How to Vacuum a Pool

Pool vacuum at edge of pool

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 3 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 - 3 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

A backyard pool provides hours of fun and exercise and is a magnet for friends and family. Unfortunately, unless you hire a company to give the pool weekly cleanings, it can also require hours of maintenance. One thing that must be done regularly is vacuuming to remove debris and algae.

While there are robotic pool cleaners that can do the work for you, manual vacuums come with their own benefits:

  • Manual vacuums are less expensive to purchase and maintain than robotic cleaners
  • Manual vacuuming is usually more effective at removing debris—especially algae
  • Manual vacuuming is much less expensive than hiring someone else to do it
  • Manual vacuuming is good exercise

While it is not difficult to learn how to vacuum a pool, it does take time. How long you'll spend cleaning varies greatly on the size of the pool and how often you clean it. Weekly cleaning is much better than letting the pool bottom turn green or brown before bringing out the vacuum.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Flexible pool hose
  • Telescopic pool pole
  • Flexible pool vacuum head


  • Pool skimmer net


How to Vacuum a Pool

  1. Skim the Surface

    Use a pool skimmer net to capture as much of the debris and leaves as possible that are floating on the surface of the pool. If you don't have a long-handled skimmer, a leaf rake will help bring the floaters to the side of the pool where you can scoop them out.

  2. Turn on the Pool Pump and Adjust the Filter Valve

    Turn on the pool pump and make sure the water is flowing properly through your pool filter. Check the filter, you may need to clean it out at the beginning of your vacuuming session.

    If the pool isn't very dirty, you can leave the filter valve set to "Filter." If the pool is heavily soiled with large amounts of debris, the filter should be set to "Waste." This will help move the debris more easily down the drain.


    When a pool filter valve is set to "Waste," the pool water level will drop during the vacuuming session. Have a garden hose on hand so you can refill as you clean to make sure that the water level stays high to help flush away the debris.

  3. Assemble the Vacuum

    Attach the vacuum head to the end of a telescopic pool pole. Make sure that you have a pole that is long enough to reach the center of the pool easily. Attach one end of the pool vacuum hose to the vacuum head.


    If you have problems with the vacuum hose coming loose from the vacuum head, use a hose clamp to keep it securely in place.

  4. Lower the Vacuum Head into the Pool

    Lower the vacuum head with the pole and hose attached into the pool so that the head rests flat on the floor of the pool.

    With the pool filter and pump running, place the loose end of the hose against a return jet in the pool to push water through the hose and remove all of the air. Bubbles will rise from the vacuum head. Wait until all of the bubbles have stopped to move the hose away from the return jet, but make sure the hose stays fully-submerged.

  5. Attach the Hose to the Skimmer Plate

    The loose end of the hose should be inserted into the skimmer plate (often called the skimmer disk or vacuum plate). Once the hose is attached, place the plate into the pool wall skimmer that is located directly over the suction vent.

  6. Start in the Shallow End of the Pool

    Always start at the shallow end of the pool and move the vacuum head slowly along the pool floor. To make sure that you don't miss any areas, work in a grid pattern and slightly overlap the edges of each sweep.

    Work slowly so that you won't kick up too much debris turning the water cloudy. If the water becomes so cloudy you can't see what you're doing, stop vacuuming and give the pool water a couple of hours to calm down and then start again.


    • If the vacuum loses suction during the cleaning session, remove the hose from the skimmer plate and hold it against the return jet again. You'll see the bubbles of air escape the vacuum head as the hose refills with water. Reattach the hose to the skimmer plate and continue vacuuming.
    • If the vacuum head feels stuck, turn off the pool pump and reposition the head. You may need to remove large pieces of debris from the pump strainer before turning the pump back on.
  7. Stow the Vacuuming Gear

    When the pool is clean, disconnect the hose from the skimmer plate. Check the pump and filter valve and return them to their normal settings. If you have a sand filter, backwash it when you've finished vacuuming.

    Disconnect the hose from the vacuum head and drain the trapped water into the pool. Disconnect the pool pole from the vacuum head and store the components.