by Rob Cox April 15, 2014
You surely don't have a pool cover as big as this one to worry about! 50 employees of the Layton, Utah Parks & Recreation department were on hand to remove the inflatable dome that covers the Surf N' Swim facility in town.
Tip #1 - get some helpers. Removing a pool cover by yourself is no picnic, I should know - having done it many times. Just two people are needed in most cases.
Tip #2 - clean it before folding. Leaves, dirt and debris are bad for the fabric and will only end up in the pool when you close it in the fall.
Tip #3 - accordion fold the cover, also known as fan-folding. This makes it much easier to put on the pool next time.
Tip #4 - patch any holes that you have now, before putting it away and forgetting about it.
With these tips in mind, let's get on with it - here's how to remove, clean and fold a winter pool cover, in the most efficient way possible. These methods will work for aboveground pools or inground pools.
Solid covers should be pumped off as dry as possible. A leaf blower can be used beneath one end of a solid cover, to inflate the cover, which pushes all of the water to a cover pump.
Leaf blowers are also helpful to clean off the top of any pool cover before removal, and for cleaning off a large area of the deck or driveway before laying down the cover for cleaning.
First, select the area for cleaning. Ideally, you have a large concrete deck right next to the pool, but that's not always the case. The second best area would be a driveway, one with a slope is best, as the water runs off easily. A grass area could be used, if it is clean and without bare spots. I've even used the street out front, in some urban settings. If you need to transport the cover to the cleaning location, two people can rough fold it on the pool deck and carry it away from the pool.
It's nearly impossible to clean the pool cover while it's on the pool, but you can get off a majority of leaves and debris by using leaf rake nets on pool poles, scooping gently across the cover, being careful around larger sticks or twigs.
SAFETY COVERS: Mesh and solid pool covers are usually fairly clean, so the cleaning-removal-folding is all done at once. Remove all of the springs from the anchors and fold them inward. Put down all of the cover anchors, so they don't snag the cover as you pull it off the pool. Select your pulling area, usually the shallow end, or one of the long sides - wherever you have the most room to work with. Slide the cover over the pool deck so that 1-2 panels are on the deck.. Use a blower or garden hose to clean the panels covering the deck quickly.
With a helper on the opposite side of the cover, both grab the cover edge at the third strap/spring and fold the third seam to meet the first seam. Then grab your blower or your hose, and clean off the next exposed section, before grabbing the fifth strap/spring, and pulling it to meet seams one and three. Make sense? This is fan-folding, or accordion folding the pool cover, so that it's easier to re-install next fall.
For cleaning a solid pool cover, a large pool deck, or sloped driveway is best. Lay the cover along one edge of the cleaning area, and pull a section over the cleaning area. Clean and scrub and then make an accordion-type of fold, to cover the cleaned area, while pulling over another section to be cleaned. Proceed like this until you reach the other end of the cover. If your surface is sloped, leave the cover laying there for a while to continue to drain away water.
Solid pool covers can be cleaned with lots of water and a pool brush on a pole, or a push broom. If you want to use some detergent, use a very small amount, and rinse thoroughly. The better alternative is to use Natural Chemistry's Cover Cleaner. Hose attachment spray bottle makes it easy and economical to quickly spray on the mixture of natural enzymes and citrus cleaners. But again, in most cases, you only need to use water and a little elbow grease.
Drying the cover before folding will help to prevent mildew growth in the cover. However, it doesn't need to be bone-dry, if you just shake off most of the water, a little moisture left inside won't hurt the pool cover. If your cover is small enough you could hang it over a clothes line, but be careful about snagging the cover, if you try to hang it over a fence, or an RV, for example. And, laying the cover over a nice lawn could cause the grass to burn brown, if the day is very hot, and the cover is left over the grass for too long.
I've mentioned the term 'accordion-fold' or referred to 'fan-folding' several times in this post already - this way of folding your pool cover will make it super easy to re-install, so it's worth learning and using the method to fold your pool cover.
It's done the same way of folding a sheet of paper to make a paper fan. I don't know how else to describe it, perhaps this picture is the best description.
Thing #1: Pump off all of the water on a solid cover before trying to remove it.
Thing #2: Don't store the cover in an area frequented by nesting rodents.
Thing #3: Be careful cleaning and pulling on old covers, which may tear easily.
Thing #4: Put down safety cover anchors first, to avoiding snagging and tripping.