Which pool cleaner is best?

There’s nothing better than going for a dip in a pool with crystal clear water on a hot summer day. Nobody wants to swim in a dirty pool though, which means you’ll need to spend the time and effort to maintain your pool so it is ready to use when the time comes. This means keeping the proper sanitizer levels and doing regular cleaning to remove debris and grime that collects on the floor and walls.

Pool cleaners make at least one aspect of your maintenance easy, especially if you opt for a robotic model like the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus. This convenient cleaner leaves pools up to 50 feet in length sparkling clean in less than two hours, thanks to its dual scrubbing brushes and integrated collection bin, which is equipped with fine mesh filters to catch small and large debris alike. 

What to know before you buy a pool cleaner

Types of pool cleaners

There are several types of pool cleaners to choose from that vary in their convenience, cost and performance. Robotic cleaners are without a doubt the most convenient but are also the most expensive. Many offer advanced functionality, such as the ability to program automatic cleaning schedules, smart mapping of the pool’s size and shape and more.

Suction side pool cleaners are notably more affordable than robotic cleaners and are reasonably convenient in that they don’t require you to manually push a vacuum around the pool. Unlike robotic cleaners though, which run on standard AC power, suction side cleaners rely on your pool’s pump for suction and mobility. This means their effectiveness directly correlates to the strength of your pool pump. They also put excess wear and tear on your pump’s motor.

Pressure side pool cleaners take things a step further than suction side models by incorporating a jet stream of water that agitates debris for more effective cleaning. This allows them to remove algae and stubborn dirt that others may struggle with, but it also means they require more power, so you’ll either need a very strong pump or install a second, dedicated pump just for the cleaner. 

Manual pool cleaners are handheld vacuums that require you to physically perform a pumping action. While the most affordable, these can be laborious and are best for small pools.

Pool type

Not all pool cleaners are suitable for every type of pool. Some are only designed for above-ground pools, while others can only be used in in-ground pools. Likewise, not all are designed to work with every type of pool liner or surface material. Before purchasing any pool cleaner, check the product details to ensure it is suitable for your specific type of pool.


Pool cleaners require some basic maintenance to keep them in good shape and functioning for as long as possible. After each use, it is best to take the cleaner out of the pool and rinse off any excess chemicals that could potentially cause some of the materials of the cleaner to deteriorate. You’ll also want to clean any filters and debris bags so they aren’t left sitting with wet material inside that could potentially grow mold. It is also best to store your cleaner somewhere it won’t be exposed to direct sunlight all the time, as UV rays can also cause premature deterioration. 

What to look for in a quality pool cleaner

Debris bags

If you have a lot of large debris or leaves in your pool, it is not uncommon for your pump to get clogged up during the cleaning process, resulting in less efficient operation and added wear and tear. Cleaners with their own debris bag can help ensure that your pool’s pump continues to operate efficiently during the entire cleaning process. 


Some pool cleaners run everything through your pool’s filter. Others feature their own components to catch debris before recirculating the water back into the pool. Both of these can benefit from having a fine filter. In the case of the former, this can eliminate the need to clean both your pool pump’s filter and the cleaner’s after each use. In the case of the latter, it helps ensure the water circulated back into your pool is free of both large and small debris.


Some pool cleaners are equipped with brushes that help scrub away grime, algae and other unsightly material that has accumulated on the surfaces of your pool.


Not all pool cleaners offer the same level of mobility. Some can climb walls and floors or get deeper into corners and closer to edges. Others may only clean the floor and not have the ability to climb up walls. You’ll also need to consider the mobility of non-automatic pool cleaners. In this case, it refers to their weight, shape and how easy they are for you to maneuver around the pool.

Power source

Pool cleaners make use of various power sources. Most robotic pool cleaners connect to a standard AC wall outlet, so you’ll need to make sure there is one located close enough to your pool to work with the included cable or have a long enough extension cord. If not, you may need to opt for a suction pool cleaner instead, which relies on the suction power of your pool’s pump to move it along surfaces. Some manual pool cleaners require you to perform a pumping action to create the suction.

How much you can expect to spend on a pool cleaner

The most basic manual pool cleaners cost as little as $20. Highly advanced robotic pool cleaners often cost $500-$1,500. Automatic suction cleaners cost $150-$400.

Pool cleaner FAQ

Does the size of my pool matter?

A. Yes, the size of your pool makes a difference when choosing a pool cleaner. Some robotic models are only intended to clean pools of a certain size due to cable length or other constraints. For manual pool cleaners, you’ll be limited in reach by the size of the pole you use with it.

Will a pool cleaner help with algae?

A. Pool cleaners help remove algae growing on the walls and floor of your pool, but they won’t help prevent it from growing. For this, you need to make sure to maintain your pool properly with the correct levels of chlorine or other sanitizers.

What is the best pool cleaner to buy?

Top pool cleaner

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner

What you need to know: Thanks to smart mapping technology and dual scrubbing brushes, the Nautilus CC is an extremely efficient and capable pool cleaner.

What you’ll love: It fully cleans most pools in less than two hours, including both the walls and floor, and the top-loading collection container is both spacious and easy to empty.

What you should consider: It doesn’t scrub the waterline.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top pool cleaner for the money

Zodiac G3 Automatic Suction-Side Pool Cleaner

Zodiac G3 Automatic Suction-Side Pool Cleaner

What you need to know: The Zodiac G3 is a reasonably priced automatic cleaner that gets the job done without any effort on your part.

What you’ll love: It features a large 36-inch fin disc that ensures good adhesion to pool surfaces to make the most of your pump’s suction power. It only has a single moving part, too, so the chances of it breaking are extremely slim.

What you should consider: It cannot be used in above-ground pools.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner

Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner

What you need to know: If you are looking for maximum suction for a pool that often collects a lot of leaves and small debris, this pressure side cleaner is the way to go.

What you’ll love: It cleans close to edges and deep into corners that many other models can miss. There is a large debris bag to catch leaves so they don’t wind up clogging your pump.

What you should consider: Requires the installation of a dedicated booster pump.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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