How To Keep a Small Pool Clean Without a Filter

Swimming is a refreshing activity and a hobby for many. Children especially enjoy being in the water. They like to make all the splashes and play the ball. In addition, swimming as a skill is very useful. Many people have an above-ground pool in their backyard.

While some people have permanent pools, others have inflatable kiddie pools. While the water in the pool may gleam in the sunshine, it is full of dirt, dust, cells shed by the skin, and many disease-causing microorganisms. It is possible to keep a small pool clean without the need for a permanent filtration system.

How to keep a small pool clean without a filter

How to keep a small pool clean without a filter

Small Pool

There are both advantages and disadvantages of a small pool. Due to its small size, it is often convenient to clean. If it is a kiddie pool, it will not be deep, so reaching the bottom is not a task at all. However, the primary concern with a small pool is that such pools are often built in the backyards. These places are full of plants and little creatures. 

This presence of plants and insects is a significant cause of concern. In addition, being near to vegetation means that the pool is susceptible to the growth of algae, so white gleaming water would turn murky green if the pool is not maintained well.


While a small pool may appear small, it is not always possible, and sensible, to just flip it over to empty it and then clean the material. Neither is it practical to install a filtration system. The first reason is that a filtration system would be expensive and may be overkill for a small pool. The second reason is that there are alternatives to get the job done. Thirdly, since a small pool is usually a private pool, it carries lesser risk because typically used only by the members of the family. 

Let us assume a kiddie pool with typical dimensions – 120 inches length, 50 inches width, and 22 inches height. This seems very safe for the kids to play in, and it is. Nevertheless, what about cleaning? 

We will first calculate the amount of water in this kiddie pool – 120 * 50 * 22 cubics inches = 1, 32,000 cubic inches. This pool has a capacity of about 2,000 liters of water.

You may dispose of the water once a while to get the pool cleaned thoroughly. However, disposing off two thousand liters of water in your backyard may create a puddle. You need to have some pump to empty the majority of the water before you can just flip the pool over.

Cleaning Methods

Drain and refill: Depending on the size of the pool, the best way to get the pool thoroughly cleaned is to drain it completely. If it feels like a massive waste of water to you, we have an idea for you. Before you plan to clean the pool, use the pool water-to-water plants in the yard. 

Covers: Another good way is to ensure that the pool remains cleaner. The frequency of cleaning would be reduced. Look for a pool cover that can protect your pool from the environment when it is not being used. Homemade covers can be used temporarily, but they generally fail to serve their purpose in the rainy season. You should buy a cover that is designed to protect your pool. Such covers have a lot of bungee cords and tarps, but it is well worth the time.

Cleaning soap lather: If your kids use soap, shampoo, or a bubbling agent inside the pool, then the cleaning methods completely change. In that case, you would need a scumbag. It is a sponge that can soak up to 40 times its own weight. The sponge can be dipped near the lather, and you can expect that after ten or fifteen times, your pool should be mostly free from bubbles. Please note that you need to rinse the sponge once you use it in the pool to suck out the shampoo.

Skimming Nets: Skimming nets are useful for both small and large pools. If used regularly, it can keep the visible dirt out of the pool. In addition, skimming is something that the kids can do on a Saturday. You will not have to worry about that.

Usage of chemicals

We know this one is controversial. Let us give you the facts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that pools are full of horrific dangers. Germs like Cryptosporidium, E. coli, and Giardia can cause neurological, optical, gastrointestinal, problems apart from affecting the skin, ears, and wounds. 

How to keep a small pool clean without a filter

 The following chemicals are useful

Stable Chlorine: Use 55% to 62% (active strength) Chlorine to kill those dangerous monsters lurking inside the pool. They come in the form of granules and are suitable for pools with a capacity of up to 1000 gallons.

Algaecide: Small pools are present next to plant life. The probability of growth of algae is very high. Use 60% strength algaecide. This serves as a plan B in case the Chlorine amount remains lesser than required, or there are some bacteria resistant to it. 

Borax: This one can be found in the supermarket and is a material of everyday use. This is non-toxic.

Shock: This isn’t a chemical name. This may be used after rains or in the rare case when more people than usual have used to pool. Even with sanitizer added to the pool, it is advisable to use a packet of shock.

Water analysis should be done at regular intervals to test for pH, Chlorine concentration, and alkalinity. This test will help you decide which chemical is required.

Household materials to keep pool water clean

The average household is equipped with many substances that can naturally kill microorganisms and keep the water clean. Some of the items are:

Household materials to keep pool water clean

Baking Soda: It is a non-abrasive cleaner and is a natural, cheap, and safe way to keep the water clean. Being basic in nature, this can also be used to maintain the alkalinity of your pool.

Borax: It is used for laundry supplies and finds application in cleaning pools too. Using some clean water, the borax paste can be made and used to remove sticky substances, slippery residue, and stains. It is still cheaper than specially formulated pool vacuum cleaners are.

White Vinegar: It can be used to remove calcium buildup. Excess calcium buildup can lead to the water looking whiter. To get it dazzling again, use white vinegar to remove the spots. Take caution not to add too much white vinegar to the remaining water.

Rubbing alcohol: Also known as isopropyl alcohol, it can be used to remove sticky gunk. IPA is effective against sticky stains. Make sure you do not use 100% rubbing alcohol. Dilute it to 60% alcohol before using it to clean the pool. IPA also comes in handy in case of wounds. 

Vitamin C: What? Yes, you read it right. Ascorbic acid is also known as Vitamin C. It is an excellent stain remover. It is not as powerful as caustic but still, being an acid, it can work on stains. It won’t cause any damage to the body either.

Caution: Though most household chemicals are harmless, you need to read the label carefully. Sometimes, the chemical you are looking for may contain another compound that is harmful to health or may damage the surface of the pool.

Working with pool cleaning chemicals, or household chemicals, you must understand how much to add. Just do not dump the entire contents without knowing what amount of water they are meant for. Check the capacity of the pool and add only the amount that is required. For reference, 1 cubic meter is 1000 liters.

Dilution levels are mentioned sometimes in PPM – parts per million. So 3000 parts per million would mean 3 ml of the substance to be used for 1 liter of water.

What is different from regular pools?

While bigger-sized pools have sturdy walls built from concrete or lined with vinyl or tiles, a kiddie pool may be made from a durable polymer-like material. Attaching suction hoses to such a pool may create leakage and problems with deflation of the pool. 

Since inflatable pools are seldom used in winters, having a filtration system idle may damage the system itself. These systems work best when they are under continuous operation.

The filter’s membranes and other components may end up being more expensive than the water you dump and refill. Water overhaul also allows for more thorough cleaning than using a filter to clean the water.


Swimming may be one of the best ways to have kids step out of the home. It is enjoyable, closer to nature and good exercise. Domestic pools, however, are mostly in backyards and are susceptible to many problems. There are ways to clean the pool without using filters. Emptying the pool is the safest option.

Apart from that, many household substances can take care of stains. Chemical cleaners are available always. Just take care of how much to use and which to use.

My name is Ron Walsh. I’m an industry expert, certified pool technician, and avid lover of all things aquatic. In my beautiful homeland of Florida, where I still reside today, pools are everywhere. Needless to say, I learned to love water at a young age. With my love of water, and pools in particular, it was only natural that I follow a career path in the swimming pool industry. If there’s someone to learn about above ground pools, pool cleaners and maintenance from, it would definitely be me. If you have any question just let me know.

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4 thoughts on “How To Keep a Small Pool Clean Without a Filter”

  1. Hey Ron, I have a 300 litre container I’m using for ice baths. I have a lid over it when I’m not using it. I use it daily. Ideally I don’t want to have to empty it all that often. If I put a pond pump in to circulate the water & add some baking soda each day, would this work?

    Thank you

    • Hi Cam. Did you ever get an answer on your ice bath. I also have a 300ltr barrel and really confused on the best way to keep it clean. Any help would be great.

  2. Hi. I love swimming but have stopped during this pandemic and also after learning how dangerous and unpredictable river swimming can be. I live in a studio apartment but have just enough space to ad an above ground pool. I know it would have to have solid walls and non inflatable because the last thing I need is to cause water damages. Do you have any suggestions for me??

  3. We are going through a heat wave and purchased a 8 ft round 30 inch deep pool. What do you suggest we can use to keep it clean and sanitary. Would like to use it without emptying it every week. No filtration system


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