If you own a pool, you need some type of pool cleaner to keep your swimming space clean and free of debris. “When selecting a pool cleaner, pool owners should first consider their surrounding area—where is their pool located? What is the pool’s layout?” recommends Stewart Vernon, COO and founder of America’s Swimming Pool Company. “Next, consider how much time you’re willing to put into cleaning your pool or your vacuum.”
We purchased 21 pool cleaners of all kinds and sent them to volunteer testers, who used them to clean their home pools for several weeks. Our testers made note of these key factors for each pool cleaner: cleaning coverage, ease of use, helpful features, and overall value.
Our top pick is the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Vacuum Cleaner because it's equipped with mapping technology to learn each pool's layout for an efficient cleaning cycle. It can also be scheduled to automatically clean pools on a specific cadence.
Here are the best pool cleaners you can buy.
DOLPHIN Nautilus CC Plus Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner
Suitable for pools up to 50 feet
Cleans pools in two hours
Built-in weekly scheduler
The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is our best overall pick because it quickly cleans pools up to 50 feet long, and it’s surprisingly lightweight to place and remove from the pool. This model was previously our best robotic pick, and after an additional round of testing, it stood out even more among the competition. Our previous tester's sentiments still ring true to its performance: "Using it, I felt like one of '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." While this model is designed for in-ground pools, some users report it works well in above-ground pools, too. Our home tester was thrilled that this model cleans most pools in just two hours. Plus, you don’t have to lift a finger during operation—the robot automatically scrubs the floor and walls.
During testing, we found that this pool cleaner was extremely easy to set up, just needing to be turned on and dropped into the pool. The robot scans and maps the entire pool for more efficient cleaning, and its tangle-free swiveling cable ensures it doesn’t get stuck while working its way around. We found that the cleaner picks up an impressive amount of grime and dirt, and our tester loved that you can put the machine on an automatic schedule, saving you the hassle of starting it manually.
Our tester also noted that this cleaner easily climbed the walls of their older style pool, which are set at a 90-degree angle and have very little curvature between the floor and sides. They had also previously purchased a used Dolphin M400 model last year, and said the Nautilus was overall easier to use, faster at cleaning, and better at tracking with the floor. Our tester’s only concern with this product was the price point, which they said is justifiably daunting. However, they said if they had known just how effective the cleaner was, they would have splurged on it years ago.
Price at time of publish: $899
Dimensions: 16 x 10 x 16 inches | Weight: 19 pounds | Type: Robotic | Pool Type: In-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, walls
POOLWHALE Portable Pool Vacuum Cleaner
Simple to use
Compact and easy to store
Does not need to attach to a filter
Included pole is short
Sprays water if not completely submerged
If you want to keep things simple, this manual pool cleaner is a budget-friendly option that’s incredibly easy to use. The cleaner comes with a brush head and mesh debris collection bag, and all you have to do is hook the vacuum up to a garden hose. When you turn on the water, the pressure from the hose creates a suction that pulls leaves and other debris into the bag. You can then use the included aluminum pole to guide the vacuum around the floor of your above-ground pool; however, our tester noted that the included pole is rather short, so she opted to switch to a longer pole she already had.
This cleaner fits any standard garden hose, but we recommend waiting to turn the hose on until after you've submerged the vacuum. Otherwise, the vacuum sprays water everywhere. Our tester said the filter bag was more difficult to empty because it had to be hosed down to completely clear all of the debris. Once you’re done cleaning, this vacuum along with the pole disassembles easily, making it compact to store. Despite a few design issues, we still recommend this pool cleaner as an affordable option that's effective at cleaning both large and small debris.
Price at time of publish: $17
Dimensions: 4.72 x 10.43 x 47.24 inches | Weight: 1.32 pounds | Type: Manual | Pool Type: Above-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors
Dolphin Nautilus CC Supreme WiFi Operated Robotic Pool Cleaner
Remote steering and monitoring
Fast automatic cleaning cycles
Three scrubbing brushes
Not as effective on steps
Misses spots during automatic cleaning cycles
If you want a pool cleaner with all the bells and whistles, the Dolphin Nautilus CC Supreme Wi-Fi Operated Robotic Pool Cleaner is a worthwhile investment. While this pool cleaner is a robotic option, we think it’s worth splurging on, especially if you have a larger pool with different levels and tight corners. It’s suitable for in-ground pools up to 50 feet long, and needs about one-and-a-half to three-and-a-half hours to complete a cleaning cycle, depending on your selection. Unlike less-expensive models, this robot also cleans the pool’s walls and waterline, ensuring every inch is free from dirt and algae. Its two-filter system captures all manner of debris and keeps it out of the water.
Our tester said they enjoyed using this robot’s corresponding app to keep up with its cleaning progress and to track its location in their pool. They tried this robot’s pre-programmed standard and enhanced cleaning times and noted that the cleaner was able to get their pool about 95 and 99 percent clean, respectively. For the remaining debris, they enjoyed using the remote steering to direct the robot to the small spots it missed throughout the pool.
This pool cleaner is equipped with three powerful scrubbing brushes that provide a deeper clean, and smart navigation software that scans the pool to create an efficient cleaning route. The tangle-free cable prevents the unit from getting stuck, and the unit features an automatic weekly timer and an indicator light that tells you when the filter is full. Although this model is effective at climbing walls and cleaning the waterline, our tester did note that it cannot clean steps, which are too narrow for it. However, it did manage to clean their wider sun ledge.
Price at time of publish: $1,500
Dimensions: Not listed | Weight: 24 pounds | Type: Robotic | Pool Type: In-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, walls, waterline
Pool Blaster Max Cordless Rechargeable Pool Cleaner
Easy to operate
No hoses or cords required
Up to 1 hour runtime
Ideal for cleaning stairs
Pole not included
If you don’t mind pushing around a pool cleaner by hand, the Pool Blaster Max is a cordless, battery-powered option that comes at a reasonable price. This rechargeable pool cleaner requires no hoses or cords, and its battery delivers up to an hour of runtime per charge—enough to clean even the largest pools. The tool comes with a 10.5-inch vacuum head for large areas, which also makes it easier to maneuver than traditional wider rolling vacuum heads. It’s also a great option for cleaning pool stairs and other hard-to-reach features thanks to the head's arrow shape.
While our tester said they weren't initially impressed by this pool cleaner's design—noting that it was constructed of cheap feeling plastic—they were surprised by its ability to handle both small and large debris. It has a large debris capture chamber that can hold everything from dirt and sand to leaves, twigs, and acorns, but the filter does require some pressurized hosing down to completely clean it out. We recommend purchasing a standard telescoping pool pole because a pole is not included with this vacuum, although it does have a handle for hand-held use.
Price at time of publish: $218
Dimensions: 15.5 x 6.5 x 7.5 inches | Weight: 5.5 pounds | Type: Battery-powered | Pool Type: In-ground, above-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, stairs
Lalapool Swimming Pool Brush
Wide sweep area
Easy to attach to any pole
Extension pole not included
Doesn't remove dirt from water
This Swimming Pool Wall and Tile Brush from LALAPOOL may look like a non-essential pool cleaning tool, but after using it in his pool for several weeks, our tester argues every pool owner should have it on hand. This pool brush is 18 inches wide and has sturdy nylon bristles that help scrape algae and other build-up off the floors, walls, steps, and waterline of in-ground pools. It can also be used to gently remove buildup on the lining of above-ground pools. Our tester appreciated how easy this brush is to use; however, it does not come with an extension pole, so you will have to purchase one, if you don't already have one in your pool supply closet.
This brush head clips into any extension pole and is angled at 45 degrees to make it easy to scrape walls and steps alike. While this brush is very effective at removing excessive buildup on your pool's interior, keep in mind that it is not a vacuum. It will not remove any dirt or debris from the water, like a pool vacuum will. However, we still believe this brush is a great option for pool owners who are looking for an affordable tool that effectively removes stubborn algae.
Price at time of publish: $16
Dimensions: 5.3 x 18 x 1.7 inches | Weight: 0.65 pounds | Type: Brush | Pool Type: In-ground, above-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, walls, steps, waterline
Hayward W3PVS20JST Poolvergnuegen Pool Cleaner
Ideal for small and medium pools
Ridged wheels improve climbing
Maintains suction on uneven surfaces
Includes interchangeable throats
Doesn’t clean corners well
Suction-side pool cleaners, like the Hayward Poolvergnuegen, rely on the pool’s pump to suction up debris via a hose that connects to the skimmer. The Hayward Pool Cleaner impressed our tester with its quick set-up time and easy operation. On top of not requiring any charging or additional power sources—aside from your pool’s filter— this cleaner also has a self-steering mechanism that turns it every 8 to 10 feet. Our tester did note that this cleaner took about 7 hours to completely clean their 20- x 40-foot pool, which is slightly larger than the recommended 16- x 32-foot maximum size.
We recognize that this pool cleaner is still more expensive than what some may prefer to pay. However, if you consider the amount of time this cleaner saves you compared to manual models, we think the price tag for this model is justified. It’s suitable to use on gunite, vinyl, fiberglass, pebble, and tile finishes. For best results, connect it at least to a half HP pump. Ridged wheels allow it to navigate over drains and up walls, and adjustable roller skirts help maintain suction on uneven surfaces. Self-adjusting turbine vanes collect large debris without clogging, and it comes with three interchangeable throats that allow you to adjust its suction performance for different debris sizes.
Price at time of publish: $449
Dimensions: 40.4 x 13.6 x 11.9 inches | Weight: 12 pounds | Type: Suction-side | Pool Type: In-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, walls
Polaris VRXIQ+Robotic Pool Cleaner with iAquaLink Control
Smart mapping technology
70-foot long tangle-reducing cable
For an all-around smarter pool-cleaning experience, the Polaris VRXIQ+ is Wi-Fi enabled, allowing you to control it from the iAquaLink app. Using your smartphone, you can start or stop the cleaner, create customized schedules, and even see when the filter needs cleaning. Plus, this high-end robot cleans even the largest in-ground pool, thanks to its 70-foot tangle-reducing cable. The four-wheel-drive helps this cleaner to clean the walls, floor, waterline, and even steps. Thanks to its rear water-cleaning system, it easily blows debris off stairs and out of tight corners, so the machine can suck it up. Although this model is one of the most expensive in this roundup, we found its accessories and design, including the convenient storage caddy and the patented Easy Lift removal system, which drives the robot up the wall to be easily removed, make it worth the splurge.
It’s important to note that our at-home tester was using this cleaner in an above-ground pool, so she could not test its wall, step, or waterline cleaning ability. All in all, though, she was impressed by this cleaner’s capacity, which easily handled her pool’s floor that was covered in algae and leaves. She noted that this cleaner will suggest an auto-run feature for its first cleaning in your pool, which allows it to “learn” your pool’s layout for future optimized cleanings. This model is quite heavy, weighing 21 pounds, but our tester noted that it was still relatively easy to lift out of the pool. Despite its weight, she didn’t think it would be difficult for older users to operate, thanks to the Easy Lift technology, which aids in most of the exertion of lifting from the bottom of the pool.
Price at time of publish: $1,600
Dimensions: 12 x 17 x 19 inches | Weight: 21 pounds | Type: Robotic | Pool Type: In-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, walls, steps, waterline
XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum Pool Cleaner
Suitable for pools up to 30 feet
Adjustable hose length
Can’t pick up leaves, other large debris
This affordable automatic pool cleaner from XtremepowerUS is a top choice for above-around pools, as it comes with enough hose to clean up to 30 feet. Although we did not get a chance to test this cleaner in a real-world environment, it promises to clean walls and the floor. The cleaner hooks up to your existing filtration system, and it requires at least a 1HP pool pump to function properly.
The hose for this cleaner comes in 10 segments, allowing you to adjust the length to fit your pool, and it navigates around your pool on its own, reducing your workload. The cleaner works well on dirt, algae, and other fine particles, but it’s not meant for large debris such as leaves and sticks. Additionally, it can be somewhat complex to set up, as you may need to adjust the diverter and suction power. But once you get everything on the right settings, you can simply sit back and watch it clean.
Price at time of publish: $96
Dimensions: 41 x 6 x 18 inches | Weight: 10 pounds | Type: Suction-side | Pool Type: In-ground, above-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, walls
Best for Leaves
Poolmaster 28300 Big Sucker Swimming Pool Leaf Vacuum
Captures small twigs and leaves
Easy to maneuver
Pole not included
Not best for tiny debris
While many pool cleaners don’t perform well on large debris, the Poolmaster Big Sucker Leaf Vacuum easily handles debris from trees like twigs and leaves. This inexpensive cleaner is designed especially for leaves and other larger debris, and it’s a great option to use as a secondary cleaner. While this vacuum did not perform well at picking up extremely large debris, such as branches, it easily picked up mid-size leaves and twigs in our tester's pool.
It has a wide 15-inch diameter, with eight high-pressure jets underneath, which aid in cleaning large pools in less time. When hooked to a garden hose, the water pressure pushes leaves into the removable, all-purpose collection bag, which can be emptied into your grass. Our tester recommends using a garden hose to fully clear out the debris bag.
This unit mounts on four multi-directional wheels, making it easy to push around the bottom of your pool. However, it doesn’t come with a pole, so we recommend finding a pole appropriate for your pool's depth. Similar to our best manual pick, this vacuum must be fully submerged before you turn on the hose. Although our tester was slightly disappointed that this vacuum couldn't handle larger leaves, it still performed well at picking up medium-sized debris that a robot vacuum or standard suction-side vacuum may struggle to pick up.
Price at time of publish: $31
Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 2.64 inches | Weight: 1.82 pounds | Type: Manual | Pool Type: Above-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors
Aiper Seagull 1000 Cordless Robotic Pool Cleaner
Adjusts cleaning angles for pool shape
Can run while people are swimming in pool
Lightweight and compact design
Debris falls out when lifting cleaner out of pool
Unlike most robotic cleaners, which are powered via a cord, the Aiper Seagull 1000 robotic cleaner runs on a rechargeable battery that provides up to 90 minutes of runtime per charge. All you have to do is drop the robot into your above- or in-ground pool, and it navigates from wall to wall, sucking up dirt, sand, debris, and more. The cleaning angle is also adjustable, so you can find a path that works best for your pool shape. Our tester noted that this cleaner did an exceptional job of cleaning silt and other debris off the bottom of their pool, but she noticed that it had a hard time navigating corners and the curve in her kidney-shaped pool. She said finding the correct cleaning angle was slightly tricky, but figured it out after some trial and error. However, she appreciated that it was small enough that it could operate in the pool while her family was swimming in it.
When the AIPER robot is done cleaning or running low on battery, it self-parks near a pool wall, allowing you to pull it out using the included hook. Our tester said some debris did fall out of this pool cleaner's filter while she removed it. She also said that it struggled to navigate the deep end of their pool and seemed to get stuck down there, which meant it didn't always clean their entire pool. However, she noted that it likely would perform better in a pool with a shallower deep end, as the product is designed to climb inclines up to 15 degrees. During the 90-minute runtime, she emptied the cleaner’s filter about three times because the instructions did not offer a specific cadence for how often it should be emptied. The unit recharges in just four to six hours, and it can clean an in-ground pool up to 17 x 50 feet on a single charge. It might not do as thorough a job as some more expensive models, but it’s a great budget-friendly model for light everyday pool maintenance.
Price at time of publish: $390
Dimensions: 10.6 x 15.7 x 14.2 inches | Weight: 12.13 pounds | Type: Robotic | Pool Type: In-ground, above-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors
Thanks to modern technology, pool cleaning is much easier with robotic models available. Our tester's favorite pool cleaner by far was the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Vacuum Cleaner, which can clean most pools in just two hours. It's equipped with smart mapping technology to scan your pool's unique shape for an effective and optimized cleaning routine. We recognize this robotic model is rather expensive, so if you want a budget-friendly option, consider the POOLWHALE Portable Pool Vacuum Cleaner. While you have to push it around by hand, it’s surprisingly effective for such a small and lightweight model.
How We Tested the Pool Cleaners
To test the best pool cleaners on the market, we sent 21 pool cleaners—robotic, manual, suction-type, and pressure-type—home to volunteer testers who used the cleaners for several weeks in their own pools. For all the pool cleaner types, we asked our testers to note how long it took to set up the cleaner before dropping it in the pool. For suction-side and pressure-side pool cleaners, testers were asked to closely monitor automatic cleaners for their cleaning path and also time the cleaning cycle. They closely monitored whether the cleaning path was methodical and if the cleaner missed any large sections of the pool. If they were testing a manual cleaner, we asked our testers to consider the ease of use of the cleaner. They also noted whether the cleaner required lots of physical exertion or an extensive amount of time to thoroughly clean their entire pool. Pool cleaner brushes and nets were similarly evaluated based on their ease of use, comfort to hold, and duration of use.
If a robotic cleaner had smart features, we also asked testers to note the ease of pairing the cleaner to their Wi-Fi, the user experience of the app, and the remote capabilities of the cleaner. As testers placed the cleaner into the pool, we asked them to start a stopwatch and track how long the cleaner took to clean their entire pool.
Testers also made note of how easily the robotic cleaners navigated walls, waterlines, steps, ladders, and sun shelves, if applicable. They also noted whether the cleaner had a methodical movement, especially if it was equipped with pool mapping technology. After completing at least two separate cleanings, about a week or so apart, we asked our testers to rate the cleaners on their design, ease of use, effectiveness, and value. We also asked them to consider whether they would recommend the cleaner to a friend or family member, and whether they'd consider purchasing the cleaner themselves.
What to Look for in a Pool Cleaner
You'll encounter three main styles of pool cleaners: suction, pressure, and robotic. Each has its own benefits, and you need to decide which is best for you.
“Suction cleaners are the most affordable option because they rely on your pool’s pump to suction up debris with a long hose that connects to the skimmer,” says Stewart Vernon, COO and founder of America’s Swimming Pool Company. “Therefore, you’ll need to spend more time cleaning out your filter system and skimmer. This type of cleaner uses a random pattern to continuously clean the pool ground and wall sides. Although cheaper initially, suction cleaners may add to your electric bill with each use by using your pump system.”
“Pressure cleaners are moderately priced and also rely on your pool’s pump and filter, which can also increase your electric bill,” he says. “Unlike the suction cleaner, pressure cleaners use a booster pump to increase pressure. As the water is pressurized, it powers the wheels to create a suction that cleans the pool ground and walls. These cleaners commonly have their own bags, which is a plus for your pool’s filter."
“Robotic cleaners are the priciest, yet the easiest pool cleaners to use and can prolong the life of your pool’s filter,” Vernon explains. “They use software to determine how to clean your pool and do not need to be attached to a pump or circulation system."
Automatic vs. Manual
Pool cleaners come in automatic and manual models. The former clean your pool on their own, automatically navigating around the floor and walls. While pressure and suction pool cleaners can be automatic, robotic cleaners typically are best at ensuring complete coverage, as their electronic components map out your pool and clean it methodically.
The downsides of automatic pool cleaners are they typically take a long time, and can become stuck if not supervised. Our tester noted that our best smart pick, the Aiper Seagull 1000 Cordless Robotic Pool Cleaner, one of the most affordable robotic pool cleaner models on the market, did struggle a bit to navigate the deep end of a pool. However, it was still highly effective at removing silt, dirt, and other debris from the pool floor.
Manual pool cleaners require you to guide them around the pool. Generally, these models are much more affordable, but you have to do the work.
Pool cleaners are designed to be used on different surfaces. Most clean the floor and walls, though some are designed only for floor use. But you may need to look for a specialty model if you want it to clean stairs, covers, and/or the waterline. Additionally, if your pool has tight corners or curved edges, look for a cleaner that can handle those areas. Our best splurge pick, the Dolphin Nautilus CC Supreme Wi-Fi Operated Robotic Pool Vacuum Cleaner, has three automatic cleaning cycles that our tester loved. This model also specializes in cleaning pool waterlines and sun ledges.
How do pool cleaners work?
Pool cleaners are designed to capture dirt, dust, pollen, leaves, bugs, algae, and other debris that affect the water's clarity and cleanliness. Automatic pool cleaners are equipped with hoses that connect to your pool’s skimmer or to a built-in vacuum line, if available. The pool vacuum traverses the pool floor and walls, suctioning up debris and sending it through the hoses to the skimmer or the vacuum line. Steering patterns and mapping ability vary by model, with some pool cleaners working on a more randomized cleaning pattern, and more advanced models following a programmed route.
How do robotic pool cleaners work versus regular pool cleaners?
While regular automatic pool cleaners rely on your pool’s skimmer system or a dedicated suction line, robotic pool cleaners connect to their own power supplies and have onboard filtration. This makes them a good choice for a pool lacking a powerful pump to propel the pool cleaner, or if you don’t want to worry about frequently backwashing your filter system to remove the debris your pool cleaner suctions up.
How long do pool cleaners last?
Many factors affect the longevity of a pool cleaner, including how you maintain and store it. Prolonged exposure to chlorine and pool chemicals can shorten a cleaner' useful life; most manufacturers recommend that you remove the unit from the pool after each cleaning cycle. If you’re willing to replace parts on your pool cleaner, such as the foot, cleaning disc, head, and other miscellaneous components, you may be able to use the same pool cleaner for five or more years.
Why Trust the Spruce?
This article was updated by Emma Phelps, an Updates Writer for The Spruce, who has several years of experience writing about topics such as home maintenance, home organization, and home design. For this roundup, Emma reviewed the testing results with editors to select the models that performed best in each category. Emma not only reviewed each pool cleaner model's online listing but also carefully considered the positive and negative feedback of testers who used the cleaners in their home pools. As a teen, Emma was a lifeguard for 5 summers at her neighborhood pool and has experience cleaning with both a pool brush and suction-side vacuum.
This article was originally written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce. While researching the different types of pool cleaners, she spoke with Stewart Vernon, COO and founder of America’s Swimming Pool Company for insights on how to select the best option for your pool. As she evaluated different products, she considered factors such as their setup, ease of use, versatility, and overall cost, aiming to select top-rated products at a wide range of price points to cater to different shoppers.