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 600 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 Baracuda G3 Advanced Suction Side Pool Cleaner
- BEST FOR ABOVE-GROUND: XtremepowerUS Automatic Pool Cleaner Vacuum
- BEST FOR IN-GROUND: Zodiac MX6 In-Ground Suction Side Pool Cleaner
- BEST FOR LEAVES: Pool Blaster Pool Leaf Vacuum & Skimmer
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. While a pressurized vacuum system may sound counterintuitive, it’s actually 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 you 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.
Since all filtered pools have some form of skimmer, these vacuums are easy to retrofit to your pool. They don’t require any additional pumps, either.
The one issue with suction-side vacuums is that they don’t come with debris bags or cartridges, relying 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.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pool Vacuum
When choosing the best pool vacuum cleaner for your needs, you’ve got some factors to consider, including your pool’s size, existing pump equipment, and the features you’d like in a vacuum. Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for the best pool vacuum cleaner.
Pool Shape & Size
It’s best to match the size of the pool to the size of the vacuum. If 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 that you choose may have a lot to do with your existing equipment. If you’ve got an easily accessible skimmer, the easiest and least expensive option is a suction-side vacuum cleaner. These come in self-propelled and manual options, but they’re quick to install and work well. The issue is that they use the pool’s filtration system to remove debris.
If you’ve got a powerful pump—or the skills to install an additional pump—you 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 you set out to unleash a vacuum on your pool, you need to be sure it has enough hose to get the job done. Remember, the deep end of your pool may require more hose as the vacuum reaches the deepest depths.
While most vacuums come with enough hose for your average pool, it’s a good idea to have an extra length on hand as well as some fittings to connect two ends together. This way, if you find your pool hose isn’t long enough, you can add a bit of length to make sure your vacuum can reach every corner of the pool.
Too much hose can be troublesome as well. When your vacuum does laps underwater, the hose can tangle on the surface. If your hose is tangling, you might consider cutting it shorter.
Wall climbing vacuum cleaners can be a big help in keeping your pool sparkling clean. These machines use their vacuum and powered wheels to create enough suction to climb a wall, scrubbing dirt and removing junk.
If you have an above-ground pool, 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.
Other options will work for above-ground pools, however. These vacuums look similar to a mop and travel using suction alone. They’re able to maintain enough suction to make the transition from floor to wall, and they’ll work their way to most areas in your pool.
If you’re of the “set it and forget it” mindset, you’ll want to find a robotic vacuum cleaner that you can program with a timer. They’re ideal if you’re going on vacation and don’t want to come home to a ton of debris in your pool. You do have to leave them in your pool while you’re gone, however, so you might want a friend to drop by and check on it every day or two.
Some of the best pool vacuums come with remotes that allow you to activate them from the poolside or even inside the house. These remotes are nice to have, as you can start the vacuum in the morning so that it’s clean by the time the sun’s afternoon rays force you to retreat for a dip.
When a hose tangles, your vacuum will lose its effectiveness. If the hose that comes with your vacuum doesn’t include a swivel, you should purchase and install one yourself. 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.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know what to look for in the best pool vacuums, here’s a look at some of 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 will keep your water sparkling clean while allowing you to kick back and enjoy your pool, without all the extra labor.
If you’re looking for an all-purpose pool vacuum, the Robotic Nautilus is a great choice. This robotic pool vacuum uses its own filter to keep your pool clean, leaving your 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 two hours. It uses CleverClean technology to scan the pool and 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 your pool’s slippery spots, leaving behind a clean surface that you can be proud of.
- Type: Robotic
- Price: $$$
- Additional features: Wall climbing, rotating scrubbers, and automated schedules
- Cleans 33-foot-long pools in 2 hours
- Automatically cleans floors and walls
- Adjustable cleaning schedule
- Doesn’t need a hose or pump
- Anti-tangle feature isn’t consistent
- Light weight may cause it to slip on wall corners
Get the Dolphin Nautilus CC robotic pool vacuum on Amazon.
Shoppers looking to remove the hassle of dealing with power cables and suction hoses on their pool vacuum will appreciate this cordless robotic option from Aiper. The Seagull 600 uses two scrubbing brushes on its underside to clean flat pools for up to 50 minutes per charge. When it has finished cleaning the pool, or when it runs low on battery, the self-parking technology will move the cleaner to the edge of the pool for easy retrieval.
This model is not designed for pools with multiple depths, but for those with flat pools either above- or inground, this little 6.6-pound lightweight machine provides a cost-saving pool cleaning solution that uses less than 0.03 kilowatt hours per use. Charging takes about 4 hours and provides up to 50 minutes of runtime, which is usually enough to clean pools up to 35 feet.
- Type: Automated cordless
- Price: $$
- Additional features: Auto parking
- Lightweight and compact
- Parks near the edge for easy retrieval
- No wires or pumps to deal with
- Does not climb walls or stairs
- Struggles with large leaves
Get the Aiper Seagull 600 pool vacuum on Amazon.
It doesn’t take a huge investment to keep your pool clean. If you don’t mind some manual labor, then the U.S. Pool Supply Weight Flexible Vacuum Head is a choice worth checking out. The 14-inch wide head flexes to fit the curves of in-ground pools. It’s also weighted, making it easier to remove dirt and grime from the trickiest corners, regardless of the pool’s depth.
It fits both 1 1/4-inch and 1 1/2-inch hoses, so it’s likely that your current vacuum hose will mate up without issue. While this vacuum head doesn’t come with a pole or vacuum, it will complement your current setup, providing top-notch cleaning from a manual vacuum.
- Type: Manual
- Price: $
- Additional features: Flexible head
- Manual, weighted vacuum head
- Wheels help move it along the bottom and sides
- Adjustable spring-loaded head for better angle during cleaning
- Best for concrete pools
- Spring may be looser than preferred
- Sometimes missing parts when shipped
Get the U.S. Pool Supply pool vacuum on Amazon.
Big pools require big vacuums. The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus can handle pools up to 50 feet in length, 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 thing.
It 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: $$$$
- Additional features: Smart navigation, wall climbing, and automated schedules
- Can set weekly cleaning schedules
- Automated cleaning and scrubbing
- Tangle-free cable
- Large cartridge filters
- May get confused with pool stairs
Get the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus pool vacuum on Amazon.
If owners prefer to keep a pool’s surface hose- and cord-free, the Aiper Seagull 1000 Cordless Robotic Pool Cleaner will do the trick. This battery-operated vacuum works for all small pools and will run for 90 minutes each time users set it out. The Aiper’s design includes suction vents on both ends of the vacuum, allowing it to travel back and forth in the pool without turning around. It has a large onboard filter tray that gathers debris without affecting performance.
It also has a scrub brush centered underneath the machine to scrub algae and trap debris until it’s sucked up. It does take up to 6 hours to charge, so be sure to have it plugged in before it’s needed.
- Type: Cordless robotic
- Price: $$
- Additional features: Self-parking, cordless and rotating scrubbing brush
- No cables to worry about
- Long battery life
- Suitable for most pool shapes
- Unable to clean pool stairs or walls
Get the Aiper Seagull 1000 pool vacuum on Amazon.
If owners have a pump to run a pressure-side pool vacuum, then 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 mid-size in-ground pools. It vacuums both the floors and the walls, and the sweeping tail helps remove algae and tough grime.
The large filtration bag can be emptied and reused, which eases the load on your pool’s filter system. Best yet, it comes with a backup valve that frees the unit from tangles, so you don’t have to worry about babysitting it while it cleans.
- Type: Automated pressure-side
- Price: $$$
- Additional features: Debris collection bag and sweep hose
- Cleans any style of in-ground pool in 3 hours
- Includes bag to collect all debris
- Includes 31-foot feed hose
- Collects large debris through 2.25-inch inlet
- A full filter bag can tip the unit to one side
- May take time to get the right suction
Get the Polaris pool vacuum on Amazon.
Options for self-propelled wall-cleaning vacuums are scarce for above-ground pools. The Zodiac Baracuda G3 is an exception, using your pool’s filtration system to create suction and travel throughout your pool. It can clean the floor, walls, and even the steps.
The 36-fin rubber disc allows the Barracuda to traverse lights and filters, as well as tuck itself into the curves or tight angles of an above-ground pool. It has just one moving part, making it a very low-maintenance option. It comes with roughly 40 feet of hose, which covers most medium-size pools without any issue.
- Type: Automated suction-side
- Price: $$
- Additional features: Cleans floors, walls, and stairs
- Capable of working with low-power pumps
- Quiet, automatic operation with only one moving part
- Self-adjusting flow valve to keep the pressure up
- Can’t handle large debris
- Hose may be a little short
Get the Zodiac G3 pool vacuum on Amazon or at Leslie’s.
The XtremepowerUS Automatic Pool Cleaner will free you from much of the cleaning work for your above-ground pool. This suction-side vacuum hooks to your pool’s existing filter and follows a random pattern around your pool, cleaning as it goes. It’s lightweight and easy to heft over the wall of an above-ground pool.
It comes with enough hose to cover a 16-foot by 32-foot pool, and the soft rubber fins allow it to gently bump along inside your pool, keeping it sparkling clean. It does require a 3/4-horsepower pump to operate, however, but with enough suction, it will climb and clean pool walls as well.
- Type: Automatic suction-side
- Price: $
- Additional features: Cleans floors, walls, and stairs
- Thick base for extra suction on any surface
- Hooks up to existing filtration system
- Automatically cleans pools up to 32 feet
- Hose doesn’t fit other generic attachments
- Doesn’t pick up larger than 1-inch debris very well
Get the XtremepowerUS pool vacuum at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Target.
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
- Great wheel traction for climbing walls
- Efficient low-flow operation
- Hose sections tend to damage easily
Get the Zodiac MX6 pool vacuum on Amazon or at 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 runs on eight AA batteries (included), 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
- Does not alter pool pH levels
- Not automated
- Pool pole not included
Get the Pool Blaster pool vacuum on Amazon or at Leslie’s.
Shoppers looking to automate their pool-cleaning chores will appreciate the feature-packed Dolphin Nautilus CC pool vacuum, which is able to climb walls and scrub away stubborn pool stains.
Those who would prefer a more budget-friendly option and don’t mind the manual labor should check out the flexible swivel head from U.S. Pool Supply pool vacuum, which attaches to a regular pool pole and can even clean uneven concrete surfaces.
How We Chose the Best Pool Vacuum
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.
Pool vacuums, like the pools they clean, come in many different shapes and sizes. If you still feel like you’re drowning in information, you might have some questions that need answering. Below are some frequently asked questions about pool vacuums.
Q: How often should I vacuum my pool?
You can vacuum your pool anytime you notice a lot of debris at the bottom. In regard to regular maintenance, you should vacuum your pool once a week.
Q: Is it okay to leave a pool vacuum in the pool?
Some manufacturers design their vacuums to spend days at a time submerged in a pool. While it does potentially shorten the vacuum’s lifespan due to corrosives like chlorine or salt, it’s generally okay 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?
This could be an issue with the pool filter. While 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.