Pool ownership is a popular dream, but pools can be tough to maintain. Fortunately, aquatics aficionados can keep their pools sparkling clean all summer with minimal toil by using a top-notch pool vacuum.
The best pool vacuums can clean up leaves, twigs, grass, and other debris with their robotic, suction-side, and pressure-side varieties. When shopping for the best pool vacuum, it’s important to choose a quality product that is well suited to homeowners’ lifestyles and the types of pools they have. This article will help swimmers find the right pool vacuum so they can kick back and enjoy the pool as they always imagined.
- BEST OVERALL: Dolphin Nautilus CC Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Aiper Seagull SE Cordless Robotic Pool Cleaner
- BEST MANUAL: U.S. Pool Supply 14″ Weighted Flexible Vacuum Head
- BEST ROBOTIC: Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner
- BEST AUTOMATIC: Aiper Seagull 1000 Cordless Robotic Pool Cleaner
- BEST PRESSURE-SIDE: Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure-Side Pool Cleaner
- BEST SUCTION-SIDE: Zodiac G3 Automatic Suction-Side Pool Cleaner
- BEST FOR ABOVE-GROUND: XtremepowerUS Automatic Pool Cleaner Vacuum
- BEST FOR INGROUND: Zodiac MX6 Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner
- BEST FOR LEAVES: Pool Blaster Battery Powered Leaf Vacuum
How We Chose the Best Pool Vacuums
With such a wide array of options on the pool-vacuum market, the goal of our list of recommendations is to provide shoppers with top picks from a variety of categories. Our research focused on several highly reputable pool vacuum brands across a very wide budget range. Our list includes several affordable options, for those looking for specific manual tools to upgrade their pool cleaning kit, all the way up to premium-priced advanced robots that do everything for users.
We also made sure to include options that offer additional features, such as automated scheduling capabilities, so users simply set a weekly cleaning schedule and the pool vacuum will deploy and get to work. We also included a few automated vacuums that are capable of handling all surfaces, from floors, walls, and even stairs—which not many models are capable of.
Our Top Picks
Here’s a look at the top models on the market. This list contains manual and robotic options as well as vacuums that work on both sides of the pressure system. The products on this list of the best pool vacuums will keep water sparkling clean while allowing aquatics enthusiasts to kick back and enjoy the pool without all the extra labor.
For those who are looking for a pool vacuum that can do it all, the Dolphin Nautilus CC is a great choice. This robotic pool vacuum uses its filter to keep things clean, leaving the pool’s filtration system to do its job. This vacuum is ideal for pools less than 33 feet in length, and it will clean most pools in this range in under 2 hours.
It uses CleverClean technology to scan the pool to ensure that it gets to every area. The built-in filter has a large capacity, enabling the Nautilus CC to pick up large debris and leaves. It also features a full-width scrubber, allowing it to deep clean a pool’s slippery spots, leaving behind a clean surface that pool owners can be proud of.
- Type: Robotic
- Price: $$$
- Additional features: Wall climbing, rotating scrubbers, automated schedules
- Easy-access filter is simple to clean and maintain
- Automated cleaning saves user time and effort
- Heavy-duty scrubber can tackle tougher stains with ease
- Can even climb walls; cleans the entire swimming pool
- Lacks the smartphone connectivity of some other robot models
Get the Dolphin Nautilus CC robot vacuum at Amazon or Pool Warehouse.
Shoppers looking to remove the hassle of dealing with power cables and suction hoses on their pool vacuum will appreciate this cordless robotic option from Aiper. The Seagull SE uses two scrubbing brushes on its underside to clean flat pools for up to 90 minutes per charge. When it has finished cleaning the pool, or when it runs low on battery, the self-parking technology will move the cleaner to the edge of the pool for easy retrieval.
This model is not designed for pools with multiple depths, but for those who have flat pools either above-ground or inground, this little 6.6-pound lightweight machine provides a cost-saving pool cleaning solution that uses less than 0.03 kilowatt hours per use. The rechargeable battery takes about 2.5 hours to refill and provides up to 90 minutes of runtime, which is usually enough to clean pools up to 35 feet.
- Type: Automated cordless
- Price: $$
- Additional features: Auto parking
- Lightweight and compact unit; ideal when storage space is limited
- Automatically parks near the edge for easy retrieval
- No wires or pumps to deal with for ultimate convenience
- Does not climb walls, cleans base of swimming pool only
- Struggles with large leaves; may require frequent declogging
Get the Aiper Seagull robot vacuum at Amazon.
It doesn’t take a huge investment to keep a pool clean. For pool owners who don’t mind some manual labor, the U.S. Pool Supply Weighted Flexible Vacuum Head is a choice worth checking out. The 14-inch-wide head flexes to fit the curves of inground pools. It’s also weighted, making it easier to remove dirt and grime from the trickiest corners, regardless of the pool’s depth.
This pool vacuum head fits both 1¼-inch and 1½-inch hoses, so the pool owner’s current vacuum hose will probably mate up without issue. Although this vacuum head doesn’t come with a pole or vacuum, it will complement a user’s current setup, providing top-notch cleaning from a manual vacuum.
- Type: Manual
- Price: $
- Additional features: Flexible head
- Affordable compared to more complex robotic options
- Flexible head great for cleaning uneven surfaces
- Suitable for multiple hose sizes
- Requires physical labor, which can be tiresome when cleaning larger pools
Get the U.S. Pool Supply pool vacuum at Amazon.
Big pools require big vacuums. The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus can handle pools up to 40 feet long, cleaning both the floor and the walls in less than 2 hours. It has plenty of room for a large pool’s worth of debris with its dual-level filter. It also benefits from CleverClean technology, which scans the pool to ensure it’s cleaned the entire surface.
This Dolphin Nautilus also has a tangle-free power cord, which is especially important considering how long the cord needs to be for a large pool. It’s programmable and far more energy efficient than using a pool’s filtration system. The dual scrubbers ensure that the Nautilus CC Plus gets all of the debris in a pool.
- Type: Robotic
- Price: $$$$
- Additional features: Smart navigation, wall climbing, automated schedules
- Set weekly schedules for fully automated cleaning and scrubbing
- Tangle-free cable prevents complications during cleaning
- Large cartridge filters suitable for most pool sizes
- Robot may get confused when navigating pool stairs
Get the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus pool cleaner at Amazon or Pool Warehouse.
For pool owners who prefer to keep a pool’s surface hose- and cord-free, the Aiper Seagull 1000 cordless robotic pool cleaner will do the trick. This battery-operated vacuum works for all small pools and will run for 90 minutes each time users set it out. The Aiper’s design includes suction vents on both ends of the vacuum, allowing it to travel back and forth in the pool without turning around. It has a large onboard filter tray that gathers debris without affecting performance.
The pool vacuum also has a scrub brush centered underneath the machine to scrub algae and trap debris until it’s sucked up. It does take up to 6 hours to charge, so users will want to be sure to have it plugged in before it’s needed.
- Type: Cordless robotic
- Price: $$
- Additional features: Self-parking, cordless, rotating scrubbing brush
- Cordless robot has no cables to get tangled
- 90-minute battery life adequate for most pool sizes
- Suitable for most pool shapes
- Unable to clean pool stairs or walls
Get the Aiper Seagull 1000 pool vacuum at Amazon.
If pool owners have a pump to run a pressure-side pool vacuum, the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 is a great choice. This vacuum-and-sweeper combination propels itself with three jets and comes with 31 feet of hose, allowing it to reach the deep corners of most midsize inground pools. It vacuums both the floors and the walls, and the sweeping tail helps remove algae and tough grime.
This Polaris has a large filtration bag that users can empty and reuse, which eases the load on a pool’s filter system. Best yet, it comes with a backup valve that frees the unit from tangles, so pool owners don’t have to worry about babysitting it while it cleans.
- Type: Automated pressure-side
- Price: $$$
- Additional features: Debris collection bag and sweep hose
- Large filtration bag is reusable for cleaning larger pools
- Wide inlet can collect lots of debris
- Large wheels can also climb to help the unit clean walls easily
- Soft Velcro bags can be difficult to empty
Get the Polaris pool vacuum at Amazon or Leslie’s.
Options for self-propelled wall-cleaning vacuums are scarce for above-ground pools. The Zodiac G3 is an exception, using the pool’s filtration system to create suction and travel throughout the pool. It can clean the floor, walls, and even the steps. The 36-fin rubber disc allows the G3 to traverse lights and filters, and it can tuck itself into the curves or tight angles of an above-ground pool.
This suction cleaner has just one moving part, making it a very low-maintenance option. It comes with roughly 40 feet of hose, which covers most medium-size pools without any issue.
- Type: Automated suction-side
- Price: $$
- Additional features: Cleans floors, walls, and stairs
- With just a single moving part, it is easy to set up
- Quiet operation compared with other automated robot cleaners
- Able to tackle walls, floors, and steps
- May require a powerful pump to operate
Get the Zodiac G3 pool vacuum at Amazon or Leslie’s.
The XtremePowerUS Automatic Pool Cleaner will free users from much of the load of cleaning an above-ground pool. This suction-side vacuum hooks to a pool’s existing filter and follows a random pattern around the pool, cleaning as it goes. It comes with enough hose to cover up to a 16-foot by 34-foot pool, and the soft rubber fins allow it to bump gently along the inside of the pool, keeping it sparkling clean.
This pool cleaner does require a ¾-horsepower pump to operate, but with enough suction, it will climb and clean pool walls as well. It’s also lightweight, so it’s easy to heft over the wall of an above-ground pool.
- Type: Automatic suction-side
- Price: $
- Additional features: Cleans floors, walls, and stairs
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver; great for lifting over above-ground pools
- This versatile cleaner is compatible with most pool filters
- Also cleans walls and stairs when given enough suction power
- Plastic hose sections tend to wear out over time
Get the XtremePowerUS pool vacuum at Amazon, The Home Depot, Target, or Xtreme Power.
The walls in the deep end of an inground pool can be tricky to clean. For an automatic pool vacuum to tackle these, it needs to create a lot of suction and provide tons of traction. The MX6 from Zodiac uses a pool’s suction side to create a cyclonic force underneath that allows it to climb the deep end’s walls easily and keep them clean.
This vacuum comes with just over 30 feet of modular hose, allowing users to shorten or lengthen it to fit the pool’s needs. The MX6 works in above-ground pools, and it will stop one of its tracks to turn itself around when it can’t go any farther.
- Type: Automated suction-side
- Price: $$
- Additional features: Wall climbing
- Suitable for most pool surfaces, including concrete, vinyl, and fiberglass
- Great wheel traction for climbing walls
- Efficient low-flow operation cleans pools using less energy than other automated options
- Plastic hose sections can tend to damage easily over time
Get the Zodiac MX6 pool vacuum at Amazon or Leslie’s.
Many pool vacuums on the market are prone to malfunction if they scoop up large debris or leaves, but this cordless pool leaf vacuum from Pool Blaster offers the ideal solution for shoppers with pools located near a lot of foliage. The simple mechanism of this tool allows it to skim the pool area while suctioning any debris that it comes into contact with and collecting it in the heavy-duty mesh bag. Attach this lightweight vacuum head to a pool pole or use it by hand.
There is no need for suction hoses or power cables—the Pool Blaster uses eight AA batteries (included) as its power supply, providing about 3 hours of operating time. In addition, because this pool vacuum is self-sufficient, it does not add any water to the pool, so the chemical balance of the water remains unaltered.
- Type: Manual battery operated
- Price: $
- Additional features: Large mesh collection bag
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Simple battery operation and no cord to get tangled
- Does not alter pool pH levels since it doesn’t add water to the pool
- Not automated, so not as convenient to use
- Pool pole not included, which could make it easier to use
Get the Pool Blaster pool vacuum at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Leslie’s.
What to Consider When Choosing a Pool Vacuum
When shoppers are choosing the best pool vacuum cleaner for their needs, they need to consider various factors, including a pool’s size, the existing pump equipment, and the features they’d like in a vacuum. Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for the best pool vacuum cleaner.
Types of Pool Vacuums
Pool vacuums come in a few varieties, and some are extremely easy to use. Which style works for consumers depends on the types of pools they have and how involved they’d like to be in the cleaning process. Learning about the types of pool vacuums is the first step in choosing the right one.
Manual pool vacuums are the style that homeowners are probably most familiar with. These vacuum heads attach to the end of a long pole, and the user pushes them back and forth across the pool’s floor and walls.
Manual pool vacuums use the pool’s suction system to capture debris, and they’re useful in most types of pools. However, the deep end of an inground pool can be tricky to get to, as it requires a longer pole, and the user has to keep the vacuum in contact with the bottom of the pool. For this reason, the best manual vacuums have weighted heads.
Depending on which manual vacuum is purchased, it may have a bag that fills up with debris (pressure side), or it may use the pool’s filter (suction side). This simple design makes these vacuums more affordable.
Robotic vacuums are the next generation of pool-cleaning products. These handy vacuums are let loose in a pool and left to their own devices. They’ll clean the entire pool bottom, and some models even climb up the walls.
Robotic vacuums have two power sources: electric and battery. Electric robots use a long waterproof cord to keep the power flowing, while battery vacuums just need a charge between uses. Both types fill a bag or a cartridge, depending on the model, that the user has to empty.
Many robotic vacuums have programmable timers that determine when and how long the vacuum will run. The technology and capabilities of a robotic vacuum make it an expensive but convenient option.
Pressure-side vacuums use the water return line from the pool’s filtration system to power the wheels and vacuum the pool. Although a pressurized vacuum system may sound counterintuitive, it’s a common style used by most pool vacuums.
Pressure-side vacuums work thanks to the Venturi effect, which uses a pressurized water cycle to draw pool water in, trapping debris and particles. This effect is also what allows pressure-side vacuums to stick to the ground and walls of pools, depending on the models.
Pressure-side vacuums are affordable, but they may require pool owners to install an additional booster pump.
Suction-side vacuums use suction from the pool filter to power the wheels and vacuum the pool. These vacuums hook up to the suction side of the pump system, typically through the pool skimmer.
Because all filtered pools have some form of skimmer, these vacuums are easy to retrofit to a pool and don’t require additional pumps.
The one issue with suction-side vacuums is that they don’t come with debris bags or cartridges, as they rely only on the pool’s filter to remove debris. The filter can fill up and slow down the suction, so they do require some additional attention.
Pool Shape and Size
It’s best to match the size of the pool to the size of the vacuum. If pool owners have a small pool, there’s no sense in buying a large vacuum cleaner. It will be heavier than a smaller model, making it more difficult to use. They’ll also spend more money than necessary if they purchase a larger vacuum than the small pool requires.
Large-size pools, on the other hand, do require a bigger, better-equipped vacuum. In the case of battery-powered vacuums, shoppers need to choose one with a runtime long enough to cover the entire pool. Also, large pools collect a lot of debris, so they’ll need a vacuum cleaner that holds an ample amount of debris before needing to be emptied.
Skimmer Basket vs. Pump
The type of vacuum buyers choose may have a lot to do with their existing equipment. If they’ve got an easily accessible skimmer, the simplest and least expensive option is a suction-side vacuum cleaner. These come in self-propelled and manual options, are quick to install, and work well. The issue is that they use the pool’s filtration system to remove debris.
If pool owners have a powerful pump—or the skills to install an additional pump—they might be interested in a pressure-side vacuum cleaner. These vacuums collect debris in bags or cartridges, putting less of a load on the pool’s filter. The initial cost of installing a pump can be cost prohibitive, however.
Before setting out to unleash a vacuum on the pool, an owner needs to be sure there is enough hose to get the job done. Remember, the deep end of a pool may require more hose as the vacuum reaches the deepest depths.
Although most vacuums come with enough hose for an average pool, it’s a good idea to have an extra length on hand as well as some fittings to connect two ends. This way, if users find that a pool hose isn’t long enough, they can add a bit of length to make sure the vacuum can reach every corner of the pool.
Too much hose can be troublesome, as well. When a vacuum laps underwater, the hose can tangle on the surface. If the hose is tangling, the pool owner may consider cutting it shorter.
Wall-climbing vacuum cleaners can be a big help in keeping a pool sparkling clean. These machines use their vacuum and powered wheels to create enough suction to climb a wall, scrub dirt, and remove junk.
For owners of above-ground pools, however, it’s not worth buying a robotic vacuum. The right angle where the pool floor and the wall meet makes climbing impossible, as the wheels won’t make the transition to the walls, and they might lose the suction as they try to bridge the gap.
Fortunately, other options will work for above-ground pools. These vacuums look similar to a mop and travel using suction alone. They can maintain enough suction to transition from floor to wall, and they’ll work their way to most areas in a pool.
If consumers are of the “set-it-and-forget-it” mindset, they’ll want to find a robotic vacuum cleaner that has a programmable timer. They’re ideal if the homeowners are going on vacation and don’t want to come home to a ton of debris in the pool. However, they have to be left in the pool while the owners are gone, so homeowners may want to ask a friend to drop by and check on it every day or two.
Some of the best pool vacuums come with remotes that allow users to activate them from the poolside or even inside the house. These remotes are nice to have, as homeowners can start the vacuum in the morning so the pool is clean by the time the sun’s afternoon rays force the users to retreat for a dip.
When a hose tangles, the vacuum will lose its effectiveness. If the hose that comes with the vacuum doesn’t include a swivel, shoppers should purchase and install one themselves. A swivel allows the hose to flip and twist without tangling, which can be a big help, particularly for mop-style vacuums that tend to follow random paths.
Pool vacuums, like the pools they clean, come in many different shapes and sizes. Readers who feel as if they’re drowning in information might have some questions that need answering. Below are some frequently asked questions about the best pool vacuums.
Q. How often should I vacuum my pool?
Pool owners can vacuum the pool anytime they notice a lot of debris at the bottom. Regarding regular maintenance, they should vacuum the pool once a week.
Q. Is it OK to leave a pool vacuum in the pool?
Some manufacturers design their vacuums to spend days at a time submerged in a pool. Although it does potentially shorten the vacuum’s lifespan because of corrosives such as chlorine or salt, it’s generally OK to leave certain vacuums in the pool for days at a time. Vacuums that use a timer are best suited for these situations.
Q. Why is my pool dirty after I’ve vacuumed it?
There could be an issue with the pool filter. Although you’re removing the gunk from the bottom of the pool, it’s the filtration system’s job to clean the water. If the filter doesn’t remove these particles kicked up by the vacuum, they’ll sink to the bottom of the pool, giving it a dirty appearance again.
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