How to clean a paddling pool – and keep paddling pool water clean

Everyone’s a fan of the paddling pool right now. Find out how to look after it

Paddling pool
(Image credit: Intex)

How big a hit is your paddling pool in this weather – and not just with the kids? The heat has us all wanting to cool off and splash about. But with everyone in the family using the pool, keeping the water clean is more important than ever. 

It’s not just the things that might blow into the pool like leaves, grass clippings and other garden debris that you really would rather your kids didn’t share the space with you need to think about. Algae can also grow in the water. It isn’t dangerous, but it can allow bacteria to thrive, and these could cause irritations and infections.

But keeping the water hygienic and inviting needn’t be an onerous chore. There are plenty of strategies you can use to keep the water clear and clean – and easy tricks to cut out the elbow grease when you have to give it a good wipe over. Our guide has the answers – starting with ways to keep a paddling pool from getting dirty in the first place.

Keep scrolling for lots of practical advice. For more garden ideas, go to our dedicated page.

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1. Choose a paddling pool with a filter

If you haven't bought yet, investing in a paddling pool with a filter pump is well worthwhile. It can remove dirt and debris and improve water circulation. We like the Intex 10ft x 30in Easy Set Pool (opens in new tab), which comes with a filter pump to keep the water cleaner.

Intex 10ft x 30in Easy Set Pool, £119.99 (opens in new tab)

You can set this pool up in just 10 minutes without tools. It comes with the filter unit and it has a drain plug for easy emptying.   

2. Get a cover to keep a paddling pool clean

A paddling pool cover will keep debris and insects out of the pool overnight. It could also help keep the water warm, which the kids might appreciate if the pool’s a large and deep version. Check out the Telisii Round Pool Solar Cover Protector (opens in new tab), which comes in a range of sizes and prevents leaves and more falling into the water.

Telisii Round Pool Solar Cover Protector, £3.99 (opens in new tab)

Keep debris out of your pool when it’s not in use. With sizes to fit a 4ft diameter pool and upwards, this cover also keeps the water warmer.

3. Create your own pool cover

Like the idea of keeping the muck out overnight but want a hack to do it? How about using a fitted sheet to keep the pool water debris-free? It works better if your paddling pool is rectangular, of course, and you might need a king-size in order to get the right fit. Better still, black plastic sheeting will keep the pool clean AND is said to keep the water as warm as possible, too.

4. Scoop it with a net

A cover’s not going to be on all of the time, so it’s inevitable that things will blow into the water. Making like you’ve got a swimming pool and using a net to clean out debris from the paddling pool is therefore a good idea. Try a model like the Aiglam Pool Leaf Skimmer (opens in new tab). It has five sections so you can make the pole as long or short as you need plus it has a fine mesh net to pick up the maximum as you skim.

Aiglam Pool Leaf Skimmer, £22.99 (opens in new tab)

This pool net has an aluminium pole that’s light to use and the net has curved edges to prevent damage to the inside of the paddling pool.

5. Avoid the debris in the paddling pool with a dip tray

Yes, you can be the cause of unwanted additions to the pool water. So, don’t mow the lawn just before they’re about to use it, sending grass clippings flying. You could also cut down any branches that overhang the area where you put the pool to stop leaves falling in from above. And do regularly sweep decks and patios where debris can accumulate so it’s not blown into the pool next time it’s breezy. 

And of course, you can encourage anyone getting in it to make sure their feet are clean before the come in. Failing that, a washing up bowl filled with water by the pool that kids dip their feet into before getting in should take care of most of the debris.

6. How to clean paddling pool water

When you’re talking debris, filters, covers, and nets will do a great job, but for what you can’t see in the water, you’ll need a different approach to cleaning. To make the water pristine, arm yourself with a suitable cleaning product like the Clearwater CH0017 Pool Chemical Starter Kit (opens in new tab), which contains all you need to disinfect the water and prevent algae build-up.

Clearwater CH0017 Pool Chemical Starter Kit, £70 (opens in new tab)

This starter kit is suitable for paddling pools as well as above ground swimming pools. It’ll equip you with chlorine and algaecide, and there are test strips to check the qualities of the water, plus pH Plus and pH minus products, which can decrease or increase pH levels as necessary. 

7. How to clean a dirty paddling pool

If yours is mucky, empty it out and take a very mild washing up liquid to it – we like using Ecover (opens in new tab); sponge the algae carefully, rinse and repeat. Make sure there's no trace of the washing up liquid left in the pool before you add in the clean water. 

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.