The BBB method – Using Bleach, Baking Soda & Borax to Maintain Your Swimming Pool


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Here is an overview of the BBB Method of pool care that is promoted widely on the swimming pool forums online.

Here are the three forums:

I wrote a Blog article detailing Swimming Pool forums which you can read here:

Basically the BBB method is using Bleach, Baking Soda and Borax to maintain your swimming pool -with Muriatic Acid to lower the pH.

Clorox Bleach:
Basically Clorox bleach is the same as liquid chlorine but a little weaker. Both are Sodium Hypochlorate but in different percentages. I have a video that detail this:
Using Clorox Bleach in Your Swimming Pool:

Baking Soda:
I know Arm & Hammer is running a popular YouTube video in which they claim you can use it to raise you pH – that is true and also not so true. It is used widely in the pool industry (I buy 50 lb bags) to raise Alkalinity mainly and not used to raise pH. In fact you will need a lot of this to raise the pH which is probably why they want you to use it to raise your pH 😉

So the Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) actually will raise the Alkalinity without raising the pH much at all. It is sold in pool stores as Alkalinity Up – with a huge mark up over a box of Baking Soda.

Must of us in the pool industry have been using Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate) but there has been a push in the last year or so to get us to use Borax (usually sold in liquid form with various product names). It is a very effective way to raise your pH safely. Youy can royally screw up your chemistry if you add too much Soda Ash to your pool. It is much harder to mess up with Borax as the Alkalinity level effects it’s potency. If the alkalinity is high (100-120+) you will need to add more Borax to effect the pH. If it is lower than 100 then you will need less Borax.

I go into more detail in my Blog article about the BBB method:

Here is a great website to help with the calculations:

Related Videos:
Adding Borates to Your Pool with 20 Mule Team Borax (level of 50 ppm):
How to use Borax to Raise the pH in your Pool – How much Borax to Add:
Benefits of Adding Borate to your Pool: Sparkling Water & Less Chemical Costs:
PoolProof by Nisus: The Easy Way to Add Borates to Your Pool:
How to Check the Cyanuric Acid (Conditioner) Level :
To learn about Conditioner:
Instant Pool Conditioner:

To calculate your pool volume (how many gallons):
How to use Borax to Raise the pH in your Pool – How much Borax to Add:
Muriatic Acid, pH Down:

To calculate your pool volume (how many gallons):

Taylor Test Kit (K-1006 – K-2150):
Aquachek & HTH Test Strips:
Pool Test Kit: Chlorine, PH and Acid Demand:

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Joe Franklin says:

Awesome man!! Much thanks!!!

Robert Jackson says:

Thanks for the help on pool maintenence……. I have a problem of 2000 ppb Phosphate level, what should I do to lower this to the <200 ppb level it should be? Some say it isn't crucial but others say it will promote algea bloom at the first dip in FC/TC. I have a problem like this. I need to shock twice a week during last summer struggling with algea. In ground pool with 13K gallons in the Texas sun.
Any input would be appreciated.

Carmen Martin says:

Hello and thank you for your video. I am new at this and I need to know how much how much bleach borax and baking soda to open a 5000 gallon pool will I need. Thank you and advance for your help.

tim hitt says:

Glad to find out about the bbb they sure don’t tell you at leslie pool lol

duratoke says:

I know this method works excellently I used it last season, but forgot exactly how i did it, glad for this video.

LAVAROCK100 says:

so this method you don’t need any chlorine tabs ?? what about in the summer time i take care of pools in hawaii its very hot here just was watching your video and very interested in it because i use a lot of chemicals in the summer here have 40 pools i take care of and if i can do it this way it will save me a lot of money on chemicals…thanks and great video

vicki jenkins says:

I just want to get a bulldozer and dump truck …. fill in the swamp!

Matthew J says:

does the bleach make bathing suits fade more than chlorine? Dumb question I know but wife wanted to know.

Caren C says:

I have an above ground pool with a soft liner. Should I use muriatic acid on this type of pool?

Rik Holliday says:

Very nice Job. I hope I can figure a way to reduce my cost versus purchasing from our local over priced pool supply company’s. I just returned from Leslie’s pools today and they sold me a ton of expensive products. So much so that I located your educational video. I was sold a bunch of Alkalinity up (Baking Soda?), Instant Pool Water Conditioner to raise the Cyanuric Acid Level , and a Summers worth of PHOSFree.

I have a salt water system in Dallas Texas. What do you suggest to raise the Cyanuric level (I’m unclear if you mentioned Borax) and what can be used in place of PHOSFree (Reduce phosphate levels)?

Elizabeth Wolverton says:

can you use this method in a salt water above ground pool?

Brandy H says:

how often should I run the filter for a 5000 gallon pool?

sunflowerscent1 says:

For newly filled above ground pool, in what order do I put in BBB and can I put them in one right after the other? I will be putting in Natural Chemistry Instant Conditioner, Bleach, Baking Soda, and Borax.

Noble Plumbing HVAC says:

Great video easy to understand

pengyermax says:

what about the alkalinity is 140 and the Ph is normal at 7.6, what should i do?

Leana Foss says:

I don’t understand Ph measures acidity and alkalinity so if your Ph is high it is alkaline and if it is low it is acidic so why would you need both borax and baking soda?

Janet Dilger says:

I am trying to use the BBB method and now I have a lot of foam what am I doing wrong?

gunslingr45 says:

Does the bleach not add chlorine and kill algae? Do you really need the acid?

DJ Hughes says:

is it any home product i can use to raise my calcium hardness

rikilii says:

1 suggestion: check your local pool stores and see if they sell liquid chlorine in 2.5 or 5gal carboys.

It might be cheaper than store-bought bleach per unit of chlorine, and you won’t be sending a lot of plastic bottles to the landfill.

Lisa Heisler says:

This was one of the BEST, most informative, practical instructional videos on now to manage pool water with economical household chemicals. THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO SHARE WITH THE REST OF US WHAT YOU KNOW!

Anthony Johnson says:

Can you have too high of a Borax level?

David Allen says:

Can I use this method in a saltwater pool? having issues with green algae after it rains. Shock the pool and its fine til next rain or storm that blows tons of leaves in the pool.

Jimmy Britton says:

What should my numbers be on a 7600 gal pool?
How often do you have to bleach your pool? weekly? daily?

mk phelps says:

hi I have a 45 gallon water feature what do I need  for the bbb meathod??

Joe Franklin says:

Anything other than muratic acid? Where i live, you get in lots of trouble for having that. I think it’s used in manufacturing some type of drug. You can’t even buy Coleman camp fuel at Walmart without having the police called on you. It’s total BS.

Cris DeRaud says:

I can’t thank you enough for the information in your series. Five years of allowing our pool service to monitor my pool resulted in completely unbalanced levels of acid and alkalinity. The acid and alkalinity didn’t even register on the Taylor kit scales. After four days of adding many boxes of borax and baking soda, I finally got the ph level up to 7.5 and the alkalinity to 9 drops. The water is beautiful, sparkling and feels wonderful. Everything went as well just like you said it would. Here is a link to a picture of what the pool looks like now.
btw: we no longer pay for a pool guy each month.

Melissa Eli says:

Do You have a good resource for maintaining a larger kiddie pool to avoid having to drain it too often

Ryan Johnson says:

Did you say add Cyanuric acid or Muriatic acid?

christy hall says:

I have a 15×42 above ground pool approximately 3110 gallons what would the ratio be for the BBB. how much of each

No1 No2 says:

How would I test salt level? I recently competed a test strip……this is the results……..fc 0/0. PH – 7.5. TA-40. TH-800. CYA 30-50. Okay it’s a. 16 round by 48inch deep. I think? 5,500 gal or so? It’s a salt water pool, however we bought an sand filter this year due to the amount of filters we go through! Q. Can I use the bbb treatment on a salt water pool? Or just BB with out the bleach? Thank you for your. Videos!

TheBillD says:

Thank you. Simple stuff you can find at Walmart. By the way, bleach at Dollar General or Dollar Tree is $1 or $2 for a gallon. Walmart has a 12 pound bag of baking soda for a few bucks. if you can’t buy muriatic acid from your local Walmart, hit the hardware store.

Shandi Holland says:

I purchased a 1,000 gallon Intex pool, filled it up and let it sit for a week before I found this method. Just yesterday I tested the pool (the kit I bought tests pH, Bromine and chlorine) – all levels were at the very lowest point. So, I added 3 cups of bleach, 2 cups of baking soda and 1 cup of borax and I let the filter run overnight (8-10 hours) . Does this seem right? I read so many posts about it and it seemed to be the suggested ratio…I have yet to test the water again though will do so later. Additionally I would like to know the Bromine part of the tester…what am I looking for here? There is no mention of alkalinity on the I need to buy another one for this? As for the chlorine, I do have a floating tablet dispenser that holds 1″ tabs – can I use this if I ever leave for an extended period to make sure the chlorine levels stay up or should I stick strictly to bleach? here is the tester I bought –

terranc weever says:

I have a 27 foot pool I am just now putting together after I fill it what do I need to do to get started this is my first pool I have a test kit and the wife bought pool care kit for opening and close pool today

Mikalah Williams says:

Do you need to use a stabilizer with this method and what do you use and how much?

T Brown Records says:

This is some good info.

Janet Dilger says:

I forget to say I have a 1900 swim spa.

shadowblew says:

where would I buy the borox here in australia?

tanya bolton says:

So glad I just converted to a sand filter & salt water system

Cody Taber says:

Just ordered the k2006 kit and will be doing my first testing ever and using BBB. What do you do with the used test liquid?

Tim Perkins says:

Method may work well in more northerly latitudes but here in South Texas where the sun is much more instense it’s very difficult.

william mikula says:

wich chemical is for cyanuric acid?

Melissa paske says:

I tested my salt water 8500 gallon pool , everything is balanced Except for the chlorine , could this be because the pool is too cold ? We haven’t hit our hot weather yet?

Jose Santiago says:

How do you bring down the alkalinity using this method?

Tom Gillotti says:

Is there a good method for determining how many gallons your pool is?

Mohammad Abu Elhawa says:


David Allen says:

great video and saves alot of $$$. off topic question and new to pool ownership. I have backwash that’s about 50 ft . Do I need all that or can I just trim it to few feet?

Cody Taber says:

So I’ve been working on this method now for a couple of weeks to get everything dialed in. We have a 24ft round x 52″ vinyl abovd ground pool. Reality is the inside dimensions and fill level is about 22′ x 47″ coming in at about 11000 gallons.
I’ve learned the k-2006 testing fairly well, I’ve had the water to a safe point a few times now before adding borax. I kept running into the chlorine disappearing way faster than I imagined it could. I’m using chlorine bleach at 8.25% or whatever Clorox is and added what pool calculator said. I test with a strip about an hour later and chlorine looks great then another hour and a half and it’s gone. So I searched for more information, watched your videos over and over and I wasn’t really getting it. I tried one of the pool forums but the one I tried wasn’t accepting new people. So I calculated chlorine demand again and borax demand and went for it. For me, at this point, the pool calculator is misleading, yet may be accurate if you know how to read it.
I put the bleach in, I put the borax in 7+ boxes, maybe 10, I don’t recall right now. Waited two days and tested with a strip and there’s no chlorine and borate trips say about 20. Borate level is a guess because the brown it indicated as didn’t match the bottle.
I neglected to add the acid because I was misunderstanding the calculator I guess. So my pH went up off the scale. I ended up adding some acid, then some more and the pH became 6.8 and chlorine was gone.
I then tried to interpret the calculator again and I added 99oz of bleach and 1-1/4 boxes of borax and now I’m waiting.
My main question is: As an estimate, would you say I can get to a point where I’m not adding stuff every day, namely chlorine?
My borates were low, so once I get to 50 should I expect chlorine demand to slow down? I’m keeping the pool clear if organic matter. No trees near the pool so only an occasional one or two fly in.

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