How to Clean an Above Ground Pool After Draining

There may come a time when you, as a pool owner, 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. On average, a pool owner will generally drain the pool once every 5-7 years.

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. By doing so, you can make the most of the above ground pool for years to come. Below, I have outlined how I clean above ground pools after draining, the tools you will need, some quick tips, and frequently asked questions.

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

Here is a breakdown of how to clean your above ground 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 into the pool and the other 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 now remove the dirty pool liner. Before removing the pool liner, remove all pool accessories and store everything with care 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

To prepare a cleaning solution for the liner, mix some bleach with hot water into a bucket. 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 into the cleaning solution.

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 up 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 now ready to be used again!

Step eight, option B: Store the liner

Alternatively, if you were cleaning the pool to store it, fold up your dried and cleaned liner. Most above ground pool owners fold the liner in half 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 will give off the classic chlorine smell, and the water 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 some extra cleaning care after you drain it due to algae, there are some things to keep in mind. 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.

For inground pools, it is common to use a metal brush to clean a cement-lined pool. But for above ground pools, it 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.

Bottom Line

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 more simple. All you need is 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 pool liner that seems clean and sparkling like new, ready to be used again.

If you’re taking down your pool entirely, head over 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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