The 6 Best Pool Cleaners of 2021

Keep your pool clean year round

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Our Top Picks
"It doesn’t rely on your pool’s pump, helping to extend the life of your pool’s system."
"You can schedule it to clean on a recurring basis."
Best for Small Pools:
Zodiac Baracuda G3 at Amazon
"A special valve automatically regulates water flow for better performance."
"Its self-adjusting turbine vanes deliver maximum suction and allow larger debris to be sucked up."
"Its simple design makes for far less upkeep."
"An ActivMotion Sensor allows the unit to adapt its path for better cleaning."

When shopping for a pool cleaner, you'll want to consider the size, depth, and style of your pool. Generally speaking, robotic cleaners are your best bet—minimal effort with a maximum pay-off. Those with large, deep pools might opt for a four-wheel (rather than two-wheel) cleaner, while manual cleaners are great for those on a budget.

Whatever the set-up, here are the best cleaners for your pool.

Best Overall: DOLPHIN Triton PS Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner

There are a few key characteristics you should look for in a pool cleaner—including powerful suction and a spacious filter bag—and the Dolphin Triton PS Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner, which can tackle pools up to 50 feet, ticks all of the necessary boxes. 

The Dolphin Robotic Pool Cleaner scrubs your pool’s floor, walls, and waterline by itself, saving you the hassle of manual scrubbing. It has an extra-large single-click basket that’s simple to empty, and its standard cleaning time is two hours. You can schedule it to automatically clean your pool every day, every other day, or every third day, and unlike other suction and pressure cleaners, this unit doesn’t rely on your pool’s pump, helping to extend the life of your pool’s system. 

Reviewers say the Dolphin Triton PS does a great job cleaning all surfaces in their pools—including benches and stairs—and many say the top-loading filter is incredibly easy to clean.

Expert Buying Tip

“I'd recommend most pool owners buy a model that has strong, consistent suction and a large filter bag. These two features combined will assure the cleaner is able to suck up plenty of debris.”—Dan Bailey, President, WikiLawn

Best Robotic: DOLPHIN Nautilus CC Plus Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner

Dolphin Pool Cleaner
Excellent

Robotic pool cleaners like the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus make pool maintenance a hands-off task, as they scrub down the floor and walls of your pool while you kick back and relax. This top-rated pool cleaner can handle pools up to 50 feet long, and it will leave your pool fresh and clean in just two hours. It has dual-scrubbing brushes and superior filtering capabilities, and it can even be scheduled to clean on a recurring basis. Plus, it will save you money, as it operates independently, not relying on your pool’s pump.

"Using it, I felt like one of the The Jetsons with an aquatic Rosie the Robot Maid, especially as this product requires just about nothing from its human companion. All I did was plug it in, carry it over to the pool, push the “on” button, and drop it in the water."Sarah Vanbuskirk, Product Tester

Best for Small Pools: Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner

A mid-priced model that comes recommended by experts is the Zodiac Baracuda G3 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner. This suction side cleaner hooks up to your pool’s pump, and it’s effective at picking up small- and medium-size debris from the floor, walls, and steps of your pool. It has a special valve that automatically regulates water flow for better performance, even with low HP pumps, and one of the major benefits is the Baracuda G3 is easy to set up and has just one moving part, minimizing its chances of breaking. Reviewers say this automatic pool cleaner works great on dirt and sand, but you will probably have to skim out larger debris by hand.

Best for Large Pools: Hayward W3PVS40JST Poolvergnuegen Pool Cleaner

If you have a larger pool, you may want to upgrade to the Hayward 4-Wheel Poolvergnuegen Pool Cleaner—the next model up from our pick for in-ground pools. This model can be used in pools that have deep ends up to 20 x 40’ and it has four-wheel drive to help it climb walls and navigate around obstacles. 

This suction vacuum needs to be hooked up to a pump with at least ½ HP power, and its self-adjusting turbine vanes deliver maximum suction and allow larger debris to be sucked up. It has multiple pre-programmed internal steering programs to deliver better coverage in larger pools, and reviewers say it works wonderfully and is well worth the price.

Best Budget: XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum Pool Cleaner

Xtremepower

High-tech pool cleaners can cost hundreds—and sometimes even thousands—of dollars, but you don’t have to empty your savings account to keep your pool sparkling clean. The XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum Pool Cleaner is a budget-friendly model that automatically picks up fine debris from your pool.

This cleaner is recommended for both in- and above-ground pools up to 16 x 34’, and it must be connected to a pool pump of 3/4 HP or higher. Because of its simple design, there are no wheels or gears that are prone to breaking, and the soft, thick base plate gently cleans pools of all shapes and sizes. However, this affordable pool cleaner does have some limitations—it can’t clean areas less than 3-feet deep, and it won’t pick up leaves and large particles, so you’ll need to skim those out yourself.

Best Splurge: Polaris F9450 Sport Robotic In-Ground Swimming Pool Cleaner Vacuum

If you want the best of the best, the high-end Polaris F9450 Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner will make it easier than ever to keep your pool pristine, thanks to its powerful suction, large filter canister, and four-wheel drive technology. This robotic pool cleaner can be used in pools up to 50 feet, and it cleans the walls, floors, and tile line with its pleated scrubbing brushes. 

The Polaris F9450 Sport has vortex vacuum technology that captures four times more debris than other cleaners, and it has an extra-large top-access filter than can hold four times the debris, allowing you to empty it less frequently. It features an ActivMotion Sensor that lets the unit automatically sense its position in the pool and adapt its path for better cleaning, all while reducing cord tangling, and reviewers are typically quite pleased with the machine’s performance, writing that it uses significantly less electricity than cleaners that hook up to the pool’s filtration system.

Even though the thought of hands-off pool maintenance is appealing, keep in mind that robotic pool cleaners aren’t necessarily the best choice for everyone: “A word of caution,” says Bailey, “If you don't have a pool screen or some way to keep out debris from the trees, a robotic cleaner probably won't be a good choice. There are a variety of things that can fall from trees, including sticks, leaves, even slugs—it's too much debris for any automated cleaner to handle.”

What to Look for in a Pool Cleaner

Manual vs. robotic Manual cleaners are much cheaper but require more grunt work. They are more suitable for above-ground pools and small inground pools. If you have a larger pool or are short on time, a robotic pool cleaner is a much more efficient way to get that crystal clear water.

Type There are two main types of automatic pool cleaners: pressure-side and suction-side. Pressure-side cleaners use water pressure to move along the bottom and sides of the pool and collect dirt and debris in a bag. These cleaners are ideal for leaves, twigs, and larger debris. Suction-side cleaners connect to your pool’s filtration system and are better for dirt, sand, and smaller debris.

Filtration Suction-side pool cleaners depend on a built-in filtration system to work properly, while robotic and pressure-side pool cleaners can operate autonomously. Pressure-side cleaners use a bag to collect debris, and robotic pool cleaners use filters that need to be changed periodically.

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