How to Keep a Kiddie Pool Clean: Best Practices to Follow

how to keep a kiddie pool clean

As a parent, it can be difficult to strike that balance between letting your kid run wild and watching them like a hawk to make sure they aren’t doing anything dangerous. It just seems like there is no end to the number of ways your child can endanger themselves.

When it comes to having a pool in your backyard, maybe your child is not yet at the age where it’s safe for them to be in a pool, so you settle for a kiddie pool. You read every article on the internet on how to keep the pool clean and how to keep your child safe in it.

You don’t need the CDC to tell you that kiddie pools are breeding grounds for numerous harmful bacteria. If you have eyes and common sense, you already know that the water shouldn’t be green, and that your child shouldn’t be drinking the pool water.

If you are not taking care of the kiddie pool, then bacteria such as E. Coli, Giardia, as well as bug eggs can start to grow in the pool. Not a great place to expose your infant or toddler, is it? If you want to keep your child safe, you need to learn how to keep the kiddie pool clean. In order to do so, you must skim the pool regularly to remove debris, use a small pool vacuum to get rid of debris that settle on the bottom, sanitize the water with chlorine, and cover the pool when it’s not in use.

The rest of this article will focus on how you can best keep your kiddie pool clean by expanding on the points outlined above.

Low-cost, low-tech ways to keep the pool clean

Drain, wash, and refill the pool

Depending on the size of the kiddie pool, draining and refilling the pool should be relatively easy as most are small. This is the most straightforward way to ensure the water is clean – replace it each time.

You don’t even necessarily need to drain the pool after each use. That said, bacteria is smaller than the eye can see, so even a pool that looks clean might not be. If you notice the water is visibly dirty or that it has a greenish color, you had best drain, wash, and refill the pool ASAP. Also, if you know the pool won’t be used for a few days, just drain the water and wash the pool.

When washing the pool, you don’t need anything fancy; just some dish soap and water will suffice. You can use a sponge or kitchen brush to scrub the kiddie pool before rinsing it and refilling it.

If you are regularly draining, washing, and refilling the pool, you don’t even need to use chlorine, pool vacuums or anything else. All of the dirty stuff will be removed by draining the water, but the other options become more attractive the bigger your pool is.

Cover up the pool

Draining the pool is a huge waste of water the larger your kiddie pool is, particularly if the water has only been used once and it’s still very visibly clean. When the kids are done with the pool session for the day, you should cover the pool up.

You can specifically use pool covers, but you can also use a tarp or even a small tent to cover the top up. As long as it’s easy to put on and take off and won’t be ruined by the water, it should be adequate for the job.

Skim the surface of the pool daily

Once again assuming that you are not immediately replacing the water, it’s possible that some debris can fall into the kiddie pool. The most common debris are twigs and leaves, but other items can invariably fall in as well when it’s left uncovered.

You can purchase a pool skimmer for the job, which is essentially a net for scooping up the debris in your pool. Depending on how much stuff is floating along the surface in the pool, you can also just as easily use your hands or some other tool and fashion it for this job.

Clean up body oils, sunscreen, and other oily substances

The human body naturally produces oils, and chances are you’re going to be applying a generous amount of sunscreen on your child, and all of that can get washed off into the pool. Since oil floats on water, all of this oil will be floating along the surface, allowing you to easily clean it up.

How on earth can you remove oil from water other than draining the kiddie pool? You can use special oil and scum soaking sponges that float along the surface and absorb the oil.

Add distilled vinegar

If you are not a fan of using chlorine or other chemicals, you can try this natural method using distilled vinegar. Simply add one cup of distilled white vinegar into the pool and mix it evenly using your hands each day. That’s it.

Depending on the size of your kiddie pool, you might want to add a bit more, but for a larger kiddie pool, one cup of distilled vinegar is a good starting point. If you have a smaller kiddie pool, you can start with just half a cup of vinegar.

By doing this simple method, I found that I can safely reuse the same pool water for up to a week and it’d be nice and clear, whereas before the water would start to get murky after 2-3 days which was a clear sign that the water had gone bad.

One thing to note about this method is that you will not be able to water your grass or plants with the water in this pool. Vinegar is a natural weed and plant killer, so any plants that come into contact with this will die. That said, it only lasts a short time, and you can grow back any plants in that spot again shortly afterwards. If this is too much of a downside for you, then just stick with chlorine tablets or other disinfecting chemicals (more on that below).

More thorough ways to keep a kiddie pool clean

Vacuum the bottom of the pool

Unfortunately, the skimmer is not enough to get rid of all the debris. Not everything floats, and some debris can sink to the bottom of the pool. When that happens, you may need to use a pool vacuum to pick up the debris at the bottom of the pool that your skimmer can’t.

A pool vacuum is hard to justify if your kiddie pool is small, but it becomes a worthwhile investment for larger pools. That said, it can cost a pretty penny, but you should spare no expenses for your child’s wellbeing.

Look for portable pool vacuums that don’t rely on a pool pump or filter system to work. Similar to how an indoor vacuum works, a pool vacuum will suck up all the sediment, dirt, debris, etc.

Use chemicals to disinfect the pool

If you plan on using chemicals to disinfect your kiddie pool water, then you need to be very selective of which chemicals you use and how much of it to add. In this section, we will go over the most common chemicals to use to disinfect pool water so that it can be clean and safe to swim in.

  • Chlorine: Look for a stabilized chlorine tablet that is anywhere from 55-62% active. Add a suitable amount for however many gallons of water your kiddie pool can hold.
  • Algaecide: No one wants to see their pool water turn a yucky green color, which signals the presence of algae. Using an algaecide will prevent this from happening. Find an algaecide that is 60% active. You can use algaecide simultaneously with chlorine to keep your pool bacteria-free.
  • Borax: Another helpful disinfectant is Borax. You can find it in nearly every laundry section of any store, and it is perfectly safe to use as long as you follow the instructions.
  • Household bleach: Any household bleach can be used to disinfect the pool. Most of them are only 6% active which is safe to use in a kiddie pool.
  • Water testing kit: Even after using the chemicals listed above, wouldn’t you want to confirm that the bacteria in the pool has actually been eliminated? That would give you peace of mind and reassurance knowing that the chemicals are working properly and that your children are safe. A water testing kit will confirm these results for you.

How much chemicals should I add to an inflatable pool?

We told you what chemicals to use but we didn’t get into specifics on how much to add. There’s a reason for that. Not everybody’s inflatable pool is the same size, and how many gallons of water your kiddie pool can hold will affect the quantity of chemicals you should add to keep it clean.

Thus, we cannot give you exact recommendations, but we can ballpark it. If you’re worried, it’s better to add too little than too much. You can increase the amount once you’re comfortable.

Also, carefully read the labels on each chemical you use. For instance, something like household bleach will provide very detailed instructions on how much bleach you can safely add into water.

We recommend using this pool calculator to help you figure out roughly how much of each chemical to add.

Once you’ve determined how much of each ingredient to add, next comes what order to add them in. Start with borax and bleach/chlorine first. Chlorine is stronger than bleach, so you will have to add more bleach in order to match the effectiveness of chlorine.

Next, use the water testing strips to make sure that the pH is around 7.2-7.6 and that the chlorine is around 1-3 ppm. Once this is achieved, you can finally move on to algaecide.

To be safe, you should test the water before each session to ensure that the pool water is still safe to swim in. Once the chlorine readings reach 2.0 or lower, you’ll need to repeat the previous steps to make it safe to swim in again.

How often should you drain and refill the water in a kiddie pool?

The frequency at which you drain and refill the pool depends on the methods you chose to keep the water clean.

If you are not relying on any disinfectants, it is a viable option to simply drain, wash, and refill the pool every single day. Untreated water can become bacteria-infested in just 24-48 hours, even if the water appears to be visibly clean.

When relying on completely natural disinfecting methods, such as distilled vinegar, you can make the water last from a few days up to a week, assuming you are adding more distilled vinegar daily.

The longest-lasting solutions are to use either chlorine tablets or bleach, which are the most aggressive bacteria-eliminating solutions. They can let you reuse the water for up to two weeks, assuming you are monitoring the chlorine levels and adding more when needed.

For those who have smaller-sized kiddie pools, it’s probably the least hassle to simply drain the water and refill it after each use.

How to keep bugs out of the inflatable pool

One problem that may force you to drain the pool much earlier than expected is the presence of bugs. No one likes to swim in a bug-infested pool, so you have to do everything in your power to keep them away.

Bugs are attracted to stagnant pools, so you must either cover the pool up with a tarp or a tent, drain the pool daily, or find a way to reduce the amount of bugs in your lawn.

Keeping your lawn maintained is a great way to reduce the presence of bugs. Overgrown grass, clogged gutters, and an uncovered pool are like a siren song for bugs. You might even consider setting bug traps around your yard, but that is an endless battle that you might not want to fight.

If you don’t want to deal with this problem, it’s best to cover the pool with a tarp or to place a tent over the pool to keep bugs from getting inside. That way, you can save water and keep the pool in good condition for your kids to use for the next week or so.