Pool and Hot Tub Test Strips

Did you know that you can check the free chlorine level and pH of a public swimming pool or hot tub before getting into the water, using an over-the-counter test strip? Hot tubs and pools with good disinfectant and pH control are less likely to spread germs. That is why it’s important to know that any pool or hot tub you are swimming is being well maintained.

Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell pool and hot tub test strips.

How to Use Pool & Hot Tub Home Test Strips

Reminder – please follow all manufacturer recommendations when utilizing and storing test strips for pool or spa chlorine testing. Be sure to check the expiration date on the packaging before you buy them.

Testing the strips at home before visiting the pool can help you learn how to properly use and read them.

In order to test at home, you will need:

  • 3 containers
  • 13 cups of regular tap water
  • 3 drops of liquid chlorine bleach *please note that if bleach is more than 3 months old, it may be too old to provide an accurate test


Allow tap to run for about 2 minutes.

  • Fill container 1 with 1 cup of water
  • Fill containers 2 and 3 with 6 cups of water each
  • Add 1 drop of liquid chlorine bleach to container 2
  • Add 2 drops of liquid chlorine bleach to container 3
  • Test each container of water utilizing the strips and the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Read test strips and compare to chart below
Chart for Using Chlorine Test Strips at Home
Amounts and Readings Container 1 Container 2 Container 3
Amount of Tap Water At least 1 cup At least 6 cups At least 6 cups
Amount of Bleach to Add None 1 drop 2 drops
Amount of Free Chlorine Predicted 0 to <1 ppm 2-3 ppm 4-5 ppm
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Page last reviewed: April 2, 2022