How to Use a Pool Air Pillow for Winter



Brrrrr! It’s cold outside! Shorter days and chilly temperatures mean it’s time to tuck your pool in for the winter.

The bad news is you don’t get to swim in your pool for a few months, the good news is we have the perfect accessory to keep your pool in tip-top shape until next swimming season.

If you own a pool and live in a place that gets below freezing in the winter, you may be well-versed in the art of closing your pool for the season. You may not, however, have tried using a pool air pillow to protect your pool walls during the harsh winter months.

What is a Pool Air Pillow?

A pool air pillow is a high-gauge vinyl inflatable floating bolster that is typically used when closing an above-ground pool for the winter. The pillow is secured in the center of the pool before placing the pool cover on to keep the cover from sinking in the middle.

The main purpose of an air-filled pool pillow is to protect your pool and cover from ice damage in the winter. When your pool water freezes, the ice will naturally expand toward the outer edges of the pool, inevitably putting undue strain on the sides of your pool and possibly damaging them.

With a pool air pillow underneath your pool cover, however, the empty space created between the water and the cover allows the ice to expand inward toward the pillow. This acts as an ice compensator, which absorbs the ongoing expansion of the ice.

It’s like a tent that also keeps rain, leaves, and snow at the outer edges of the pool where you can reach and remove any unwanted debris.

Why You Need a Pool Air Pillow

Pool air pillows are an essential part of winterizing an above-ground pool, especially if you live in a frosty climate. Without the pool pillow, the expanding ice will put pressure on the walls of your pool causing damage to the sides, the liner, and the cover. 

  • Do you own an above-ground pool?
  • Do you live in a place that gets below freezing in the winter?

If you answered ‘yes’ to both of these questions, you definitely need a pool air pillow to add to your pool winterizing regimen.

How to Use a Pool Air Pillow

First things first. You need to blow up your fancy new pool toy— I mean pillow.

Inflating Your Air Pillow

To inflate your air pillow, first find the valve on the top of the pillow. You can use a shop vac on reverse, a bicycle pump, or a hairdryer on the ‘cool’ setting to inflate the pillow. Make sure you inflate it only 60% to 80% of its total capacity, though. In order for the pillow to do its job and absorb the pressure of the expanding ice in your pool, it needs to have some give.

Once the air pillow is inflated and still feels a bit soft, put a couple of strips of duct tape over the valve opening to make sure the pillow doesn’t accidentally deflate during the winter.

Placing the Air Pillow

The air pillow must be in the center of the pool to do its job properly. Positioning your air pillow in the middle of your pool will ensure an equal distribution of snow, rainwater, and other debris. Most manufacturer’s instructions say to use grommets to attach string to each corner of the pillow in order to secure it in place, but…

Pro Tip: Instead of using rope or twine to secure your pool pillow in place, try getting some pieces of velcro and sticking one side on the pool air pillow and the other side on the underside of your pool cover, directly in the center. This simple method keeps the two pieces stuck together, without having to mess around with string that could break over time.

Keep in mind that larger pools may need 2 or more pillows for maximum protection. You can also use grommets to secure multiple pool air pillows together with rope or twine.

What We Recommend

A pool air pillow is just one part of the process of closing your pool for the winter. Adding the proper algaecides, a bit of chlorine-free shock, and winterizer chemicals are the first steps to getting this show on the road. 

That’s why we recommend this winterizing bundle from In The Swim, which includes everything you need to get your pool ready for closing up shop during the chilly winter months.

Winterizing and Closing Bundle (with Air Pillow)

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This deluxe winterizing kit includes everything you need to keep your pool clean, protected, and algae-free until the next swimming season begins. 

The bundle includes:

  • Winter Stain-Away: Specially formulated to prevent metal and mineral stains in your pool while not in use, this Winter Stain-Away also stops any scale formation from building up around the waterline.
  • Winterizer: This strong algaecide works with the other elements of the winterizer kit to keep your pool free from any unwanted growth during the winter season.
  • Chlorine-Free Pool Shock: This is a safe chlorine-free alternative that will help to keep your pool sanitized all winter long, while not damaging your pool cover or interfering with other chemicals in the water.
  • Time-Release Winter Pool Floater: This handy pool floater dispenses a fixed amount of non-chlorine sanitizer over time. It removes carbon dioxide from the water to eliminate the food source for algae. All you have to do is poke holes in the floater until you reach your pool’s volume on the graded scale.
  • Winter Sorb: This non-toxic foam absorbs up to 40 times its own weight in leftover oils, lotion, and other floaties, preventing any clogs from popping up come spring.
  • 4×8 Ft. 16 Gauge Vinyl Air Pillow: Using a pool air pillow lifts the winter cover to help keep the water from freezing and ice from forming. It relieves the stress of expanding ice, preventing damage to above-ground pool walls.

Winterizing your pool with this helpful system saves you the hassle (and expense) of draining and refilling your above-ground pool each season. 

Alternatives to Pool Air Pillows

You may have heard pool owners recommend alternatives to pool air pillows, such as tire tubes, yoga balls, or regular innertubes.

These DIY options can work in a pinch but aren’t really designed to do the job of a pool air pillow. If you’re stuck and need a quick fix, you can try the velcro method with an exercise ball for best results.


Using a pool air pillow to close your above-ground pool for the winter is a simple and economical way to save your pool from damage caused by cold weather and ice.

It saves you the time and expense of draining your pool each year and protects your pool from the damage that Jack Frost can inflict. Now you can get out there and close your pool like a pro!

Categories: Pool Care, Pool Maintenance