10 Tips How to Keep a Small Kiddie Pool Clean All Summer Long

Kiddie pools quickly become milky and cloudy if the water is poorly maintained. But how can you keep the water in the kiddie pool clean without many supplements?

The water in the kiddie pool stays clean if you cover the pool overnight when it is not in use and place a footbath in front of the pool to minimize the dirt. Furthermore, you can use chlorine, active oxygen, a flocculant, and other chemicals to durable the water.

In this article, I give practical tips on how to make the water in a small kiddie pool last longer naturally and how to clean a paddling pool when it is cloudy.

1. Cover the kiddie pool against dirt

The easiest way to keep the water in the kiddie pool clean is to reduce the amount of dirt.

This works best with a suitable pool cover stretched over the paddling pool.

However, it does not necessarily have to be a pure cover for the pool. An ordinary tarpaulin also prevents dirt in the water.

But should you cover the paddling pool or not?

Small particles, leaves, and insects are all organic substances and have no place in the water. The organic material leads consequently to bacteria and too cloudy pool water.

Therefore, it is advisable to cover any pool overnight or when not in use.

Tip: If you want to protect your pool against dirt brought in by the wind and want to heat the pool water, you can use a solar pool cover.

2. Place a footbath in front of the kiddie pool

The water in the kiddie pool needs to be clean, and any dirt will turn the water into a green monster.

With a pool cover, most of the dirt stays outside, but a lot of dirt gets into the kiddie pool when the kids enter the pool.

Sand, grass, leaves, and needles are all dirt that quickly ends up in the pool via the footpath and later settles on the pool floor.

A simple footbath solves this problem and helps prevent cloudy pool water in the kiddie pool.

Make it a rule to use the footbath before getting into the paddling pool. When using the footbath, make sure that it is emptied regularly. 

Alternatively, you can rinse the feet beforehand with the garden hose.

3. Remove any dirt from the kiddie pool with a net

It seems like a curse.

You try to keep the dirt away from the pool, but somehow dirt particles end up in the kiddie pool.

This often happens when you forget to cover the kiddie pool or when the children don’t use the footbath.

In this case, you have to fish the drifting dirt out of the pool with a pool net.

Ideally, the dirt in the kiddie pool is removed daily with a landing net.

Tip: When buying a pool net, make sure that it is fine enough to remove small flies and other dirt.

The landing net is also suitable to save falling frogs and bees from drowning.

4. Use chlorine for kiddie pools

The paddling pool’s preventive measures and manual cleaning effectively keep the pool water clean.

But none of these methods can replace the disinfecting effect of pool chemicals such as chlorine.

Depending on the size of the kiddie pool, it is worth disinfecting the pool water with chlorine. Especially if it takes more than 2 hours to fill the paddling pool.

The chlorine in the kiddie pool kills germs, inhibits algae growth, and ensures that the water stays clean.

When using chlorine, strictly adhere to the manufacturer’s specifications.

After using chlorine in the kiddie pool, wait 1 day until the agent has distributed itself in the water and the concentration has weakened. The concentration of chlorine should be between 0.3 and 1.5 ppm.

Tip: There must be constant free chlorine in the pool water. The chlorine level should be checked with test strips to prevent over-chlorination in the pool.

5. Chlorine alternative in the kiddie pool

Chlorine is cheap and one of the most effective disinfectants for swimming pools, but unfortunately also has disadvantages.

The chlorine reacts with organic substances such as sweat, urine, etc. Disinfection by-products such as chloramines and trihalomethanes are created, and they are dangerous for humans.

Because children are in the pool, chlorine alternatives in the kiddie pool are better.

  • Active oxygen: An effective disinfectant with no side effects.
  • Biguanide: Slightly weaker than chlorine but sufficient for paddling pools.
  • Flocculants: They are not disinfecting the water but help remove cloudiness in the pool water.

Active oxygen is a recommended disinfectant in kiddie pools and whirlpools.

If you want to learn more about pool chemicals, follow this link to my in-depth blog post.

6. Check the water balance in the kiddie pool with test strips

How do you know if there is too much chemistry in the pool water?

A professional kiddie pool water maintenance with pool chemistry requires that you use water testers.

This includes checking the following parameters:

  • pH level: The pH level in the pool should be between 7.2 to 7.6 – the ideal level is 7.4.
  • Alkalinity: Interacts with the pH level and should be between 80 – 120 ppm. Below I explain how to optimize the TA level with baking soda.
  • Calcium: Ideal level at 300 ppm – negligible in the paddling pool, as the water is changed more often.
  • Chlorine: In the US, a chlorine level between 1.5 and 2 ppm is ideal in the pool.

For small pools, simple test strips are good to control the chlorine level and the pH level.

Test strips are easy to use: Hold the swab briefly in pool water and compare the discoloration with the color scale printed on the packaging.

But, test strips are generally not as precise as electronic water testers. However, when you read the result, expect measurement errors. 

Therefore, a double measurement of the pool water is advisable.

You can read more about the different measurement methods and learn how to test the pool water via the link.

Tip: Different test strips are required to determine the desired parameter in the pool. As an alternative, cuvettes combined with water-soluble tablets are an excellent choice.

7. Clean the slippery floor in the kiddie pool

The first sign before the water in the kiddie pool tips and turns green is a slippery pool floor.

You can’t see them yet, but algae are responsible for a slippery ground. The yellow algae, in particular, form a greasy film.

The algae are not dangerous – unless they are blue algae – but the slippery bio-film poses a risk of falling in the pool.

That is why you should scrub the floor in the kiddie pool daily with a soft pool brush.

The regular use of a pool brush removes deposits and inhibits the growth of algae. This means that the water in the paddling pool stays clean longer.

Tip: You can mount the brush on a telescopic rod (also useful for the landing net) for better handling.

8. Use cartridge filters for small pools

The pool brush loosens algae deposits and inhibits growth, but the organic material continues to drift around in the kiddie pool.

For this reason, a water filter in the kiddie pool is generally recommended.

The filter removes a large part of the dirt and ensures that the water stays crystal clear.

The only important thing here is that the running times of the pool pump are adjusted according to the size of the kiddie pool.

As a rule of thumb, the water in the pool should run entirely through the filter system once within 6 to 8 hours to prevent cloudiness.

In summer, a daily running time of 3 to 4 hours is sufficient in a kiddie pool. But this depends on the output rate of the pump.

My helpful blog article can show you how to calculate the pool pump running time.

Tip: The cartridge in the filter is reusable. You only have to rinse the cartridge with a garden hose every 10-14 days. This approach also benefits the filter performance.

9. Use flocculants against cloudy water in the kiddie pool

A cartridge filter is often included with the small Pools from Intex, but even these reach their limits when it comes to getting rid of colloidal dirt.

These colloidal substances are so fine that they cannot be removed with a pool net.

The dirt is too tiny for a cartridge filter and ends up in the pool water.

The solution: With the use of a flocculant, the fine substances are bound into bigger flakes and become filterable.

The flocculant is gentle on bathers and, in my opinion, belongs in every basic pool equipment set.

Even in water treatment for drinking water, flocculants are used to filter out small substances.

Tip: If you don’t use a cartridge filter to remove the flakes, you can vacuum the white flakes from the pool floor with a pool vacuum cleaner.

The combination of the flocculant with a battery vacuum cleaner can replace the cartridge filter in the paddling pool.

10. Water maintenance in the kiddie pool with home remedies

Few home remedies can be used to maintain the water balance in the kiddie pool.

Some useful home remedies for pool maintenance include:

  • Citric acid: The pH value increases when the pool is used. With a bit of citric acid, you can lower the pH level. But I would still advise you to have a pH minus.
  • Baking powder: You can optimize the alkalinity level (TA) in the water with the baking powder. This is important because the alkalinity (also known as acid capacity) interacts with the pH level. The ideal level is 80 – 120 ppm. In a paddling pool with 9000 liters of water, you need about 170 g of baking powder to increase the level by 10 ppm.
  • Detergent: The paddling pool should be scrubbed thoroughly before filling it for the first time. You can also clean the paddling pool with a detergent. Just make sure not to use too much and rinse the pool thoroughly.

Tip: Under no circumstances should you use vitamin C in the pool.

Vitamin C only removes cloudiness cosmetically and is not an alternative to natural cleaning agents for the pool.

11. Change the water in the kiddie pool regularly

We want to make the water in the kiddie pool more durable, and to achieve this, a partial water change is sometimes necessary.

Especially when the calcium hardness in the pool water is too high, or a stabilized chlorine with cyanuric acid is used, you should possibly skim off some of the water and refill it.

But how often do you have to change the water in a paddling pool?

Well, that depends entirely on the parameters measured in the pool water and whether a partial water exchange is worthwhile at all.

If the kiddie pool is very dirty, it is worth completely draining the water from the small pool before refilling it with fresh water.

If you don’t care about the water balance in the kiddie pool, the pool must be emptied and refilled every 2 to 3 days.

Do you have any further questions, how to keep a kiddie pool clean?

Contact me at @contactswimfool on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Pinterest – I’ll be happy to help.

Happy swimming!

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Hi. I'm Max Berg. I've been in the pool industry since 2015 and have always felt drawn to water. I'm the author behind swimfool.com, where I share my years of experience in pool maintenance and give helpful tips on keeping a swimming pool or hot tub clean. My tips reduce the costs of water treatment and protect the environment.

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