Large profile gives the vacuum plenty of interior space to collect debris while in use. Designed to work in murky waters. Good for both pool use and pond use for landscaping.
Bulky design makes it difficult to navigate around obstacles in the yard or near the pool.
Small vacuum unit uses siphon action to clean your pool. Has a significant amount of suction. No batteries or hoses required. Telescopic handle extends out to 7 feet for extra reach inside deeper pools.
Will not reliably work in shallow kiddie pools due to minimum depth requirements.
Vacuums quickly and easily. Attaches to a standard garden hose. Provides a constant supply of water to collect debris in the built-in collection bag. Easy to clean and reuse anytime you want.
Requires around 18 inches of water to work effectively.
Narrow profile of the vacuum uses an ergonomic handle for a comfortable grip while using it. Vacuum has enough power to remove larger debris from the pool without struggling. Battery powered.
Best used for small areas around the pool. Has a hard time with major use or cleanup projects.
Features interchangeable brush heads that dig into crusted debris, scrubbing it away as it vacuums. Vacuum is small and lightweight for comfortable use during long cleaning sessions. No hoses or cables required. Uses a rechargeable battery.
Brush head size covers a small surface area, requiring a lot of maneuvering for large scale cleaning.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
The most important task a pool owner has is to keep the water clean. Besides an undesirable appearance, dirt in the water is food for algae. If you create an environment that is inviting to algae, you will end up needlessly spending excessive amounts of money to solve a problem that could have been averted with the purchase of an affordable handheld pool vacuum cleaner.
A handheld pool vacuum cleaner is best for a small- to medium-size pool or pond. While larger units are powered by an outlet or a battery, handheld pool vacuum cleaners that are designed for spas and light-duty tasks are cleverly designed tools, some of which require no electricity to operate.
If you'd like to learn more about what to look for in a quality handheld pool vacuum cleaner, keep reading. If you just stopped by this page to quickly find the best model, consider one of the highly rated options we've spotlighted in this article.
A handheld pool vacuum cleaner is a little different than a typical pool vacuum cleaner. It is a standalone system that cleans your pool without engaging your filtration system. There are four basic ways to power a handheld pool vacuum cleaner: via a garden hose, manually, with a battery, or by using corded electricity.
The least-expensive handheld pool vacuum cleaners attach to a garden hose and rely on the Venturi effect to create the suction needed to clean debris from the bottom of your spa or pool. The Venturi effect is what happens when you place your thumb over the open end of a hose to dramatically increase the water's velocity. That increase in velocity can be used to create suction in an underwater environment. The suction, in turn, can be used to clean your pool.
Most manually operated handheld pool vacuum cleaners use a pumping action to physically draw the water and debris off the bottom of your spa and into a tube. There, the debris is contained. These vacuums are best for light-duty cleaning, such as spas or pool stairs.
A battery-powered handheld pool vacuum cleaner works much like a household upright vacuum cleaner. A motor creates suction, which pulls the dirt from the bottom of your pool. The battery in this type of a vacuum will last long enough to clean a small or mid-size pool. This type of vacuum tends to do a better job of containing smaller particles than a garden hose pool vacuum. Most battery-powered pool vacuum cleaners are sufficient for cleaning either in-ground or above-ground pools.
This type of handheld pool vacuum cleaner receives its power from an electrical outlet, so there are no time limits on how long it can run. It is the most powerful type of pool vacuum cleaner, and it is often used to clean ponds as well as pools. Physically, these units are larger, more cumbersome pool cleaners. Depending on your available storage space, this may be too big for your needs.
One of the biggest benefits of using a standalone pool vacuum cleaner is that it doesn't require your pool's filtration system to work. All the dirt and debris stay in the handheld unit, so there is no backwashing needed.
After you've determined which type of handheld pool vacuum cleaner best serves your needs, there are several other factors you will want to consider in order to find the perfect model.
If you purchase a handheld pool vacuum cleaner that only has a battery life of 20 minutes — but it takes you 30 minutes to clean your pool — you will not be happy with your decision.
Some batteries can charge in just a few hours, while others can take most of the day. If you prefer a handheld pool vacuum cleaner that charges quickly, that's what you should get.
For convenience, some handheld pool vacuum cleaners have an indicator light that lets you know when the battery charge on the unit is fading.
From larger twigs and leaves to fine silt and algae, each handheld pool vacuum cleaner has an upper and lower limit to what it can pick up. If you have a leaf problem in your backyard, for instance, you will want to get a unit that can handle larger debris. Of course, a pool cover can help mitigate problems before they occur.
Some handheld pool vacuum cleaners catch and hold the debris in a bag, which can let smaller particles through the mesh; others deposit it into a canister. If you have a preference, be sure to purchase the model that makes you happy.
Believe it or not, some handheld pool vacuum cleaners do not come with a pole, and they are not compatible with standard-size telescoping poles that you may already use for skimming. Make sure the unit you are considering purchasing contains a pole.
The part of the handheld pool vacuum cleaner that does the cleaning is called the head. Consider the shape of your pool and all those hard-to-reach corners. Then, find a model with a head that can get the job done.
It is important to get a handheld pool vacuum cleaner that is approved for the type of pool you have. One that is too powerful or sharp-edged for a vinyl pool, for example, may end up costing you a great deal of money in repairs.
Inexpensive: Budget handheld pool vacuum cleaners are available for less than $25. These plastic models use a garden hose to create suction, which pulls debris up into an attached bag.
Mid-range: From $25 to $50, you can find devices that are manually powered. These pole-like vacuums typically have a handle that you pull to suction the water and debris up into the unit. Moving into the $50 to $150 price range is where you begin to find decent cordless electric models that can handle a larger area than just pool steps or a spa. This is where you will likely find something that works best for you.
Expensive: Beyond $150, you get heavier-duty battery-powered models and larger units that resemble shop vacuums. These models are powered by plugging them into an electrical outlet.
Be sure the handheld vacuum you are considering is appropriate for use with the materials used in the construction of your pool (e.g. vinyl).
Depending on charging time, you may want to fully charge the batteries in your handheld pool vacuum cleaner the day before you plan on vacuuming your pool.
A handheld pool vacuum cleaner is comparable to the upright vacuum cleaner that you use in your home. However, instead of merely sucking dirt and debris up from the floor, a pool vacuum cleaner needs to work when it is submerged. Because of this added element, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind, including modifications to your technique that will allow you to get the most out of your handheld pool vacuum.
Start clean. Make sure your handheld pool vacuum cleaner bag or debris canister is empty before using.
Clean the shallow end first. When vacuuming your pool, start at the highest point (the shallow end), and work your way to the bottom (the deep end).
Use a slow and steady pace. Any fast movement will disturb the dirt and debris settled on the bottom of your pool, making it impossible to vacuum up.
Use long strokes. Long, even, slow strokes allow you to keep track of where you have cleaned. Plus, you won’t disturb debris this way.
Use overlapping strokes. Overlap your strokes a tiny bit to be sure you cover every inch of the pool.
Depending on your specific needs, you might be interested in a handheld pool vacuum cleaner that is a little different from the models we've spotlighted in this article. If that is the case, here are a few more options that may be a little better suited for your pool cleaning needs.
If you want a small unit designed for spas or inflatable pools, Jed Pool Tools has a handheld pool vacuum cleaner that is powered by a garden hose and works best for quickly snatching larger debris off of small sections of the bottom. Poolmaster's Big Sucker Swimming Pool Leaf Vacuum, on the other hand, is a large-mouthed pool vacuum cleaner that is designed to eradicate your leaf problem. If your pool is situated near trees, this inexpensive unit powered by a garden hose is one that you should consider. Lastly, Pool Blaster's Max Li Pool & Spa Cleaner is a mighty little lightweight machine powered by a lithium-ion battery that can provide up to an hour of continuous cleaning.
Q. How often do I need to vacuum my pool?
A. The baseline is once each week. If your pool gets hit hard after a rainstorm or a party and doesn't look as clean as usual, you don't have to wait for your designated vacuuming day to arrive. Likewise, if your pool is on a gradual cleanliness decline when vacuuming just once each week, you may have to step it up to once every five days. The idea is to create a schedule that keeps problems from even starting. If your pool doesn't look like it needs cleaning each week, however, you will still want to clean it once each week. Ideally, you never want your pool to look like it's "time for a cleaning," because that means dirt has had a chance to linger, which is precisely how problems begin.
Q. How long does it take to vacuum a pool?
A. As long as it takes. You don't want to rush when vacuuming because that stirs up dirt, meaning you won't be able to clean it off the bottom. If you have a small pool that you take excellent care of, vacuuming will probably take 15 to 25 minutes, depending on your level of patience. If your pool is visibly dirty, that time may be doubled.
Q. What happens if I don't vacuum my pool?
A. It gets dirty. A great deal of debris can and will settle to the bottom before making it into the filter, so you can't count on the filter alone to keep your pool clean. The more contaminants you have in your pool, the more chemicals you will need to add to keep the water sanitized. Additionally, algae feeds on the contaminants in a dirty pool. If you don't vacuum, you are creating the conditions that encourage algae to thrive.
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