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Can Pool Chlorine Bleach Your Clothes? In-Depth Analysis & Prevention Tips

If you live in a region with a hot climate, chances are you have a pool on your property, which is a godsend in summer. On those sweltering days, you may feel like diving in, clothes and all, but will the chlorine ruin your outfit? The smell alone can take your breath away! Will pool chlorine bleach your clothes?

Water treated with pool chlorine will not bleach clothes because of the low ratio of chemicals to water. But no fabrics are completely chlorine-resistant, and repeated swimming in a chlorinated pool with sun exposure will cause them to fade. A high chlorine concentration can bleach clothing, though.

Pool chlorine might bleach your clothes, but will pool water harm plants too?

Chlorinated pool water can smell quite strong sometimes, but it is essential for sanitizing it. While it’s not ideal to repeatedly swim in your clothes, if you’ve ever been pushed into a pool while fully dressed, you would know that the chlorine won’t affect the color in that instance. Read on to see when chlorine could affect clothing.

Will Pool Chlorine Bleach Clothes?

Depending on its concentration and the situation, pool chlorine can potentially bleach clothing. However, its effect on your clothes is negligible once diluted in the correct ratios for your pool. It all depends on the amount of chlorine that comes into contact with the fabric.

Why Won’t Chlorinated Pool Water Bleach Clothes?

If you’ve ever owned a pool, you will understand the importance of its constant maintenance. The water can turn cloudy and then green overnight. So it’s imperative to keep the pH levels as close to perfect as possible.

Chlorine is the primary chemical necessary to sanitize your pool and keep the water clear. But the optimum ratio is 1-3 ppm (parts per million). This very low ratio is sufficient to kill bacteria and prevent the growth and bloom of algae and is safe for swimming. Water is still safe for swimmers at 4-5 ppm, although far from ideal.

Although perfect for sanitizing pools, the chlorine level in pool water is far too low to affect clothing. Bleach has more than 200 ppm of chlorine in a single tablespoon, the approximate required ratio for immediately bleaching fabric.

Even when using bleach to disinfect or sanitize a pool, it will not bleach clothing items. The formula for this purpose is one gallon of bleach for every 30 000 gallons of pool water. This will take your chlorine level to 2 ppm. Again, not enough to bleach clothing.

To achieve a similar chlorine level using granules, you will need approximately 1 lb of chlorine for every 30 000 gallons of water.

The vast volume of water dilutes chlorine to the point where it effectively cleans the nasties from your pool. However, the solution is not nearly strong enough to bleach clothes rapidly.

If you're worried about chlorine bleaching your clothes, you might also be noticing a strong chlorine smell in your pool. Discover why your pool might smell strongly of chlorine.

Why Do My Swimming Clothes Look Bleached?

If you wear other clothing over your swimsuit or instead of one, you might disagree with the statement that chlorinated pool water does not bleach clothing. Your shorts and t-shirts may have lost most of their color or look washed out. Even swimsuits fade.

People mostly swim during summer, when the sun is at its hottest, so it stands to reason that clothing soaked by pool water that dries in the heat will begin to fade over time. However, this fading is due to the sun rather than the chlorine in the pool water.

Yellow Stains On White Clothing Worn Near Pools

Those still arguing the point that pool chlorine bleaches clothing often cite the yellow stains found on white clothes worn in or near pools. After all, we know that sometimes household bleach can leave such marks.

But these yellow stains on your whites actually come from sunscreen. Chemicals in some sunblocks, combined with sweat, can leave ugly yellow marks on your clothes. It is not the pool chlorine bleaching your swimming clothes.

Accidentally Bleaching Clothing With Pool Chlorine

Here is where the maintenance becomes a risk to your clothing. Many people dissolve chlorine granules in water before pouring the solution into the pool for even distribution. If you splash this mixture on your clothes, it will bleach and damage any color fabric aside from white.

Liquid chlorine and shock treatment also have very high concentrations that will bleach your clothes if they come into contact with these substances.

Unfortunately, chlorine damage on clothing is permanent. The fabric is not stained; instead, the bleach strips all color from the item. You can do little to fix this besides dyeing the fabric. This is often unsuccessful because the shades may be different, and the material could be damaged.

Some creative people report tie-dying as the best option for trying to resurrect clothing with bleach damage. But if you’re not that talented, it’s best to keep wearing those clothes for your pool maintenance. That way, you won’t damage any other outfits. Otherwise, you may have to throw them away or use them for cleaning rags.

If you're sensitive to chlorine's effects on your clothes, you might also need pool chemicals for sensitive skin. Check out our recommendations.

Can I Make Household Bleach From Pool Chlorine?

At the height of the pandemic, household bleach was scarce. People wanted to disinfect their homes from top to bottom, so bleach was a top seller. Interestingly, you can use chlorine to make household bleach. Although most people would use this to disinfect doubtful drinking water in emergencies, you can also use this pool chlorine mixture to bleach clothes.

To make this bleach solution, use ¼ oz granular calcium hypochlorite in 2 gallons of water and stir until dissolved. This is a rough equivalent of household bleach, suitable for bleaching fabrics, cleaning, and disinfecting water. Use the following ratios for different purposes:

  • Use the bleach solution in a 1:10 ratio with water for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
  • For disinfecting drinking water, use a 1:100 ratio.

Final Thoughts

So, does pool chlorine bleach clothes? Yes and no! It all depends on the chlorine concentration. Pool water with its chlorine already added will not bleach your clothing because the levels are far too low from dilution. On the other hand, splashing liquid chlorine or dissolved granules in a bucket on yourself will ruin your clothing.

Considering the effects of pool chlorine on clothes might lead you to compare pools and beaches. Explore why pools might still be a better choice.