Pool Floats: Your Guide to Choosing and Caring for Your Inflatables
Pro tip: Even with water wings or safety floats, never leave a weaker swimmer unattended. For other water safety tips, check out our safety resources page.
Inflatable pool floats have come a long way since water wings first made their debut as a safety device in 1907. Sure, inflatable floatation devices are still used to assist young kids and weaker swimmers, but nowadays pool retailers have added whimsy and hilarity to safety and security.
Pro tip: Even with water wings or safety floats, never leave a weaker swimmer unattended.
Pool floats are affordable novelties that can add immeasurable joy to your backyard oasis. But they are also delicate items that quickly become useless if they are misused. With just a little work, you can maximize your investment and keep your floats for years to come.
So Many Choices!
Inflatable pool floats, used both for safety and relaxation, are manufactured for everyone from infants to senior swimmers. Pool floats come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with many different purposes. Some are clearly designed for the 18-and-over set, while others are targeted for the smallest swimmers (or swimmers-to-be).
Floating pool chairs are a comfortable option to optimize your relaxation on the water.
Inflatable tiki bars:
Pool bar party floats are equipped with floating coolers and floating drink holders.
While a personal pool float lounger is relaxing, this 12-foot giant pool float can hold multiple swimmers at once.
These blow-up arm bands help with buoyancy while learning to swim.
Keep your young ones protected with a UPF-rated sunshade and a safety seat.
These swimsuits have built-in pockets that hold float inserts that can be removed one at a time as their swim skills improve.
Giant Unicorn Alert!
On the subject of unicorns… If you’re looking to add a splash more excitement to your backyard playground, what about a huge blow-up unicorn yard sprinkler? This 6-foot inflatable attaches to your regular garden hose and sprays water out its horn.
Looking for more than your run-of-the-mill pool raft? Funny pool floats are a great way to add personality to your swimming pool. For the foodies, nothing beats a large floating sprinkled donut. Except, of course, a big pool float shaped like a slab of bacon. Or a larger-than-life blow-up cheeseburger or ice cream sandwich. And for the child in all of us, think of a giant rubber duckie pool float, a large flamingo pool float, an oversized unicorn pool float.
Sports enthusiasts might enjoy a more active pool float that requires a bit more exertion than relaxed floating. Bring the rodeo into your backyard with an inflatable floating bull. Add a game of hoops to your pool. Practice your lumberjack skills on a blow-up log roll. Or enjoy a life-sized version of tic-tac-toe, floating-beanbag-toss style.
In addition to a few cool pool floats, your younger swimmers (or those simply young at heart!) will appreciate inflatable toys as well. Soft-sided blow-up pool toys are the best choice to prevent damaging your pool liner or scratching your pool tiles. What’s more appropriate for your backyard beach than a couple of classic beach balls?
Pro tip: Some inflatables allow you to push the valve stem down into the pool float by pushing the closed stem firmly to slide it into the pool float. This keeps the air from leaking out – and protects your skin from scraping against it.
Blowing up Your Pool Float
Sure, you can blow up your smaller pool float with the breath from your lungs. Pinch the base of the valve stem (where it connects with the pool float) to hold it open. Blow forcefully through the valve stem into the float until it is firm. Cap the valve stem to seal it.
Pro tip: Do not overinflate your pool float! It should feel firm but not hard when you push on it with your hands. Over-inflation risks popping your inflatable.
But when you want to connect all eight 6-foot slices of your giant novelty pizza ring, it might be more than your lungs can handle. An air pump is almost a necessity. Spread out the float on a flat surface with valve stem face-up. Place the air pump hose over the valve stem and push it down securely to attach the hose. Gradually pump the air to inflate the pool float until it is firm. Insert the cover into the valve stem to seal it.
Don’t have an air pump? All you need is a plastic bottle and a hair dryer. Cut the plastic bottle in half, keeping the top. Place your hair dryer inside the open end of the bottle. Using the COOL setting only, turn on the hair dryer full blast to inflate your float in just a few minutes.
Caring for Your Pool Inflatables
At the start of pool season, clean off any accumulated dust, and look thoroughly for punctures, tears, holes, or other structural imperfections. If you see damage, repair it with a patch kit designed for this type of float – before you ever put it into play.
Continue to inspect your floats regularly. Using a defective inflatable is a dangerous move – for your swimmers and your swimming pool – so be diligent about evaluating them.
If you’ve patched a pool float – with a legit repair kit! – and it keeps leaking, it might be time to discard that old favorite. Seam cracks that continue to resurface or expand in size could be a manufacturing flaw that may be covered by warranty. Contact the manufacturer to ask about a replacement before throwing out the defective float, especially if it’s been less than a year since you bought it.
Or maybe your favorite pool float lounger just doesn’t seem to be holding you up out of the water like it used to. The inflatable likely has a small pinhole (or two). To find a suspected hole, submerge the inflatable pool float under water and watch for bubbles. This will help you pinpoint the location of the hole.
Broken Floats? Deal with those ASAP!
So, your swimmers were a little too rough with their inflatable raft… and after one too many attempts to cannonball onto it in the water, it popped. Turn off your filtration system immediately. Then carefully check the area for remnants of the float. The bits of material can clog the system and destroy your pool motor and filters. This goes for any piece of plastic, vinyl, or rubber: Pool toys, water guns, and balloons are hazards to your pool components.
Storing Your Pool Floats
So now that you’ve got your family’s favorite floaties, you need to know how to store pool floats properly to keep them fresh and springy season after season. Proper pool float storage not only keeps your pool area tidy and safe. It also helps preserve the materials and extend the life of your floats. Plastics and vinyls break down over time, so follow good maintenance practices for greater longevity.
During pool season, the big thing to remember is don’t leave your floats in the pool overnight. Pool chemicals, sunshine, and heat are a trifecta that causes breakdown of the plastic or vinyl – prolonged exposure only helps speed up the process.
Remember to rinse off your inflatables at the end of each day – or at least every few days or once a week. If the chlorine from your pool sits on the surface of your inflatables, it will continue to break down the plastic or vinyl during its time out of use.
Pro tip: Hang a cargo net in a shady spot near your pool to store your floats. Use a few hanging baskets on your pool fence to organize smaller pool toys, goggles, and snorkels.
Try your best to keep other pool toys away from your inflatable floats. Toys with hard sides or sharp edges can cause plenty of damage to your pool floats. Even an innocuous balloon can burst and cause a surprising amount of damage to your pool floats.
In the off season, when your pool is closed during the colder months, you’ll need a designated storage place for your floats. Keep your floats in a shed, garage, or other cool, clean spot out of direct sunlight to preserve the integrity of your investment.
Another option is to store them in an outdoor storage box, but make sure you choose one solid enough to protect them from prematurely degrading. It should be an airtight container to help maintain a consistent temperature.
Before putting your pool floats into storage, you can increase their longevity by following some important steps.
- Clean your floats. Before deflating them, lightly scrub with a solution of baking soda and water, then them a good rinse a with garden hose to clear off the chemicals.
- Dry your floats. Allow your pool floats to air dry completely before storing to avoid mold growth. But be sure not to leave them in the bright sunshine, as this is another culprit for ruining the integrity of the material. Always find a shady spot for your drying floats.
Pro tip: Deflate your pool inflatables only when they are completely dry. Water trapped in the seams or crevices – even minimal amounts – creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
- Deflate your floats. Don’t store your floats inflated. Changes in temperature can cause floats to expand or contract, placing undue strain on the seams. Also, there’s a greater chance of puncturing an inflated float if you need to rifle through your storage unit.
- Powder your floats. To prevent tacky plastics and vinyl of your pool inflatables from sticking together in storage, coat the entire surface with a thin layer of talcum powder or cornstarch.
- Flatten or roll your floats. Lay your deflated, dusted pool floats on a flat surface, or loosely roll them up. Don’t roll them tightly, and don’t fold them. Creases can do damage to the material
- Pack your floats. Each float or set should be in an individual package. Ideally, you kept your original packaging. If not, set each one in an individual box, plastic container, or storage bag.
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