BBB Method

The BBB Method Infographic

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Should I Clean My Pool Without Pool Chemicals?

Having trouble keeping your pool water clear? Cloudy water? Green Water? Think you pool chemicals aren't working and are too expensive? Can't you just get what you need at the grocery store?

Don't Stress Out! Let's Do the Math (And a Little Science)

Tried adding chemicals but you can't get your water clear? Cloudy water can be attributed to one or a combination of the following:

  • Poor filtration and circulation.
  • Not enough sanitizer (chlorine).
  • High pH and/or alkalinity.

Your best solution is to have your water professionally tested and follow the advice of your pool supply retailer. The worst solution, which may lead to no solution at all, is following the myriad of bad advice available on the internet.

But I've Heard About the BBB Method, Does it work?

The BBB method is bleach, Borax, and baking soda. The BBB method starts with purchasing your own test kit. Owning a test kit to monitor your water is a wise purchase to make.


The fallacy here is bleach comes in different strengths. Buying bleach (liquid chlorine) can be a tricky proposition. Bleach sold at grocery stores will usually have an available chlorine content of 5.25%. Bleach sold at independent pool retail stores will be anywhere from 10%-12.5%.

In addition, bleach loses strength the longer it sits on the shelf. You really have no idea how much available chlorine is being added to the pool.

Also bleach has a very high pH, which through routine addition to chlorinate your pool will most likely cause the need to add acid to your pool to keep it in balance. And depending on the type of pool you have and local water conditions, bleach may not be the best and most efficient way to chlorinate your pool. Tip: Maintain a free chlorine level of 1-3 ppm.

More Science!

What about pH and Alkalinity? Can they be adjusted using simple chemicals?

Your ideal pH target is 7.2-7.8, with 7.4-7.6 the ideal range. pH is probably the most important test you can run for your pool water. It gives you a snapshot of the general overall health of your pool water at that moment. The best way to raise it is with a pH increaser (available under many different names and brands) from a professional pool outlet. This will raise only your pH and have no effect on other important chemistries in your pool.

Products like Borax have been recommended to raise the pH in your pool, but why. From a cost perspective, it is more expensive and will not raise the pH as efficiently as products specifically designed for that purpose. As some claim, you can raise your pH with Borax but the costs will be similar or higher and why spend money on products not specifically used to manage the water balance in your pool?

Need to raise your Alkalinity? Easy! Use simple baking soda!

Not so fast!

The trouble with the three BBB (Bleach, Borax and Baking Soda) products besides possibly not being the most effective, they all raise pH and/or alkalinity. Muriatic acid is added to counteract the addition of these products. While muriatic acid is needed in many cases for pool water balance, adding only those items designed for pool use as needed will lessen the need for this corrosive product.

Bottom Line

You probably won’t save money buying products for your pool at the grocery store. In fact, the opportunity to buy unnecessary products is very high. Plus there is probably more stress on your filter and circulation system than necessary because of the BBB program due to its makeup of driving up pH and alkalinity.

Any kind of a pool in a backyard is a sizeable investment. Make sure you have sound advice for both maintenance and if a problem arises, sound advice for corrective actions. Stick with quality pool products from an independent pool retail professional you can trust.

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