How to Blow up an Inflatable Pool (With and Without a Pump)

Written By: Jen

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Summer’s back, and you know what that means: time to bust out the inflatable pool for you and/or your kids to splash around your backyard! 

Beach trips are fun and all, but not all of us have the luxury or time to drive all the way there for a quick swim. Inflatable pools are the next best thing: they’re the quickest way to cool up in the summer without depriving yourself (or your kids) of the swimming experience. 

Baby Pouring Pool Water on Mother

But here’s the thing: blowing up an inflatable pool can be a pain, especially when you don’t have the right tools. Unlike inflatable toys, you can’t depend on your lung power to blow it up. Even if you do, it’s not something I’d recommend (been there, done that, never again!) 

I’m here to show you how to blow up an inflatable pool with and without an electric air pump, so you don’t have to settle on blowing it manually.

How to Blow up an Inflatable Pool With an Electric Air Pump 

The best and quickest way to blow up an inflatable pool is by using an electric air pump

Since it’s powered by electricity, you don’t have to manually pump the machine to blow up the pool. 

Simply plug the electric air pump into a standard home outlet, hook it into the inlet, and watch as it fills the inflatable pool with air. Within minutes, the pool will be ready to fill up. 

Electric Air Pump
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Here’s how to use an electric air pump: 

1. Plug it in

Plug the machine into its dedicated outlet. If there are no sockets nearby, use an extension cord. Most electric air pumps have a volt capacity of 120V, but it’s always worth double-checking to prevent electrical shortages. 

2. Connect the nozzle

Insert the nozzle-equipped air pump into the inflatable pool’s air valve. The nozzle usually comes with the pool, but if you’ve lost or damaged it, you can easily find replacements online and in hardware stores. Just make sure the nozzle has the right measurements. 

3. Turn it on

Turn on the electric air pump and wait several minutes until it completely inflates the pool. It shouldn’t take long; electric pumps inflate giant pools in less than five minutes. As you wait, periodically press the pool with your hand to prevent over-inflation.

4. You’re done.

You’ll know the pool is ready when it’s firm to the touch and all the creases disappear. Remove the air pump and cap off the air inlets. 

How to Blow up an Inflatable Pool Without an Electric Air Pump 

If you don’t own an electric air pump, don’t fret. With these alternative solutions, you don’t have to go out and buy an electric air pump. 

1. Use a Bike Pump

If you have a bike pump in your garage, you can use it to inflate your pool. 

It’s not the most convenient nor efficient, but it works almost as well as an electric air pump with a bit of elbow grease and muscle. 

This method works best for small to medium-sized pools, as well as pool toys and floaties. 

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2. Use a Shop Vac

A shop vac, also known as a wet or dry vac, is a high-powered vacuum specifically designed to suck up clunky objects like small wood scraps, nails, and debris of various sizes. It also lets you clean up liquid messes and spills. 

Here’s how to use a shop vac to inflate a pool: 

  1. Set the shop vac on “blow.” 
  2. Place a nozzle onto the shop vac and insert it into the inlet. If the nozzle doesn’t fit the shop vac, create a DIY nozzle out of a plastic bottle and some electric tape. 
  3. Hold the shop vac against the inlet as it blows air into the inflatable pool. If possible, create a sort of seal around the nozzle to speed up the blowing process. 
Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum
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3. Use a Vacuum Cleaner 

If you don’t have a shop vac, a regular vacuum cleaner also works. Follow these steps to use it as a pool inflator: 

  1. Disconnect the vacuum bag from the vacuum cleaner.
  2. Take the vacuum outside and turn it on to allow the machine to blow out as much dirt, dust, and debris as possible. Make sure to shake the vacuum once or twice to loosen any buildup. Let it run for about two to three minutes to clean it completely. 
  3. Place a vacuum hose on the vacuum bag opening. Seal the hose with some duct tape to prevent air leakage. 
  4. At the other end of the hose, insert the pool nozzle. If the pool nozzle doesn’t fit or you don’t have one available, use a plastic water bottle. Securely attach the bottom end of the water bottle with duct tape and seal the edges as tightly as possible. 
  5. Insert the nozzle into the pool inlet and turn the machine on the “reverse” or “blow” function. 

4. Use a Leaf Blower

If you have a leaf blower lying around, you’re in luck; that, too, can be used to inflate your pool! YouTuber Safety Glasses Required demonstrated this perfectly. He even provided a 3D model of the required nozzle to insert at the end of the leaf blower. 

Any nozzle will do though, as long as it fits both the leaf blower and the pool inlet. If it doesn’t, use the trusty plastic bottle method: cut a plastic bottle in two and place the bottom end on the leaf blower with some generous duct tape.  

You can also place the leaf blower directly on the inlet, but it’ll take a bit of time to fully blow up the pool because the air will likely escape from the sides. 

5. Use an Air Compressor

Though more powerful than a regular electric air pump, an electric air compressor can also be used to blow up an inflatable pool. 

Air compressors come in multiple types. Some are small and lightweight, designed to inflate pool toys, bike tires, air beds, and other inflatables. Others are for heavier applications, from powering equipment to heating and cooling large trucks and trains. 

If you’re blowing up a small-to-medium-sized pool, a regular day-to-day air compressor will do just fine. For a bigger pool, you’ll need to use a home air compressor that comes with a tank—similar to the ones seen in car shops. 

To use an air compressor, follow these steps: 

  1. Using the right attachment, position the air pressure hose in the pool inlet. 
  2. Disengage the flap and turn on the machine. 
  3. Keep a close eye on the pool as it fills up with air.
  4. Stop the machine as soon as the pool feels firm and tight but with a little bit of give. You don’t want to leave the air compressor on for too long as too much air can cause the pool to burst.  
Air Compressor Detail

6. Use a Hair Dryer 

You can use your hair dryer to inflate your pool as a last resort. 

The nozzle likely won’t fit the mouth of your hair dryer, so you’ll need to cut off the end of a plastic bottle and duct tape it at the end of the dryer. 

Then, insert the bottle nozzle (the part where you drink water from) into the pool inlet. 

Turn the blow dryer on COOL and let it fill out the inflatable pool. If your blow dryer doesn’t have a cool option, it’s best not to use it. 

7. Use a Hand Pump or Foot Pump 

A hand pump or foot pump is similar to a bicycle pump, though slightly weaker. It’s a good option for small pools only, as it’ll take a lot of effort to blow up a medium or large-sized pool with either of these pumps. 

If you do decide to use a hand/foot pump on a medium-to-large pool, enlist the help of a family member or friend so you can take turns pumping.

pumping an inflatable with a foot pump

How to Deflate an Inflatable Pool 

Deflating an inflatable pool isn’t as time-consuming as inflating it. Here’s how to deflate an inflatable pool in the fastest and most efficient way possible. 

1. Use an Electric Air Pump 

Place the electric air pump’s nozzle into the pool’s inlet. Then, instead of selecting the inflate option, press the deflate option. Modern electric air pumps typically come with dual settings for inflating and deflating inflatables. 

2. Use a Binder Clip 

If your pool’s inlet is small, use a binder clip to speed up the deflation process. By attaching the clip, you’re applying pressure to the valve. This then allows air to come out faster and easier. Just make sure you don’t fully secure the clip to let the air out. 

A deflated inflatable pool

3. Just squash it

For smaller inflatable pools, you really don’t need to do anything fancy to deflate them. Just open the valve and press down on it in the same way that you would when deflating an air mattress. It’s as easy as that.


There you have it; my top tips and tricks on how to blow up an inflatable pool! 

The electric air pump should be your go-to option, but if you don’t have it available, you can instead use a bike pump, a leaf blower, an air compressor, and even a hair dryer. 

You can also use a vacuum cleaner, provided it has a reverse air option. 

Good luck!

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Jen is your go-to expert on all things inflatable, from pools to tents and beyond. A former hot tub rental company owner, she's experienced the ups and downs of inflatables firsthand. Nowadays, she writes practical guides on maintaining and enjoying inflatables. A mom of young enthusiasts, her family's favorite outing is the inflatable fun park!

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