7 Tips for Keeping a Kiddie Pool Clean All Summer Long

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated April 1, 2022
Children play in a wading pool
Photo: iStock / Getty Images

Before you make a splash, make sure that the kiddie pool is clean

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Wading pools are great for kids to splash in, and even adults and pups can cool off in these little reservoirs of water when the temperatures skyrocket. But as the kids run barefoot through the grass and straight into the pool or your dog hops in with muddy paws, these small pools can get dirty fast. 

Unlike large in-ground or above-ground pools that use chemicals and filters to keep clean, wading pools require a little more effort from you. Here’s how to keep a kiddie pool clean, no matter how you use your small pool.

1. Keep It Covered

Whether you run inside for some lunch or it’s time to come inside for the night, make sure to cover the kiddie pool to help keep any debris or critters from coming into the pool when it isn’t occupied. You can purchase covers made explicitly for small pools or pull out some tarps from the garage—just make sure they are clean first. Either way, consider using bricks or pavers to keep the tarp or cover in place.

2. Use a Scrub Brush

Before you fill your pool with the garden hose, you should use a scrub brush around the interior. Even if it looks pretty clean, giving it a quick scrub can help loosen any debris and help keep scum at bay. After scrubbing the kiddie pool with a brush and a little dish soap, thoroughly rinse it out with water before filling it up.

3. Refresh the Water

A boy fills a wading pool
Photo: iStock / Getty Images

Unlike large pools, kiddie pools don’t have filters, pumps, and chemicals to keep the water moving and to prevent bacterial growth or mosquito nesting. Stagnant water brings a host of health risks, from inviting mosquitoes to becoming a breeding ground for germs. 

Especially for smaller pools, or if all the neighborhood kids are in and out of your kiddie pool, plan to change out the water at least once per day to prevent germs from spreading. The cost to fill a pool of 100 to 200 gallons is about $0.40 to $0.80 each time, or $0.004 per gallon. You may also want to reduce waste by reusing the water for plants around the yard. 

4. Grab a Skimmer

Leaves, grass clippings, and small bugs might find their way into your kiddie pool throughout the day. Use a small skimmer to filter out any larger pieces of debris. You should do this chore at least once per day, but if it’s a particularly active day, you may need to skim it more than just once.

5. Vacuum the Bottom

Purchase a portable pool vacuum to help suck up any small debris particles that the skimmer can’t quite catch. Make sure you use a pool or a wet-dry vacuum specifically if there’s any trace of water left, as a handheld vacuum designed for floors will put you at risk of electrocution.

6. Wipe Feet First

Keep an extra towel handy before any wading session, and encourage kids and adults to wipe off their feet before dipping a toe into the pool. If you have a kiddie pool for fur children and they are patient enough, wipe their paws before letting them sit and splash in the water. This step can help minimize the grass clippings, dirt, and other debris that can muck up the water.

7. Prevent Sunscreen Build-Up

You shouldn’t be taking a dip without slathering on the sunscreen, but the oils from your lotions and sprays may get into the water and start building up on the bottom and sides of the kiddie pool. To keep the pool clean, you can purchase oil-absorbing balls or sponges that help absorb the oils from sunscreens and other personal care products that might get into the pool water. 

Although you can scrub the build-up away with a cleaning brush, these sponges help prevent build-up in the first place. Replace the sponges every few weeks or when they start to look discolored.

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