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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

14 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
152 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Best handheld pool vacuum cleaners

Last Updated August 2019

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.

Some of the handheld pool vacuum cleaners for smaller areas, such as spas and pool steps, are manual vacuums that require no battery power. Thus, they leave no carbon footprint.

Considerations

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.

Garden hose

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.

Manual

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.

Battery

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.

Corded electricity

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

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.

Features

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.

Battery life

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.

Charge time

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.

Charge indicator

For convenience, some handheld pool vacuum cleaners have an indicator light that lets you know when the battery charge on the unit is fading.

Size of debris

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.

Bag or canister

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.

Pole

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.

Head

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.

Type of pool

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.

Handheld pool vacuum cleaner prices

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.

EXPERT TIP

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).


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

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.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

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.

  • Take a break as needed. If you move too fast and agitate the water, making it cloudy, walk away for a bit to let the dirt settle. You can't effectively vacuum a pool when the debris has left the bottom.

Other products we considered

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.

One of the best times to schedule routine vacuuming is about an hour after routine brushing. This allows you to vacuum away what you previously brushed off.

FAQ

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.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Austin
    Austin
    Writer
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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