How To Keep A Small Pool Clean Without A Filter

How To Keep A Small Pool Clean Without A Filter

You may be wondering how to keep a small pool clean without a filter. Pumps and filters can be expensive to run, so it is helpful to know your options.

Keeping a small pool clean can be done manually with use of a vacuum hose and head, a leaf trap, a skim net, a pool brush and a telescopic pole to brush the walls and clear the debris out of your pool. Then test the water with liquid test kits to make sure the right pH and chlorine are keeping it clean and safe from contaminants. Add chlorine or shock treatments if the chemical balance is not in line. Finally, make sure to regularly circulate the water with a siphoning hose so algae and bacteria doesn’t build up.

As great as pool filters are, they are not the only way to keep your small pool clean. With regular care, you can keep your pool clean without the use of a pump or filter. 

Not having the high energy costs of a filter is also a benefit. Cleaning your pool is not as challenging as you may think, especially for smaller pools. You just need to know what to do and how often.

This is the guide for you. There are a few ways to keep your pool water clean and safe without the use of filters. 

Learn how to clean your pool and how to test the water to make sure it is balanced and safe for swimming. 

Once you know the tools you need and what to do, keeping your pool clean is easy. You don’t need a filter, just a little elbow grease before you dive in.

How To Keep A Pool Clean Without A Pump And Filter

Small pools and above ground pools do not always allow for the luxury of pumps and filters, so this means you need to take special care of your pool. 

Water circulation is essential to keeping a pool clean, and without the pump to do this, extra cleaning steps are required. 

Circulation prevents bacteria from forming so it is important to learn how to circulate pool water without the help of a pump.

There are a few reasons you may not have a pool pump. For small pools, they are not always necessary because they are expensive. Pumps can be pricey to buy and pricey to run. 

They are dependent on electricity and for larger pools, they need to be run all day. This can add up to an expensive energy bill each month. With a small pool, you don’t even need a pump which will keep energy costs low.

Stagnant pool water is dangerous. It is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mosquitos. Algae can also develop which is both unsightly and a potential health problem. 

Keeping the pool water circulated prevents the accumulation of bugs as well as debris. Too much dirt can also be a health hazard and let’s face it, a green or dirty pool is not very inviting.

If you have a small 8ft or 10ft pool and no pump, do not fret. There are other ways you can keep the water circulating. 

Pumps also inject chemicals in the pool that keep the water clean, but you can also do this without a pump. 

It is also not as difficult as you may think. It may seem like a pump makes pool maintenance easy, but with the right tips to help you, your small pool will be sparkling without a pump.

Can You Maintain A Pool Without A Pump

The short answer is yes. While pool pumps help circulate water to keep it free from bacteria and algae, it is possible to clean a pool without a pump. 

This is especially true for small pools and above ground pools. You have to manually circulate and clean a pool when you do not have a pump, but this is not as much of a chore with a smaller pool.

As beautiful as lakes are, nobody wants their pool to look like one. This is what water circulation does. It prevents the buildup of bacteria and algae. 

The stagnant water of lakes allows this to happen, but this is okay for nature. Not something you want in your yard for those afternoon swim sessions.

In addition to water circulation, you also need to distribute chemicals in the water. When you don’t have a pump to do this for you, there are tips that help make sure chemicals are added correctly and evenly. Before you get started with water circulation, you need to make sure your pool is clean.

You need to clean your pool with tools and chemicals to prevent bacteria and algae from developing. 

Ideally, brushing the pool liner regularly, once a day will work. This loosens the dirt from the pool so you can then vacuum it out. Make sure you scrub downstairs too as the corners of these are great spots for bacteria to live.

How To Clean A Swimming Pool Without Pump

There are two common methods for cleaning a small pool without a pump or filter. The first method is to use a siphoning hose. 

A siphoning hose is a flexible tube made from soft plastic. You use it to both drain and then re-fill the pool. It is a great way to circulate water, so the pool is fresh and clean all the time.

To start, attack the siphoning tube to the garden hose. Once you have the right length, put the open end of the siphoning tube into the pool and attach the other end of the hose to a faucet. 

Open the faucet so the hose gets filled with water. This helps to create suction so you can drain the pool water. Turn the faucet off once the hose is filled.

Bring that open end of the hose outside and place it where you want the water to drain to. Do not drain near structural foundations or you risk creating sinkholes. 

Be sure to check local ordinances too regarding water drainage. Let the water drain completely from the pool.

If there is any excess water left, you can use a pail or other scooping device to remove it. Clean the pool liner to remove stains or slippery spots. 

Let it dry in the sun and then fill the pool with clean water, adding in any chemicals that you need.

The second method involves using a vacuum. This is a quicker method over siphoning. Wet vacuums are great for cleaning pools and can be used to circulate water too. 

Using a vacuum drains the water from a pool much faster. Insert the vacuum hose into the pool if you want to drain the water. If you want to keep water in the pool as you circulate the water, you can.

The vacuum acts like a pump and a filter. Set it up near the pool and if needed insert a hose to make the vacuum hose long enough. 

The end of the hose does not need to go all the way to the bottom of the pool, but getting it as deep as you can will be better. 

Use the outlet of the vacuum to insert a hose and then place the hose on your small pool just above the water.

You need to be able to see the water flowing in. Once you turn the vacuum on, the water will be circulating, and you should leave this for a day. 

This method of circulating water takes time, so it is best to let it have a day to ensure you get fully circulated and clean water.

Equipment Used To Clean Pool

When you need to clean your own pool there are pieces of equipment that can make this job a little easier. 

If you do not have a filter in your small pool, then using these tools can help ensure you get the pool and water as clean as possible for a safer swim.

The most important piece of equipment you need is a telescopic pole. These come in different lengths and are great for skimming, vacuuming, and brushing. 

Two or three smaller poles are nested together, and you extend them when ready to use. There are also clips you can use to attach any number of accessories. 

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The top pool cleaning accessories include:

  • Vacuum Head: This attaches to the telescopic pole and should be used on a regular basis when you do not have a pool filter. You can choose between a vacuum head with wheels which is weighted for concrete pools or a head with brushes in place of the wheels if you have a vinyl-lined pool.
  • Vacuum Hose: This connects to the vacuum head and when lowered into the pool, will fill with water. You plug the other end to the skimmer suction hole and water and debris will be pulled through the hose.
  • Aqua Broom: A battery operated cordless pool cleaner that has a built-in pump and reusable filter to clean sand and debris fast and easily. It works without hoses or electrical connections. It attaches to any telescopic pole that allows you to clean all areas of your pool. This is my top recommendation to clean a pool without a pump.
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  • Leaf Trap: Attach this to the vacuum hose before the skimmer. A smaller hose will attach the other end of the leaf trap to the skimmer. There is a basket inside the canister to trap leaves and debris.
  • Skim Net: This is a flat, mesh net that is used across the surface of the pool. It attaches to a telescopic pole and will remove any floating debris. This is best done daily to prevent any dirt or leaves dropping to the bottom of the pool.
  • Pool Brush: You want to use a pool brush at least once a week to remove film, slippery sports, and algae from the pool liner. Vacuums typically cannot remove these, so you need to brush them to loosen them first. You can use stainless steel brushes for concrete pools but plastic ones for vinyl-lined pools.

Cleaning Procedures

  • Skimming: Using your telescopic pole and a skim net, you remove all debris from the surface of the water. This task is relatively easy and quickly completed. Make sure you throw all debris in a bag. Placing it somewhere in the yard could cause it to end up back in your pool. Make sure you regularly clean the skimmer net too.
  • Brushing: Using a pool brush, clean around the sides, ladders, and steps. Be sure to get into corners as bacteria love hiding there. Brushing these surfaces will loosen debris so that you can clear it away with the next step. Pool brushes can get clogged up with dirt, so be sure to clean them out regularly too.
  • Vacuuming: There are several different types of cleaners. Automatic cleaners are the easiest to use. You can get suction side cleaners but need to take care with these as they can suck up rocks. You can use a battery-operated Aqua Broom. Or you can choose a robotic pool cleaner. These are units that are self-contained and drive around the bottom of the pool collecting debris. These are more expensive than manual pool vacuums, but they are very efficient. Manual pool vacuums are used by attaching the vacuum head to a telescopic pole. Feed the hose into the pool making sure all air is removed first. Then attach it to the pump that comes with the vacuum. You vacuum the pool floor in the same way as you would a carpet. Cover areas that are very dirty for longer and plan to vacuum your pool at least once a week.
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  • Managing Chemicals: After every cleaning, you need to check the water chemicals. Test kits and strips can be used to confirm the water pH, alkalinity, and chlorine levels. pH should be between 7.2 and 7.8. Add chlorine tablets after cleaning or consider shocking the pool if it was particularly dirty. You should check chemical levels after any heavy rain too, as this can alter the balance and leave water dirty as well as more susceptible to algae growth.

How To Keep A Pool Clear Without A Pump

Small pools are definitely easier to clean than larger ones, but smaller pools are also more attractive to little creatures and plant life. 

Without regular cleaning, a small pool can get dirty and covered with bacteria or algae, especially if you do not have a filter. 

It is not necessary to have a filter or pump with a small pool and often these additions are expensive.

A filter and pump are typically excessive for a small pool because they are expensive to buy, install, and run. They are more efficient for larger pools, where manual cleaning will be a much longer process. 

Depending on how much water the pool holds, you may not want to completely drain it every time otherwise your backyard becomes mud puddle city. There are several methods to keep your pool clean without a filter.

  • Pool Cover: You can reduce the frequency of pool cleaning and keep water clear by getting a pool cover. Invest in a cover that protects your pool from the environment and one that is secure. Covering a pool keeps debris out. While you will still need to clean the pool, having a cover and reducing debris collection means you will not have to scrub it down as often.
  • Skimming Nets: These nets are efficient ways to clear a pool before diving in. These nets do not remove dirt from the bottom of the pool, but they can help clear the water on a daily basis. When used daily, you will prevent too much sediment and debris from getting to the bottom. It also clears the water, so it looks more appealing.

Water Tests

Testing pool water is important to make sure the right chemicals for keeping it clean are in balance. Testing also identifies potential contaminants and ensures the water is safe for swimming. 

Pool water tests are an essential part of pool maintenance and is the one thing pool owners need to do more often than anything else. 

When it comes to testing, there are a few different options; a liquid test kit, test strips, or taking a sample to a professional.

Before you start, you need to get your water sample. Where you get the water from for this is important. If possible, get water from as close to the middle of your pool as you can. 

Use a clean cup or bottle and hold it upside down so it faces the pool floor. Insert the cup or bottle into the water so it is elbow-deep, then turn it over to collect your sample.

Liquid test kits can be purchased from any pool store. Make sure they include orthotolidine and phenol red. The kit will include a collector for your water sample. 

One side will be for testing water pH. Add the recommended number of drops of phenol red to this water.

The other side is for chlorine and you will add the advised number of drops of orthotolidine to this side. 

Hold the samples up against a white background and compare the colors you see to the scales given on the collector. The more red there is, the higher your pH and the more yellow there is, the more chlorine you have.

Test strips are quick and easy to use and great for small pools. Often, they are more accurate because using liquid testing kits can involve human error. 

Testing strips are also less expensive. To use strips, collect your sample first. Then, dip the strip quickly in and out of the water. Do not let the strip stay in the water.

Hold it up in the air for 15 seconds, but do not shake it dry. Compare the strip to the guide that will be included in the package and adjust the pool chemicals according to the guide. 

The most common testing strips used are for pH, alkalinity, and chlorine, but you can also get test strips for copper and iron.

You can also collect your water sample and take it to a pool store for professional evaluation. Plan to test the water at least once a week or more often if it is being used a lot. 

You should also check the water anytime there has been rain and after chemicals have been added to make sure the water is balanced and safe. 

Even with regular checking, you should still take a sample to a pool store for a pro check at least once a month.

Water Treatment

There are different treatments to use for your pool to keep the water safe and clean. Chlorine is the most commonly used treatment as it eliminates bacteria and can break down any organic debris through oxidation. Chlorine treatments for pools are typically in tablet or granular form.

The granules are dissolved then added to the pool water and the tablets are placed in a floater that allows them to dissolve slowly. You want to test the water after each time you add chlorine. 

The amount you need to use will depend on the size of your pool, so make sure you confirm this with a pool professional. Never mix more than one type of brand and always wear protective clothing when handling chlorine treatments.

Another form of chlorine treatment that is used to keep pools clean without a pump is chlorine shock treatment. Pools typically contain FAC (free available chlorine) which is pure and CAC (combined available chlorine) which has combined with contaminants in the water. 

If your pool smells strongly of chlorine, it is because there is too much CAC. This means there is not enough pure chlorine in the water to keep it clean.

When this happens, you need to shock the pool. Ideally, you will do this at night so the pool can recover before people go swimming again. 

You will need to buy an amount of pool chlorine shocker based on the size of your pool and scatter it over the water across the pool. You may need to do this on a weekly basis if the pool is used a great deal.

In addition to chlorine, many pool owners like to use bromine treatments. Bromine is used because it has a few advantages over chlorine. 

Chlorine produces a foul smell when it combines with contaminants as it cleans your pool. The creation of combined available chlorine (CAC) irritates skin and eyes. As bromine meets contaminants, it produces bromamines, which are odorless and non-irritating.

Bromine treatment does not require any shock treatments and it works quickly, so you can dive in much sooner after treating the water. 

The one thing to keep in mind is that bromine breaks down in the sunlight. Using pure bromine is not a good idea for outdoor pools that are shaded. 

Because of this drawback, many bromine tablets also contain chlorine to make sure all pools are sanitized. Bromine is also more expensive than chlorine.

Can You Put Chlorine In A Pool Without A Pump

Pool pumps typically disperse chlorine into the water for you, but it is possible to add chlorine without a pump. The easiest way to do this is with chlorine tablets. 

They go in a designated floating container and slowly dissolve while floating around the pool. You can also use inline chlorinators.

These are available as tablets or liquid drip and vary according to pool size. Make sure you get the right size for your pool and follow installment instructions carefully. 

Without a pump, you will want to test the chlorine levels frequently and make sure you keep the water circulated and balanced.

Can You Shock A Pool Without The Pump Running

Typically, a pool is shocked while the pump is running. Do not worry if your pool does not have a filter or pump. You can still shock the pool. 

You will want to do this after rain or severe weather as well as anytime the pool has been heavily used. If your pool has been covered for some time, then you should also use a shock treatment before letting people dive in.

Make sure you use the right amount of chlorine pool shocker for the size of your pool. Since there is no pump, you need to check the chlorine levels the morning after the shock is complete.

If there is any unbalance, circulate the water to help adjust chemicals.

How To Keep Pool Clean Without Chemicals

Some people may prefer not to use chemicals to clean the pool, especially if children are regularly swimming. 

There are household substances that can also be used to keep pool water clean and are especially effective for small pools. 

These items can be used to naturally kill bacteria and other microorganisms that can dirty up your pool water.

  • Baking soda: cheap, non-abrasive and maintains alkalinity
  • Borax: when mixed with water, this can remove sticky and slippery spots on the pool liner
  • White vinegar: this works to remove calcium which can buildup and cause the water to look white
  • Rubbing alcohol: when diluted to 60%, this helps to remove sticky residues from the pool liner

How To Circulate Water In A Pool Without A Pump

Without a pump to keep the water in your pool moving, you will need to circulate the water manually. Circulating the water is essential for preventing bacteria and algae to grow. 

These organisms love standing water so if a pump is not keeping your water flowing, then you need to. To circulate your pool, you will use a siphon hose or a shop vacuum.

A siphoning hose is open at both ends and is made from plastic. Make sure you have a desirable length, taking note that bigger hoses drain water faster than more narrow ones of equal length. 

The open end is lowered into the pool. Attach the other end to a garden hose and then to a. Open it so water can flow into the tube.

Quickly close the tap and remove the garden hose while pointing it to the ground in an area where you want the water to drain. 

Once the pool is drained, open the inlet valve and water can flow back into the pool. This is time-consuming but serves as an effective way to circulate water when you do not have a pump.

Keeping A Small Pool Clean vs Keeping A Large Pool Clean Without A Filter

Keeping a small pool clean can be done manually, which is an advantage. Larger pools have more space and will require pumps and filters to keep that volume of water clean. 

You can manually circulate and clean large pools, but this will be time consuming. Effort is needed to clean smaller pools too, but significantly less. 

Because pumps and filters need energy to run and they run constantly, this gets expensive. It is not always worth the price for smaller pools. Cleaning them manually is often quicker and costs less.

Helpful Tips On How To Keep A Small Pool Clean Without A Filter

As you can see, there are several things you can do to keep your pool clean without having a filter or pump. It is important to keep supplies and equipment on hand so you can regularly clean your pool. It is also important to remember:

  • To test the water frequently for chemical imbalances
  • To circulate the water to prevent bacterial growth
  • To get the right equipment for a vinyl-lined or concrete pool
  • Set a regular schedule for pool cleaning and maintenance

Final Thoughts

It is possible to keep a small pool clean without a filter. You just need the right equipment and know-how. It also helps to have time set aside for the cleaning process. 

A filter makes the job go quicker, but it is also more expensive. You can save money by cleaning your pool manually, and with the tools and tips in this guide, it will be just as good a job as the filter does. 

Once you get the pool clean and water circulated, nothing will be more rewarding than diving into that clear, blue water. You earned it!

Drew Thomas

My name is Drew Thomas and I’m the creator of Fun In the Yard, your one stop site for all your outdoor games, sports, party activities, outdoor gear, and lawn & gardening tips.

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