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How To Clean An Inflatable Pool: Remove And Prevent Mold

A few days after getting our first inflatable pool, the water started to seem cloudy and the walls of the pool felt slimy. I wanted to find the right way to clean an inflatable pool, and keep the water safe to swim in. Here’s what I discovered.

To clean an inflatable pool, you will need to drain the water, scrub the lining with a cleaning solution, and refill every few days. Typically, larger inflatable pools will not need to be drained. Instead, you will sanitize the water and balance the pH regularly with chemicals such as chlorine and pH balancers.

There are a few easy steps you can take to extend the cleanliness of the water in your pool, cutting down on the cleaning schedule. Keeping the pool clean will extend the life of the inflatable pool, and prevent swimmers from getting sick due to poor quality water.

Steps To Clean An Inflatable Pool

These are the steps you need to take to completely clean an inflatable pool from top to bottom. If you have a large inflatable pool with a pump, you may only need to treat the water properly to get the pool clean. Check out my Inflatable Pool Water Treatment Guide for more info on that process.

Step 1: Drain Water

Start by draining all the water out of the pool. The pool may feel slimy and the water started turning green or cloudy, that’s how you know you need to clean the pool.

Most inflatable pools have a drain plug near the bottom of the pool, if yours doesn’t, you may need to deflate the pool a bit to let the water drain out.

Step 2: Dry The Pool

After you’ve completely drained the pool, try your best to dry it all the way out with a dry towel or rag. If the pool has grown mildew or feels slimy, don’t worry about that yet. You don’t need to wipe off all the grime, just get the rest of the water out of the pool.

Step 3: Cleaning Solution

You could try using a sanitary wipe like the ones Lysol makes, but I’ve found you need a bunch of them to completely clean the pool. So instead I mix a little bleach into a bucket of water and use that as a cleaning solution. Any spray bottle of bathroom or kitchen cleaner will work too. I recommend something that uses bleach or has a sanitizer in it.

Mix a 1/2 cup of bleach for every 6 cups of water or so. You can make this solution stronger if you have a lot of mildew build up on the pool.

Step 4: Scrub Lining

Before using the bleach or cleaning solution, you can scrub the pool down with soapy water to lift any grime or slimy residue on the pool surface. If the pool wasn’t really dirty to begin with, you may be fine just cleaning it this way with soapy water. I still like to do a quick wipe down with bleach water though, just to be sure.

Here’s video showing a great idea, get your kids to do this soapy scrubbing part for you.

Grab a rag and your cleaning solution and start scrubbing the walls of the pool, don’t forget to wear gloves. Clean every surface of the inflatable pool, getting up any mildew or grimy film you feel on the material.

Step 5: Rinse Out Pool

Get a garden hose or bucket of water and rinse out the pool. You might need to do a couple rinse cycles, the goal is to remove all the bleach or cleaning solution from the pool before refilling it.

I like to use a garden hose on jet stream to spray the inside of the pool at this stage. If you can lean the pool on its side against something, the rinse out will go much quicker.

Step 6: Refill Water

If the inside of the pool still feels slimy or has discolored film still on the material, you may need to do the scrub and rinse steps again. Once the entire pool is cleaned and rinsed out, you can add fresh water again.

This may need to be done every 2-4 days depending on usage and water you use. To cut down on the amount of pool cleaning you need to do, follow these ‘keep a pool clean’ tips below.

Keep A Pool Clean With A Filter Pump

If your pool has a filer pump, keeping it clean is pretty easy with the use of chemicals and a pump. The filter pump will circulate the water cleaning out debris for you throughout the day. Most larger inflatable pools will have holes in the side where you can hook the filter pump hoses up.

If you don’t have those holes, you can drape the filter pump hoses over the side of the pool to clean the water.

Pool Vacuum

Larger inflatable pools with a filter pump will generally have debris that gets to the bottom of the pool that the pump will not pick up. You could always dive down there and pick up as much as you can be hand, but you won’t be able to get it all.

I recommend this Big Sucker Pool Vacuum (link to Amazon). For under 30 bucks, this pool vacuum is a great way to keep the bottom of the pool clean, which keeps the water cleaner for longer.

Pool Cover

Covering the pool when not in use is one of the simplest ways to cut down on cleaning time and effort. Algae needs sun light to grow, not to mention all the leaves and debris that will get into the water if the pool is left open.

Pool covers can usually be found pretty cheap online, you just have to find one the right size. Start your search here, Inflatable Pool Cover on Amazon.

Water Treatment

Keeping the water sanitized with or without chemicals will keep your water clean and safe all season long. After the initial set up and cleaning, maintaining the chlorine levels and pH balance is all you’ll have to do.

Visit my Inflatable Pool Water Treatment article for a step by step guide on how to keep your pool water clean and sanitary all summer long.

Here’s a pretty long video about pool maintenance, but it’s very thorough, showing a complete weekly maintenance routine.

Keep A Pool Clean Without A Filter Pump

Without a filter pump, you could still use some of the water treatment techniques for sanitizing the water, but most inflatable pools that come without a filter pump are small enough to clean with the empty and refill steps above.

To keep the pool cleaner for longer, consider some of these tips. I’ve been able to go from cleaning the pool every couple days to once a week with these tips.

Skimmer Net

A skimmer net is one of the cheapest ways to keep debris out of the water. With excessive debris in the water like leaves, pine needles, and dirt, the pool walls will get slimy and grow mildew faster. This Hand Skimmer on Amazon for around 10 bucks will reduce your cleaning schedule.

Oil Sponge

This Scumbag Oil Absorbing Sponge (link to Amazon) will soak up any oil or residue left in the water from the swimmers. I only add this here because of how amazed I was watching this thing work its magic.

If you put sun tan lotion on your kids, or yourself, and then jump in the pool, all that lotion will get into the water and you’ll need to clean the water more often because of it. This oil sponge will soak up all those body oils and lotions to keep your water cleaner for longer.

Small Pool Chemicals

This Small Pool Care Kit made by Clorox and found on Amazon is a great way to treat the water for medium sized inflatable pools that don’t have a filter pump. For the smaller pools, I think this just too much. But for pools that are large enough that emptying and refilling is a pain, this is a great alternative.

Cleaning the pool out once a week is easier for smaller pools than dealing with the chemicals and testing pH levels all the time.


It may be difficult to find pool covers for the smaller inflatable pools. But if you can find a way to cover it when not in use, it will keep your water cleaner. Start your search here, Inflatable Pool Cover on Amazon.

How Often To Change Inflatable Pool Water

I have seen it recommended that you change the water in inflatable pools every day or two. To me that’s a bit extreme, following the tips above, I can usually go a week before needing to change out the water.

For very small kiddie pools, like the one we have for our 1 year old, changing the water every time he uses it is no big deal to me. I just empty it when he’s done playing, and refill it next time we’re going to use it.

If you’re using chemicals or water treatments properly, you won’t need to change the water out at all. This is ideal for larger inflatable pools that use a lot of water.

Why It’s Important To Clean An Inflatable Pool

Dirty water can cause all sorts of problems for swimmers. Keeping the water clean isn’t just more sanitary, it’s a safety issue for children and adults. There are many water borne illnesses and bacteria that can grow in unclean water.

The presence of harmful agents in water can contribute to eye, ear, nose, throat, and skin infections. It is essential that correct equipment be used and maintained for assessing the water quality of both swimming pools and spas.

Center for Disease Control (source)

Given that it’s not too difficult to clean an inflatable pool, and the risks involved with not doing it, I like to keep the pool clean and sanitary for my family and I.

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