How to Clean an Intex or Inflatable Pool

If you’re reading this, you have a lot of the benefits of a swimming pool with a few less inconveniences. Are you hosting a wedding in your backyard and need extra room for guests? Would you rather not have a massive, covered-up spot of wasted space in your yard during the winter? No problem. Because you have an Intex or inflatable pool, you can take it down and store it away just like that. And if you move, you don’t have to leave your pool behind. That’s the kind of flexibility that would make any yogi jealous.

But contrary to popular belief, caring for an Intex or inflatable pool does not mean that you can simply let your water sit untreated, or keep it disconnected from a proper pool pump and pool filter. Unfortunately, the bad-guy bacteria in your pool doesn’t care if yours has inflatable or concrete walls. And since the inflatable pools that we’re talking about aren’t for kiddies, chances are they’re too large to drain and clean out manually after every use.

I’ll explain how an Intex or inflatable differs from the rest of them, how to make sure that your system is both energy-efficient and capable of properly running your pool, what chemicals and other tools to have on hand, and how to clean your pool—the right way.

Got an Intex or Inflatable Pool? Great Job!

If there’s a secret to pool ownership, it might be getting an Intex or inflatable pool. They’re the underappreciated superstars of the pool world. Unlike inground pools that require a team of installers, complicated permits, and tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can install above-ground inflatable pools yourself. They’re super lightweight, which means you can take them down yourself before winter hits and save yourself the trouble of blowing out your lines or having to deal with any unfortunate surprises thanks to damaging freezes, such as broken pipes or torn lining. They’re also as mobile as a pool can be.

Great job taking this stellar option to pool ownership. But not all inflatable pools are created equally—and certainly not all inflatable pool systems work with the same efficiency. That’s why in this next section we’re going to inspect your system and make sure that it’s equipped to properly clean your pool.

Check Out Your System

Unless we’re talking about a kiddie pool here, your inflatable pool should have all the circulation system equipment of any above-ground or inground pool: a pool pump, a pool filter, connective plumbing, and any extra add-ons such as a powerful electric heat pump.

Your pool pump and pool filter work together to keep your pool as clean as can be. Your pool pump circulates the cleaning and balancing chemicals that you add to your water, and your pool filter filters out microscopic bacteria neutralized by your sanitizer, as well as other debris.

But your pump and filter won’t be able to do their job correctly if they’re not a right fit for each other, your plumbing, or your pool size. Take a moment now to make sure your pump is the right size for your system, as well as make sure your filter is the right size for your system. It’s one of the first steps to making your pool energy-efficient, along with calculating the size of your pool.

If you don’t have a pool alarm yet, make sure to get one that is ASTM certified—this is not the kind of device that has any room for manufacturer error. I recommend the PoolWatch Certified ASTM Alarm. It’s loaded with patented features that immediately alarm you to the happenings around your pool, all while circumventing false alarms.

Get the Gear, Make that Water Clear

In order to clean your your inflatable or Intex pool, you’re going to want to have a few items handy: a skimmer on a telescoping pole, a robotic cleaner, a soft-bristled pool brush, water test trips, and all of your balancing chemicals.

It’s a similar list as you would need for an inground or hard-walled above-ground pool, but with two major addendums: your pool brush needs to be soft-bristled (most pool experts recommend nylon, but you’ll still want to make sure the bristles are soft enough) and your robotic cleaner should be specifically designed for an above-ground pool.

How to Clean an Intex or Inflatable Pool—In One Routine

Ready to clean your pool? Well, if you’re looking for a one-time clean, that would would involve skimming out the surface of your pool to pick up any leaves or other debris that’s floating around, brushing the sides and floors of your pool to dislodge any dirt or other junk, using a pool vacuum to suck up remaining debris, and balancing your chemicals to keep your water clean now and in the short-term future.

But what really keeps your inflatable pool the most clean, just like any seasoned pool owner of any pool type knows, is consistent care. It’s much better to have a routine of pool maintenance instead of deciding to clean your pool whenever it starts to look cloudy, green, or full of dirt. Here’s the ideal cleaning routine for an inflatable or Intex pool:

Every Day

Since you probably (and should!) take your pool completely down for the bulk of the colder months of the year, the care you’re doing for your pool every day should primarily be during the swim season.

Every day, clean debris from your water with your skimmer net on a telescopic pole. Then, clean out your skimmer. Your skimmer should be a basket that sits in your pool and is attached to the side of your pool with an arm, or a basket that is floating freely in your water, picking up gunk as it goes. You’ll also absolutely want to make sure that you are running your pump for the appropriate amount of time. That’s usually eight hours, but your pump could have different needs based on its power and the size of your pool. For this reason, I recommend calculating how long you should run your pump every day, so you can find the length of time that’s right for you.

Every Week

On a weekly basis, you’re going to want to do more of the big-picture cleaning. First, brush your pool walls and floors using a very soft pool brush. Then, power on an automatic cleaner like the Blue Torrent Stinger Automatic Pool Cleaner to vacuum your pool (though you can also leave it on more frequently for an optimal clean). Next, and this part couldn’t be more important, balance your chemicals. This involves adding sanitizer, balancing alkalinity and pH levels, adjusting your calcium hardness if necessary, and any additional levels, such as pool stabilizer levels or the addition of algaecide. Next, check your pool filter pressure gauge to make sure it’s not time for a filter cleaning or backwash.

Last but not least, shock your pool. Think of this as a quick reset for your water, since it clears out chloramines, the disgusting byproducts of the bacteria and contaminants your sanitizer has already neutralized. Just make sure to shock your outdoor pool at dusk or night, since rays from the sun will stop all the good work it’s trying to do. Plus, you’ll want to run your circulation system for about eight hours after adding the shock in.

Everything that happens in your pool relies on your pump. Stay in top shape with the ultra-powerful BLACK+DECKER Above Ground Variable Speed Pool Pump. It includes a warranty, qualifies for utility rebates, and pays itself off in up to 80% energy costs saved in all stages of operation. Check out this user review of its inground equivalent to see it in action.

Every Few Weeks

About once every two weeks, you should be checking your water level to make sure that it’s halfway up the skimmer. You also want to empty your pump’s filter basket—but make sure that your pump is completely off and disconnected from power before you open it up. This is also a great time to hose and sweep off your pool deck, which helps make sure no debris sticks to or stains its surface, or finds its way into your pool.

Every Month

Every month, it’s important to inspect for cracks, stains, or any other issues with your pool’s surfaces and plumbing. Take a moment to look down into your pool and make sure that the floor is as smooth as ever, and that your pool’s vinyl liner hasn’t suffered any damage. Plus, you’ll need to check around the pool’s perimeter for any sign of leaking.

Next, walk alongside your above-ground plumbing and check that they’re as sealed as ever. If you notice a crack in your pipes, you’ll want to get a replacement as soon as possible—with the high pressure of your pool’s water moving through your plumbing, any cracks might grow or burst in no time. Also check the rubber seals to make sure that they’re not warped, cracked, or missing pieces.

Finally, with the pump turned off, open up the housing lid and check that your O-rings, the rubber seals along the plumbing intake, are in good condition without any warping, cracking, or missing pieces.

On a Case-by-Case Basis

Less frequently than daily, weekly, every few weeks, and monthly, you’ll run into an issue that is a little more major, and you’ll need to drain your pool. Maybe you’ll need to take down your pool for an event. Or maybe you have a nasty algae infestation that you just can’t fix otherwise. Maybe your total dissolved solids shoot through the roof. No matter what the case, use the opportunity to give those pool walls a good clean using a cloth and a gentle cleaner—but if you are storing them away, be sure they’re completely dry before you start folding them up. A dusting of cornstarch helps accelerate the process.

Looking to extend the swim season as much as you can, so that you can get the most fun for your buck? A heat pump is the answer for you—but you’ll want a powerful unit that will save you on your energy bill every month, like the Energy-Saving ComforTemp Pool Heat Pump 110,000 BTU to heat25,000 Gallons. According to customer Steve, “Simple install and simple set up. Heated my pool from 66 to 82 degrees in about 2 complete days.”

A Word from the Wise: Winterize 

Both inflatable and Intex pools, which are at least partially inflatable, are especially susceptible to freezing temperatures. So if you leave your pool up for the winter, there’s a big chance that the weather will damage your pool liner, which will lead to a seriously costly repair. And that’s if it could be repaired at all—and we both know these pools don’t come cheap.

 If you’re closing any above-ground pool, you’ll probably want to dissemble the plumbing and store it away from any potential freezes. But if you’re closing an inflatable or Intex pool and live in a cold climate (the specific number here is below 41 degrees Fahrenheit or 5 degrees Celsius), you’re going to want to drain and disassemble your pool entirely. Make sure you read up on how to close your Intex or inflatable pool for the winter now, so that you’re well prepared later.

You’re in the Clear!

Now you’re really living the best-case scenario: you have an inflatable or Intex pool, and you’re keeping it as clean as can be! Pretty soon your new cleaning routine will become an easy habit to keep up, and every swim will be its pay off. Enjoy.