There is one major secret to cleaning an above ground pool. I will tell you this secret plus everything else you need to clean your pool!
Although it might be to late to tell some above pool ground owners this now, the secret to cleaning and keeping clean your pool is . . .daily attention to your pool. Often just taking two minutes to add chlorine to the pool can save you one half hour of work later. If you own a salt water pool then you will not be using chlorine but will have minor cleaning duties such as wiping down the pool area.
The two main elements of above ground pool cleaning are: good water circulation and good PH balance. Just having ample supply of chlorine on hand and using it when required is more than half the battle. In this respect above ground pool cleaning is not much different than in-ground pool maintenance. Most pool pumps include an automatic chlorine dispenser, but even so there are other ways to supplement this - and if your pump does not, do not worry. It's not difficult to manually chlorinate a pool. (The hardest part is just remembering or taking the time to do it REGULARLY.
For ten or fifteen dollars you can buy a pool testing kit. Test at least three times a week on-season with a busy family pool, and at least once a week off season. It's easy and self explanatory, showing you if the water has to little or to much chlorine, and the bromine and acid levels of the pool. Do not worry - it's really easy to use these kits and they tell you what chemicals to add to your pool ( and just as important, what does not need to be added.) You may also use pool water test strips, which some people find easier and faster. (Bromine is more often used in hot tubs as a germicide, not as often needed in a much larger pool.)
Here are some of the items you need to store in a cool, dry place out of reach of children and animals. Remember these are chemicals so you want to keep them in a secure store room or a locked outdoor cabinet especially for your pool supplies.
Chlorine is the main ingredient for maintaining any non-salt based pool. I recommend keeping a bucket of tablets and a bucket of granulated chlorine in your supply. To always assure having at least some chlorine circulating in your pool, buy a floating chlorinator such as the one pictured. But remember: these are not a substitute for traditional addition of the chemical.
You may add one or two tables in your pool skimmer ( the basket that catches leaves, etc) when indicated. If - shame on you - have been to busy to test the pool in a week, you can be certain it needs some chlorine. Most people use granulated chlorine but you may also buy it in liquid form. Whichever method, the pool pump should be running, i.e. water circulating in the pool. Walk around the pool and add chlorine, preferable near the water spouts circulating the pool. If you add tablets or grains to a non-circulating pool the chlorine can damage the pool or at least leave a bleach spot on the bottom where it lands. You should never add chemicals to a pool with people in the pool, but you already knew this.
You will want to have sodium carbonate in your supply. It is used when your PH test indicates is to low. Keep a container of sodium bisulphate or muriatic acid for when the PH is to high. If you use muriatic acid take care not to splash it. You may add it through the skimmer or in the pool near water spouts.
Algaecide is kept in your pool supplies to prevent as the name suggest, algae from forming in your pool. Typically you will dilute a small amount with water and carefully distribute around the pool or through the skimmer. It is also used when algae is seen in the pool. But when your pool is beginning to show green algae, you will also have to shock the pool.
There are several methods for shocking a pool back into proper condition. Most but not all of the products contain chlorine - so, you could if necessary shock your pool with a large dose of it. However, if you see clumps of debris on the bottom of the pool - or the pool is so dirty you cannot see the bottom, you may need to buy something typically called "Drop out."
Drop out does what the name implies - drops dirt to the bottom of the pool where it can be vacuumed. If you get to this point you have not been testing and maintaining the pool properly - or there is a problem with your pool and you should call in a pool expert. The process of cleaning a very dirty pool takes several days. Once you apply the drop out, be prepared to vacuum the pool once everything has dropped to the bottom and the rest of the pool is clear - usually within 24 hours.
There are a variety of pool vacuuming units on the market. One popular type is a robot. You put it in the pool and it does it for you. Some models are designed to keep inside the pool all the time except when being used. There are limitations to some pool robots, the main one being coverage, getting stuck in one part of the pool. They are also usually a bit slower than a person-operated device so are not recommended if you need to get the pool in shape for an upcoming event. A manual pool vacuum is usually suctioned (attached) to the bottom of the pool skimmer. The other end goes in the pool and used while the filter is turned to a waste setting. It's best to start a garden hose running in the pool early on to compensate for the water you will lose while the pump is in waste mode. Do not allow the water level of the pool to fall below the spouts along the side of the pool while vacuuming. As you see in the photo, the vacuum is attached to a pool rod such as the one used for the leaves basket.
Since you are losing pool water while vacuuming you will want to maintain a steady pace as you do. Watch what you are doing: sometimes the vacuum can lose suction ( prime) and you are picking up nothing. If this happens you will need to re-suction the vacuum.
Once you have finished vacuuming the pool, remove all devices and turn the pump to Back Wash. Run the back wash cycle for about two or three minutes. There might also be a filter basket attached to the pump. With the pump turned OFF you will want to empty it, especially after vacuuming. It gets filled with leaves and straw. P.S. You want to check this basket like the skimmer on a regular basis and empty when needed.
When using and storing your vacuum hose, take care not to tug on it very hard.It is made of plastic and you can pull it apart in some sections and therefore it will not hold water properly.
The good news is you should not have to vacuum your pool often at all if you are taking preventative maintenance steps every other day or so. Also, a pool cover or dome will keep leaves and other debris out of the pool. If you can afford it, a pool cover is a very good investment.
Finally, you will want to keep the top edges ( of pool liner) and the outside of your pool clean. You may use a gentle soap or cleaning agent and a pool brush to do this. Do not apply to much pressure to the liner with a brush as you may tear the lining. Rinse area with garden hose.
Preventative maintenance is the key to minimum effort through the life of your pool. In this respect a robot pool vacuum is good if you use it regularly, since you are not under pressure to fast clean the pool because of an event or party. Keeping chlorine in the pool is the next key element to keeping it clean. Using the leaf net is also very important because any leaves not extracted will fall to the bottom and turn to dirty mush needing to be vacuumed. A clean pool is a popular, fun and healthy addition to your living. While it may seem like a lot of work to keep it maintained, it's really not once you go through the routine several times. Even though some people speak of "winterizing" a pool, remember your pool still needs to be maintained throughout the year.
If you are draining your above ground pool for cleaning, simply use a mild soap cleaner and a pool brush, and rise well with a garden hose.