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Do You Really Need a Pool Pillow?

Do You Really Need a Pool Pillow?
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Despite the significant role they play in protecting pools, using a pool pillow remains a controversial subject. While some pool owners find covers helpful, others are quick to write them off as a fad. But putting a pillow in your pool is a great way to save money in spring once the snow melts away.

Pool pillows are a cost-effective way to safeguard your pool equipment and protective cover from ice damage. If anything, pool pillows are an incredible way to protect your pool. These pillows are a better alternative to draining the above-ground pool.

Here are our top picks for pool pillows to keep your pool and its cover safe during the wintry season.

5 Best Pool Pillows Options  

1. Blue Wave 4 x 4 Pool Pillow

Blue Wave Air Pillow
7,637 Reviews
Blue Wave Air Pillow
  • For above ground pools
  • Made of 16-guage vinyl
  • Helps to protect your pool walls
  • Reduces excess rain, snow, and leaves on your winter cover

Made from 16-gauge vinyl, this air pillow from Blue Wave LLC is small, lightweight, and durable. It is tough, durable, and designed to withstand the crushing pressure of frozen water without bursting or deflating.


  • Ideal for small pools
  • Made from premium vinyl
  • Easy to inflate
  • Affordable


  • The valve is a tad tricky to use

 2. Robelle Deluxe 4′ x 8′ Ice Equalizer

Robelle Ice Equalizer Air Pillow
3,230 Reviews
Robelle Ice Equalizer Air Pillow
  • Rugged 16 gauge vinyl
  • Absorbs pressure caused by ice expansion, protecting the swimming pool walls
  • Forces debris from the center of the pool to the sides for easier cleaning
  • It is recommended to use more than one pillow

This blue air pillow from Robelle is crafted from 16 gauge vinyl and measures 4 x 8. The cushion quickly relieves the stress caused by freezing water to cushion your pool from distortion.


  • Made from premium vinyl fabric
  • Hardy and durable
  • Ideal for large pools
  • Easy to inflate


  • Pricey

3. In the Swim (4′ x 4′)

In The Swim Air Pillows Winter Pool Cover
6,938 Reviews
In The Swim Air Pillows Winter Pool Cover
  • Measures: 4 x 4 Feet
  • Heavy-duty 16 gauge vinyl pillow may be round or square
  • Air pillow absorbs freezing water as it expands
  • Relieves above ground pool walls from stress of ice expansion
  • Helps reduce the build-up of rain, leaves or snow on your winter cover

This air pillow comes in both square and round designs and is designed to absorb freezing water and cushion your pool from the stress of ice expansion. It is made from heavy-duty vinyl to ensure it lasts a long time.


  • Available in various shapes
  • Made from premium vinyl
  • Compatible with large and small pools


  • Tricky to inflate correctly

 4. In the Swim (4′ x 8′) 

Winter Pool Cover Air Pillow
1,461 Reviews
Winter Pool Cover Air Pillow
  • Measures: 4 x 8 Feet
  • Heavy-duty 16 gauge vinyl construction
  • Air pillow absorbs freezing water as it expands
  • Relieves above ground pool walls from stress of ice expansion
  • Helps reduce the build-up of rain, leaves or snow on your winter cover

Large and heavy-duty, this 4′ x 8′ air pillow from In the Swim LLC will keep your pool walls safe from the crushing pressure of frigid water during the offseason. As a result, the leaves, rain, and snow cannot accumulate on the pool cover surface.


  • Large-sized
  • Made from durable material
  • Easy to inflate
  • Suitable for large pools


  • Pricey

 5. Swimline Pillow 3 Pack

Swimline Winterizing Closing Air Pillow Cushion
2,673 Reviews
Swimline Winterizing Closing Air Pillow Cushion
  • WINTER AIR PILLOW: 4 x 4-foot air pillow supports your winter pool cover
  • FOR ABOVE GROUND POOL COVERS: PiIlow is for above ground pools to help prolong and protect your above ground pool cover
  • NO WATER FREEZING: The pillow pushes your pool cover up off the water's surface so the water won't freeze to your pool cover; Keeps water off the top of your pool cover
  • EASY ASSEMBLY: Easily inflates through an integrated air valve
  • SPECIFICATIONS: Cover type: Winter protection; Material: Vinyl; Color: Blue; Dimensions (L x W): 4 x 4 feet; Manufacturer warranty: 30-day warranty

Swimline LLC is a trusted pool accessories supplier, and you can trust them to deliver quality pillows. This 3-pack is ideal if you have a large pool or looking for a bargain. The pillows are made from premium vinyl and boast an exceptional lifespan.


  • Made from durable vinyl
  • Beautiful blue color
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to inflate


  • Sometimes the valve is faulty

What Is a Pool Pillow?

A pool pillow is a small inflatable pillow made from vinyl placed in the middle of an above-ground pool during winter. The pool winter pillow is placed under the winter pool cover during the off-season as an equalizer or ice compensator.

What Does a Pool Air Pillow Do?

Pool pillows protect pools from damage during the cold winter months. In addition, this is a cheaper alternative to draining and refilling a pool after it has frozen.

In areas that experience sub-zero temperatures during winter, pool pillows are often placed under the pool cover in the middle of the pool.

When a pool freezes over, the ice expands outward towards the edge of the pool. The expansion places undue stress on the sides of the pool and may damage the swimming pool walls and the cover.

Floating a pool pillow eliminates the risk of such damage while increasing the lifespan of your cover.

The principle behind putting a winter pool pillow is relatively simple. The pillow creates a space between the water surface and the cover, which allows the freezing ice to expand inwards towards the pillow. Thus, the pillow acts as an ice compensator and absorbs the pressure from the expanding ice.

Without an air pillow, the ice expands outwards towards the swimming pool walls and could potentially damage your liner, cover, and equipment.

The resultant bulge forces the leaves, rain, and snow to accumulate around the edges. Pool owners can easily reach and into the pool and remove the unwanted debris.

Pros and Cons of Using a Pool Pillow


  • It makes your cover last longer
  • It safeguards your pool from extensive structural damage
  • It’s cheap and affordable
  • It saves you thousands in water and repair bills.
  • It’s relatively maintenance-free


  • They deflate during a deep freeze
  • They’re not reusable

How to Use a Pool Pillow

The process of floating a pool pillow as part of your winterization plan is straightforward. Here’s how to use a pool pillow on your above-ground pool.

  • Inflate the pool pillow: Use a simple pump to inflate the pool pillow through the small red valve at the top. You can also use a shop vac on the reverse or a hairdryer on a ‘cool’ setting. Always inflate a pool pillow up to 60 to 80% of its capacity. The pillow should feel soft to leave room for compression. Blowing a pool pillow to full capacity increases the likelihood of bursting when compressed.
  • Cover the valve: Put duct tape over the valve to keep the air from escaping and deflating the pool in the dead of winter. Large pools often require multiple pillows.
  • Anchor the pool pillow: Quality pillows have grommets for easy attachment. Thread a long, strong rope through the holes and tie the opposite end to the edge of the pool. You can also attach a pool pillow to the winter cover using Velcro. Velcro is preferable if you don’t have strong and resilient rope.
  • Center the pillow on the pool: Use the rope to maneuver the pool pillow to the center of the pool. If using multiple pillows, be sure to thread them together.
  • Secure the air pillow: Tie the ropes attached to the pillow pool to the opposite ends of the pool and let the tension keep the pool pillow anchored in place. Ensure there’s enough slack on the ropes to keep the pillow floating freely on the water and prevent tears and breakages.
  • Lay the cover: Once the pillow is secure, pull the winter cover over the pool while ensuring the pillow remains in its correct position.
  • Secure the cover: You can use water bags or sandbags to hold down the cover. Since they’re made of heavy-duty vinyl, these are a better alternative to abrasive bricks and rocks.

Pool Pillow FAQ

Do I Really Need a Pool Pillow?

Yes, you need a pool pillow, especially if you live in a region with frigid winters and own an above-ground pool. It’s a great way to keep an Intex pool and its winter cover safe.

How Many Air Pillows Do I Need for My Pool?

Typically, you need one or two air pillows to winterize your pool. The exact number depends on the size and shape of the Intex pool and the size of the pool pillow.

Pool SizeNumber of Pillows/Size
12′ to 15′4′ x 5′
18′ to 24′4′ x 8′ OR (2) 4′ x 8′
>24′4′ x 15′ OR (2) 4′ x 15′
For Round Pools
Pool SizeNumber of Pillows/Size
< 10′ x 18′4′ x 5′ OR 4′ x 8′
< 12′ x 21′4′ x 8′ OR (2) 4′ x 5′
< 16′ x 32′4′ x 8′ OR 4′ x 15′
< 21′ x 43′(2) 4′ x 15′
For Oval Pools

What Can I Use Instead of a Pool Pillow to Safeguard My Pool Walls?

You may use exercise balls, floating flamingos, or a trash bag filled with plastic bags as makeshift substitutes to replace pool pillows. Unfortunately, since the DIY alternatives aren’t specially designed for the job, they may not last the entire winter season.

What Size Pool Pillow Do I Need?

The size of pillow you need depends on the size of your pool – the larger the pool, the larger the pillow. They are available in different sizes including 4′ x 4′, 4′ x 5′, 4′ x 8′, and 4′ x 15′.

Does the Size of a Pool Cover Matter?

Yes, you should purchase a winter cover that fits your pool. The ideal cover is 3 to 4 feet bigger than the pool.

Safeguard Your Investment With a Pool Pillow

You need a pool pillow if you live in a region with sub-zero temperatures in winter and own an above-ground pool. These cushions will save your pool, its winter cover, and pool equipment from damage.

On average, it costs $100 to $200 to repair a leaky above-ground pool. Pool pillows cost a fraction of that and shelter both your pool and its cover all through winter.

Pricing on this page was last updated on 2022-01-22