The best pool vacuums can save you time, money and energy. So if you prefer swimming in your pool to cleaning it, they are worth every cent. These automatic cleaners scrub and suck up dirt and debris as they move around the floor, and some even climb walls and steps to leave your pool spotless – extending its life and helping to keep you and your family healthy.
But why is cleaning your pool important? A poorly maintained pool can become a health risk to those using it, a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that could cause illness. Plus, if you don’t maintain your pool it could deteriorate and need repairing more often, costing you time and money.
Best pool vacuums
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What should you look for in a pool vacuum? A few things to consider are pool size, as this will dictate the kind of pressure and suction you need for a thorough clean. If you have a lot of trees or foliage in your yard you might need a more powerful unit in order to remove larger leaves and debris.
Also, consider if you have steps or a steep slope that your pool vac will need to maneuver. The more expensive machines come with high tech features including wall climbing capabilities, app control, self parking and advanced navigation systems that map out your pool shape to create the most efficient cleaning route.
In this buying guide I’ll reveal my edit of the top pool vacuum cleaners available and in stock now, as well as the best features to look for (and avoid) before you buy. And don’t miss our guides to best pool cleaners (opens in new tab), best pool alarms (opens in new tab) and best solar pool covers (opens in new tab), too.
Best pool vacuums
The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner from Maytronics is very well designed, easy to use and maintain, so you can spend less time cleaning your pool and more time enjoying it.
What the users say…
This Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus scores 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 78% of reviewers giving it the full five stars. Many users praised the suction rate. Negative reviews complained how expensive it is, while one said it struggled to clean the flat steps at the side of her pool.
It has wall-climbing capabilities and ‘CleverClean’ smart navigation system that’s designed to map out a pool’s shape to make sure every corner was covered. It also has a tank-style tread design so it doesn’t usually get stuck going over or around obstacles, and the two rotating brushes provide superior scrubbing power. The two big suction points blast away dirt and debris, while the sturdy handle makes it easy to lift the cleaner out of the pool.
I love how this device is completely independent, so there are no external vacuums or pumps, and its dual brush cleaning means the pool floor and walls are cleaned in just two hours. The Nautilus CC Plus also comes with a fast water release system that removes excess liquid as you take the cleaner out of the pool, so that it’s lightweight and easy to maneuver, even after running a full cycle.
It might be on the expensive side, but it’s no surprise the Nautilus CC is a bestseller as it delivers on performance and style.
The Polaris 9650iQ Sport is quite possibly the most innovative pool vacuum cleaner you can buy today. Controlled via the iAquaLink app (iOS and Android) or the unit itself, it’s pricey ($1,349) but worth every cent.
What the users say…
The Polaris 965iQ Sport gets 4.8 out of 5 stars on the Polaris website. Fans of the unit say it’s expensive but worth it, with one user saying: “We love this pool cleaner. Saves us so much time”. Negative reviews however cited issues with connectivity via the app. One reviewer said: “Not the easiest to connect to Wifi but once this is done it works great.”
The app effectively turns your phone into a remote control so you can move the cleaner around from pool-side, and it also allows you to schedule a cycle while you’re out so the pool is sparkling clean and ready to dive into by the time you get home.
It has a modern sports car style design with front four-wheel drive and four large rubber tyres, dual brushes and a powerful Vortex vacuum with maximum suction. This meaty design helps the Polaris 9650iQ Sport to easily navigate the pool floor, sides, steps and even reach the waterline for a thorough clean (cheaper cleaners just clean the floor).
There’s a swivel mechanism built into the 70-foot cable to stop it from tangling, and the large capacity 5-liter canister is fuss-free to empty and clean. The robot vac also comes with a wheeled caddy for convenient storage and easy portability. This really helps, as it’s important to store your cleaner vertically to allow excess water to fall out. You can buy a cover for the caddy at an extra cost to protect the cleaner from the elements, or just keep it undercover in a shed or garage.
Designed like a stingray, the Hydrus Roker Plus is an affordable pool vacuum cleaner for small pools. It has a very child-friendly aesthetic and parents/big kids alike will appreciate the free set of stingray stickers that come with the machine.
What the users say…
The Hydrus robotic cordless pool vacuum cleaner scores 4.3 out of 5 on Amazon, with 72% of reviewers giving it the full five stars. Fans of the cleaner say it’s a decent machine for above ground pools, and it’s very convenient, easy to use and “effortless”. Negative reviews cite issues with the battery life, and one user said the appliance got stuck when it wasn’t moving in a circular motion.
The Hydrus Roker Plus is battery-powered and cordless, so you don’t need to connect it to your skimmer to work. This also means no messy wires or cables to trip over or tidy away after a cycle.
It’s also lightweight, portable and incredibly easy to use, effortlessly working its way around pools with its dual brushless motors. It doesn’t have any smart features, but the high-speed motor and 6000GPA strong suction inlets make light work of pool cleaning.
I found the self parking technology really handy, so when the cleaner is low on battery it will automatically park itself within easy reach by a wall – a real standout feature, especially given the low price.
With precision sensor technology that allows for quick wall reversing within five seconds, it’s very energy efficient with an easy-to-use buckle design to open the cover and clean the filter easily. However this product is not designed to climb walls and is only suitable for pools with a slope of maximum 15 degrees, so if your pool has a steep drop or incline then this won’t be a good choice for you.
The Zodiac G3 has a simple but effective design that caters well for small to medium sized pools. It’s super easy to set up too – just attach the disc, wheel deflector and hose and connect to the skimmer – no need for plumbing or any specialist tools.
What the users say…
The Zodiac G3 vacuum pool cleaner scores 4.4 out of 5 on Amazon, with 72% of reviewers giving it 5/5. Reviewers praise the pool vac for its affordability and usability. One user said: “Can’t beat the price. It works as good as the more expensive cleaners!” Negative views complained that the appliance often got stuck on obstacles.
The cleaner comes with a scuff resistant hose as well as a FlowKeeper, a self-adjusting valve that automatically regulates the water flow, ensuring a powerful clean even for pools with low speed pumps. It’s important to use the FlowKeeper valve when you connect the skimmer, as this is needed to adjust and regulate the amount of flow and suction to the vacuum cleaner and without it you might have issues with your cleaner working, or at least not working very effectively.
The diaphragm system works together with a 36” large fin to scrub then suck up dirt and grime. It can also clean walls and steps so it covers the entire pool surface effortlessly.
While the Zodiac G3 works fairly well, it does get stuck easily on obstacles like raised drains. It is lacking any smart features so is on the basic side but it does a decent job of cleaning. It’s also cheap to maintain and repair, as there is only one moving part (the diaphragm).
The Hayward W3900 Wanda the Whale pool cleaner looks really cute but sadly its performance doesn’t match its looks. It is a suction line vacuum so once it’s connected to the skimmer, you can put it in the water and set it to work.
What the users say…
This cute pool cleaner gets 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 58% giving it the full five stars. It gets praise for its suction rate and value for money. One reviewer said: “My kids like watching her clean and she makes me happy! I’ve already recommended her to five of my friends with above ground pools.” However, several negative reviews reported that the tail doesn’t snap on securely and would often fall off, while one user said the unit was only good for light cleaning.
It’s not the best pool vacuum in the world, as several parts are reported to be a bit flimsy, including the tail fin that falls off, as well as the rubber feet, which users have reported finding at the bottom of their pools. Wanda does an OK job at light cleaning and would best suit small pools and/or people on a budget.
The turbine system helps Wanda move efficiently around the pool, and it has a very cute whale design with a cartoon face, which my kids love. It doesn’t have wall-climbing capabilities so if you need to reach the waterline for a thorough clean, this isn’t the machine for you (but due to the low price you probably wouldn’t expect this kind of feature anyway). It’s also lacking any kind of smart features, but for a cheap and cheerful cleaner it does the job as expected.
The Moolan S1 cordless pool vacuum cleaner is well designed and has some useful features like self-parking and fast charge. Plus it’s cordless so there are no messy wires to get tangled or trip you up.
What the users say…
The Moolan S1 pool cleaner scores 4.9 out of 5 with 94% of users rating it 5/5. Fans of the unit say it has a strong suction rate, with one saying: “the suction power is good enough to pick up the sand, small rocks and small leaves. But if you want a flawless job then you might want to go with a second round.” There were very few negative reviews, however one person suggested it would be useful to have a timer on the unit.
I liked how powerful it was at sucking up dirt and debris (60 liters a minute suction rate), and the dual motors are designed to help it smoothly work its way around pools. It is very easy to use and clean and you don’t have to hook it up to the skimmer or filtration system – you just throw it in the pool and off it goes.
However for the price I would expect some more features – it can’t climb walls or stairs, and will only accommodate pools with a slope up to 15 degrees. It also doesn’t have any timer or scheduling options, and struggles to pick up larger debris or leaves, especially those floating on the surface. The battery might not be big enough to last for larger pools, so this product is better suited for small to medium sized ones.
The Moolan S1 might not top any lists for the best pool vacuum but it does a decent job of pool cleaning without any bells or whistles.
Buying advice for the best pool vacuum cleaners
What to look for in a pool vacuum cleaner?
If you want to find the best pool vacuum for you, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, budget. You can find a basic pool vacuum for around $200-300, with more high tech machines such as the Polaris 9650iQ reaching the mid thousands. Pressure is important when it comes to cleaning and it helps to blast away all the grime from your pool floor. Suction rate is also crucial, as the stronger it is the more it can suck up stubborn debris like leaves and twigs.
It’s also worth thinking about whether you want a unit with a cable or cordless. Many cables have in-built swivel mechanisms that help avoid tangles, while cordless cleaners are less of a trip risk. Cable cleaners tend to work with your pool’s skimmer and work via the filtration system, while cordless ones work independently and don’t need to connect to a pump.
Also consider the weight of your pool cleaner – you will need it to be lightweight enough to carry to wherever you store it, but some brands include wheeled caddies that can be used for storage and easy portability.
If your pool is made from fragile materials you will need to carefully consider the tire type on your cleaner, as some can cause damage or even rip the surface. Even the best pool vacuums can sometimes get stuck, but this usually isn’t a major problem. And the pricier pool vacs use GPS to move around the pool and work out the best route to take to save time and energy.
Why should you buy a pool vacuum?
So why should you buy a pool vacuum? “Cleaning your pool maintains sanitary standards and keeps the water safe to swim in, increasing the enjoyment of your pool sessions,” says Hugo Guerrero (opens in new tab), certified House Cleaning Technician (HCT).
Many automatic pool vacuums can be programmed to work on a timer, so you can schedule them to clean while you are at work and be ready for when you get home. They usually have powerful scrubbing brushes that are very effective at removing grime and debris including hard-to-reach areas like steps, walls and corners. This can prevent a build-up that could cause damage to your pool.
“Regular cleaning also improves the aesthetics of your pool and the value of your home, promotes the longevity of the pool, and reduces costly repairs from clogged drains and other dirty pool issues,” says Guerrero. And what happens if you don’t clean your pool?
“If you don’t clean the pool this will encourage algae growth, the green-like substances that form at the bottom of the swimming pool. Algae can also grow if you do not clean your pool thoroughly,” says Guerrero. “You’ll also have to deal with clogged drains, which might attract avoidable drain repair charges.
“A dirty pool also risks your health as it can bring about skin, eye, ear and respiratory irritation and issues as bacteria build up in the water and contaminates it – potentially putting you, your family, and your friends.”
What makes a good pool vacuum?
If you want to invest in a good pool vacuum cleaner, there are a few features that are worth looking for. Aside from budget, you will need to think about the size of your pool – this will dictate how powerful (what pressure/suction rate) you will need your pool cleaner to be.
Does your pool have steps or a steep slope? Some pool vacs don’t have climbing capabilities so you will need to find a machine that can navigate these kinds of obstacles and depths. Pool vacuums come with long floating cables or they are cordless. Do you have young children or seniors around who might trip over messy wires? If so you might prefer to buy a cordless cleaner.
Energy efficiency is another consideration – look for a cleaner that makes the most of the water coming through it, reducing wasted energy. The wheels on certain pool vacs can cause damage to the pool liner, so if you have a vinyl or fiberglass surface you might need tape tires to protect it.
As with most things, the more you pay the higher the quality – so if you want high tech features like app control, scheduling options and storage caddies included, you will need a bigger budget.