‘Genuinely life-threatening’ How often to clean a paddling pool from expert

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With summer in full force and the UK’s second heatwave of the year underway, Britons up and down the country have been digging paddling pools out of the shed in an all-out effort to cool down. While paddling pools might sound like harmless fun, an expert has warned that germs and bacteria “invisible to the naked eye” could pose a “genuinely life-threatening” risk if not cleaned properly.

In June alone, searches for “garden pool” accumulated figures of up to 201,000 in preparation for the hot weather warnings of July.

Now, with parts of the UK forecast to reach unprecedented highs of 40C, buying or putting up the paddling pool is likely to top the agenda for a lot of households.

However, cleaning expert at End of Tenancy London Ivan Ivanov said: “Buying an outdoor pool is only half of the story.

“Equally vital is maintenance; with waterborne illnesses more prevalent in the summer, it’s hugely important to be aware of the ways to keep your outdoor pool clean from genuinely life-threatening disease.”

So, just how often should you clean your swimming pool?

How often should an outdoor pool be cleaned?

Without paying close attention to the state of your pool water, illnesses ranging from the more common campylobacter – which leads to diarrhoea – all the way to the potentially-fatal sickness of salmonella can arise.

For small, inflatable paddling pools, it’s recommended to drain them daily to mitigate the risk of illness and prevent the spread of germs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This is due to it being unsafe to add chlorine and other germ-killing disinfectants because of the likeness of water-loss and lack of filter rendering them largely ineffective.

Mr Ivanov said: “Even if you’re not using them frequently, pools can sometimes attract nature, and with that comes the potential for illness.”

My water looks clean, why should I change it?

Mr Ivanov said: “Germs and bacteria are invisible to the naked eye. We recommend being better safe than sorry.”

Mr Ivanov said: “If your water looks clean and doesn’t have any bits floating in, you shouldn’t need to change the water fully after two or three uses.”

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This being said, if you have a larger pool with a filter, it’s important to keep on top of your chlorine use and consistently filter it if possible. 

In this instance, Mr Ivanov said: “You may want to check your water’s pH levels. So long as they’re close as possible to seven (0.5 on either side is okay), your water should be okay.

“Checking the pH doesn’t confirm or deny waterborne bacteria, but instead shows if you have the chlorine balance right.

“Chlorine is acidic, so your pH may read 6.5 to seven. Any lower numbers than that and the pool water may not be safe to use, especially to those with sensitive skin.”

However, it should be noted that filters can become full quite easily, which could degrade your water quality over time.

Mr Ivanov said: “Drain the pool, and before refilling just take a few minutes out of your day to empty the filter out.

“It’ll save you a lot more trouble down the line. Once the filter is assuredly clean, refill your pool.”

How to clean a paddling pool

After draining the paddling pool at the day’s end, the CDC advises rinsing away the debris and dirt with fresh water and letting it air dry naturally.

Disinfect the dry surfaces with a bleach and water solution, following the manufacturer’s instructions for time and measurements for the bleach you intend to use, then rinse again with clean water.

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