How to Keep a Small Pool Clean Without a Filter?

Imagine the sheer delight of a small, crystal-clear pool shimmering under the sun, inviting you to plunge into its refreshing waters. Small pools offer a cozy oasis in your backyard, but keeping them pristine without the help of a filter can seem like a daunting task. 

However, in this article, we’ll disclose the secrets to maintaining your compact aquatic paradise, ensuring it stays inviting and enjoyable for you, your family, and your friends. So, let’s explore how to keep a small pool clean without a filter. 

The Role of Filtration in Pool Cleanliness

Filters are the unsung heroes of pool maintenance. They work tirelessly to remove impurities, debris, and microorganisms from the water, ensuring that your pool remains clear and safe to swim in. However, smaller pools often lack the space or infrastructure for a traditional filtration system. This means that keeping your pool clean without a filter requires a more hands-on approach.

Without a filter, debris, and contaminants can accumulate rapidly, turning your once-pristine pool into a murky, uninviting pond. To prevent this, you’ll need to become the filter yourself, employing various techniques and tools to maintain water quality.

The Consequences of Neglecting Pool Maintenance

Neglecting pool maintenance, whether it’s a small pool or a larger one, can lead to a host of problems that can quickly escalate:

  • Algae Growth: Stagnant water and sunlight create the perfect conditions for algae to thrive. Algae can turn your pool water green, making it unsightly and potentially harmful. 
  • Cloudy Water: Debris and bacteria can cause water to become cloudy, making it unappealing and potentially unsafe for swimmers.
  • Bacterial Growth: Untreated water can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, putting swimmers at risk of infections and illnesses.
  • Damage to Pool Surfaces: Neglected maintenance can lead to the buildup of scale and corrosion on pool surfaces, resulting in costly repairs.

Benefits of a Well-Maintained Pool

On the flip side, a well-maintained pool offers a plethora of benefits:

  • Safety: Clean, well-balanced water is safer for swimmers, reducing the risk of waterborne illnesses and accidents.
  • Aesthetics: A sparkling pool enhances the overall look of your outdoor space, increasing its visual appeal and value.
  • Longevity: Regular maintenance extends the lifespan of your pool, saving you money on repairs and replacements in the long run.
  • Enjoyment: A clean pool is an enjoyable one. You and your loved ones can relish more hours of fun, relaxation, and bonding.

Gathering Essential Supplies

Before you embark on your journey to maintain a small pool without a filter, it’s essential to gather the right tools and supplies. These items will become your lifeline in keeping your pool clean and safe for swimming. Here’s a checklist of essential supplies you’ll need:

  • Skimmer Net: A skimmer net is your go-to tool for removing leaves, twigs, insects, and other debris from the pool’s surface. It’s like a magic wand for keeping the water clean. Get a high-quality and efficient robotic pool skimmer.
  • Pool Brush: A pool brush is designed to scrub the walls and floor of your pool, preventing the buildup of algae and other contaminants. Look for one with a telescopic handle for easy maneuvering.
  • Pool Vacuum: While not as powerful as a filter-based vacuum, a manual pool vacuum can help you remove dirt, sand, and smaller debris settled on the pool bottom. Attach it to a telescopic pole and a hose for effective cleaning.
  • Water Testing Kit: Accurate water testing is crucial for maintaining proper chemical balance. Invest in a good quality water testing kit that includes tests for pH, chlorine, alkalinity, and calcium hardness.
  • Pool Chemicals: You’ll need a selection of pool chemicals to balance and sanitize the water. These may include:
  1. pH Adjusters: pH increase and pH reducer to maintain the pH level within the optimal range.
  2. Chlorine: Chlorine tablets or granules to sanitize the pool water and kill bacteria.
  3. Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness Adjusters: Chemicals to balance alkalinity and calcium hardness levels.
  4. Pool Shock: Used to eliminate contaminants and maintain chlorine levels.

If your small pool has a cover, make sure it’s in good condition. A cover can help keep debris out when the pool is not in use, reducing the amount of cleaning required. Now that you have the essential supplies in hand, you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and begin the journey to maintain your small pool without a filter. Get ready to dive into the details of small pool maintenance!

Regular Skimming and Cleaning

One of the cornerstones of maintaining a small pool without a filter is consistent skimming and cleaning. With proper tools and techniques, you can keep your pool’s surface and interior free from debris and contaminants. Here’s how to do it effectively:

1. Skimming the Surface

  • Frequency: Ideally, skim the pool’s surface daily or as often as needed, especially during periods of high debris, such as falling leaves or windy weather.
  • Tools: Use a skimmer net with a telescopic pole for extended reach.


Start at one end of the pool and work your way across, scooping up leaves, bugs, and other floating debris.

You’ll have to pay much attention to corners, stairs, and around pool accessories where debris tends to accumulate. And, empty the collected debris from the skimmer net into a trash bag or compost bin.

  • Tip: Skimming before debris sinks to the bottom will make the cleaning process more manageable.

2. Brushing and Scrubbing

  • Frequency: Brush the pool walls and floor at least once a week to prevent algae and dirt buildup.
  • Tools: Use a pool brush with a telescopic handle for easy maneuvering.


Start at one end of the pool and work your way around, applying moderate pressure while scrubbing.

Focus on areas that receive less water circulation, such as behind ladders and in corners. Brush towards the pool’s main drain to collect loosened debris. After brushing, wait for about 30 minutes before vacuuming to allow debris to settle.

3. Vacuuming

  • Frequency: Vacuum the pool once a week or as needed to remove settled debris and sediment.
  • Tools: Use a manual pool vacuum attached to a telescopic pole and a hose.


Attach the vacuum head to the pole and hose, ensuring a secure connection. Place the vacuum head on the pool floor and slowly move it across the surface, covering the entire pool. Vacuum systematically in parallel lines, overlapping each pass slightly to ensure thorough cleaning. Empty the vacuum bag or container as needed.

  • Tip: Brushing the pool before vacuuming will make the process more effective by loosening debris from surfaces.

4. Emptying the Skimmer and Pump Basket

  • Frequency: Check and empty the skimmer and pump baskets at least once a week or as needed.
  • Tools: You’ll need a wrench or pliers to access the pump basket.


  • Turn off the pool pump.
  • Open the pump basket cover and remove the basket.
  • Empty the contents, which may include leaves, debris, and even small critters.
  • Rinse the basket and replace it securely.
  • Close the pump basket cover tightly.
  • Turn the pool pump back on.

By consistently skimming, brushing, and vacuuming your small pool, you’ll prevent debris and contaminants from accumulating, keeping the water clean and inviting. This hands-on approach to cleaning is a key element in successfully maintaining a small pool without a filter. 

Water Testing and Chemical Balancing

Maintaining the water quality in your small pool without a filter is a delicate balancing act. Regularly testing the water and adjusting its chemical composition is essential for keeping the pool clean and safe for swimmers. 

Here’s how to perform water testing and balance the chemicals effectively:

1. Why Water Testing is Crucial

Water testing is the foundation of pool maintenance. It allows you to monitor the pool’s chemical levels, ensuring they remain within the optimal range for safe swimming. Testing helps you identify issues like high or low pH, chlorine imbalance, and improper alkalinity, allowing you to take corrective actions promptly.

2. Using a Water Testing Kit

Invest in a reliable water testing kit that includes test strips, drops, or digital meters for measuring essential parameters like:

  • pH Level: A pH level of 7.4 to 7.6 is ideal for pool water. Use the testing kit to determine if it’s within this range.
  • Chlorine Level: The recommended chlorine range is typically between 1.0 and 3.0 parts per million (ppm).
  • Alkalinity: Total alkalinity should be in the range of 80 to 120 ppm.
  • Calcium Hardness: Aim for a calcium hardness level of 150 to 250 ppm.

3. Adjusting pH Levels

If the pH level is too high (above 7.6), you can lower it by adding pH reducer or muriatic acid following the manufacturer’s instructions. If the pH level is too low (below 7.4), you can raise it by adding pH increaser or sodium carbonate. Again, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

4. Balancing Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness

Adjust alkalinity using a suitable alkalinity increase or decrease to keep it within the recommended range. Maintain calcium hardness within the ideal range by adding calcium hardness increase or using a water source with the appropriate calcium content.

5. Chlorinating the Pool

Regularly test and maintain the chlorine level within the recommended range using chlorine tablets or granules. Follow the instructions on the chlorine product packaging for proper dosage and application.

6. Shocking the Pool When Necessary

Shocking the pool is essential when you notice signs of water contamination, algae growth, or after heavy pool use. Use pool shock treatment to eliminate contaminants, maintain chlorine levels, and keep the water safe for swimming.

7. Safety Precautions

Always follow safety guidelines and wear appropriate protective gear, such as gloves and goggles, when handling pool chemicals. Store pool chemicals in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area, away from children and pets.

8. Testing Frequency

Test your pool water at least once a week, but more frequently during hot weather or heavy pool use. Keep a log of your test results to track trends and make necessary adjustments.

Balancing the chemicals in your small pool ensures that the water remains sanitary and safe for swimmers. Remember that maintaining the right chemical balance is an ongoing process, and regular testing is your best tool for achieving and sustaining water quality.

Maintaining Proper Water Circulation

Proper water circulation is a critical component of keeping your small pool clean without a filter. It helps distribute chemicals evenly, prevents stagnant areas, and ensures that debris and contaminants are constantly in motion, making them easier to remove. 

Here’s how to maintain adequate water circulation in your small pool:

1. Manual Circulation Techniques

Occasionally, you can take a pool brush and gently stir the water, creating a small whirlpool effect. This helps mix the chemicals and dislodge any debris settled at the bottom of the pool. Another DIY technique is to use a pool noodle or a large stick to manually stir the water. Simply move the noodle or stick around the pool to create circulation.

2. Using Pool Toys or Floats

Floating toys like beach balls or inflatables can serve a dual purpose. They not only add fun to your pool but also aid in water circulation as they move with the water’s flow. Besides, floating loungers can be strategically placed to catch and redirect the water, creating circulation patterns.

3. Consider Water Features

If feasible, you might consider adding a small water feature to your pool, such as a fountain or waterfall. These features help circulate the water and add an aesthetic touch to your pool area.

4. Preventing Stagnation

Identify areas of your pool where water tends to stagnate. These are typically corners or dead zones where water doesn’t flow freely. Here you should pay extra attention to these areas during manual circulation efforts.

5. Pool Noodles and Water Floats

Position pool noodles or water floats around the pool to encourage water movement. These objects can help redirect water flow, preventing stagnation.

6. Regularly Rearrange Pool Accessories

If you have pool furniture, inflatables, or other accessories, consider rearranging them periodically. This can disrupt stagnant water areas and create better circulation.

7. Pool Cleaning Schedules

Incorporate manual circulation into your pool cleaning routines. For instance, before skimming or vacuuming, use a pool brush or a pool noodle to stir the water gently. This will help loosen debris and improve the efficiency of the cleaning process.

8. Check Water Temperature

Warmer water tends to promote algae growth and can lead to stagnant conditions. Consider shading your pool or using a pool cover to reduce excessive heating if necessary.

By implementing these techniques, you can ensure that the water in your small pool remains in motion, minimizing the risk of stagnant areas and aiding in the distribution of chemicals. Remember to perform these circulation activities regularly as part of your pool maintenance routine. In the next section, we’ll explore the importance of regularly emptying and refilling your small pool to maintain water quality.

Regularly Emptying and Refilling

While it might seem counterintuitive, regularly emptying and refilling your small pool is an important step in maintaining water quality and preventing the buildup of impurities. Without a filter, this process helps dilute and refresh the water. 

Here’s how to go about it:

1. Dilution as a Maintenance Strategy

Small pools can become overwhelmed with impurities over time, making it challenging to maintain water quality. Regularly emptying a portion of the water and refilling it with fresh water is like hitting the reset button. It dilutes the concentration of impurities, making it easier to maintain chemical balance.

2. How Often to Empty and Refill

The frequency of emptying and refilling depends on various factors, including pool size, usage, and local conditions. However, as a general guideline:

Consider partially emptying and refilling your small pool every 4 to 6 weeks during the swimming season.

In extremely hot and sunny climates, or if your pool gets heavy use, you might need to do this more often.

3. Proper Draining and Refilling Procedures

When it’s time to empty and refill your pool, follow these steps:

  • Use a submersible pump or a pool cover pump to drain a portion of the water. Aim to remove about 25% to 50% of the pool’s volume.
  • While the pool is draining, take the opportunity to clean the pool surfaces thoroughly.
  • Once drained, rinse the pool interior to remove any remaining debris.
  • Refill the pool using a clean water source. Ensure that the hose or water delivery method you use is free from contaminants.
  • While filling, add the necessary pool chemicals to balance pH, alkalinity, and chlorine levels.
  • Re-test the water after a few hours to ensure that the chemical balance is within the recommended range.

4. Maintaining Consistency

Establish a schedule for emptying and refilling your pool and stick to it. You should keep in mind that consistency is key to preventing water quality issues.

5. Conservation Considerations

Be mindful of water conservation, especially in areas with water scarcity. Consider repurposing the drained pool water for landscaping or other outdoor use.

6. Pool Covers

If your small pool has a cover, use it when the pool is not in use. A cover can help reduce evaporation and minimize the need for frequent refilling.

By regularly emptying and refilling your small pool, you refresh the water and make it easier to maintain the right chemical balance. This proactive approach to water management, combined with other maintenance practices like skimming, brushing, and chemical balancing, will keep your pool clean and enjoyable without the need for a filter.

Covering the Pool When Not in Use

A pool cover is a valuable tool in the arsenal of maintaining a small pool without a filter. It serves multiple purposes, including keeping debris out of the water, reducing evaporation, and preventing algae growth. 

Here’s how to make the most of a pool cover:

1. Benefits of Using a Pool Cover

  • Debris Prevention: One of the primary functions of a pool cover is to keep leaves, twigs, insects, and other debris from falling into the water. This reduces the frequency of skimming and cleaning.
  • Evaporation Reduction: It helps slow down water evaporation, which is especially beneficial in hot and dry climates. Less evaporation means you’ll need to refill your pool less frequently.
  • Algae Prevention: By blocking sunlight, pool covers inhibit the growth of algae. This reduces the chances of your pool water turning green.
  • Chemical Savings: With reduced evaporation and algae growth, you’ll spend less on water and pool chemicals, making pool maintenance more cost-effective.

2. Types of Pool Covers

There are various types of pool covers to choose from, including:

  • Solar Covers: These covers are designed to harness the sun’s energy to heat the pool water. While primarily used for heating, they also offer some debris protection. Check out these effective solar pool covers.
  • Safety Covers: These covers are made of durable materials and are designed to support the weight of a person or pet. They provide excellent debris protection and safety.
  • Winter Covers: Designed for seasonal pool closures, winter covers offer maximum protection from debris and winter weather. They are ideal for long-term pool storage.

3. Proper Usage and Maintenance

To maximize the benefits of your pool cover:

  • Cover Whenever Not in Use: Make it a habit to cover your pool when it’s not in use, especially overnight or during extended periods of non-use.
  • Secure the Cover: Ensure that the pool cover is securely fastened to prevent debris from blowing underneath. Use cover clips, anchors, or straps as needed.
  • Regular Cleaning: Clean the cover regularly to remove debris and prevent mold or mildew growth. Use a pool cover pump to remove standing water.
  • Storage: Properly store your pool cover when not in use to prevent damage. Fold or roll it up and keep it in a cool, dry place.

4. Custom Fit

Invest in a pool cover that is custom-fit to your small pool’s dimensions. A well-fitted cover provides better protection and is easier to manage.

You can significantly reduce the amount of debris that enters your small pool, lower maintenance requirements, and keep your water cleaner and more inviting by using a pool cover.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Despite your best efforts to maintain a small pool without a filter, you may encounter occasional challenges. Here, we’ll address some common issues and provide solutions to keep your pool clean and enjoyable:

1. Algae Growth

Issue: Algae can quickly take over your pool, turning the water green and making it unsightly and potentially unsafe.


  • Shock the pool with a pool shock treatment to kill existing algae.
  • Brush the pool surfaces to loosen algae and improve the effectiveness of the shock treatment.
  • Adjust and maintain proper chlorine levels to prevent future algae growth.
  • Use an algaecide to further inhibit algae development.

2. Cloudy Water

Issue: Cloudy water is often a result of inadequate filtration or chemical imbalances.


  • Test the water to determine which chemical levels are off balance.
  • Adjust pH, alkalinity, and chlorine levels as needed.
  • Run the pool pump for an extended period to help clear the water.
  • Use a pool clarifier to help particles clump together and be removed more easily.

3. Excessive Debris

Issue: If your pool collects a lot of debris, it can be challenging to keep up with regular cleaning.


  • Consider investing in a leaf net or skimmer sock to capture larger debris before it sinks to the bottom.
  • Trim nearby trees or shrubs to reduce the amount of foliage that falls into the pool.
  • Cover the pool whenever it’s not in use to minimize debris entry.

4. pH and Chemical Imbalances

Issue: Maintaining the proper chemical balance can be tricky without a filter, leading to issues with water quality.


  • Regularly test the water and adjust pH, alkalinity, and chlorine levels as needed.
  • Keep a detailed record of your test results to track trends and identify any recurring imbalances.

5. Controlling Insects and Pests

Issue: Insects and pests can be attracted to pool water, leading to contamination.


  • Use pool covers, especially at night, to keep insects out of the water.
  • Consider installing bug zappers or citronella torches near the pool area to deter pests.

6. High Temperatures

  • Issue: Extremely hot weather can accelerate the growth of algae and bacteria.


  • Increase the frequency of pool maintenance during hot spells. Here, you will get a comprehensive pool maintenance guide. 
  • Shade your pool with umbrellas or canopies to reduce water temperature and evaporation.

7. Regular Maintenance

  • Issue: Skipping or neglecting regular maintenance tasks can lead to a cascade of problems.


  • Establish a consistent maintenance schedule and stick to it.
  • Conduct routine inspections to catch issues early and address them promptly.
  • Remember that maintaining a small pool without a filter requires vigilance and regular attention. By troubleshooting and addressing issues as they arise, you can keep your pool clean, safe, and enjoyable throughout the swimming season.


Maintaining a small pool without a filter may seem like a challenge, but armed with the right knowledge and dedication, it’s entirely achievable. Your compact aquatic oasis can remain a source of delight and relaxation for you, your family, and your friends.

As a pool owner, you’ve taken on the responsibility of preserving a little piece of paradise in your own backyard. It’s a commitment that requires diligence and care, but the rewards are well worth it. A clean and well-maintained pool offers countless hours of enjoyment, relaxation, and memorable moments with loved ones.

Now, go ahead and dive into the joy of maintaining your small pool—where every splash becomes a cherished memory, and every dip is a moment of pure delight. We hope you found the answer on how to keep a small pool clean without a filter.