The Best Handheld Pool Vacuums for Sparkling-Clean Water

Keeping your pool or spa free of dirt, leaves, and other debris is easy with one of these compact vacuums.

By Chase Brush | Published Dec 1, 2023 8:53 AM

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A person using the best handheld vacuum on an extender pole to remove debris from an above-ground pool.

Photo: amazon.com

No matter how well they’re covered, pools and spas are bound to collect dirt and debris—and few tools are as useful as removing that debris as handheld pool vacuums. These models tend to be more compact and maneuverable than other types of swimming pool vacuums, making them an ideal alternative for above-ground pools and other types of small pools. They also tend to be more affordable, so they’re usually a safe option for buyers on a budget.

Handheld pool vacuums vary widely in style and function, ranging from outlet-powered to cordless and rechargeable models. Some are designed to handle various kinds of debris, such as fine sand, dirt, and bulky leaves. They may also feature telescoping handhelds that allow them to reach far corners of a pool, making them suitable for large inground units, too. There are many excellent models on the market, so determining which is the right one for your needs depends on your pool’s setup and your personal preferences. We researched dozens of models and ultimately highlighted several of the best handheld pool vacuums on the market to make your search easier.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Pool Blaster Max Li Cordless Pool & Spa Vacuum
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Intex 28620EP Rechargeable Handheld Pool Vacuum
  3. BEST FOR INGROUND POOLS: Efurden Handheld Rechargeable Pool Cleaner
  4. BEST CORDLESS: Aiper Pilot H1 Cordless Pool Vacuum
  5. BEST FOR SMALL SPACES: PoolSupplyTown Pool Spa Jet Vacuum Cleaner
  6. BEST FOR ABOVE-GROUND: Wybot Hyson 100P Handheld Pool Vacuum
  7. BEST FOR LEAVES: Pool Blaster Battery-Powered Leaf Vac
The best handheld vacuum on an extender pole with a hose attached and in use to clean the bottom of a pool.

Photo: istock.com

How We Chose the Best Handheld Pool Vacuums

In order to arrive at our choices for the handheld pool vacuums on this list, we consulted many different sources and opinions. We began by researching other expert guides and reviews on the subject, which gave us an idea of some of the top-performing and most popular models on the market. We also sought out best-selling models from major retailers and brands, paying close attention to features like price, reputation, design, and customer service. We then looked at individual user reviews to get a sense of how these models performed in the real world. In total, from a pool of dozens of models and over the course of many hours of research, we were able to narrow down the list to the best options discussed below.

Our Top Picks

Based on our research, these are the best handheld pool vacuums on the market today. We made sure to include options across a range of categories, including models for above- and inground pools, for cleaning up leaves, and for pool owners on a budget.

Best Overall

The Pool Blaster Max Li Cordless Pool & Spa Vacuum on a white background.
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs

  • Design: Battery-powered
  • Runtime: 60 minutes
  • Best for: Above- and inground pools

Pros

  • Cordless, hoseless design makes it easy to use in many different types of pools
  • Battery runs for 1 hour and recharges in under 4
  • Multilayered filter bag captures both bulky and fine types of debris
  • Large debris chamber doesn’t need to be removed constantly

Cons

  • Telescoping handle must be purchased separately
  • Charging cable and port can be tricky to use
  • May not be able to capture especially fine debris, such as silt or algae

Pool Master produces a popular line of handheld and standard pool vacuums, so it’s no surprise that their flagship model would rank highly on this list. While it’s not the most powerful option available, the Max Li strikes a great balance between performance, cost, and ease of use, making it suitable for most users. This vacuum is strong enough to suck up most kinds of debris, from acorns and twigs to dirt and sand, but it is also streamlined enough to maneuver in pools of many different sizes, from large inground ones to small above-ground units.

Part of the Max Li’s maneuverability is due to its cordless design, which allows it to run for up to 60 minutes on a single charge. It features a removable 10.5-inch vacuum head for general cleaning, as well as a nose-cone head that can help get into tight corners and areas. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a telescoping handle that could help it cover even more ground and get into harder-to-reach places, but it does come with a reusable filter bag that effectively traps sand, dirt, and many other kinds of debris.

Get the Pool Blaster Max Li handheld pool vacuum at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Target.

Best Bang For The Buck

The Intex 28620EP Rechargeable Handheld Pool Vacuum on a white background.
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs

  • Design: Battery-powered
  • Runtime: 50 minutes
  • Best for: Above-ground pools and spas

Pros

  • Great balance between performance and price
  • Very lightweight and easy to handle
  • Comes with 2 brush heads, a charger, and a telescoping shaft
  • Automatic shutoff feature senses when unit is not fully submerged in water

Cons

  • May be too small for large inground pools
  • Filter bag is small, requiring frequent replacement
  • May not work well on larger, heavier debris such as leaves

Striking an ideal balance between functionality and affordability, the Intex handheld pool vacuum is the perfect choice for owners of small pools and those on a budget. This thoughtfully crafted model is compact enough to store in a small storage space, such as a shed, and to use in hot tubs, above-ground pools, and other small bodies of swimming water. Plus, it costs less than other premium vacuums on the market. It also performs well and is capable of sucking up a variety of dirt and debris, despite its small size.

The Intex is a fully featured vacuum, including everything needed for a thorough pool cleaning. In addition to the powerful motor and filter, the unit comes with two interchangeable brush heads, a USB charging cable, a 94-inch telescoping aluminum shaft, and a shaft adapter. Despite its performance, it’s extremely lightweight, but it does need to be fully submerged in water to work.

Get the Intex handheld pool vacuum at Walmart.

Best for Inground Pools

The Efurden Handheld Rechargeable Pool Cleaner and pole on a white background.
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs

  • Design: Battery-powered
  • Runtime: 60 minutes
  • Best for: Above- and inground pools

Pros

  • Telescoping handle can be replaced with a longer pole to reach deep parts of pool
  • Filter chamber is easy to remove, clean, and reuse
  • Brush head can be removed to expose nozzle for more targeted suction
  • Offered in 4 different colors

Cons

  • Included telescoping handle may be too short for deep end of pool; longer handle is not included
  • Battery has a long recharging time of 8 hours
  • Must be fully submerged in water to work

When it comes to cleaning inground pools, handheld vacuums are no substitute for full-size hosed vacuums. Large pools can collect a lot of debris, which full-size vacuums are designed to suck up quickly and efficiently. That being said, it may still be a good idea to keep a handheld vacuum around for quick spot cleanings in between more thorough sessions. Few handheld vacuums are as suitable for this purpose as the one from Efurden, which is ideally designed for maneuvering around large, deep pools.

Many features make the Efurden a good backup to full-size vacuums. Its compact motor is capable of displacing 8 gallons of water per minute, creating enough suction to pick up even heavier debris. It also comes with a 69-inch telescoping handle, allowing it to reach far corners of above-ground pools, spas, and hot tubs. The handle is interchangeable, so users who need to reach the deep ends of inground pools can swap it out for a longer one. Finally, it features a large chamber of fine mesh, ensuring even smaller debris is trapped inside.

Get the Efurden handheld pool vacuum at Amazon or Walmart.

Best Cordless

The Aiper Pilot H1 Cordless Pool Vacuum and extra filters on a white background.
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs

  • Design: Battery-powered
  • Runtime: 60 minutes
  • Best for: Hot tubs, above-ground pools, inground pools

Pros

  • Battery-powered design means no messy cords or hoses
  • Comes with 2 filters for capturing debris of varying size
  • Lightweight body and ergonomic handle make it easy to maneuver
  • Easily and quickly disassembles for storage when not in use

Cons

  • Telescoping pool handle not included
  • Doesn’t roll as smoothly across some pool floors as other models
  • Can get clogged with larger debris like leaves

Handheld vacuums are some of the most versatile and convenient pool appliances out there, and few models prove that like this one from Aiper. This portable battery-powered vacuum is designed to make pool cleaning as effortless and efficient as possible, with none of the messy hoses or cords of traditional electric vacuums weighing it down. The battery lasts 60 minutes on a single charge, and it’s suitable for a range of pool sizes, from small spas to large inground pools.

The Aiper is a breeze to use thanks to several other features not found on other handheld vacuums. It weighs only 3.5 pounds and boasts a large, ergonomic handle, making it lightweight and comfortable enough to handle for extended periods. It also comes with two filters for sucking up and trapping both small and large types of debris. Though it doesn’t come with a telescoping handle for reaching deep ends of the pool, it does work with most standard pool poles, and it disassembles quickly and easily for storage when not in use.

Get the Aiper handheld pool vacuum at Amazon.

Best For Small Spaces

The PoolSupplyTown Pool Spa Jet Vacuum Cleaner hooked up to its mesh bag as well as the cleaning head alone on a white background.
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs

  • Design: Manual
  • Runtime: N/A
  • Best for: Small pools and spas

Pros

  • Doesn’t require batteries or recharging
  • Fine mesh bag captures even the smallest debris, such as sand and silt
  • Very easy to handle and operate
  • Great value for price

Cons

  • Requires a garden hose hookup; does not come with telescoping handle
  • May not be as powerful as some electric models on the market

For a very simple pool cleaning solution, look no further than this jet vacuum from PoolSupplyTown. Unlike most other handheld vacuums on the market that are battery- or cord-powered, this model requires no electricity at all. Instead, it utilizes the water pressure from a standard garden hose, which creates a Venturi effect when connected to the brush head, producing enough suction to draw leaves and other debris into the mesh bag. It’s a minimalist vacuum that’s great for thoroughly cleaning spas, hot tubs, and small above-ground pools, and it’s also effective for spot-cleaning large inground pools.

Of course, such a simple design does have its drawbacks. The jet vacuum isn’t quite as powerful as some electric models on the market, and while it doesn’t require batteries or charging, it does need to be hooked up to a garden hose. Also, while the vacuum works with any standard 1.25-inch telescopic pool pole, that part is not included. But since the unit costs just a fraction of most other handheld vacuums on the market, it’s still a great value.

Get the PoolSupplyTown handheld pool vacuum at Amazon or Walmart.

Best For Above-Ground

The Wybot Hyson 100P Handheld Pool Vacuum and its pole on a white background.
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs

  • Design: Battery-powered
  • Runtime: 60 minutes
  • Best for: Spas and above-ground pools

Pros

  • Large, contoured handle and lightweight design make the vacuum easy to operate
  • Wide brush head covers lots of surface area but is also removable for more targeted pool vacuuming
  • Strong motor creates powerful suction
  • 59-inch telescoping handle is included

Cons

  • May release dirt and debris if pulled out of the water too quickly
  • Included telescoping handle may still be too short for deep ends of some pools
  • Not ideal for large inground pools or very dirty pools

Above-ground pools don’t usually require the kind of extensive cleaning that inground pools do, which makes handheld vacuums an ideal tool for the former. While they may not be as powerful as full-size vacuums, handheld ones make up for it in maneuverability and ease of use. A good example of this is Wybot’s handheld pool vacuum, which is perfect for cleaning above-ground pools of all shapes and styles, from frame pools to inflatable ones.

This vacuum’s powerful 30-watt motor boasts a flow rate of up to 25.8 gallons per minute, creating enough suction to capture everything from leaves and sticks to fine sand. The vacuum itself is easy to maneuver thanks to a lightweight design and a large, contoured handle. It also comes with a 59-inch telescoping handle for reaching far corners of more spacious inground pools. The oversize brush head rolls smoothly across most pool surfaces, and it can also be removed to expose a nozzle for accessing even tighter corners and crevices.

What our tester says: Stephanie Cronk, executive editor of the Bob Vila commerce team and our product tester, says the following about the Wybot vacuum: “This vacuum is handy for quickly removing a pile of leaves in the center of the pool after running the filter. We also found it extremely useful for cleaning the walls behind the ladder in areas where our robotic pool cleaner cannot reach. The vacuum is pretty powerful, which we were surprised about, and it requires no in-filter installation, which is definitely another bonus. We were able to remove debris and clean spots of algae without having to run an entire cleaning cycle, which would be necessary with other vacs.”

Get the Wybot handheld pool vacuum at Amazon.

Best For Leaves

The Pool Blaster Battery-Powered Leaf Vac and several AA batteries on a white background.
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs

  • Design: Battery-powered
  • Runtime: 3 hours
  • Best for: Above- and inground pools

Pros

  • Versatile design that functions as both skimmer and floor vacuum
  • Large vacuum opening and mesh bag prevent clogging
  • Runs longer than other vacuums at up to 3 hours
  • Lightweight and easy to use

Cons

  • Does not come with pool pole
  • Won’t pick up small debris like sand or dirt
  • Batteries are not rechargeable

Pools that are situated under trees can collect a lot of leaves, which typical handheld vacuums may not be able to handle. Most of these vacuums are designed to pick up only small quantities of debris at a time and may struggle to hold large amounts of heavier flotsam. That’s where the Pool Blaster battery-powered leaf vacuum comes in. It is specially designed to suck up large clumps of leaves without getting clogged or bogged down like other handheld vacuums.

This vacuum’s innovative design consists of a large mesh bag connected to a fan-based vacuum that effectively sucks up leaves and other debris as it passes over them. Unlike most electric vacuums out there, it’s not rechargeable, instead running on eight AA batteries. But it does boast a longer runtime—up to 3 hours—than competing vacuums. It’s also extremely lightweight at just 2.35 pounds. Unfortunately, it does not come with a required pool pole, but once attached to one, it becomes quite versatile, capable of being used both as a floor vacuum and as a skimmer to remove leaves from the surface of the pool.

Get the Pool Blaster battery-powered handheld pool vacuum at Walmart or Target.

Jump to Our Top Picks



A person cleaning a pool using the best handheld vacuum on an extender pole with a hose attached.

Photo: istock.com

What to Consider When Choosing a Pool Vacuum

Various factors impact a handheld pool vacuum’s performance, so it’s important for pool owners to consider their particular pool setup and needs while shopping for one. Like most pool vacuum cleaners, including robotic vacuums, handheld models can vary in terms of design, particularly when it comes to their power source. While there are many rechargeable handheld pool vacuums on this list, some may take standard batteries, plug into a wall outlet via an electrical cord, or run on water pressure provided by a hose. Some may be designed for specific pool sizes, from small above-ground pools to large inground ones. They may also incorporate filters designed to handle different types of debris, from fine dirt and sand to heavier leaves and sticks. No matter the pool size or design in question, buyers may also want to consider their own budgets, as handheld pool vacuums can vary greatly in terms of price and value.

Pool Type

One of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a handheld pool vacuum is pool type, and, specifically, pool size. Pools come in various shapes and sizes, and some handheld vacuums might be more suitable for smaller or irregularly shaped pools, while others may work better for larger or more standard pool designs. Features such as the presence of steps, corners, or unusual shapes may impact the maneuverability and reach of the handheld vacuum. These vacuums can also vary in terms of handle length, which can affect how far the machine can reach across a pool. For example, above-ground handheld pool vacuums may incorporate short handles capable of reaching only a few feet into the water, while handheld inground pool vacuums may come with longer telescoping handles that are able to reach the bottom of the deep end of larger pools.

Where a pool is situated can also determine the type of handheld pool vacuum that is needed. Pools that are located under trees or near other plants may collect more debris than others, which will call for a vacuum capable of handling larger amounts of leaves and sticks. Similarly, pools that are situated near beaches or the like may tend to collect sand and smaller debris, which will require a vacuum with a finer filter. A pool’s surface may also influence a vacuum’s performance—above-ground pools are often made of soft and flexible materials like vinyl, while inground pools typically have sturdier surfaces, such as concrete or fiberglass.

Power and Suction

Power and suction are other features that can greatly affect the performance of a handheld pool vacuum. As previously noted, some pools may collect more or different types of debris than others, so it’s important to confirm that the vacuum is powerful enough to pick up the objects in question. A more powerful motor generally results in stronger suction, allowing the vacuum to effectively remove both small and large particles. Additionally, robust suction is essential for handling various types of debris, including leaves, sand, algae, and other sediments that might settle at the bottom or cling to the pool walls.

When trying to ascertain a vacuum’s power and suction, it’s helpful to consider the unit’s specific design. Many handheld vacuums rely on electric motors to create suction, and the size of the motor can often be found in the manufacturer’s specifications for the product. Other vacuums may need to be connected to a pool pump or even a garden hose to generate suction, which can vary according to the model’s design. It may also be worth noting how the model is powered: whether by recharged or standard battery, electrical cord, or by water pressure delivered via hose.

Additional Features

Many other features can impact the performance of a handheld vacuum. For handheld battery pool vacuums, runtime can be an important factor depending on the size of the pool, as larger pools typically take more time to clean. Additionally, the design of the vacuum itself is worth considering, as shape, weight, and other ergonomics can affect the model’s maneuverability and ease of use.

Filter type is another crucial feature to consider, particularly in pools that tend to collect either very large or very fine debris. Fine mesh filters are adept at capturing small particles like sand and silt, while cartridge filters are efficient at collecting finer debris but may require regular cleaning. The size of the filter is also important, as it determines not only the size of debris it can handle but also the amount.

Lastly, when it comes to handheld electric pool vacuums in particular, it’s important to note the size and length of the handle. Most handheld pool vacuums are designed to be portable and easy to operate, resulting in shorter handles that may not be long enough to reach the deep end of some pools. Many models are compatible with telescoping handles or pool poles that can increase their reach, though these accessories are not always included and may need to be purchased separately.

Tips for Using a Handheld Pool Vacuum

Using a swimming pool vacuum can remove much of the hard work from pool cleaning, but there are steps users can take to make the process even more efficient. First and foremost, before vacuuming, it’s important to make sure the pool water is at the proper level to avoid air entering the system, as this can hinder the vacuum’s performance. Additionally, it’s worth skimming the surface and brushing the walls of the pool to loosen and remove any debris that might obstruct the vacuuming process. When vacuuming, move the machine slowly and methodically across the pool floor and stop over any heavy accumulations to ensure everything is captured. Don’t forget to empty the filter regularly to maintain the vacuum’s suction power and prevent debris from circulating back into the pool water.

Regularly maintaining a cordless handheld pool vacuum can also help ensure and increase its performance. That means cleaning the vacuum filter or replacing the filter cartridge as recommended by the manufacturer to prevent clogs and maintain maximum suction power. Lastly, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines for your specific handheld pool vacuum to ensure safety and performance.

  • Move the vacuum slowly and methodically across the pool’s bottom to allow it to pick up debris effectively
  • Empty the filter regularly to prevent clogs and maximize suction power
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe operation and performance

FAQs

If you’re still wondering how to get the most out of your handheld pool vacuum, here are some commonly asked questions about the various types of pool vacuums out there as well as some best practices on how to vacuum a pool in general.

Q. How do I clean my pool without electricity?

You can use manual pool-cleaning tools, such as skimmers and nets, to remove any floating debris in the pool. There are also manual pool vacuums available that generate suction using the water pressure from standard garden hoses.

Q. What kind of vacuum do I need for a pool?

The ideal kind of vacuum depends on the pool in question. Large inground pools that collect a lot of debris may require full-size pool pump vacuums to be thoroughly cleaned, but many smaller pools can be cleaned using more compact—and affordable—portable pool vacuums.

Q. What is the fastest way to vacuum a pool?

The fastest way to vacuum a pool is to use an efficient and powerful pool vacuum system. Move the vacuum slowly and carefully across the pool bottom, making sure to pick up any debris left behind.

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