Three best pool cleaners

Allen Foster

Pool cleaners that use a filter bag act as a secondary filtration system and can reduce the need to clean your pool’s filter by as much as 80%.

Maintaining a pool is a time-consuming, multi-step process that involves diligence and care. The water has to be cleaned, sanitized, and balanced. The more dirt you allow to build up in your pool, the more difficult it will be to keep it swimmable. Therefore, it is vital to regularly use a pool cleaner. But with so many products on the market, finding the best pool cleaner for your pool can be difficult. Our guide has the information you need to make the right decision when it comes to buying a pool cleaner, including our top three picks for the best pool cleaners available.

Considerations when choosing pool cleaners

Types of pool cleaners

All pools circulate water with filters. It's how they stay clean. The side that draws water in is the suction side, and the side that returns water to the pool is the pressure side. Pool cleaners are either suction side, pressure side, or robotic--a cleaner that operates independently of your pool's filtration system.

Suction side pool cleaners

These pool cleaners are the most affordable. They take advantage of your pool's filtration system to get the job done. Since they have a smaller opening and can be subject to low flow rates, these pool cleaners work best in smaller pools with lighter requirements. Suction side pool cleaners range in price from $50 to $300.

Pressure side pool cleaners

Pressure side pool cleaners use the return water from your pool's filtration system to create a suction vortex for more efficient cleaning. These pool cleaners have a larger opening and are much better for heavy-duty cleaning. However, many need a dedicated booster pump installed to create the jet stream needed to function properly. That said, pressure side pool cleaners are very efficient and collect debris in a bag attached to the top of the cleaner, which acts as a second filter for your pool. These pool cleaners range in price from $200 to $900.

Robotic pool cleaners

Robotic pool cleaners act like a Roomba for your pool. They are powered by a long electrical cord connected to a GFCI outlet, so the power will shut off immediately if any electrical problems are detected. These pool cleaners function independently of your pool's filtration system and can handle most debris. Additionally, some robotic pool cleaners can be set to focus on a trouble area, such as the pool's waterline, and they are capable of carrying out programmed routines. Most robotic pool cleaners range in price from $400 to $1,200.


Q. I have a pool filter, do I really need a pool cleaner, too?

A. Yes. The pool filter only filters out debris and particulates that are already circulating in the water. Anything that has settled to the bottom of the pool or accumulated in other areas will remain there until you do something about it. Not properly maintaining your pool could drastically shorten its lifespan.

Q. Besides using a pool cleaner, what else can I do to keep my pool clean?

A. You should run the pool filter, clean the filter basket, and clean the skimmers. When using a pool cleaner, add sanitizers to maintain a proper pH balance. You should also skim debris off the surface of the water before it can sink. Brush all areas of the pool, especially the waterline and around any stairs or ladders, and keep the deck clean so debris isn't continually tracked into the pool. Finally, use a pool cover when the pool is not in use to keep branches and leaves from falling into the water.

Pool cleaners we recommend

Best of the best: Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner 

Our take: A robotic cleaner with advanced features and multiple cleaning methods.

What we like: This pool cleaner combines scrubbing, vacuuming, and filtering to achieve an impressive level of clean. The CleverClean technology scans your pool to determine the most efficient cleaning path, allowing the unit to accomplish the job in about two-and-a-half hours, while the swivel cable helps combat tangles.

What we dislike: It's pricey, and faulty models have been reported, though rarely.

Best bang for your buck: Zodiac BARACUDA G3 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner 

Our take: This suction side pool cleaner effectively removes small to mid-sized debris from concrete, tile, or vinyl in-ground pools.

What we like: It only has one moving part, making it a very durable unit. It also performs well with low-speed pumps, and the quick-release cassette offers easy assembly and maintenance.

What we dislike: This pool cleaner has a tendency to miss some spots, which means it should be followed up with a manual cleaning for best results.

Choice 3: Zodiac Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner 

Our take: A powerful pressure side pool cleaner that works in all in-ground pools but requires a booster pump.

What we like: This pool cleaner sweeps, scrubs, and vacuums. The larger intake makes the unit effective for cleaning leaves and other larger debris, while the backup valve helps guard against the cleaner getting stuck.

What we dislike: It requires a booster pump, which should be installed by a professional.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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