How to Keep a Kiddie Pool Clean (8 Tips)

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Last updated: October 25, 2023

A guide with eight tips to keep a kiddie pool clean when in use and when in storage, so your kids can safely enjoy the water fun during the summer months.

A kiddie pool in the backyard is great fun, but it does require daily cleaning work. I have purchased my fair share of small inflatable kiddie pools and splash pads over the years, and have experienced first hand how cleaning is so important but often overlooked.

A lot of factors impact how maintenance heavy a kiddie pool is going to be, for example:

  • Size of the pool
  • How often is it going to be used
  • How many kids are going to use it
  • Surroundings of the pool (i.e. trees)
  • How the pool will be stored

A lot to consider, and everyone’s situation will be different.

8 Kiddie Pool Cleaning Tips

Here are eight tips to keep a kiddie pool clean, tips that have worked well for me. Don’t feel obliged to try and implement all of these tips because every pool is different.

1. Empty the Pool Regularly

While you can’t empty a backyard pool daily, a kiddie pool is typically small enough to do just that.

While draining every day may be a bit much, you should definitely do it regularly. You can use the excess water to water the plants in the garden.

Debris in kiddie pool
Debris in kiddie pool

The buildup of dirt, debris, and germs during a warm summer’s day is significant, and emptying the pool is an effective way to keep the pool clean.

2. Wash and Scrub After Use

When you drain the pool, it’s crucial to give it a good wash and scrub before storing or refilling it.

You can use a simple kitchen brush or a specific pool brush with a bit of soap for this not-so-fun chore.

3. Cover the Pool

During the day, when the kiddie pool is filled with water, it’s a good idea to place a cover on top of it when the kids are having a break.

Many kiddie pools you buy today include a soft cover, but it’s easy enough to make one yourself with timber or plastic.

A simple tarp works really well for this also, and use some heavier objects, like bricks or stones, to keep the tarp in place when it is windy.

4. Use a Canopy Tent

Another thing to consider, and this is something I do as well, is to place the kiddie pool, when being used, underneath a pop-up canopy tent.

Not only will this help to keep debris out, but it also provides extra sun protection. A basic canopy tent is very affordable and super easy to set up.

5. Use Chlorine

Using chlorine, or any other chemical substance such as bleach, to help keep a kiddie pool clean is a bit of a controversial debate.

Before I explain why I do use chlorine, let me emphasize that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) actually advises against it.

The CDC is of the opinion that kiddie pools are too small (hold a relatively small amount of water compared to standard pools) to use bleach or disinfectants. Because a kiddie pool is so small (with portions of water being splashed out), you may be adding too much disinfectant.

The other reason is that because kiddie pools don’t have filters to remove debris and dirt, the disinfectants are partly used up by that same debris and dirt rather than getting rid of germs.

But the reality is that kiddie pools are breeding grounds for germs, and these germs spread like wildfire. As such, I do use disinfectants in very small amounts, in addition to all the other measures on this list to help keep the kiddie pool clean during and after use.

What do I use?

For the kiddie pools in my backyard, I use chlorine tablets with a dispenser. When preparing the kiddie pool, I put a tablet in the dispenser and simply let it float rather than placing the tablet itself in the water. I’m certainly not saying this will keep the pool clean and free from germs, but it does help.

Mini Floating Chlorine Dispenser
  • The above pool dispenser is designed for use with 1" Bromine or Chlorine Tablets
  • Automatically releases chlorine into your pool
  • The multiple mini dispenser can be used depending on the size of the pool or spa...

Also note that I often use a water testing kit to test the quality of the water during the day. This will tell me the chlorine level and pH level.

What should those levels be?

The chlorine level should be at least 3 ppm (parts per million), and the pH level should be between 7.2 and 7.8. That water testing kit will tell you those numbers, and you can take action based on the test results.

6. Use a Skimmer Net

A pool skimmer essentially works as a filter that can capture debris before it sinks to the bottom, where it is harder to remove.

A skimmer for a kiddie pool may sound a bit excessive, but a simple skimmer net can work wonders with very little effort required.

Fine Mesh Leaf Skimmer Net
  • Scoops out leaves, debris, pollen from pool, spa, fountain, pond, hot tub
  • Convenient and Easy: Can be used with a standard 1-1/4" pole (not included) or...
  • Sturdy Yet Light-weight: Durable, fine mesh netting and high quality plastic...

Use it to regularly scoop out things like leaves, debris, sand, pollen, and also flies with its fine mesh netting.

The best part of using a skimmer net is that kids will love using it too, so by all means, get them involved in the cleaning process.

7. Use a Small Pool Vacuum

If the kiddie pool in your backyard is a bit bigger than average, it may be worth investing in a pool vacuum.

You guessed it; a pool vacuum removes the debris from the bottom of the pool if you haven’t been able to catch it with the skimmer net.

Some vacuums are specifically designed for smaller pools, but as mentioned, if your pool is very small, a vacuum might just be a bit much.

8. Eliminate Scum

No matter how big or small, pools will always create unpleasant scum from body oils, lotions, sweat, sunscreen, and other things.

There is a solution for everything, and to eliminate scum formation in your kiddie pool, you can use a scum ball or bug that attracts and absorbs these oils and other residue.


8 Tips to keep a kiddie pool clean


Thomas Dunnett

The backyard is the perfect place to bond with family and friends or to simply relax with a bit of sunshine and some fresh air. I've been passionate about the backyard lifestyle ever since my childhood, and with this website, I hope to share that passion with you.

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