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If you have a pool, you need to sanitize the water. Most people do that with chlorine. Unfortunately, for the past couple of summers, chlorine has been hard to find.

The good news is there’s a light at the end of the tunnel; chlorine prices are expected to come down as the supply goes up. The bad news is that probably won’t happen until 2023. Here’s all you need to know about the chlorine shortage, including where you can still find tablets.

Why is there a chlorine shortage?

While it has become typical to blame everything on COVID-19, only part of the chlorine shortage is due to the pandemic. COVID-19 is responsible for labor shortages, distribution issues, and, in many ways, increased demand. But there is another factor that has made chlorine so scarce.

Labor shortages and distribution issues

The pandemic created labor shortages and supply chain issues that have inhibited the production and distribution of chlorine. However, compared to the other factors, these are relatively minor concerns.

Increased demand

When people couldn’t travel during that first summer of the pandemic, many invested in a staycation. In other words, home swimming pool construction went up dramatically in 2020. With so many more pools, the demand for chlorine tablets skyrocketed.


While the impact that the pandemic had on chlorine was substantial, it pales compared to how Mother Nature crippled the industry. Already struggling, in August 2020, Louisiana was hit by Hurricane Laura. The storm destroyed a major chlorine manufacturing plant. While it might not seem that losing one plant should cause much of a ripple in the supply chain, a fire on the premises destroyed almost 40% of the nation’s chlorine tablet supply.

What does chlorine do?

When you clean your pool, you use a skimmer to remove objects that are floating on the surface. A pool vacuum, on the other hand, picks up the debris that has settled on the bottom. Both of these pool maintenance tools methods, while essential, only clean the water. They do not sanitize it. That means the water still has algae, bacteria, microorganisms and more. Chlorine kills these viruses and makes the water safe for swimming.

Can I get by without sanitizing my pool water?

There is a wide variety of swimming-related illnesses that occur when the water is not properly sanitized. These illnesses can involve diarrhea, skin infections, ear infections, eye infections, and more. According to the CDC, a swimmer can get sick if they “swallow, have contact with, or breathe in mists or aerosols from water contaminated with germs.” The CDC also states that recreational water might contain Cryptosporidium, which can be life-threatening for people who have weakened immune systems. In short, you need to sanitize your pool water.

How has the shortage affected the price of chlorine?

In the worst-case scenario, people are finding it difficult to even locate chlorine. In the best-case scenario, expect to pay more than three times the price of what you were paying just a couple of years ago. Before the shortage, a 50-pound bucket of chlorine tablets cost roughly $75. Now, a good price is $250.

How much chlorine do I need?

It is impossible to guess how much chlorine you will go through in the summer. The number of swimmers, the weather, and more all affect how quickly chlorine evaporates from your pool. The biggest factors that determine how much chlorine you will need, however, are how much water is in your pool and how many days you keep your pool open during the swim season.

One 3-inch chlorine tablet can treat up to 5,000 gallons of water. Many brands claim you only need to add tablets once per week, but this is not always the case. You will need to monitor the chlorine levels in your pool to determine what your needs are. A 20,000-gallon pool may require anywhere between 50 to 100 tablets for the season. This translates to 25 to 50 pounds of tablets per season. Again, this is only a rough estimate. The size of the pool, weather, and use can have a dramatic effect on chlorine usage.

When will there be chlorine again?

It is hard to predict when the chlorine shortage will end. On the positive side, when the chlorine plant in Louisiana is up and running, it will have a much higher production capacity. This means the supply can more quickly catch up to the demand. On the downside, the lingering pandemic could still cause workforce and supply chain problems in the future. Things may be closer to normal by 2023.

Should I stock up on chlorine?

Buying more tablets than you will use in a season creates several problems. First, you need to be able to safely store the chlorine throughout the winter. Second, improperly stored chlorine will degrade much faster than its typical three- to five-year shelf life. Third, taking more than you need only makes the problem worse for everyone. Fourth, if you purchase enough chlorine tablets for two years, and the shortage ends, you will have overpaid.

Chlorine brands you can still buy

Doheny_s 3-inch Swimming Pool Chlorine Tablets 50 Pounds

Doheny’s 3-inch Swimming Pool Chlorine Tablets (50 Pounds)

Doheny’s has been making chlorine tablets for over 50 years. These tablets are pre-stabilized to help prevent premature chlorine burn-off. The tablets are individually wrapped to reduce the chlorine smell from off-gassing.

Sold by Amazon

In The Swim 3-inch Swimming Pool Chlorine Tablets 50 Pounds

In The Swim 3-inch Swimming Pool Chlorine Tablets (50 Pounds)

These tablets are slow-dissolving and stabilized to help prevent premature chlorine burn-off. The three-inch tablets are individually wrapped in easy-open packages.

Sold by Amazon

Clorox 3-inch Long-Lasting Chlorinating Tablets 25 Pounds

Clorox 3-inch Long-Lasting Chlorinating Tablets (25 Pounds)

The manufacturer recommends adding these long-lasting tablets just once each week. They are enriched with a stabilizer, which helps prevent premature chlorine burn-off. The tablets also contain water conditioners to help your water feel silky smooth. 

Sold by Amazon

Pool Mate 3-inch Chlorinating Tablets 5 pounds

Pool Mate 3-inch Chlorinating Tablets (5 pounds)

These all-in-one tablets cost a bit more than other options, but they contain several additives to help treat your water. They can help keep your water clear, prevent stains, kill algae, and prevent scale buildup, which can cause corrosion.

Sold by Home Depot

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money. 

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