How to Clean Above-Ground Pool After Draining

It goes without saying that you need to clean your pool often. Improper or inconsistent maintenance can lead to hygiene issues that are detrimental to your health. However, even with consistent cleaning, the pool should be drained at least once every 5-7 years for some deep cleaning.

In this article, I will go over exactly how to clean your above-ground pool after draining it and the best practices to follow so that you don’t accidentally damage the pool or do a poor job of cleaning it.

A cautionary message

Generally speaking, pool experts will tell you not to drain your pool. There are a multitude of reasons for that, but the succinct answer is that it can cause damage to the pool liner and even the pool structure.

For an above-ground pool, we are mostly concerned about damage to the pool liner. When a vinyl liner starts to dry out, it will shrink and lose elasticity. Even if you add water to it again, it will never be as supple as it once was.

When you try to stretch it out once again to cover your pool, it can now tear more easily due to its smaller size. Furthermore, the sun’s UV rays can make the material brittle and easier to damage.

So my recommendation is this: if you must drain your pool to clean it, do it on a day where it is cloudy and not windy. Sunlight and wind can cause water to evaporate quickly and will cause your pool liner to shrink.

Cleaning an above-ground pool without a filtration system

If your above-ground has no filtration system, then it likely means you have an inflatable pool or another kind of pool that is not a permanent fixture. Pools like that are typically smaller and are meant to be drained at the end of the day and refilled the next.

Inflatable pools are much easier to clean because you just need to give them a thorough scrubbing before refilling them or stowing them away.

You’ll notice that even for an inflatable pool that gets freshwater put into it each day, its surface will have dirt, algae, and other nasties that need to be scrubbed clean.

However, above-ground pools with a vinyl liner are a different story.

Cleaning an above-ground vinyl-lined pool with a filtration system

Some reasons you may have for draining an above-ground pool are to change its filter, to patch up the pool liner or replace it entirely, or to fix a chemical imbalance in the water. Here’s how to do it:

Gather the necessary tools

For this job, we need:

  • A hose and pool pump
  • A bucket
  • A sponge
  • A pool brush
  • Some hot water
  • Bleach/Pool cleaning solution

Drain the pool

Now we need to drain the pool. Most above-ground pools are drained using a pool pump. Simply attach an intake hose and then place it into the center of the pool.

Direct the other end of the hose to the sewer drain or a downhill slope. Do not let the pool water drain underneath your pool or anywhere else in your yard because this can drown the grass/plants as well as erode the pool’s foundation.

I mentioned in the “A cautionary message” section above that you should try to drain your pool on a cloudy and non-windy day. Try to do it very early in the morning because the sun will reach its peak around noon and can cause damage to your pool liner.

I recommend doing a quick calculation of how much water the pump can drain and how many gallons of water your pool can hold, and determine how long it will take to drain your pool. You don’t want the pool to just be finished draining during peak sun hours.

Ideally, the pool is already finished draining, cleaning, and well on its way to being refilled before that happens, otherwise you definitely need some clouds to protect your pool.

Remove the liner

Once the pump is unable to drain any more water, it’s time to turn it off and remove the liner. The liner is what covers the inner structure of your above-ground pool and keeps water from leaking out.

First, remove all plumbing equipment around the pool and any accessories in the pool or nearby to reduce the chances of ripping it.

Most above-ground pool liners are held in place by a track that you can pull away to take the liner off without damaging it.

Also prepare a location where you can place your liner after removing it. Remove any rocks, sticks, and other sharp debris in that area so that there is less chances of the liner getting punctured. Then spread the liner over this safe area.

Mix the cleaning solution and brush the liner with it

You can use bleach or a commercial pool cleaning solution. If you’re using bleach, mix half a cup of bleach for every 2-3 cups of hot water in a bucket. If you’re using a commercial pool cleaning solution, follow the instructions on the label.

Next, dip the sponge into the bucket and start to scrub the pool liner. You want to be gentle yet thorough, making sure to scrub the entire surface to remove the dirt, debris, or algae.

After rubbing the liner with a sponge, use a pool brush (they have much softer bristles), dip it into the cleaning solution, and sweep the pool liner with it. Again, be very careful and thorough so that you can clean the liner without puncturing it.

Rinse the pool liner and place it over the pool

Next, we rinse the pool by spraying it with a hose or filling buckets up with water and dumping it over the liner. You want to do this for 5-10 minutes to ensure all of the bleach residue has washed off.

Finally, it’s time to reattach the liner to your above-ground pool and refill it with water. Hopefully you were able to get all of that done before the sun reached its peak and without the liner drying up and shrinking.

There is always a risk involved with draining your pool, but deep cleaning is sometimes necessary to prevent the growth of bacteria and algae in the water. Now you can rest easy knowing that you have created a clean, hygienic environment that can last you many more years.