How Long Can You Leave Water in an Inflatable Kiddie Pool

Buying an inflatable pool for the kids is an inexpensive way of beating the heat during those dog days of summer. However, while a cheap Walmart swimming pool might seem like a good idea for keeping your kids cool, there are some things that you need to be aware of when it comes to keeping your pool clean!

For instance, have you ever wondered how long you can leave water in an inflatable kiddie pool without changing it? After doing a little research of my own, including calling 7 different pool care experts, here’s what I found out.

While the CDC recommends that small kiddie pools should be cleaned everyday, most pool care experts say that changing the water every couple of days is good enough as long as the pool is being used! However, if the pool goes unused for longer than 24 hours, you should probably clean it before letting your kids back in to play.

kiddie pool

Keeping the water in your inflatable pool clean is critical in preventing your kids from getting sick! A good cleaning includes emptying the pool of all water, and spraying off any debris that’s in the pool. I also like to spray the pool with some type of disinfectant such as Lysol.

Do You Really Have to Change The Water in a Kiddie Pool

While the experts and the CDC recommend cleaning an inflatable pool every couple of days, there are plenty of things that the CDC recommends that we don’t follow.

So, is it absolutely imperative that you clean your kiddie pool after each and every use?

I, like the fine people at my local pool care store, feel that it’s perfectly okay if you go a couple of days without cleaning out your pool.

This is assuming that it’s being used everyday and that no one has had an accident in it. You also want to pay attention to whether or not there have been insects, or any other types of nasty debris floating around in it.

With that being said, it’s really up to you and how strongly you feel about it. I’m personally not that anal about it.

I guess that’s because I remember as a kid playing in mud puddles and going swimming in the lakes and rivers around my house and never got sick. In reality, the chances of someone getting sick due to the water in the pool are pretty slim, however there is still a chance.

Why You Shouldn’t Leave Water in a Kiddie Pool

Whether it be in a kiddie pool or something else, water that’s left outside for extended periods of time can be harmful to humans.

Have you ever heard of Cryptosporidium! E. coli? Shigella? Giardia? These are just some of the germs that can cause gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections! Water that’s stagnant and not continuously being filtered and treated is prone to these types of bacteria.

There are a number of ways that the water can become contaminated:

  • Animals relieving themselves in the water
  • Mosquito larvae (known to carry diseases)
  • Algae growth
  • Source of water for vermin
  • Kids peeing in the water (most common)

When water stops flowing and becomes stagnant, its dissolved oxygen levels become extremely low, making it the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

The only way to prevent this from happening is to continuously circulate the water and/or treat the water with chemicals.

This is why most pool care experts recommend changing the pool water out every couple of days, but only if the pool is being used. If the kids are playing in the pool, the water is automatically getting circulated.

When it’s not in use is when things can go wrong!

Did you know that stagnant water can begin to grow mold and bacteria in as little as 48 hours?

My advice has always been that when in doubt, change the water in the pool! The last thing that you want is your kids or their friends to get sick from dirty water!

Can You Treat Water in a Kiddie Pool

The short answer is yes, you can treat water in a kiddie pool! However, after speaking with the good people over at Pinch a Penny pool care, they agree that it’s really not going to make that big of a difference.

The reason is that kiddie pools do not retain water like other pools when kids are playing in them. The loss of water makes keeping the smaller pool stabilized a real challenge!

If you really want to treat a kiddie pool, it will be best to do so at the end of the day.

  • First you replace all of the water that was lost during the day.
  • Next, check the chlorine level with a test kit.
  • Last, you’ll need to add some chlorine if the levels are low.

I actually inquired about a 160 gallon inflatable pool that I recently purchased for my kids and they said that at most, a half cup of chlorine is all that would be needed to treat a pool of this size.

It’s extremely important not to use too much chlorine, as it can cause skin irritations, including rash, itchy red skin, and burning eyes.

This is where a good water testing kit comes in handy.

What About a Larger Inflatable Pool

With a larger inflatable pool (around 3 to 5,000 gallons), you’re going to need to be a little more thorough in your cleaning process.

Once you fill up a pool of this size, you can’t empty it out every other day! That’s simply too much water. You’re going to have to monitor the water’s chemical levels and treat it as you would a regular in-ground pool. However, this can be a little challenging!

In fact, keeping the water clean in a larger inflatable pool can sometimes be harder than a regular in-ground pool. That’s because they tend to lose water at a faster rate (due to splashing around) than their in-ground counterparts.

This makes keeping the pool’s chemical levels balanced a real challenge!

It’s a good idea to test the water each and every day before use to make sure you don’t have too much / little chemicals in the pool.


For the most part, how long you leave water in your kiddie pool really depends on your level of comfort!

You obviously want to use some common sense and good judgement. For instance, if you notice the sides of your pool developing a green haze, it’s probably time to empty the water and give it a good clean.

At the end of the day, your kids safety is the most important thing to consider!

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