One day, we’ll look back on this era of our lives and distantly remember what it was like to constantly wear face masks, stand far away from our friends, not touch our faces, and wash our hands. It’s just our current reality—our health and safety depends on these few consistent measures. And, a few more. Anyone else out there a little tired of it?
Thankfully, unlike these guidelines, what it takes to keep our pools clean isn’t new. But it’s always a good idea to be extra diligent about cleanliness during a global pandemic, and it’s also a great opportunity to optimize your cleaning routine. I’ll make sure we’re on the same page about the behavior of the COVID-19 virus, explain why your pool can be safe from the virus, walk you through the optimal cleaning schedule, and break down what you should be looking for in your pool cleaning equipment and chemicals—now and always.
Let’s Clarify: What You Should Know About the COVID-19 Virus
You probably have a good understanding of what the COVID-19 virus is, since it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere for now. But let’s revisit the basics briefly so we can be sure we’re talking about the same thing. To clear up any misinformation you might’ve heard at the last socially-distanced hang, I’ll be sourcing the national health authority, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for every fact.
Many coronaviruses have existed throughout time, and chances are that we’ve all a coronavirus before—some are called the common cold. So why has this virus in particular paused the world as we know it? That’s because this COVID-19 virus is novel, meaning that it hasn’t been previously identified—which also means we have no resistance to it. There’s a reason it’s taking some time for an approved vaccine to enter the market. (Source: CDC).
People who contract the disease COVID-19 (officially named SARS-CoV-2) usually have a fever, a dry cough, and shortness of breath. However, if someone with COVID-19 has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or the inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face, they might not be getting enough oxygen. If someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s imperative that they go to the hospital immediately. (Source: CDC).
Regardless of how long we’ve been living in a world with this virus, it doesn’t get any less serious—and nobody should ever want it. So let’s touch base on how the virus spreads.
How the Virus Spreads—With Care, It’s Not In Your Pool
According to CDC, the virus is primarily spread from person to person. Here’s how:
· When people are in close contact with each other—within about six feet.
· Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths and noses of nearby people, or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. In some cases, these droplets remain in the air after the infected person has left.
· COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
· Though not considered the main way the virus spreads, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.
But what does the CDC have to say about COVID-19 in your pool, considering water-borne illnesses of the past are well-documented? It’s really, really good news: the CDC reports that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can transmit through water. Now that’s a major win.
How Can Your Pool Be Safe? Shout-out to Sanitizer
Even back in the early day of the pandemic when the CDC didn’t have enough information to take a stance on whether or not it can survive in water, it was still accepted that a properly-sanitized pool was, in fact, safe. This might be because the recommended dose of chlorine in swimming pools kills most bacteria—and in under a minute.
The ideal chlorine combination of your pool should be between 1 and 3 parts per million (ppm). In order to kill any pathogenic viruses, including the possibility of COVID-19, you’ll want to make sure your chlorine concentration doesn’t fall below 1 ppm (though the World Health Organization recommends as little as .5 ppm). Go above 3 ppm and while you’re sure to wipe out the virus, you’re also vulnerable to irritation in your eyes, nose, lungs, and throat. (Source: CDC.)
Unfortunately, the air itself can’t be chlorinated—otherwise, we probably would be able to live our lives a lot differently right about now. So it’s important to still swim safely, and follow all social distancing guidelines. The bright side is that with care, a swim in our pool, which is good for our bodies and our minds, is also safe from the virus.
To keep your circulation system in top shape, you’ll need a reliable, powerful, and energy-saving pump like the 2 HP Energy Star Variable Speed In Ground Blue Torrent Cyclone Pump to make sure all your water is sanitized. Plus, it comes with a free warranty, is eligible for rebates, and pays itself off in under a year. According to customer James Robinson, “Great price, quick shipping and delivery. Installed it and turned it on, and it was so quiet that we both reached down to feel if it was vibrating! Simple controls. I’d buy it again.”
Your Cleaning Routine, Broken Down
Hey, I get it. It’s tempting to stay on top of your sanitizer and consider the job well done. And while sanitizer is essential, it can’t just do the heavy lifting all on its own—and without the support it needs, it can be wasted on large debris. This is the heart of why cleaning your pool at every level is so important: when leaves, twigs, and other debris falls into your pool, your chorine gears up to attack it just like it would any microscopic bacteria. But unlike that teeny tiny bacteria, chlorine is no match for a leaf. Eventually, your chlorine will literally die trying—and not have any sanitizing juice for the pathogenic bacteria in your pool that actually need blasting.
If chlorine could dissolve all debris and bacteria, large and small, all you’d have to do is balance it in your pool every week. But unfortunately, that’s not the reality in which we currently live. Your cleaning schedule should be broken down like this:
You should skim your pool water once a day, as well as check your skimmer basket for any leaves and twigs that might have been filtered out of your circulation system on your water’s way to the pump.
You should be brushing your pool’s walls and floors every few days to dislodge any debris that might be clinging on—including microscopic algae blooms that might be gearing up to bloom and make a mess of your pool, as well as deplete your sanitizer.
You should vacuum your pool every week with a manual vacuum—meaning you’ll have to save up some time and elbow grease every time. Yikes. Or, you can just power up that convenient robotic cleaner and let it do the job for you.
Get the Right Cleaning Gear for You
Whew, all caught up—we’re on the same page about the COVID-19 virus and the cleaning schedule that will keep your pool in optimal shape. Since you do have to clean your pool fairly frequently even when there isn’t a pandemic sweeping the globe, let’s talk about gear. What you use to clean your pool you’ll use once a week at the least, and a whole lot of effort, too. With the right equipment, you can minimize the amount of time and effort cleaning your pool takes—all without making any compromises when it comes to cleanliness. I’ll break down all the gear that every pool owner needs in order to see the recommended cleaning routine through, plus what qualities you can find in the best equipment on the market.
We all know this one—in fact, even those who aren’t usually around a pool probably would recognize it. This nifty device can often be found laying next to a pool, or propped up on its perimeter. It’s usually attached to a telescopic pole, and is used to pick up large debris like leaves or twigs that are floating on your pool’s surface.
What to look for: Unfortunately, this skimmer net is still pretty standard. If any incredible new tech comes onto the market, I’ll let you know. For now, it’s best to look for a durable skimmer net that isn’t going to rip or detach from its frame, as well as a telescopic pole that’s long enough to save your back the strain.
Ahh, the pool brush. This is used three times a week to scrub down your pool walls and floors—which given the size of most residential pools is a pretty major job. It’s important that your pool is brushed thoroughly, since nasty contaminants tend to cling to your pool’s surfaces.
What to look for: As always, you want to be looking for durability. But the pool brush also poses a unique problem: most are single-sided, sort of like a large broom. And when you consider the fact that that brush has to be pushed through thousands of gallons of resistant water... let’s just say, soreness is one of the main complaints I hear from pool owners who do their maintenance the DIY way.
My recommendation? Get all those tight corners without hurting yourself in the process with the patented 360-Degree Bristles Blue Torrent Pool Brush. It was developed by long-term pool professionals who wanted the quickest, easiest, and most efficient brush job possible. As customer Scott Hinds notes, “Definitely the best pool brush I have ever owned. Far superior to other brushes.”
Manual Vacuum or Automatic Cleaner
These two are in the same category because they do the same job and need to happen at the same frequency, but make no mistake: they’re not equal. A manual vacuum takes time and effort to set up, let alone to actually use. There’s just no way around it. It’s a seriously tough job. Automatic cleaners and robotic vacuums, on the other hand, do the job for you.
What to look for: if it’s a manual vacuum, just don’t go there. Yes, they’re more affordable, but their hoses routinely break and they are notorious time-suckers. Get an automatic cleaner—they’re worth the price tag and so much more. They work on their own to keep your pool clean, and are as low-maintenance as it gets.
My recommendation? It depends on what kind of pool you’ve got. For inground pools, the best robotic vacuum on the market is the Blue Torrent MyBot Inground Robotic Cleaner, which works powerfully on its own to keep your walls and floor sparkling clean—and has the easiest set-up possible. For above-ground pools, automatic cleaners are notoriously badly crafted and unreliable—all but the The Blue Torrent Stinger Automatic Pool Cleaner. It works independently of your pool filter which lowers energy costs, just needs to be plugged into an outlet, and has a lifetime warranty.
This chemical deserves the shout-out, because it’s absolutely essential and woefully overlooked. Pool shock should be added to your pool once a week in order to keep your sanitizer working at optimal levels—otherwise, all the contaminants your sanitizer has neutralized continue to float along in your pool and take up space. Thankfully, pool shock couldn’t be easier to administer. Just slowly walking around the perimeter of your pool while dropping in the recommended dosage does the job.
What to look for: Pool shock is already a pretty easy granule to add, but it gets even easier if yours is sectioned out into one-pound bags. It is a chemical after all, and it makes your job a breeze if you don’t have to measure it out.
My recommendation? Tried and true shock like the Super Premium Sanitizing and Fast-Acting Pool Shock. Not only does it work fast in your water, but it’s conveniently packaged in one-pound bags. As customer W Graves says, “Perfectly good shock at a third of the regular brick-and-mortar stores’ price. What’s not to like?”
As we already learned, touching surfaces isn’t the main way the CDC believes COVID-19 is spread—but it is still considered a possibility. And while it probably isn’t necessary to do on a frequent basis, If a family member suspects that they might have COVID-19 or test positive for the virus, it’s a good time to clean and disinfect the surfaces with which they came into contact.
It’s also a good idea to sanitize surfaces if you’ve had any guests over. That’s people who aren’t in your household. Remember them?
What to look for: When you do wipe down these surfaces, make sure that you have a product that both cleans and disinfects, meaning it was formulated to kill germs. The CDC recommends an EPA-registered cleaner and/or disinfectant, and one that was intended for that particular surface. If you’re cleaning your metal pool rails, make sure that cleaner was intended for metal.
Now That’s Clean!
We might not be living in the ideal world right now, but we still have the ability to make the most out of what we’ve got—and even the smallest details can make all the difference. Now that you know that your pool is safe from the COVID-19 virus, you can also optimize your cleaning schedule for now and after the pandemic, and rest easy knowing that your swim presents no risk of the virus on everyone’s minds. And since this is such a stressful time, that relaxation is all the more essential. Take care, and enjoy.