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Best Pool Cleaners

Updated January 2024
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool [Vacuum] Cleaner
Dolphin
Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool [Vacuum] Cleaner
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Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

If you own a large pool and need a cleaner to scour its surfaces clean, the Nautilus CC Plus is worth the investment.

Pros

Cleans a pool’s walls and bottom in 2 hours or less. Provides powerful scrubbing action. Has a spacious debris collection bin. Easy to empty its bin. Features a tangle-free cable.

Cons

Does not scrub the waterline.

Best Bang for the Buck
Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure-Side In-ground Pool Cleaner
Polaris
Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure-Side In-ground Pool Cleaner
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High-pressure Option
Bottom Line

If you have a wide, deep pool that needs constant sweeping and vacuuming day and night, this versatile pool cleaner is a top pick.

Pros

Boasts powerful suction. Optimized for in-ground pools. Easily maneuvers on pool bottom and walls. Extra-large debris collection bag. Best at collecting leaves, pebbles, and large debris.

Cons

Needed booster pump sold separately.

Zodiac Automatic Suction-Side Pool Cleaner Vacuum
Zodiac
Automatic Suction-Side Pool Cleaner Vacuum
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

This powerful handheld cleaner is suggested for owners who need a reliable model for spot-cleaning and scrubbing a pool’s bottom.

Pros

Provides strong suction. Optimized for pool walls and bottoms. Easy to maneuver into corners and tight spots. Rugged construction. Best for light to mid-levels of cleaning. Effective on all pool surfaces.

Cons

Assembly and operation instructions could be clearer.

Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
Dolphin
Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
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Customer Favorite
Bottom Line

A quality pool cleaner that you can effortlessly set and leave out to treat every inch of your pool.

Pros

Powerful scrubbing. Efficiently cleans the bottom, waterline, and walls. Weekly timer. Easy to program and offers a simple setup. Tangle-free cable. Doesn't consume much power. Has a remote control and a large leaf bag.

Cons

Instructions could be clearer.

Pentair Kreepy Krauly
Pentair
Kreepy Krauly
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Durable & Rugged
Bottom Line

A pool cleaner designed to last a long time; durable and versatile.

Pros

Affordable price point. Powerful suction. Cleans waterline, walls, and bottom. Easily moves around corners and ladders. Sturdy and offers a simple assembly. Optimized for catching debris of all sizes.

Cons

May take a little tinkering before it works perfectly.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About 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.About BestReviews 
HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Models
Considered
60
Consumers
Consulted
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Hours
Researched
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Buying guide for best pool cleaners

If you have a pool in your backyard, a pool cleaner is an essential item. It performs a similar function for a pool that a vacuum does for a carpet: It agitates and removes debris from the floor, wall and stairs. 

A pool cleaner won’t affect your pool’s water pH or clarity much, so you must still treat the water to keep the chemicals balanced. However, a good pool cleaner can reduce the strain on your filtration system, meaning fewer chemicals are needed to keep the water clean. Manual cleaners work well and may appeal to you if you're on a budget, but automatic pool cleaners will reduce your pool maintenance time and are much easier to use. 

The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner is our favorite pool cleaner because it can clean even a large pool in two hours or less, and it offers powerful scrubbing for the floor and walls. 

Best pool cleaners

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner

This robotic pool cleaner tops our list. Its many convenient features, optimized performance and easy-to-use design make it worth the investment. It can scrub the walls and floor of a 50-foot pool or smaller in just two hours by scanning the pool and determining the most efficient path. Its 60-foot tangle-free cable prevents it from getting stuck in the middle of cleaning. 

We like how easy this cleaner is to set up and use. Thanks to its plug-and-play system, you can have it up and running within minutes of taking it out of the box. And you won’t have trouble emptying the filter basket because it’s top-loading for quick debris removal. 

This model is versatile enough to work for pools of all shapes and surface types and weighs just 19 pounds, making it one of the lightest robotic cleaners on our list. 

Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure-Side In-ground Pool Cleaner

Specifically designed for in-ground pools, this pressure-side pool cleaner can sweep and scrub your pool’s floor and walls in three hours when paired with a separate booster pump. Dual jets provide plenty of cleaning power and help it clean as efficiently as possible. The 31-foot feed hose is easily adjustable to fit the size of your pool and allows it to clean even wide, deep pools with ease. 

This Polaris pool cleaner works on all pool surfaces, expertly maneuvering on vinyl, fiberglass, gunite and tile walls. Its easy-to-empty filter bag captures small and large debris, so it won’t miss any leaves, acorns or pebbles. 

Zodiac Automatic Suction-Side Pool Cleaner Vacuum

This automatic pool cleaner is one of the most affordable models on our list. For an appealing price, it provides powerful suction to remove small and medium-sized debris from the floor, walls and steps of your pool. Its scuff-resistant hoses are highly durable and won’t damage any pool surfaces. Plus, the self-adjusting control regulates water flow to work even with low-speed pumps. 

We especially like the device’s wheel deflector, which lets it move around tight corners without getting stuck. The unique bottom disc ensures maximum adhesion on all pool surfaces and keeps it moving freely over drain covers, lights and other fittings.  

Zodiac Polaris Turbo Turtle Pressure-Side Pool Cleaner

This turtle-themed pool cleaner is certainly the cutest model on our list, making it a fun option for kids. An above-ground pool cleaner, it effectively sweeps the bottoms and sides of pools up to 5 feet deep in just three hours. Its patented jet sweep assembly blows debris from hard-to-reach spots and sucks them into its debris bag to make your pool as clean as can be.

We appreciate how quick and easy the installation is because the cleaner is compatible with most above-ground filtration and pump systems. It’s easy to empty and weighs just 10 pounds, so you won’t struggle too much getting it in and out of the pool. 

Polaris 9650iQ Sport Robotic Cleaner

If you want a premium feature-packed robotic pool cleaner, consider this impressive smart model. It is Wi-Fi ready and has a connected app that lets you control the cleaner from your smartphone for convenient operation. It even boasts a dirty canister indicator and lets you schedule cleaning cycles. 

This Polaris pool cleaner works for all in-ground swimming pools up to 60 feet and takes only three hours to clean. It stands out for its ability to clean without interruption. A 70-foot swivel cable prevents tangling, and four-wheel drive helps it climb over obstacles. The convenient caddy that keeps the cleaner protected when not in use is an added bonus. 

Aiper Seagull Pro Cordless Robotic Pool Cleaner

With a unique quad-motor system and four-wheel drive, this robotic cleaner is especially effective for cleaning pool walls and the waterline. It’s a cordless model — the only one on our list — which means you don’t have to worry about cables getting tangled and interrupting cleaning. Best of all, the cleaner’s battery can run for 180 minutes and takes just 90 minutes to charge. The battery status indicator lets you know when it’s time to charge.

This is also the only pool cleaner on our list that works for both in-ground and above-ground pools, covering areas of up to 3,200 square feet. Choose from three cleaning modes: automatic, floor-only or walls-only. 

Dolphin Triton PS Robotic Pool Cleaner 

If you’re looking for a pool cleaner that works especially well for walls and other vertical areas, this model is for you. It can clean in-ground pools up to 50 feet in size in just two hours and even scrubs the waterline for deep cleaning. In addition, its filtering capabilities are excellent, so it can remove dirt and debris from all types of pool surfaces. 

This Dolphin pool cleaner is also easier to get in and out of the pool than similar models. It weighs just 16.5 pounds and has a handle that lets you grab and remove it quickly. 

Hayward PoolVac XL Suction Pool Cleaner

Designed for in-ground gunite pools, this pool cleaner provides constant suction to pick up all the dirt and debris on your pool floors, walls and coves. Pre-programmed cleaning patterns help ensure that it reaches every nook and cranny, and a 40-foot hose covers pools that are 20 feet by 40 feet or smaller. 

Operation is silent, so you don’t have to worry about disturbing the neighbors with this pool cleaner, even if you want to clean at night. You won’t have trouble hooking it up, either, as it takes less than 10 minutes to connect to your pool’s skimmer or suction port and doesn’t require a booster pump. 

Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner

Another top-of-the-line model, this robotic pool cleaner is one of the easiest to set up with a drop-and-go design. It has a single button for operation and can clean pools up to 50 feet in size. Thanks to its advanced algorithms, you get complete coverage of your pool. The patented swivel cable allows for full freedom of movement, and the dual scrubbing brushes remove even the most stubborn dirt and debris from all surfaces, including the waterline. 

This Dolphin pool cleaner works quickly, taking just three hours to complete a cleaning cycle. It comes with three types of filters, including a micro-cartridge, a fine filter cartridge and an oversized leaf bag to remove all debris. 

Types of pool cleaners

Non-electric pool cleaners

As the name implies, non-electric pool cleaners don’t require electricity, reducing their operating costs. 

Some non-electric models are manual, so it takes more time and effort on your part to use them. These cleaners include pool brushes, which can work well to scrub algae and stains off the sides and floor of a pool. Most pool brushes have a telescopic handle that lets you stand outside the pool to brush. However, using a brush is the most time-consuming cleaning method because you have to follow up with a manual skimmer to lift out any floating debris. Your pool also needs a top-notch filtration system to ensure any debris you miss when skimming is filtered out. 

Another non-electric pool cleaner option is the mesh skimmer. Some are manual, and most have telescopic handles. However, instead of a brush at the end, a skimmer has a scoop or net made of fine mesh that lets you remove debris like leaves from the water. You can also find automatic skimmers that mount to the pool wall through the inlet or suction port. An automatic skimmer draws water into its basket to capture debris so you don’t have to do it yourself. 

A solar pool cleaner is another non-electric option. Instead of using electricity, solar pool cleaners have a solar panel that absorbs the sun’s rays and stores the energy needed to clean your pool. Solar cleaners aren’t the most effective for cleaning dirty pools, but they can help maintain a pool that’s already clean.

With solar pool cleaners, you can choose from two main types: robotic cleaners and ionizer systems. Solar-powered robotic cleaners are similar to robotic cleaners: They automatically scrub your pool’s surfaces to remove dirt, algae and debris. Ionizer systems use solar power to charge a copper anode and send safe electrical currents into the water to kill algae. 

While solar pool cleaners are eco-friendly and cost less to run than traditional pool cleaners, they may not be as effective as electric models. Consider your pool’s size, your climate and how much debris typically winds up in your pool when deciding whether a solar cleaner would be the best fit.

Robotic pool cleaners

Self-contained robotic cleaners that automatically scour a pool’s floor, walls and steps are the ultimate in pool-cleaning technology. Much like a robotic vacuum cleaner for the home, a robotic pool cleaner runs a programmable or random pattern across the floor. Special bumpers alert the unit's computer to obstacles, and brushes on the bottom of the base direct debris into a centralized suction tube. Once in the tube, the debris travels to a collection bag for disposal.

Because no external connections are required to the pool's pump motor, skimmer or filter, owners shouldn't have to modify their existing pool maintenance system to accommodate a robotic cleaner. However, a water-safe electrical cord is needed to power the unit.

Robotic cleaners have a few drawbacks. They cannot be pushed into position from the side deck; rather, they must be installed and removed from the water manually. When the cleaning cycle finishes, someone must retrieve the unit from the bottom of the pool. Depending on the pool's overall condition, the collection filter may need to be cleaned frequently during the cycle. And, just like a pressure-side pool cleaner, a robotic pool cleaner may have a detrimental impact on certain pool surfaces.Robotic cleaners are certainly thorough and convenient in many ways, but due to their hefty price tags, they may be too much of an investment for some — particularly those who own small pools and don't mind putting some personal effort into their pool maintenance.

Pressure-side pool cleaners

Pressure-side pool cleaners use water pressure from a jet stream to agitate debris and draw it into a vacuum chamber for disposal. Typically mounted on small wheels, the unit randomly wanders the bottom of the pool as it does its job. Its aggressive cleaning action is more effective on stubborn algae and dirt than a suction-side model, but unfortunately, some pressure-side pool cleaners have been known to wear down vinyl surfaces.

Because most pool pumps don't produce enough energy to feed a pressure-side cleaner, owners must either invest in a stronger pool pump or a second pump dedicated to the pressure-side cleaner. Neither choice is easy on the budget, but a pressure-side cleaner will not produce acceptable results without this additional power boost.You needn't enter the pool to install or retrieve your pressure-side cleaner, but in terms of maintenance, you will have to change the location of the collection bin fairly often and backwash the pool's filter to avoid clogging the system. Pressure-side pool cleaners are recommended for pools that regularly collect larger debris, such as gravel, acorns, leaves and sand.

Suction-side pool cleaners

Suction-side cleaners are generally the most affordable pool cleaners, but they're also the most limited. A suction side cleaner requires no booster pump because it attaches to your pool’s existing filter and intake system. However, its suction and cleaning power directly correlate with the size and design of your pool's original pump and filter.

Suction-side cleaners efficiently remove small debris from most pool surfaces, including walls and steps. Powered by the intake pump, a flexible rubberized flap essentially pulls itself along the bottom of the pool, agitating dirt, sand and other debris. A powerful vacuum then draws the material into a filter for disposal.This type of cleaner gobbles up a lot of your pump's energy, which can in turn shorten the pump life and raise your electric bill. It's not ideal for larger pools (or pools with unconventional designs), but it's great for smaller pools that don't collect much detritus.

What to consider when choosing a pool cleaner

Pool size

The dimensions and design of your pool matter. Pool cleaners are rated to handle different pool sizes, and some have difficulty accessing design elements like sharp corners. Some pool cleaners have long external handles that limit their cleaning range in larger pools. Keep your pool dimensions handy when shopping for a new pool cleaner.

Surface type

Another important consideration before buying a pool cleaner is the pool’s surface. Is your pool made of concrete, fiberglass, tile or vinyl? Some materials are more vulnerable to damage than others, and some pool cleaners exert more aggressive force than others. Furthermore, some surfaces discourage algae growth while others tend to promote it. 

Required physical labor

The amount of physical labor required to maintain a pool depends, in large part, on the type of cleaner you get. Manual pool cleaners (water brooms, vacuum brushes) require users to spend a significant amount of time and energy on the job. Suction-side and pressure-side models are a little more autonomous, but some human guidance is usually required. Fully automated robotic pool cleaners offer true “set it and forget” technology, but even then, owners must spend some time cleaning and backwashing the pool’s filter during the cleaning cycle.

Water quality 

It’s true that pool cleaners don’t affect water pH, but a pool’s general water quality directly impacts how challenging a pool cleaner’s job will be. The optimal pH level for pool water is considered to be 7, so many owners spend hours adding acidic and basic chemicals to maintain that balance. But during that process, if the water becomes too acidic or alkaline, the potential for algae or mildew growth increases. Pressure-side pool cleaners, which do not make direct contact with pool surfaces, are not always effective against these outbreaks.

Amount of debris

Does your pool tend to collect a lot of debris? Skimming leaves and sticks from the water’s surface keeps them from sinking to the bottom and becoming the responsibility of a pool cleaner. Seed-bearing tree branches should be cut back, and swimmers should be encouraged to clean their feet before entering the pool. To help combat the accumulation of foreign materials, a lightweight mesh pool cover can easily be stretched over the pool to collect airborne debris and discourage algae growth.

FAQ

Q. How much do pool cleaners cost? 

A. You could pay as little as $10 to $50 for a manual pool brush or skimmer. Automatic skimmers generally range from $20 to $100, while automatic pool vacuums usually cost between $100 and $300. 

Robotic pool cleaners are the most expensive, with models starting around $175. Those with multiple convenient features like no-tangle cords, scheduling and top-loading filter baskets can go for $500 to $2,000. 

Q. What is the lifespan of a pool cleaner?

A. It depends on the type of cleaner, how well you care for it and how often you use it. Manual devices like brushes and skimmers can last for many years if you take care of them. Automatic pool vacuums and robotic cleaners generally have shorter lifespans because they feature so many moving parts. If you care for an automatic cleaner, you can usually expect it to last four to eight years, depending on its quality. 

Q. How often should you clean your pool?

A. It’s usually recommended to clean a pool at least once a week. This includes vacuuming the pool and brushing the walls and other surfaces or running an automatic pool cleaner that does those tasks for you. However, if your pool is located in a spot where it receives heavy sun or debris, you should up your cleaning schedule to twice a week or more.

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