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Keep Pools & Spas Blue + Clear With Safe DIY Cleaners

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Keep Pools & Spas Blue + Clear With Safe DIY Cleaners


As a pool or spa owner, I understand the importance of maintaining a clean and inviting water environment. A well-maintained pool or spa not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also ensures a safe and enjoyable experience for all users. However, achieving and maintaining that desired crystal-clear water can be a challenge, especially when relying on harsh chemical cleaners. In this comprehensive guide, I will explore safe and effective DIY cleaners that can help keep pools and spas blue and clear, while minimizing the use of harsh chemicals.

The Challenges of Pool and Spa Maintenance

Pool and spa maintenance involves addressing various factors that can contribute to water quality degradation. These factors may include:

  1. Algae Growth: Algae thrive in warm, nutrient-rich environments, and if left unchecked, they can turn the water green and create slippery surfaces.
  2. Bacteria and Microorganisms: Pools and spas are susceptible to the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms, which can pose health risks if not properly treated.
  3. Debris and Contaminants: Leaves, dirt, and other debris can accumulate in the water, affecting its clarity and potentially harboring harmful microorganisms.
  4. pH and Chemical Imbalances: Maintaining the proper pH balance and chemical levels is crucial for effective sanitization and preventing scale buildup or corrosion.

Addressing these challenges traditionally involves the use of various chemical products, such as chlorine, bromine, and other sanitizers. While effective, these chemicals can have adverse effects on human health, the environment, and pool and spa equipment if not used properly.

The Benefits of Safe DIY Cleaners

Opting for safe DIY cleaners offers several advantages over traditional chemical cleaners:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: Many DIY cleaners can be made using common household ingredients, significantly reducing the cost of pool and spa maintenance.
  2. Environmental Friendliness: DIY cleaners are typically eco-friendly and biodegradable, minimizing the impact on the environment and reducing the risk of harming nearby plants and wildlife.
  3. Safer for Users: DIY cleaners are often derived from natural ingredients and are generally less toxic and irritating than harsh chemical cleaners, making them safer for swimmers and pool or spa attendants.
  4. Gentler on Equipment: DIY cleaners are less likely to cause corrosion or damage to pool and spa equipment, extending their lifespan and reducing maintenance costs.

DIY Cleaners for Pools and Spas

Here are some effective and safe DIY cleaners that I recommend for maintaining clear and blue pools and spas:

1. Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are two common household ingredients that can be used for various cleaning tasks, including pool and spa maintenance.

Baking Soda:

  • Purpose: Baking soda is an excellent mild abrasive and pH balancer. It can help remove tough stains and scale buildup, as well as neutralize acidic conditions.
  • Usage: Sprinkle baking soda directly onto the affected areas and scrub with a brush. For pH balancing, add 1-2 pounds of baking soda per 10,000 gallons of water.


  • Purpose: Vinegar is a natural acid that can help dissolve mineral deposits, inhibit algae growth, and lower the pH of the water.
  • Usage: Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and apply to the affected areas. Rinse thoroughly after letting it sit for a few minutes.

2. Borax and Salt

Borax and salt are two natural compounds that can effectively sanitize and clarify pool and spa water.


  • Purpose: Borax is a natural mineral compound with mild antiseptic and algaecidal properties. It can help kill and prevent algae growth while also acting as a water softener.
  • Usage: Add 1 cup of borax per 10,000 gallons of water every 2-4 weeks, depending on the level of algae growth.


  • Purpose: Salt can be used as a natural sanitizer in pools and spas, particularly in salt water systems. It helps maintain a consistent chlorine level without the need for frequent additions of harsh chlorine products.
  • Usage: In a salt water system, maintain a salt level between 2,500-3,500 ppm (parts per million) for optimal sanitization.

3. Enzyme-Based Cleaners

Enzyme-based cleaners are an eco-friendly and effective alternative to traditional chemical cleaners. These cleaners use naturally occurring enzymes to break down organic matter, such as oil, grease, and other contaminants, making them ideal for pool and spa maintenance.

  • Purpose: Enzyme-based cleaners can help digest and remove organic contaminants, prevent biofilm formation, and clarify the water.
  • Usage: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dosage and application. Some enzyme-based cleaners may need to be used in conjunction with other sanitizers or shock treatments.

4. Essential Oils

Certain essential oils possess natural antimicrobial and algaecidal properties, making them suitable for pool and spa maintenance.

Tea Tree Oil:

  • Purpose: Tea tree oil is a potent natural disinfectant and can help inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungi, and algae.
  • Usage: Add a few drops of tea tree oil to the pool or spa water, ensuring proper dilution and following safety guidelines.

Lemon Essential Oil:

  • Purpose: Lemon essential oil has natural degreasing and antimicrobial properties, making it useful for removing oil and grease buildup, as well as inhibiting algae growth.
  • Usage: Mix a few drops of lemon essential oil with water in a spray bottle and apply to the affected areas. Rinse thoroughly after letting it sit for a few minutes.

5. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a natural oxidizer and disinfectant that can be used as an alternative to chlorine-based sanitizers in pools and spas.

  • Purpose: Hydrogen peroxide can help sanitize the water, oxidize organic matter, and prevent algae growth.
  • Usage: Add 1-2 quarts of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 10,000 gallons of water every 2-4 weeks, or as needed, depending on the level of contamination.

Best Practices for Safe and Effective DIY Cleaning

While DIY cleaners offer a safer and more eco-friendly alternative to traditional chemical cleaners, it’s essential to follow best practices to ensure their safe and effective use:

  1. Follow Dosage Instructions: Carefully read and follow the dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer or recipe. Using too much or too little of a DIY cleaner can compromise its effectiveness or cause unwanted side effects.

  2. Test Water Regularly: Regularly test the water for pH, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels to ensure proper chemical balance and adjust as needed.

  3. Combine with Proper Filtration: Effective filtration is crucial for maintaining clear water. Ensure that your pool or spa’s filtration system is functioning correctly and that you follow recommended filter cleaning and replacement schedules.

  4. Practice Routine Maintenance: In addition to using DIY cleaners, it’s essential to practice routine maintenance tasks, such as skimming the surface, brushing walls and floors, and vacuuming the bottom to remove debris and contaminants.

  5. Consider Shocking the Water: Periodically shocking the water with an oxidizing agent, such as hydrogen peroxide or non-chlorine shock, can help break down organic matter and kill resistant microorganisms.

  6. Seek Professional Assistance: If you encounter persistent or severe issues with water quality or maintenance, seek the advice of a professional pool or spa service provider. They can provide guidance and recommend appropriate solutions.

Real-Life Success Stories

To showcase the effectiveness of DIY cleaners, I’d like to share a few real-life success stories from fellow pool and spa owners:

Case Study 1: Baking Soda and Vinegar for Spa Maintenance

“I’ve been using a combination of baking soda and vinegar to maintain my indoor spa for the past year, and the results have been impressive. Not only has it kept the water crystal clear, but it has also prevented any scaling or mineral buildup on the spa’s surfaces. Plus, it’s incredibly cost-effective compared to traditional chemical cleaners.” – Sarah, Homeowner

Case Study 2: Salt Water Pool with Enzyme-Based Cleaner

“After switching to a salt water pool system and incorporating an enzyme-based cleaner, I’ve noticed a significant improvement in water quality. The water stays clear and inviting, and I no longer experience the harsh chemical odors that plagued my pool with traditional chlorine treatments.” – Mark, Pool Owner

Case Study 3: Essential Oils for Spa Disinfection

“As someone with sensitive skin, I was always hesitant to use harsh chemicals in my outdoor spa. That’s when I discovered the power of essential oils like tea tree and lemon. Not only do they effectively disinfect and prevent algae growth, but they also leave a refreshing natural scent. It’s a win-win for me and my family.” – Emily, Spa Owner


Maintaining a clean and inviting pool or spa doesn’t have to come at the cost of exposing yourself or the environment to harsh chemicals. By embracing safe and effective DIY cleaners, such as baking soda, vinegar, borax, salt, enzyme-based cleaners, essential oils, and hydrogen peroxide, you can achieve crystal-clear water while minimizing the use of harsh chemical products. Remember to follow best practices, regularly test and adjust water parameters, and seek professional assistance when needed. With a little effort and the right approach, you can enjoy a beautiful, blue, and clear pool or spa without compromising your health or the environment.

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