How To Keep A Kiddie Pool Clean – 7 Secrets for Summer Fun

Last Updated on June 30, 2021

We have identified 7 secrets to keeping a kiddie pool clean and here they are. Keep reading to learn how each tip can help ensure your kiddos have a clean splash pool all summer long! Here are the 7 secrets:

Also be sure to see our Frequently Asked Questions and a BONUS Tip for the longevity of your kiddie pool.

See the quick reference table below for a glance at what we recommend and where you can get the products you need.

How To Keep A Kiddie Pool Clean

No time to read the article? Here is our product picks.

What to Do

What to Get

Where to Buy

Use Chlorine

Clorox Pool&Spa Small Pool 1' Chlorinating Tablets 1.5 lb

Chlorine Dispenser

GAME 17201-BB Derby Duck Spa Chemical Dispenser, Yellow

Use a Small Pool Vac

Intex 28620EP Handheld Rechargeable Spa Pool Vacuum, Grey

Skimmer Net

HydroTools by Swimline Aluminum Handle Pool and Spa Skimmer

Cover the pool

OUTOUR Garden Pond Cover Pool Cover Protector with Netting Tent Dome Netting 13x17 Feet, 3/8 Inch Mesh -Protection from Debris and Pests

Remove Sunscreen Build-up

Horizon HV-SB2PK Scumball Pool and Spa Scum Eliminating Ball (2 Packs of 2)

Keep Feet Clean

Poolmaster Anti-Skid Swimming Pool or Spa Textured Foot Bath Foot Wash

Read our best kiddie pools roundup here. Heck, you might even be using your kiddie pool for the adults this summer!

How to keep kiddie pool water clean? Use chlorine

You may be surprised to know that you can use chlorine for kiddie pools! In small quantitities of course, chlorine tablets are great to fight bacteria and algae in your baby pool. 

Chlorine is a natural chemical element. It is one of the most potent elements we have to destroy and deactivate infections, viruses, and other illness-causing bacteria, according to the American Chemistry Council. We’ve been using it for over 150 years, and it’s one of the only things that can be used to fight things like E. Coli and Salmonella.

How to keep a kiddie pool clean, use these chlorine tablets
These small chlorine tablets can be used to help
keep your kiddie pool clean.

You can use small chlorine tabs that are meant for a spa tub or small pools.  They are 1″ in size and you can use these chlorine tablets for kiddie pools.  These should only be used in pools that hold 100 or more gallons of water.

You should use one tablet per week for a kiddie pool of 200 gallons or less, and two tablets weekly for kiddie pools of over 200 gallons.

An additional benefit of using chlorine in the kiddie pool is to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in the pool.

The correct way to use these chlorine tabs in your kiddie pool is to use a chlorine float dispenser.  The dispenser below will hold one or two tablets and you simply let it float in the pool when the kids are not using it.  Do NOT just throw the tablets directly into the pool.

Here are some chlorine and dispenser options for kiddie pools

Clorox Pool&Spa Small Pool 1" Chlorinating Tablets 1.5 lb
HTH 42031 1-inch Chlorinating Tablets for Swimming Pools, 5 lbs
U.S. Pool Supply Pool & Spa Floating Chlorine & Bromine 1" Tablet Chemical Dispenser, 5" Diameter, Collapsible Floater
GAME 17201-BB Derby Duck Spa Chemical Dispenser, Yellow
Clorox Pool&Spa Small Pool 1" Chlorinating Tablets 1.5 lb
HTH 42031 1-inch Chlorinating Tablets for Swimming Pools, 5 lbs
U.S. Pool Supply Pool & Spa Floating Chlorine & Bromine 1" Tablet Chemical Dispenser, 5" Diameter, Collapsible Floater
GAME 17201-BB Derby Duck Spa Chemical Dispenser, Yellow
$42.99
$62.99
$12.99
$16.19
Clorox Pool&Spa Small Pool 1" Chlorinating Tablets 1.5 lb
Clorox Pool&Spa Small Pool 1" Chlorinating Tablets 1.5 lb
$42.99
HTH 42031 1-inch Chlorinating Tablets for Swimming Pools, 5 lbs
HTH 42031 1-inch Chlorinating Tablets for Swimming Pools, 5 lbs
$62.99
U.S. Pool Supply Pool & Spa Floating Chlorine & Bromine 1" Tablet Chemical Dispenser, 5" Diameter, Collapsible Floater
U.S. Pool Supply Pool & Spa Floating Chlorine & Bromine 1" Tablet Chemical Dispenser, 5" Diameter, Collapsible Floater
$12.99
GAME 17201-BB Derby Duck Spa Chemical Dispenser, Yellow
GAME 17201-BB Derby Duck Spa Chemical Dispenser, Yellow
$16.19

Keep the kiddie pool covered

There is no better way to keep your kiddie pool clean than by covering it to protect it from airborne debris.

There are a few different ways to accomplish this. One way is to use a special kiddie pool cover or tarp to protect the pool when it is not in use. Another way is to set up your kiddie pool under a shelter to protect it from debris.

If you have a small plastic pool, then you can use a camping-style tarp to cover the pool when it is not in use.  Don’t forget to use some bricks or pavers to weigh the tarp down so that it does not blow away. Just like a full-sized pool, a cover can really help in keeping leaves, bugs, bees, and other debris out of your kiddie pool. 

Here is one of our favorite kiddie pools that has its own fitted cover that makes putting in on super easy. Also, a tarp for any other kiddie pool that needs covering.

Another great kiddie pool parent hack is to set the kiddie pool up within a protected area that is covered. Using a screen canopy can both help to keep the pool clean and also provide much needed shade for the children to play extended hours. This is hands-down the best way to keep your kiddie pool clean and free of debris. Be sure to get the appropriate size for your kiddie pool to fit within.

Keep the kiddie pool free from floating debris

One easy way to ensure the kiddie pool water stays clean is to remove the floating debris like bugs, leaves, and other dirt.  Simply use a handheld net each day to remove the debris. Remember, there is no pool skimmer like a bigger pool, so this must be done by hand.

On Sale Now!
HydroTools by Swimline Aluminum Handle Pool and Spa Skimmer
  • Comes with a 12" aluminum handle
  • Ideal for use in small pools and spas
  • Ideal for skimming leaves, insects as well as other trash from surface of water
  • Keeps your pool thoroughly clean

Keep the kids feet clean before entering

How many times do the kids get in and out of the kiddie pool? Lots! And each time they exit and enter the pool they bring new debris on their feet. Simply set this feet cleaner outside the pool and have the kids step thru it before getting into the pool! Make it a pool party game!

On Sale Now!
Summer Waves P5E001500 Outdoor Backyard 22.5 x 20 x 3.5 Inch Non Slip Pool Foot Bath Tray Accessory for In Ground and Above Ground Swimming Pools and Spas, Blue
  • DEBRIS-FREE POOL: Get a debris-free pool with this foot bath, an essential accessory to wash off your feet prior to entering your pool and perfect for in-ground or above-ground pools
  • 2.8-GALLON CAPACITY: Holds up to 2.8 gallons of water so you can be sure to wash off any unwanted grass, leaves, or sand
  • NON-SLIP DESIGN: Textured, anti-slip embossed bottom provides stability and minimizes slips or falls
  • HOOKS IN PLACE: Top portion hooks in-between pool ladder to keep in place while in use

Regularly clean debris from the bottom of the kiddie pool

We took care of the floating debris with the net above, but eventually, there will be debris accumulated on the bottom of the kiddie pool.  You can try using the net to clean the bottom, but it is likely that it will not completely suffice.

We found this really awesome mini pool vacuum that works great.  We suggest using this weekly (if using the pool cover) or more often (if you are not using a pool cover).

Intex 28620EP Handheld Rechargeable Spa Pool Vacuum, Grey
  • Suitable for use with all pure spas and above ground pools up to 18' Diameter
  • Includes two interchangeable brush heads, USB cable for recharging, 94" Lightweight telescoping Aluminum shaft, & SHAFT adapter to fit longer/wider telescoping aluminum shaf
  • Automatic shutoff feature when vacuum is not submerged in water, IPX8 waterproof switch for added protection against water submersion
  • Keep pool water clean by vacuuming out dirt and debris

Keep sunscreen build up off the sides

What do you do right before the kids head outside to splash?  Cover them in sunscreen of course!

The damage caused to our skin from the sun and summer heat is well documented, so using the best sunscreen is important.  No matter what sunscreen you use, you will surely see an oily film on the top of the water surface soon after the kids enter the pool.

There is nothing inherently bad about this, but over time you will see a build-up of sunscreen oils on the sides of the pool.

There are two ways to combat this build-up.  You can either scrub it off when you are draining the pool, or prevent the build-up in the first place.  To prevent the build-up, we recommend the “Scum Ball” which is a special sponge-like ball that absorbs the oil before it can build up on the sides!

Horizon HV-SB2PK Scumball Pool and Spa Scum Eliminating Ball (2 Packs of 2)
  • Helps eliminate scum line from body oils, lotions and make-up in your pool or spa
  • Increases time between cleanings
  • Specialty patented foam absorbs 43 times its weight in oils / lotions
  • Includes 2 Scum Balls per pack
YouTube video

Make sure the kids are clean before entering the pool

Another way how to keep a kiddie pool clean is to first make sure the kids are clean!

The CDC says that one of the most beneficial ways to reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria is to wash your kids off BEFORE they swim.

Years ago, summer camps and public pools would have a shower room you had to walk through to get to the pool. These rooms rinsed you off before you got in, which helped reduced the spread of many germs. 

Now, showering before entering is almost always optional, but it’s a great idea if you’re swimming with other families to hose kids down with a light body wash before they hop in the pool. 

When to drain the kiddie pool and scrub it down?

Remember, your kiddie pool is a stagnant pool of standing water. Eventually, no matter how well you use these tips to keep it clean, you will need to occasionally drain the pool, scrub it down, and refill it. There is nothing wrong with this, it is simply a side effect of the fact that there is no pump or filter to circulate the water. It is just a fact of life!

This makes it especially important to choose a kiddie pool with a built-in drain plug.  Without a drain, you need to find a way to dump the water, or even worse, bucket it out! Grab your sponge and soap and make it a fun family activity.

BONUS: How to make your kiddie pool last longer

Your kids LOVE that splash pool, right? They would stay out there all day long if you let them. We also know that these cheap pools can sometimes “spring a leak” or otherwise end up failing before the summer season is over.

Most kiddie pool leaks are from punctures on the bottom of the pool. Stones, pebbles, and anything else that is trapped under the pool, can puncture the bottom.

One way to avoid this is to put something smooth under the pool to protect it. We suggest using interlocking foam tiles for this.

If you have an Intex kiddie pool, then you should check out our guide on what to put under your Intex pool.

Here are some that will work great. You will likely need about 40-60 square feet depending on how big the kiddie pool is.

We Sell Mats 48 Sq. Ft. Charcoal Gray 2' x 2' x 3/8" Interlocking Foam Floor Mats
  • DURABLE MULTIPURPOSE FOAM FLOOR TILES: High density, foam tiles available in 24” x 24” tiles in 3/8” thickness for firm cushion to lessen the impact of exercising and playing.
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  • KIDS PUZZLE MAT FOR PLAYROOM SAFETY: Designed for peace of mind when kids play on the floor. Use in playrooms, daycares or classrooms, for extra thick padding that makes playtime safe.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Cleaning Kiddie Pools

Why Do Kiddie Pools Need Cleaning?

How to keep a kiddie pool clean

Since backyard kiddie pools do not have a pump and filter or a skimmer like larger pools do, the water tends to get dirty and cloudy more often. Standing water is always going to get dirty, especially in the hot summer months, unless it is treated correctly. Tree debris, sunscreen buildup, and bugs in the water are just a few of the reasons that you need to clean kiddie pools often. Hopefully, with the tips you have learned in this article, you will have a cleaner kiddie pool this summer.

Can I use bleach in a kiddie pool?

The short answer is YES, you can use bleach to help keep your kiddie pool clean.  We recommend using very basic bleach.  Be careful when using the Clorox brand, as many now contain additives such as scents. Use generic bleach or Clorox Regular Bleach.  Use 1/8 cup for every 100 gallons in your kiddie pool.

How do I get rid of Algae in a kiddie pool?

There are a few ways to try to rid your kiddie pool of algae using chemicals.  However, we recommend simply draining and cleaning the pool which can be easier than fooling with the chemicals. Drain the pool, then create a cleaning mixture of 5 parts water and 1 part bleach to scrub the pool.  Allow the pool to dry completely before re-filling.

How do I keep a kiddie pool clean without chemicals?

If you simply do not want to use chemicals to keep your kiddie pool clean, there is an alternative. Rather than chlorine, use Distilled White Vinegar. Add 1/2 Cup for every 100 gallons of water in your pool. If you choose to use this method to keep your pool clean, then it is important to note that Vinegar is a known weed killer.  If you drain your pool in your grass, expect your grass to yellow severely.  Alternatively, drain the pool in the driveway.

How long can you keep water in a kiddie pool?

If you use the advice given in our guide, using a chlorine dispenser float and keeping the pool covered from debris then we recommend changing the water every 3-6 weeks. If you do not use this advice, then you will likely need to change the pool water every few days.

How can I test the water in my kiddie pool?

You can use simple pool water test kits, the same types that are used for larger pools. These are inexpensive and can be a great way to have peace of mind that your little ones are spending the summer in a safe and clean kiddie pool. Check out our article on the best pool test kits for more information.

Do you need expensive pool chemicals for a kiddie pool?

Generally, NO. Kiddie pools have significantly less water volume than a full-size swimming pool. Therefore, you can drain and refill the pool if needed rather than mess with pool chemicals for weeks trying to fix the problem.

Additional Information

OK, So What is The Scoop on Poop (in the Pool)

1 out of 4 adults say that they’d go swimming even if they have diarrhea, according to this survey. It’s pretty certain that if those adults have kids, they’d go swimming if sick, too.

If you or your child have any diarrhea, the answer to that question needs to be no.

Swim diapers are made to keep solid waste in while not soaking up all the water in the pool. However, they do not keep bacteria from poop from getting into the water, whether the poop is of the normal variety or filled with a virus or bad bacteria. The only thing that works well for containing that mess is covering a swim diaper with tight-fitting plastic underwear. 

In the case of an “accident” in the kiddie pool, the only solution is to drain and clean the pool.

Have a great summer in your splash pool

We sure hope that this guide was helpful in making your summer with kids a little less stressful this year. Splash pools are a great way to allow the kids to cool off in the intense summer heat and now you can keep it clean with these helpful hints and hacks.

Photo by larrywkoester how to keep a kiddie pool clean

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26 thoughts on “How To Keep A Kiddie Pool Clean – 7 Secrets for Summer Fun”

  1. If we use chlorine products that you list for a 6 x 7’ kiddie pool and drain into the grass (once every 2 weeks will it kill the grass?

    Reply
  2. How long should you let the chlorine tablet dispenser float in the water? Should you remove it and leave it out for a period of time before anyone gets in? If so, how long?

    Reply
    • You can either have it there while you swim or you can remove it. Your chlorine tablet dispenser should be in your pool for at least two to four days.

      Reply
    • Not that I know of, only chlorine is reported to effectively work on reducing Naegleria fowleri (brain-eating ameba) … an ameba which can also be found in your hot water tank. Salt isn’t a preventative method either …

      Reply
    • You just need to wait 15 minutes up to an hour after you put on the chlorine. However, it will be better if you can test the water first before you go in.

      Reply
  3. Thank you for this information. Albeit this should have been common sense for me in theory I just learned the hard way the importance of frequent water change of a kiddie pool. I got one to relax and read in thinking it would save water though for some reason it didn’t cross my mind “this is a stagnant pool.” I went in it the other day noticing it smelled “off” and was slick around the edges and bottom and smelled weird. I drained it and the area of grass stunk. Two days later I am sick with… well I’m sure you can guess and it hit me like a ton of bricks “Why didn’t I think of chlorinating sooner? Thank GOODNESS it was for me only and that I don’t have kids!”
    Seriously, anyone reading this page, take heed: if you don’t just fill it for a day and drain it, use chlorine or the bleach mixture mentioned!!!!

    Reply
  4. As an adult, I purchased a small blow up pool 4 by 8. We use out well water. I notice the bottom is slick feeling ie slippery. Is this bad? What should I clean it with? The water does not smell and looks crystal clear.

    Reply
  5. I have shocked my pool and it’s clear in the am but when I use the skimmer the water gets a little cloudy. The bottom and sides aren’t slimy. Is this normal or what should I be doing differently.

    Reply
  6. As an adult, I bought a 5-1/2 foot wide, 1-1/2 foot deep pool For cooling off and relaxing. I had it on a tarp, uncovered, filled with well water. Of course, it got slick in the sun. I had to bail it out to drain it. If I clean it with a bleach mixture, go the chlorine tablet route, and keep it covered, how often should I have to drain it? This will determine whether I keep the pool or not.

    Reply
    • This depends on how much you use your pool. However, covering your pool and using pool chemicals should let you use your pool a week or two before you have to drain it completely.

      Reply
  7. I bought a kiddie pool 10×5 maybe 3 feet deep for myself and within a few days of filling it, with our well water and not using it, it started to look cloudy so I added pool powder chlorine shock and now it’s brownish. Looks like a Coffee latte 🤦‍♀️

    Reply
  8. Hello. So if I am using chlorine in my small kiddy pool that holds 254 gallons. I have Clorox pool and spa smart strips. Now by going by the numbers on the strips for total hardness, total chlorine, free chlorine, ph, total alkalinity, and stabilizer. What should I be using if I need to increase the numbers? Do I need to purchase anything or just the 1 inch chlorine tablets.

    Reply
    • You have to test your pool water first, and it would tell you what you need to do whether you have to increase or decrease the total alkalinity or leave it as is. The same can be said to calcium hardness, pH, and chlorine levels.

      Reply
      • Thankyou Ross. What would I have to purchase to increase or decrease the numbers for each of those? I am totally new to this pool thing, and I haven’t found any answers anywhere to help me. I’m soo lost. But I’ve got the chlorine thing down I think!

        Reply
  9. great site! i got a 10 ft by maybe 3 ft pool, put a teaspoon of chlorine in a night and shock once a week (capful) but still drain it every 3-4 days. cover it every night with tarp and scoop out bugs. but other day startd to smell like poop and so did the ground under it when i drained it, fill our whole yard. cleaned it several times, left it in the sun, finally tried bleach and it only got part of it out. seemed to be mildew between the ground and the underside of the pool. i think i have to buy a new pool but how do i prevent that from happening again?

    Reply
    • Did you put the pool directly on the grass? The grass probably died which is causing the funky smell. I did the same thing. You need to put sand over the grass under the pool to prevent that. I also put the pool on tarp over the sand. No more stench here!

      Reply
  10. Hi, I read your excellent article but still can’t find out how to maintain my small pool, a bit bigger maybe than a kiddie pool but not much. It’s a Stella & Finn easy set 8’ pool with outlets for a filter pump which I am waiting on from amazon. Ive never had any type of pool so I don’t know about chemical pucks, dispensers etc. I do know I want clean healthy pool. Please can you give me the info I need?? It’s only used by myself and maybe 2 more adults in a few weeks. For guests I definitely want a clean pool. Thank you!

    Reply

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