool and make them large enough to remove, thus clarifying the water.

If you have cloudy water, you’ll need to add a flocculant or clarifier. Flocculant is more potent and fast-acting but much more labor and resource intensive. Clarifier is much simpler to use since the particles will be removed by the filter system.

Depending on how cloudy your water is, you’ll have to choose either a clarifier or flocculant. A flocculant is a better choice if you have very cloudy water. But if you have only slightly cloudy water, then a clarifier’s a better choice.


Algacide is a powerful tool for cleaning algae growth from your pool water, walls, and filter system. Algae can be very pervasive and hard to remove permanently. Most algaecides use copper and aluminum to kill existing algae in the pool and prevent algae growth in the future.

What Tools Should You Have for Proper Swimming Pool Maintenance? 

Some of the most essential tools to keep in your supply include:

  • Pool brush
  • Scrub brush for tile and steps
  • Floating chlorinator
  • Erosion chlorinator
  • Pool net
  • Backwash hose
  • Vacuum

Depending on the size of your pool, an automatic pool vacuum might be a better option than a manual vacuum. However, you won’t be able to use a robotic pool vacuum if you’re cleaning up flocculant in the water.

A backwash hose isn’t always necessary, but it does make the backwashing process much cleaner and simpler. A backwash hose attaches to the backwash spout and moves the expelled water away from the filter system. This helps prevent puddles of water around your equipment.

If you don’t own a sand filter or DE filtration system, you probably won’t need a backwash hose. Cartridge filter systems aren’t cleaned the same as other systems, and you’ll want to invest in a filter cleaner rather than a hose.


Keeping your swimming pool clean and clear is vital for the health and well-being of yourself and your guests. Pool maintenance might initially sound like a complex chemistry lesson, but it only requires basic knowledge and understanding.

You’re more than halfway there if you have chlorine on hand and a properly working filtration system! Keep an emergency supply of pool shock and clarifier just in case you need it!

We’ve created a wide array of articles on pool maintenance for your use! Everything from what cyanuric acid is to how to backwash your pool pump, we have it for you!


Should You Use Filter Cleaner to Clean Your Pool Filter?

Yes, a filter cleaner is vital for proper pool maintenance since the filtration system keeps things sanitary and clear. The pool pump pulls water from the pool and into the filter media. The particles get caught as the water washes over the sand filter media, and clean water’s returned to the swimming pool.

Filter cleaner is essential for cleaning cartridge filters. These filters use cartridge grids to catch particles. Cleaner helps dissolve particles and algae growth trapped in the grids, making the water cleaner and clearer.

How Do You Keep Your Pool Water Balanced?

Balanced pool water chemistry requires regularly testing your pool water with a test kit and checking the pH levels. Preventing algae and calcium hardness helps ensure your pool water remains properly balanced.

Run your filter daily for at least eight hours to keep the water moving and the chemicals dispersed. It also ensures that all the water in your pool gets circulated through the filter media and the debris is removed daily.