How to Clean an Above Ground Pool After Draining

Written by Michael Dean
July 9, 2024

empty above ground pool with question mark

There may come a time when you need to drain your above ground pool. You may drain your pool for various reasons, whether due to repairs or because you are packing up the swimming pool.

Although it is important to keep your pool clean throughout the pool season itself, it is equally, if not more, important to clean it properly after you drain the pool. Below, I have outlined how I clean above ground pools after draining, the tools you will need, some quick tips, and frequently asked questions.

Main Takeaways

  • To clean an above ground pool after draining, make sure you have a bucket, sponge, pool brush, bleach, and hot water.
  • Some signs that your above ground pool isn’t clean include: green water, skin/eye irritation, debris floating around, and cloudy water.
  • Some household supplies you can use to clean your above ground pool include vinegar, baking soda, and dish soap.

Step-by-Step: How To Clean Your Above Ground Pool After Draining It

Here is a breakdown of how to clean your above ground swimming pool after draining and the tools you should have to complete the task.

Supplies Checklist

  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Pool brush
  • Bleach
  • Hot water

Step one: Drain the pool

Of course, the first thing you will need to do is drain the above ground pool. While the exact steps for this process will depend on your pool model, most above ground pools can be drained with a pool pump. Attach one end of the hose to the pool and the other to where you would like to drain the water. Make sure to drain the water into the nearest sewer opening.

Step two: Remove the dirty pool liner

After draining the pool, you can remove the dirty pool liner. Before removing the liner, remove all pool accessories and store everything carefully to be reattached and reinstalled later. Then, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to remove the liner carefully.

Step three: Prepare the pool liner

Find a large, clean area to spread the pool liner. It is best to find a grassy area with some sun. Check beforehand for any rocks or small branches that could tear the pool liner while cleaning it. Once you have removed any potential hazards, spread the liner onto the floor.

Step four: Make a cleaning solution

Mix some bleach with hot water in a bucket to prepare a cleaning solution for the liner. The water should be double the quantity of the bleach. Make as much cleaning solution as necessary. Once you’ve prepared the solution, soak a sponge in it.

Step five: Scrub the pool liner

Use the bleach-soaked sponge to rub it all over the pool liner. Reach every crevice of it to remove any dirt. Once you have given it a good rub, grab a pool brush, put it in the bleach mixture, and scrub the entire pool liner. Although you may want to use a heavy-duty brush, this can damage the pool liner, so make sure to use a standard brush. Likewise, do not apply too much pressure when scrubbing the pool liner. The last thing you’ll want to do is accidentally create holes in the material.

Step six: Wash the pool liner

Once you have sufficiently cleaned the pool liner with a sponge and brush, wash everything off with some water. You can either use a hose or fill a bucket with water and dump it over the pool liner. Do this thoroughly so no traces of the bleach are left.

Step seven: Dry the pool liner

Then, use a clean towel to wipe down the material. Make sure the entire pool liner is completely dry and clean.

Step eight, option A: Refill the pool

If you want to use your pool again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to reinstall the pool liner. Put all of the equipment back as well. When everything is reinstalled correctly, refill the pool. After adding some chemicals, your pool is ready to be used again!

Step eight, option B: Store the liner

Alternatively, fold up your dried and cleaned liner if you were cleaning the pool to store it. Most above ground pool owners fold the liner in half and then roll it. A quick tip to prevent the liner from sticking together is to put a bit of baby powder on the liner. Once the liner is appropriately rolled up, store it in a dry area with other accessories.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs that my above ground pool isn’t completely clean?

There are some signs that your pool needs cleaning, some obvious and some not so obvious.

Green water: Green algae-filled water is one of the most common signs that your pool needs a deep cleaning.

Irritation of eyes or skin: When chlorine binds with contaminants, the water gives off the classic chlorine smell, which may irritate your skin and eyes. This is generally a sign that the pool needs to be shocked.

Bugs, leaves, or other debris floating around: If you notice debris floating around the pool, it may be a sign that your filter or skimmer basket is clogged. If that’s the case, read my guide on how to clean your skimmer basket.

The pool water is cloudy: Cloudy water is a sign of improperly balanced water. It can mean either the pH level is off, the water’s calcium hardness is too high, or algae is beginning to form in the water. To fix this, test the water and balance the necessary chemicals.

What extra precautions or steps should I take to clean algae off my empty above ground pool?

If your above ground pool needs extra cleaning care after you drain it due to algae, there are some things to remember. The liner of an above ground pool is more fragile than an inground pool. Since the liners are usually a thin sheet of vinyl, you should not use overly alkaline chemicals or high chlorine concentrations when cleaning the pool liner. You should not use a metal brush.

It is common to use a metal brush to clean a cement-lined pool in an inground pool. But for above-ground pools, this can damage the liner and even cause it to rip.

Can I use vinegar and other household supplies to clean an above ground pool liner?

White vinegar can be used as an alternative to other chemicals when cleaning your above ground pool liner. Since it is a mild acid, it will help to remove stains and debris from the liner. Like you would with bleach, apply the vinegar with a sponge, put it all over the liner, and then scrub it with a brush. Other household supplies that can be used to clean your pool liner include baking soda and dish soap.

The Process Is Simple

Cleaning your above ground pool after you drain it may seem like a momentous task, but the reality is that it could not be any simpler, especially cleaning small pools without a filter. You only need a bucket of bleach and some cleaning supplies to wash and scrub your pool liner to get it nice and clean. So don’t feel too overwhelmed if you feel like you have a big task ahead of you. With these simple steps outlined above, you will have a clean and sparkling pool liner ready to be used again.

If you’re taking down your pool entirely, head to my article on how to uninstall your above ground pool. And for new pool recommendations, you can read my guide on top-rated above ground pools.

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