How Does Chlorine Work to Clean a Swimming Pool?

How Does Chlorine Work to Clean a Swimming Pool? image by


A necessary part of owning a pool, is constant pool maintenance. Chlorine is used to kill any algae or bacteria within the pool. This keeps the pool water clear, while at the same time protecting you from any harmful bacteria may be in the pool water.

How it Works

Chlorine works by breaking into two parts when it is introduced to the pool water, hypochlorite ion and hypochlorous acid. These two parts kill the microorganisms that like to congregate in your pool by attacking the cell walls of the organisms. First they attack the lipids contained in the cell walls, and through that they gain access and can kill the other organelles within the cell. This oxidizes the organism and makes the water safe for humans to enter.

pH levels

The pH level of your pool needs to be stabilized between 7 and 8. Too high or too low of a pH can slow down the chlorine's ability to clean the pool, and may also encourage bacteria growth and reproduction.


Chlorine is a harmful chemical to humans and animals. However, as the chlorine breaks down in the pool it either combines with ammonia and neutralizes, or breaks down so much that it is no longer harmful. However, if chlorine levels get too high the pool may not be able to break down the chemicals fast enough to make it safe to enter the pool. Even in low levels chlorine may still cause allergic reactions to those with sensitive skin, or may leave a linger harmful chlorine gas above the pool.


Many alternatives to chlorine have been invented in the last decade for cleaning pools. Though not always as efficient, and usually much more expensive, these new alternative do allow you to keep your pool and spa clean without the hazards of working with chlorine.

About this Author

Chris Sherwood is a professional freelance journalist who specializes in health and fitness, diseases, medical and health research, and drug and alcohol effects research. Sherwood is currently finishing his degree in health care policy and administration with an emphasis on hospital administration.

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