How to Clean a Small Pool Without a Filter

Written by Michael Dean
December 19, 2023

cleaning a small swimming pool

Small pools, such as kiddie pools and stock tank pools, require some maintenance to look after as well. This is particularly important because pools this size don’t usually have a filter and pump. So, regular cleaning becomes a top priority to keep algae and bacteria from building up in the water.

In this article, I will go over my step-by-step process for cleaning a small pool without a filter and answer some frequently asked questions.

Main Takeaways

  • Cleaning a small pool is important since water left stagnant and unfiltered can become a spot for an algae infestation.
  • You don’t always have to drain and clean the pool for routine use.
  • It is just as important to clean a kiddie pool as it is to clean any other type of small or larger pool.

Step-by-Step: How to Clean a Small Pool Without a Filter

Here’s my handy step-by-step process to help you clean a small swimming pool without a filter.

Step One: Skim

Using a net and telescopic pole, remove the initial bulk of visible debris, such as insects, leaves, or twigs, from the surface of the water. Slowly work your way across the pool from one end to the other.

Step Two: Brush

When the surface is clean, it’s time to dislodge the grime, algae, and dirt that has accumulated on the walls and floors of the pool. Use a soft-bristled nylon brush and focus on areas that tend to collect more dirt or algae, such as the corners (if any).

Step Three: Vacuum

Now it’s time to vacuum up all the debris you’ve loosened from the surfaces. Use overlapping strokes and work methodically to cover the entire area. If it makes it easier, you can use a small amount of a flocculant to clump the dirt up and make it easier to vacuum.

Step Four: Add Chemicals

The next thing you’ll need to do is sanitize the water. First, test the water’s chlorine and cyanuric acid levels. If they are out of wack, it’s time to bring them up to speed! Make sure the chlorine lies between 1 and 3 ppm and the cyanuric acid between 30 and 50 ppm. Check and adjust the pH level of the pool as well, which should have an ideal range of 7.2 to 7.6.

You should also add algaecide, which is a great way to prevent your small pool from turning green.

Step Five: Circulate

Once you’ve added your chemicals, it’s time to mix things up. Since your pool doesn’t have a filter, circulate the water by using your brush and telescopic pole to move the water around. Make sure the chemicals do not sit in one area of the pool.

Step Six: Cover the Pool and Maintain

Cover the pool when not in use to prevent debris from getting in the swimming pool. You should also regularly clean your small pool and test the pool water daily.

Do Small Pools Need a Filter?

Small pools don’t always need a filter. In fact, some may be too small for one to function correctly. But more than that, as small swimming pools are relatively easy to clean, you don’t need to install a pump and filter. However, this does mean you should be religious with cleaning your small pool, as stagnant water is a breeding ground for a whole host of nasty things!

That said, it’s still possible to get specialized filters outfitted according to your pool’s size if you’re worried about algae and bacteria creeping in despite your defenses.

Should You Drain Your Small Pool to Clean It?

Draining a small pool to clean it can be useful in some situations, depending on how dirty it is and factoring in the specific issue you’re dealing with. It’s not always necessary to drain and clean it for routine use. However, you may need to do this in the following situations:

  • Super contaminated: If your pool is extremely dirty and the water is beyond help, drain it. Examples of severe contamination include severe algae blooms, if the water chemistry is too imbalanced, in the aftermath of a rainstorm, etc.
  • Deep cleaning: If you’re considering a deep clean that involves extensive scrubbing, drain the pool so that you can access the entire pool structure more easily.
  • Renovation: If you’re planning to carry out repairs or renovation on the pool: fixing the lining or renovating the pool structure in some way, you will need to drain the pool.

Why Should You Clean a Kiddie Pool?

Nature works fast. Water left uncirculated, stagnant, and unfiltered is a breeding ground for insects, algae, and bacteria. Cleaning a kiddie pool is as important as cleaning any other type of pool – whether small or large. After all, you wouldn’t want your kids splashing around in an unclean pool that is unsafe and may even get them sick!

Not to mention, if you do not clean a kiddie pool, it will quickly turn green and slimy in a matter of days. And who wants to jump in that?

How to Clear a Green Kiddie Pool

If you’re dealing with a bit of algae, you can get away with cleaning a green kiddie pool following the above process of cleaning a small pool. However, if you’re dealing with a green pool that won’t clear even after following the above steps, here’s what to do.

Step One: Empty the Pool

Unfortunately, if your small pool is really green, it’s time to empty the pool. You can use a small bucket to scoop out most of the water for disposal, or you can opt for a siphon.

Step Two: Remove Stubborn Residue

Once it’s drained, examine the structure for any residue. If you notice any algae, dirt, or other contaminant stuck to the bottom or the sides of the pool, grab your pool brush and scrub away. Then, rinse it off with water.

Step Three: Refill or Place in Storage

Once you have thoroughly cleaned the pool, you have two options:

  1. Fill the pool again with fresh, clean water. Then, add chlorine, cyanuric acid, pH balancers, and algaecide to the pool.
  2. If you’re putting the kiddie pool away for the season, let it dry out completely in the sun before storing it in a dry, ventilated storage space.

Types of Small Pools

Small pools come in various shapes, sizes, and materials. Here are the main ones to consider.

Inflatable Kiddie Pools

Typically small and portable since they’re designed for children, inflatable pools are made of PVC or vinyl. They can easily be inflated and filled with water, and you can get them in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Hard Plastic Kiddie Pools

Made of hard plastic, these kiddie pools are much more durable than inflatable pools. They’re also generally larger and can hold more water than inflatable ones.

Stock Tank Pools

Stock tank pools are big metal tanks formerly used for livestock watering but have been recycled and outfitted to become small pools. They’ve become popular as a DIY option due to their size, durability, and how simple they are to set up.

Portable Hot Tubs

Inflatable and portable, these are smaller versions of traditional hot tubs. Some even come with jet features or heating equipment. They are ideal for small spaces or temporary use.

DIY Pools

It’s possible to repurpose various objects, such as big containers, dumpsters, and wooden barrels, to create DIY pools. DIY small pools can be as simple or as elaborate as your creativity allows.

Plunge Pools

Plunge pools are small and deep pools meant for a quick plunge, hydrotherapy, or even just for ornamental purposes and are usually part of a larger pool or garden setup.

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

Download my free, printable pool maintenance checklist to help you accomplish regular pool care tasks for any type of swimming pool.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you put chlorine in an inflatable pool?

Yes, you can put chlorine in an inflatable pool to sanitize the water. But be cautious. Given the smaller volume of water in these pools, you’ll have to use an appropriate amount for the size of the structure. If you use too much, the water will be unsafe to splash in, or the material of the pool itself might get damaged.

Should you shock a kiddie pool?

No, do not shock a kiddie pool. Shocking uses a strong and high dosage of chlorine and is meant for hardier materials. A kiddie pool, whether inflatable or hard, is smaller in size and much less durable, so shocking can damage the pool.

Don’t Neglect Your Small Pool

Remember, without a filter, manual cleaning for a small pool will need to be more consistent and frequent. But with diligent maintenance, your small pool will remain pristine for longer than you think! While cleaning your small pool can take a bit of elbow grease, it is well worth the trouble!

Drop me a message if you have any other questions about small pools. I’m happy to help.

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