How to Keep Paddling Pool Water Clean?
If you’ve got a little one in your life, there’s a good chance that you’ve got a paddling pool laying around. And as Brits, we’re accustomed to making the most of the sunshine when it shows up!
But what can you do to keep the water clean so everyone stays healthy? If you’re filling up your paddling pool and leaving it outside for a few days (or maybe longer if we’re lucky!), you’ll want to make sure there are no nasties in the water that could make your kids unwell.
What Dangers can Lurk in Paddling Pool Water?
Enter a paddling pool and you won’t have to look far to find loads of toys, sponges, inflatables, and slides. These can all harbour nasty germs, such as bacteria and fungi, which could give any child or indeed adult a nasty stomach bug.
Roundworms are a risk in paddling pools, as well as toxocariasis which is carried by pet dogs or cats poo. Now you may wonder how these can get into the paddling pool but you just don’t know what remnants are hiding in your garden.
Chemicals such as chlorine and disinfectants can damage the eyes, skin, and respiratory system of children who are exposed to them if not used correctly.
Certain insects love to breed in standing water; if you’re leaving your paddling pool out and keeping the water in it, this is something you should be aware of. In the 2018 heatwave, there was an influx of horsefly bites reported. The Guardian published an article on this very fact.
Think About How you’re Filling your Paddling Pool
Conserving water is a noble thing, we’re all conscious these days about saving the planet so it’s natural to want to make sure the water in your paddling pool lasts as long as possible before you have to refill it.
Unless you have access to a fire engine or water bowser, you essentially have 3 choices:
- Use the hose
- Use a bucket
- Use the water from your water butt
Take this advice: Don’t EVER use your water butt to fill your paddling pool. As eco-conscious as that may seem, you may be surprised to learn that in a 2018 study, 95% of water butts in the UK were found to be contaminated with deadly levels of legionella bacteria.
Therefore your only option is to use a bucket or hosepipe and regular tap water and try to conserve the health of the pool water for as long as possible…
What can you do to Keep the Water Clean in your Paddling Pool?
There are a number of different things you can do to keep your paddling pool water clean. This can be done either before or after you fill the paddling pool up with water and we’ll cover each separately.
Before you fill the paddling pool up:
Check your pool is clean. You can find out how to clean it properly by taking a look at our How to clean a paddling pool article but below we’ll give you a short version.
Firstly, make sure there’s nothing leftover from last time and give it a good scrub.
Get some washing-up liquid and make sure all visible muck is removed, hose it down to wash off all the soap before filling. A few sprays of household anti-bacterial cleaner are also worth applying too.
If you have pets or children, make sure they’re kept away from the pool until it’s been cleaned.
After you fill the paddling pool up:
Try and keep the area around the swimming pool clean, especially if your kids get into the pool by themselves. It’s better to encourage people to step into a water tray before entering the pool to avoid any grit, mud, or grass cuttings getting into the pool.
For a small paddling pool, you won’t need to worry about too much else, they won’t take long to empty and refill if the water appears dirty but if you’ve gone for something bigger where you’ll want the water to stay in for more than a day or two, you should consider ways to keep the water clean for longer.
How to Keep your Paddling Pool Water Cleaner, for Longer
- Keep pets out of the pool. It might be fun for your and your animals but, as we mentioned above, pets can carry harmful bacteria. Get them a cheap doggy pool of their own instead.
- Keep any toys and inflatables out of the water after use. They can harbour bugs, so it’s best to take them out and use a disinfectant spray to clean them off.
- Keep paddling pool chemicals and algaecides (if you have any) in a safe place for children and pets to avoid accidental ingestion. Or consider environmentally friendly alternatives that are as effective but don’t contain hazardous chemicals. (see below)
- Get a paddling pool cover. They don’t cost much and they keep the water in your pool clean and safe.
- If your paddling pool has a filter, take it out and rinse it every so often; replace it if necessary. Filters and pumps are great at keeping nasties out of the water but its important to keep the filter clean too.
- Don’t leave it open, especially in the sun.
- Keep the paddling pool clean and free from any pet hair or dirt. Again, a quick wash-down before filling again is a good idea!
- If your kids play in their paddling pool, make sure they’re wearing swimming suits and don’t be afraid to give them a protective shower after use.
- We also recommend keeping a paddling pool logbook by your pool. This will help you keep track of how well the water is quality and how often you need to empty it and clean it out.
- Finally, invest in a proper paddling pool filter. They’re not expensive and if you buy the right model, they’ll do the hard work for you so your water stays clean for longer and doesn’t need as much attention to keep it there.
Note: Never be tempted to pour bleach into your pool. It is extremely harmful if ingested and can also damage your skin – invest in a proper cleaning additive specially designed for paddling pools.
Paddling Pool Water Treatment
For larger paddling pools, you could always consider treating the water:
You can buy liquids and tablets that treat the water in your pool and you can also buy water treatment kits like the Clearwater Basic Pool Chemical Starter Set. These obviously help prevent bacteria build-up but also help you balance the PH levels in the water which might be important if you or the kids are going to spend any length of time splashing about.
If you’re going to be using a paddling pool for more than a day and really want the water to stay nice and clean, then these will help.
It’s best to shop around and read reviews or get expert advice on this. Obviously, there are traditional treatments such as chlorine tablets/liquids but there are more natural products available on the market too that do not involve chemicals that could cause irritation to your little ones’ skin or eyes.
You also need to consider how chlorinated water may affect your grass and plants. You can find out more in our Does Chlorine Kill Grass and Plants? article.
When considering additives, you should work out the volume of water in your paddling pool as you’ll need this to know the right concentration of the product(s) to put in. If it’s not shown in the pool instructions, you’ll have to do some calculations:
For a rectangular pool, simply multiply the Length x Width x Depth to get the squared value.
For round pools, you’ll need to multiply the pool Radius x Depth.
How Long can you Leave Water in a Paddling Pool?
Paddling pool water should be changed every day. Drain it and let the pool dry, then wipe it down with a towel and clean it with an anti-bacterial spray, vinegar, and water solution or bleach to kill any germs so it is safe to use the next day.
However, bigger pools are much more difficult and also expensive to fill, and therefore you may wish to try alternative methods to keep the water clean. There are also great ways on how to stop a paddling pool from going green.
Buy a Paddling Pool Cleaning Net
In an outdoor setting, bugs will find their way into your pool, especially if your pool doesn’t have a cover. So, it’s a good idea to invest in a paddling pool cleaning net so you can easily skim any floating bugs off the surface.
When it comes to cleaning out the pool, we also recommend a scoop net to scoop out any leaves and other larger bits of debris that may fall in or get into the pool on your children’s feet.
Hose Down and Scrub
At the end of each day make sure you hose down and scrub the sides of the pool and clear any built-up algae.
Use Anti Bacterial Spray
A spray of anti-bacterial household cleaner around all surfaces, ladders, toys, etc. is a good idea too. This will again help to stop the water and paddling pool from going green.
Test the Water
If you’re using a paddling pool treatment, make sure you have some paddling pool test strips so you can check the levels of alkaline and chlorine to make adjustments if necessary. The last thing you want is for the additives to be too strong to cause irritation and likewise, you want it to be strong enough to work.
How Often Should you Change Paddling Pool Water?
There’s no hard and fast rule about how frequently you should change the water in your paddling pool. However, a good tip is to make sure that everything is fresh, clean, and sparkling – so you can enjoy it without worrying.
You need to change the water every time there’s been an incident, such as if someone has an accident in the pool, or if something filthy falls into it.
If you have a small pool, it’s obviously much quicker to do this and, to be on the safe side, probably better to empty the paddling pool out once you’re done with it before re-filling when you need it.
If you’ve gone for the mega-paddling pool! use some of the methods above for keeping the water clean. If it’s in daily use by kids and adults then you should be thinking about changing the water at least once per week. Don’t forget to check out our hints and tips on How to Empty a Paddling Pool?.
If the water in your paddling pool looks a bit ‘off’ it could be scum – which is a mixture of dirt and algae that can cause serious skin problems. If this happens, you need to drain the water and start again.
We hope that you have found out how to keep paddling pool water clean. Paddling pool water is potentially dangerous but with a few simple tips, it can be kept clean and safe. Keeping pets, toys and chemicals out of the pool will help minimise the risk to your family, as will regular checks to make sure everything is clean and working properly.
Just because your paddling pool doesn’t require much in terms of maintenance, doesn’t mean you can get away with doing nothing! If you follow these guidelines every time you use the pool, you should find it’s a lot easier to keep the water clean for longer.