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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.” When researching the best pool cleaners, we considered factors such as cleaning coverage, ease of use, and overall price.
With those in mind, our top pick is the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360, which works on all pool surfaces, captures large and small debris, and cleans your pool in less than three hours.
Here are the best pool cleaners you can buy.
Best Overall : Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
Easy to install
Captures small and large debris
Cleans in three hours or less
Keeps debris out of pool filtration system
Small collection bag
Mesh screen clogs easily
What do buyers say? 81% of 2,900+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
The Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 is our top choice for cleaning your in-ground pool. Water pressure coming from the pool's return line powers this pressure-side pool cleaner, which you can use on all in-ground pool shapes and surfaces, including vinyl, pebble, tile, and more. Three jets furnish superior vacuuming power, and its large 2.25-inch inlet helps capture large and small debris. An included sweep hose helps it get into tight corners and steps. If desired, you can upgrade it to the brand’s TailSweep PRO for more thorough cleaning.
You can adjust the 31-foot hose to fit the size of your pool, and the all-purpose debris bag captures detritus such as leaves and pebbles, keeping them out of your pool's filtration system. Unlike other Vac-Sweep models, the 360 requires no additional booster pump, and it cleans your entire pool in three hours or less, so you get back into the water sooner! The all-wheel belt drive scrubs and vacuums the walls and floor of your pool, and its in-line backup valve frees the unit if it gets stuck.
There are a few small downsides worth noting. First, the filter bag is fairly small, so you may need to empty it frequently if your pool has a lot of large debris. Additionally, the hose opening's mesh screen needs regular wiping down; otherwise, the vacuum’s pressure suffers.
Dimensions: 20 x 10 x 23 inches | Weight: 14 pounds | Type: Pressure-side | Pool Type: In-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, walls
Best Robotic: DOLPHIN Nautilus CC Plus Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner
Suitable for pools up to 50 feet
Cleans pools in two hours
Built-in weekly scheduler
Not the most effective on stairs
Customer service could be better
The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is another popular robotic model that’s slightly more affordable. You can use it for in-ground pools up to 50 feet long (though some people say it works well in above-ground pools, as well), and 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.
The only real downsides of this robot vacuum cleaner are that it tends to get stuck on stairs, and the manufacturer's customer service isn’t the best.
Dimensions: 16 x 10 x 16 inches | Weight: 19 pounds | Type: Robotic | Pool Type: In-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, walls
"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."—Sarah Vanbuskirk, Product Tester
Best Budget: POOLWHALE Portable Pool Vacuum Cleaner
Simple to use
Includes aluminum pole
Compact and easy to store
No included hose
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.
This cleaner fits any standard garden hose, but as you may have guessed, the hose isn’t included. Be sure the vacuum is completely submerged before you turn on the hose—otherwise, it sprays water everywhere. Once you’re done cleaning, this vacuum along with the pole disassembles easily, making it compact to store.
Dimensions: 4.72 x 10.43 x 47.24 inches | Weight: 1.2 pounds | Type: Manual | Pool Type: Above-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors
Best Splurge: Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
Suitable for pools up to 50 feet
Cleans walls and waterline
Built-in weekly scheduler
Three types of filters
Cleaning your pool is totally hands-off when you have the Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner, a pricey robotic model, equipped with a variety of high-tech features. It’s intended to be used in in-ground pools up to 50 feet, and the plug-and-play design makes it easy to set up and start using. Not only does it clean the floor and walls of vinyl, fiberglass, and gunite pools but it also scrubs down the waterline to ensure every inch of your pool is sparkling clean.
Power comes from two motors and dual scrubbing brushes, yet the manufacturer claims it uses 90 percent less energy than suction and pressure cleaners. Its three types of filter—micro-cartridges, standard cartridges, and an oversized leaf/debris bag—more efficiently capture debris of all sizes, and you can purchase disposable debris bags for effortless maintenance. An anti-tangle cable ensures it doesn’t hang up while cleaning, and its smart navigation software helps cover every square inch of your pool. Plus, the weekly scheduler automatically starts cleaning at the desired date and time.
Dimensions: Not listed | Weight: 20.3 pounds | Type: Robotic | Pool Type: In-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, walls, water line
Best for In-Ground Pools: Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner
Cleans walls, floor, and steps
Works with low-speed pumps
Large fin disc for better suction
Limited breakage risk
Not ideal for large debris
Large pools need extra hose
You can keep your in-ground pool clean as a whistle with the Zodiac G3 Automatic Pool Cleaner. This suction-side cleaner has a large 36-fin disc that helps it stick to pool floor and walls, avoiding getting stuck on lights, drain covers, and fittings. The cleaner is compatible with any single-, two-, or variable-speed pump, and it automatically regulates water flow, allowing it to work well with low-speed pumps.
This pool cleaner features just one moving component, reducing the likelihood of breaking, and makes for easy maintenance. It hooks up to your skimmer or suction line without any special tools, and it comes with scuff-resistant hoses that don't mar the pool walls. However, remember that this cleaner is best for small- and medium-size debris, and it clogging is likely if it encounters too many leaves or sticks.
Dimensions: Not listed | Weight: 18 pounds | Type: Suction-side | Pool Type: In-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, walls, steps
Best Above-Ground: XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum Pool Cleaner
Suitable for pools up to 30 feet
Works on all pool materials
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. The suction-side cleaner cleans the walls and floor, and it works on all types of pool material, including concrete and vinyl. The gadget 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.
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
Covers ground quickly
Captures large debris
Easy to maneuver
Pole not included
As you may have noticed, many pool cleaners don’t perform well on large debris. If your pool neighbors a tree, you may want to invest the Poolmaster Big Sucker Leaf Vacuum. This inexpensive gadget is designed especially for leaves and other large debris, and it’s a great option to use in addition to a regular pool cleaner. The Big Sucker has a wide 15-inch diameter, with eight high-pressure jets underneath. That makes it easy to clean large pools in less time, When hooked to a garden hose, the water pressure pushes leaves into the removable, all-purpose collection bag, which is a breeze to empty.
This unit mounts on four multi-directional wheels, making it easy to push around the bottom of your pool. But it doesn’t come with a handle—you need to purchase that—or a garden hose. Just make sure to turn the hose off before removing this vacuum from your pool; water sprays out if the unit isn't submerged.
Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 2.64 inches | Weight: 1.82 pounds | Type: Manual | Pool Type: In-ground, above-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors
Best Suction: 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. This popular model is designed to be used on in-ground pools up to 16 x 32 feet, and it’s suitable for gunite, vinyl, fiberglass, pebble, and tile finishes. For best results, connect it at least to a half HP pump.
The Poolvergnuegen automatically navigates around the floor and walls for a more thorough clean. 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.
The cleaner even comes with three interchangeable throats that allow you to adjust its suction power.
Dimensions: 40.4 x 13.6 x 11.9 inches | Weight: 12 pounds | Type: Suction-side | Pool Type: In-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, walls
Best Manual: Pool Blaster Max Cordless Rechargeable Pool Cleaner
Easy to operate
No hoses or cords required
Up to one 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 unique 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 both a 10.5-inch vacuum head for large areas, as well as a crevice nozzle for getting into tight areas. It’s a great option for cleaning pool stairs and other hard-to-reach features.
The Pool Blaster Max has a large debris capture chamber that can hold everything from dirt and sand to leaves, twigs, and acorns, and it’s easy to open and empty the filter. You can use this pool cleaner by hand or attach it to a standard telescoping pool pole (not included).
Dimensions: 21 x 10.5 x 7.25 inches | Weight: 5.5 pounds | Type: Battery-powered | Pool Type: In-ground, above-ground | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, stairs
For a well-priced automatic pool cleaner that can capture large and small debris, go with the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure Inground Pool Cleaner. It cleans your in-ground pool in just three hours, and its filtration bag helps keep debris out of the pool filter, meaning less maintenance for you. 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.
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.
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.
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 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.