The 8 Best Pool Vacuums for 2023
Swimming pools don't clean themselves. But a great pool vacuum can make cleaning a pool a lot easier and faster.
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Buying a Pool Vacuum
“Remember to start the robot today,” reads the text from my husband. There’s nothing Orwellian, or even futuristic about his request, and sadly, I do not have a robot that helps clean my house. But we do have a pool robot! It’s an automatic vacuum that cleans our in-ground pool.
Keeping your pool free of dirt and debris is an essential part of cleaning and sanitizing it for your family and ensuring your pool’s longevity. However, to the dismay of homeowners everywhere, swimming pools are not self-cleaning!
Fortunately, pool vacuums, whether automatic or manual, make the task easier. You can spend a bundle on a high-tech model, stay old-school (and low-cost) with a handheld vacuum, or find a happy medium with a mid-range model.
As you shop for the best pool vacuum for you, keep the following considerations in mind:
- Is the vacuum suitable for your pool type? Some types of pools, such as above-grounds or those with vinyl liners, might need a less robust vacuum. And if you have a large pool and you’re looking at automatic vacuums, select one that’s large enough to handle the pool’s capacity.
- How hard do you want to work? If vacuuming the pool on a sunny afternoon sounds like a pleasant pastime, then you might consider a manual vacuum. On the other hand, if you like the idea of pressing a button and walking away, an automatic vacuum is for you. Of course, the answer to how much effort you want to put in also relates to …
- Budget. The least expensive pool vacuum on our list costs less than $20. The most expensive is more than $1,500. While most pool vacuums fall midway between these extremes, setting a budget before you shop helps narrow your choices.
Best All Around Pool Vacuum
We chose Hayward’s The PoolCleaner automatic pool vacuum as our best all-around pick for several reasons, not the least of which is its mid-range price (currently $449 on Amazon). That puts it within reach of many pool owners.
It drew mostly five-star reviews on Amazon, including from consumers who say their pool services recommended The PoolCleaner. The device attaches to your existing pool pump and filter and sucka debris into the skimmer. Programmed to turn every eight to 10 feet, it’s recommended for pools up to 16×32 feet.
A few negative reviews say The PoolCleaner will not climb stairs and is too bulky to get into corners.
Best Budget Pool Vacuum
Pool vacuums don’t come more budget-friendly than the PoolWhale, which we found at Walmart for $17. The simple, manually operated device attaches to a garden hose (not included). The force of water creates a suction, pulling debris into a mesh bag.
There are a few drawbacks. The pole attachments are only five feet long,and the vacuum will only suck up debris, not scrub the pool surface. But at this price, it’s a good choice for cleaning above-ground pools, spas and smaller in-ground pools.
Best In-Ground Pool Vacuum (Mid-Range)
The simplicity of design, hard-working features and medium price ($349 on Amazon) make the Zodiac MX6 a smart choice for in-ground pools, although it works for larger above-ground pools, too.
It hooks up to your existing pool skimmer or vacuum line and gets its power from your pool pump. With heavy-duty, tank-like treads and a scrubby brush, it sweeps the pool surface and cleans as it vacuums. While it’s good at climbing walls, some users say it gets stuck on pool steps.
Best Above-Ground Pool Vacuum (Manual)
If you’re content to sweep your above-ground pool, spa or other water feature by hand and probably get wet in the process, check out this affordable handheld pool vacuum from Efurden.
It’s cordless, and the entire unit must be submerged in water to work. But alone or with the included brush head, it does a good job of cleaning small pool areas.
While it comes with five and three-quarters feet of telescopic arm, many Amazon users say it works better and maneuvers easier if you’re in the pool with it. Note that it takes seven to eight hours to charge and runs for up to 60 minutes when fully charged.
Best Automatic Pool Vacuum
Dolphin is a marquee brand of robotic pool cleaners, and their products appear on the top of many best-of lists. Priced at $899, the Nautilus CC Plus is on the lower end of the Dolphin range, it delivers exceptional vacuuming and cleaning while taking care of fine debris.
Dolphin vacuums come with their own power unit, for which the manufacturer recommends installation on a caddy (sold separately).
The Nautilus Plus is programmable, but the filters (which catch a lot of gunk!) must be cleaned with a hose. We own a similar model of Dolphin and we’re satisfied overall. The a 50-foot cord doesn’t tangle and covers our large pool in a single cycle. Complaints? The vacuum gets hung up on steps from time to time, and it’s heavy to pull out of the pool.
Best Splurge Pool Vacuum
This is the Mercedes of pool robots, and it’s priced accordingly.
The Dolphin Sigma is widely considered to be Dolphin’s most advanced vacuum, and its features are impressive. It comes with three commercial-grade motors, an onboard navigation system that ensures it covers every inch of the pool up to and including the waterline, and filters for fine particles and larger debris.
It comes with a Wi-Fi option so you can activate it and monitor its progress while you’re away. You still have to empty the filters by hand between uses, though. As with other Dolphin robots, the caddy is sold separately.
Best Cordless Pool Vacuum
The Pool Blaster Max HD handheld, cordless pool vacuum combines the ease of a hose- and cord-free model with at least some of the potency of a robot cleaner. A powerful, fast-charging lithium battery provides added suction power when compared to other Pool Blaster models.
Its triangular head reaches into corners and the scrub brush loosens debris, though it requires some manual effort. As with other cordless models, it must be fully submerged when running. One drawback: It doesn’t come with a telescopic pole, though any one-inch-diameter pool pole will work.
Best Mid-Range Pool Vacuum
We like the idea of spending a sensible amount of money for extra-large performance from a product, and the Zodiac G3 Suction Pool Cleaner fits the bill. It essentially has one moving part — a rotating, disc-style brush that scrubs pool surfaces, including sides, as it sucks up debris via the skimmer or vacuum line.
As a cleaner, you can just turn it on and walk away, so it’s a good half-step between manual vacuums and pricey robots. The 50-foot hose allows it to clean large pools, although several Amazon users say it won’t climb or clean steps. Note that this tool can be only be used on vinyl pool liners in perfect condition, with no wrinkles, cracks or folds.