A plastic inflatable pool brimming with ice-cold hose water is as synonymous with summer as the jingle of the ice cream truck and the smoky smell of burgers on the grill. Inexpensive, easy to set up, and even easier to pull down, kiddie pools offer a respite from the heat and provide hours of outdoor entertainment. They’re the pinnacle of summer fun in the sun, a no-brainer for anyone looking for a way to keep cool at home.
Until, of course, you realize that they can be kind of gross.
Inflatable kiddie pools can pose health risks. If improperly maintained, they can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and bacteria. Because disinfectants aren’t added to the water, bacterial infections (like the kind that cause vomiting and diarrhea) spread easily and quickly. And after a summer of frequent use, cheap inflatable pools become slimy, grimy heaps of plastic headed straight for the landfill—because vinyl, the type of material most kiddie pools are made from, is hard to recycle.
This doesn’t mean you have to scrap your kiddie pool plans, though. As long as it’s properly and carefully maintained, a temporary backyard blow-up pool can be the refreshing escape you and your children are seeking this summer. If you plan on investing in a nonpermanent swimming solution, we’ve gathered the information you need to keep it clean and safe for your kids—and how to get rid of the pool in an environmentally friendly way, once it’s done the job it set out to do.