How to Clean an Inflatable Backyard Water Slide

happy child playing on inflatable water slide

Inflatable water slides are pretty much at the top of the food chain when it comes to backyard family fun.

The only downside to these slides is that many people think they don’t need to clean them because the water naturally cleans the surface. They forget that water doesn’t clean bacteria off surfaces. A wet water slide is subject to mold, mildew, and germs.

You don’t need to worry; we’ve got all you need to know about properly cleaning your inflatable water slide.

If you’re looking to replace an old water slide or just want to move up to the next level, be sure to check out my roundup of the Best Backyard Water Slides & Water Parks – there are some insanely cool inflatables there!

Cleaning Your Backyard Water Slide – Step By Step

huge backyard inflatable water slide
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Visually Inspect The Water Slide

The first step is the easiest step towards a germ-free slide. Thoroughly examine all parts of the water slide to figure out how much cleaning it will need.

Check for any loose debris or areas of concern. This is also the perfect time to check for any damaged areas that could impact the structure. Pick out any leaves, toys, food, or sticks. Check for areas that are retaining water.

Take note of any damages because the cleaning process can impact these areas, making them worse.

Draining Excess Water

The unclean water is the first thing to get rid of when you start to clean your slide. You can quickly and easily drain it on your grass. If you’re worried about damaging your grass, try to drain it in an area with cement or pavement.

You probably don’t want to leave soapy, unclean water sitting on your grass. You can get rid of this problem by washing away the draining area with your garden hose.

Time To Rinse

Your water slide may be wet from hours of play, but it’s essential to give it a fresh rinse with your water hose. This will help break up any mud or debris that is sitting on the slide.
You don’t have to give it a thorough cleaning at this time. This is the time you’re just spraying off what easily comes off. Don’t use high water pressure at this time either as you may damage pieces of the vinyl.

Time To Deep Clean

Note: You will only need to do this step if you will not be using your water slide for a while. If it is going to come back out next weekend you could probably skip it.

There are a few options when you start to deep clean your inflatable water slide. You can go out and buy some professional vinyl cleaner, but it’s not hard to make your own.

The easiest way to make your own vinyl cleaner is to mix one part vinegar with dish soap.
Dish soap can be tricky when you’re cleaning in your grassy yard. Dish soap is acceptable to use in small amounts, but large amounts may harm your grass.

Most blades of grass cannot take the abrasive chemicals in many dish soap types. Check the ingredients in your dish soap before you use it.

Again, it should be fine in smaller doses. The best thing in your cleaning mix is vinegar anyway, so you can always add more of it.

The number one rule is…

Never use dish soaps with bleach!

Many people think it’s okay to use bleach because it is used to kill germs and bacteria. Bleach will lead to the vinyl cold fading, and it isn’t great for your yard anyway.

You don’t need to damage your inflatable water slide just to clean it when you can use other products that are just as effective.

Note: There are appropriate times to use bleach on your water slide – but we will discuss those later.

Focus on the main areas where people use the inflatable slide the most. These will include the landing areas, slides, sitting areas, and ladder.

Use a soft brush with bristles, a rag, or a sponge to scrub the challenging areas.

Always scrub the areas with the most traffic.

Take time to rinse your water slide from top to bottom after you’re done cleaning all of the areas. Take time to ensure there is no residue left over from soap. Don’t let any solution pool in one location.

Disinfecting Your Inflatables

Many people don’t realize there are numerous health risks of not properly cleaning an inflatable water slide. Cleaning can rid of flu and cold viruses, and even MRSA. Your cleaning can help get rid of the breeding ground for viruses, germs, and bacteria.

If you don’t clean correctly, the people using it can easily transmit allergens and viruses.

You’ve already thoroughly cleaned, but it’s essential to disinfect to get rid of any issues that may be hiding. These issues are thrown out once you properly disinfect your water slide.

Get out some disinfecting wipes that do not contain bleach. Wipe down any areas on the slide that people touch. This means sidewalls, railing, guide rails, sitting areas, and ladders. After you wipe off a section, do not rinse the area again.

Completely Dry Your Water Slide

Natural sunlight is the best natural ingredient to help clean your water slide. Let your water slide dry as much as possible in direct sunlight. After that, it’s time to get ready for a little mess.

Use your softest towels to wipe away any excess water. If you don’t want to take the time to wipe away every area, you can use a leaf blower to dry off your slide as well. This part may test your patience, but it’s worth your while.

Natural sunlight is the best drying agent in the world. UV sunlight is an effective weapon against water pathogens. The only problem is that sunlight won’t totally disinfect the slide. It is best partnered with a cleaning agent.

The reason it’s so important to dry out your inflatable water slide completely is that mold and mildew can grow in as little as one or two days. It will keep growing until you get rid of it.

The mold and mildew will start to fade your vinyl and begin to eat their way through your slide. Mold and mildew aren’t friendly to your inflatable water slide.

Storing Your Inflatable Slide

Don’t ever store your water slide until you know it is completely dry. Place it indoors away from sunlight. Store it in a clean, dry place. Always check for damaged areas the next time you inflate the slide. It would be best if you even rinsed it with water before using it again.

How to Remove Mold and Mildew from an Inflatable Water Slide

Mold and mildew are your worst enemies when it comes to your inflatable water slide. It’s essential to get rid of it as soon as you find it, so it doesn’t get worse.

Make sure your slide is completely dry before you start to rid of the mold or mildew. Don’t rinse it before you start to clean it. This can actually make it worse.

This is where you get to use bleach, mix half water and half bleach in a bucket. Apply it to the affected areas of your slide. Once you soak these areas well with the mixture, scrub away the mildew or mold with a rag or soft brush. Repeat this as many times as necessary.

Thoroughly rinse these areas when you’re done scrubbing. You can use a clean towel to dry this area but it is best leave it a little damp and let the sunlight complete the job

This may take time, but it’s okay because you don’t want this problem to come back. Mildew and mold usually grow when people don’t take the time to let their water slide completely dry before storing it away.
Let it sit out until every nook and cranny is completely dry.


Inflatable water slides are exciting and fun for the entire family. Though they take a little extra time and effort to clean, it’s worth it. When you take the time to properly clean and dry your water slide, you can prevent many big issues.

FAQs About Cleaning Inflatable Water Slides

Is it safe to empty soapy water on my grass?

Some dish detergents contain abrasive chemicals that can hurt your grass. Overall, you shouldn’t use enough dish detergent to damage your lawn. Using it in a mixture with vinegar should be okay for your grass, as long as you don’t use too much.

Are there special detergents that are safe to dump on lawns?

There are all-natural cleaners that are safer for your lawn. Boron and bleach are two ingredients that should never be used on your lawn. You can use natural cleansers like Lysol, OdoBan, MonoFoil Antimicrobial Spray, natural essential oil cleaners, and Simple Green d Pro 3.

When can I use bleach as I am cleaning my inflatable water slide?

Never use bleach around your lawn or with cleaning products. It should only be used when you find mold and mildew. Once you find an infected place, you can mix your bleach with water in a spray bottle or a bucket.

How long will it take for my inflatable water slide to completely dry?

This depends on the size of your water slide. It usually takes about four hours in direct sunlight. Remember, the name of the game is patience. Your time will be worth it, so you don’t have a mold and mildew issue.

happy child playing on inflatable water slide
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