The Best Pool Cleaners

To fully enjoy your pool all season, you need it to be clean. But even with a pump, the right balance of chemicals, and frequent skimming, some pools still have debris piling up. Here, we’ll cover the best automatic pool cleaners for every swimming pool out there.

Best Automatic Pool Cleaners: Our Recommendations

Here are our top six choices for the best pool cleaners.

Zodiac Baracuda G3

⭐ Best Value Suction Side Cleaner

If you need to clean your pool thoroughly but don’t want to deal with extra features, the Zodiac Baracuda G3 is the ideal value suction-side vacuum for the job. It works with even low-speed pumps and picks up small to medium-sized debris.

A wheel deflector keeps the vacuum from bumping into obstacles, and the disc has 36 fins to help it maintain suction. Plus, there’s only one moving part – no flappers, wheels, or gears – which you can quickly swap when necessary. You can always add accessories later, too, such as a leaf skimmer or pH tester.

Zodiac G3 Automatic Suction-Side Pool Cleaner Vacuum for In-ground Pools
  • Quiet, powerful suction cleaner; works with low-speed pumps for maximum efficiency.
  • Devours small and medium-sized debris and cleans floor, walls and steps of your entire pool.
  • FlowKeeper Valve automatically regulates water flow to maintain peak cleaning performance even with lower horsepower pumps.
  • Wheel Deflector for movement around tight corners.
  • Scuff-resistant Long-Life Hoses eliminate scuffs on all pool surfaces.

Research Score: 4.1 / 5

  • Mobility: 4
  • Compatibility: 3
  • Cleaning Ability: 5
  • Durability: 4
  • Price: 4


  • 36-fin disc for optimal adhesion to the pool surface
  • Works on concrete, tile, and vinyl
  • Only one moving part
  • Works with low-speed pumps


  • Quick assembly/replacement
  • No special plumbing required
  • Compatible with accessories


  • Material can clog the soft plastic tube that “breathes” to propel the unit
  • If the hoses bend, it may not be able to move effectively

Hayward Poolvergnuegen

⭐ Best for Large Pools

Thick tire treads help propel the Hayward Poolvergnuegen around your pool while its self-adjusting turbine vanes help maximize power. Your pool cleaner can go anywhere, and its pre-programmed steering sequences keep it moving and cleaning efficiently.

While Hayward also has a four-wheeled model, the two-wheel option is suitable for most pool sizes. Both options work with lower-speed pumps (down to 35 gallons per minute).

You also receive three interchangeable ‘throats’ for adjusting the suction. The adjustability also makes the Poolvergnuegen ideal for use with variable speed pumps. Its 33-foot hose helps it maneuver around pools up to 32 feet long.

Hayward W3PVS40JST Poolvergnuegen Suction Pool Cleaner for In-Ground Pools up to 20 x 40 ft. (Automatic Pool Vaccum)
  • EFFORTLESS DEBRIS MANAGEMENT: The patented self-adjusting turbine vanes eliminates clogs and ensures maximum power at virtually any flow. Their...
  • COMPLETE POOL OVERAGE: The PoolCleaner has multiple pre-programmed internal steering sequences, which cause the left wheel to periodically reverse,...
  • ROBUST TIRE TREADS: The patented tire treads give The PoolCleaner enhanced climbing ability and obstacle maneuverability – especially with main...
  • MAINTAINS CONSTANT SUCTION: Patented adjustable roller skirts allows the cleaner to maintain optimal suction on uneven surfaces and when encountering...
  • OPTIMAL SUCTION AT VARIOUS FLOWS: Three easily interchangeable throats improve debris passage and suction performance, making it ideal for use with...

Research Score: 4.2 / 5

  • Mobility: 4
  • Compatibility: 5
  • Cleaning Ability: 5
  • Durability: 4
  • Price: 3


  • Cleans pools up to 16 x 32 feet
  • Works with gunite, vinyl, fiberglass, pebble, and tile
  • Two-wheel drive design
  • Self-adjusting turbine vanes
  • Pre-programmed steering sequences


  • Treadwear markers let you know when a replacement is necessary
  • Adjustable skirt maintains suction even when facing obstacles
  • Compatible with accessories


  • Seems a bit less effective on walls/stairs than the four-wheel model

Polaris Vac-Sweep 280

⭐ Best Pressure Side Cleaner

When it comes to quick, effective cleaning, the Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 pressure side cleaner meets nearly every pool owner’s needs. With a 31-foot hose kit, an external filter bag for large debris, and a fast-acting cleaning capability, the Vac-Sweep 280 will have your pool sparkling in no time.

Polaris promises that the Vac-Sweep 280 will clean your pool in three hours or less. And that’s regardless of size or shape – any inground pool is compatible.

Our only complaint centers on the fact that the Vac-Sweep can get caught up on stairs. However, it does continue to clean, since there’s a back-up valve to help free it if it gets stuck. If you have stairs, a robotic option would be better.

Zodiac F5 Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner, Model, white
  • Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 pressure side pool cleaner
  • Works in all in-ground pools; requires Polaris booster pump
  • Palletized in multiples of 16 units ;TailSweep PRO Compatibility-YES
  • Ready to connect to 1.5-inch dedicated pressure cleaner line
  • Includes 31-feet of feed hose.Drive Mechanism:Shaft Drive

Research Score: 4.1 / 5

  • Mobility: 4
  • Compatibility: 3
  • Cleaning Ability: 4
  • Durability: 5
  • Price: 4


  • Works in all in-ground pools
  • Large opening for debris intake
  • Filter bag debris capture system


  • Filter bag helps preserve the life of your filtration system
  • Cleans a pool in three hours or less


  • Requires the Polaris booster pump for best performance
  • Can get caught up on stairs

XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum

⭐ Best Low Cost Pool Vacuum

Whether you’re not sure how long your seasonal pool will last or you don’t want to invest a lot in pool equipment, XtremepowerUS has the solution. The company’s Automatic Suction Vacuum cleans pools up to 30 feet long and can clean the bottom and walls.

The one drawback is it won’t climb stairs, but that’s a small sacrifice for an overall excellent vacuum system. You might need a bit of patience for troubleshooting, as there are a few tweaks you’ll likely need to make to get the best performance out of the unit.

However, since it’s a basic flapper and suction design, it doesn’t take much work to figure out what might be stopping your vacuum from running.

XtremepowerUS Premium Automatic Suction Vacuum-generic Climb Wall Pool Cleaner Sweeper In-Ground Suction Side + Hose Set
  • 10 hoses included for up to 30' pool. Ideal for cleaning bottom surface and wall; does not clean stairs
  • Require at least a 1 hp swimming pool pump or 1600 GHP to function properly.
  • No tools required and no electricity needed; Attaches to your existing filtration system
  • Cleaner should be moving about the pool at a rate of 8 to 12 feet per minute
  • Automatic operation by self-navigating around the water on set patterns for the top to bottom pool cleaning. Refer to the PDF attached below in...

Research Score: 4.0 / 5

  • Mobility: 4
  • Compatibility: 4
  • Cleaning Ability: 4
  • Durability: 3
  • Price: 5


  • Cleans up to 30-foot pools
  • Suitable for all types of pools—vinyl included
  • Requires a 1 HP pool pump, minimum


  • Cleans algae, dirt, and dust
  • Easy to troubleshoot


  • Needs a 1 HP or 1,600 GHP pump to work properly
  • Doesn’t clean stairs and won’t handle leaves

Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Cleaner

⭐ Best Robotic Vacuum

For above-ground pool owners, the Dolphin Escape can handle all your cleaning needs. Without stairs to worry about, the Dolphin Escape drives along the bottom of your pool, scrubbing all the while. It won’t climb walls, but its scrubbing brush effectively removes algae and other buildup on your pool’s bottom.

Rubber tracks grip the pool bottom, and the top-load filter can hold debris of all sizes. When the filter is full, open the cleaner from the top to empty it out.

Smart scanning software helps your vacuum navigate the pool floor and clean efficiently. It can even sense walls, ladders, and drains to avoid obstacles.

Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner
  • Delivers unmatched performance in an above-ground cleaner at an unthinkable cost.
  • No messy bags! Large and in charge oversized debris cartridge holds up to 60% more debris
  • Hypergrip Continuous Tracks - leaves wheels cleaners in its wake!
  • Hyperbrush Dual Scrubbing Brushes scrubs away difficult to remove contaminants.
  • SmartNav 2.0 Robotic Scanning. Only 14 lbs. Energy Efficient 24 Volt DC motors. One year warranty.

Research Score: 4.6 / 5

  • Mobility: 5
  • Compatibility: 4
  • Cleaning Ability: 5
  • Durability: 5
  • Price: 4


  • Top-load filter
  • Above-ground pool-specific
  • 24 V DC motor
  • Suitable for gunite, plaster, vinyl, and fiberglass pools
  • Suitable for pools up to 30 feet


  • Works in both above- and in-ground pools
  • Dual motors for efficiency
  • Scanning software to keep it moving around obstacles


  • Doesn’t climb walls/clean stairs
  • Ultrafine filter not included

Zodiac MX6 In-Ground Suction Side Cleaner

⭐ Best for Small Pools

If your small pool often gets messy, the Zodiac MX6 in-ground cleaner might fit the bill. The low-flow function means you can use it with variable or two-speed pumps, and it’s able to climb walls with ease.

It won’t necessarily scoot along and clean the stairs, but for many smaller pools, you won’t need that function anyway. Plus, the low-flow design means you can use a vacuum with a lower-output pool pump, and it will still clean efficiently.

Our primary complaint is that the MX6 can clog up with palm fronds and other large leaves, but that’s due to the size of the leaves rather than a design flaw.

Zodiac MX6 Automatic Suction-Side Pool Cleaner Vacuum for In-ground Pools
  • Innovative low-flow design makes it ideal for pools with 2-speed or variable speed pumps
  • Cyclonic suction for powerful vacuuming and articulating turbine blade for aggressive wall-climbing
  • Swiveling hoses are quick-connect style for easy assembly
  • Includes automatic Weir Valve, 90° Twist Lock Elbow, 7 x 1.2m Twist Lock Hose Lengths, Flow Regulator Valve, Hose Float, Hose Protector, Warranty...

Research Score: 4.2 / 5

  • Mobility: 4
  • Compatibility: 4
  • Cleaning Ability: 4
  • Durability: 4
  • Price: 5


  • Works with variable- or two-speed pumps
  • Low-flow design consumes less energy
  • Programmed navigation
  • Quick-connect hoses and flow regulator


  • Can climb walls with the suction setting high enough
  • Works with a range of pump outputs and speeds
  • Trapdoor lid makes it easy to remove larger debris


  • Not ideal for stairs/seats
  • Can’t handle palm fronds or similar type leaves

Recap: The Best Automatic Pool Cleaners

Our Research Criteria

How can you choose the best robotic pool cleaner? Here are our research criteria and what you should look for as well.

All of these factors went into our overall weighted rating for each pool cleaner which broke down into the following categories: Mobility, compatibility, cleaning ability, durability, and price.

First, Know Your Options

There are four main types of pool cleaners:

We have recommendations all of them above (except for manual), but it’s important to know the differences between each one, because they vary in terms of benefits and price. Read our full guide on comparing the types of pool vacuums here.

Climbing (and Stair Cleaning) Ability

Depending on the type of pool you have – whether inground or above-ground – you may want a pool vacuum that can climb stairs or walls. Many models claim to handle the flat ground and vertical surfaces equally well. However, you should read carefully to determine whether climbing walls and cleaning stairs are part of the manufacturer’s recommended usage.

Some vacuum cleaners are for flat surfaces only, while others specialize in wall-climbing. Still, you may need a higher-powered pool pump to facilitate the wall-climbing of some vacuums.

Robotic pool cleaners are going to be your best bet here. Pressure-side and suction-side cleaners are less effective at getting around uneven surfaces like stairs.

Mobility accounted for 20% of our overall score for each model.

Track or Wheel Layout

You can find pool cleaners with all types of mobility configurations. Some have wheels, others have tracks like a tank, and still others have disc-shaped scrubbers that adhere to the pool bottom. When selecting a configuration, you should consider the size and layout of your pool, the materials in it, and the presence of stairs or other obstacles.

Vacuums that stay connected to the pool floor or wall with suction can run into problems when they hit drains or ladders, for example. In contrast, robotic pool cleaners with wheels may not be as effective at sucking up debris as machines that stick close to the floor and walls.

When it comes to wheels, I recommend looking for cleaners with rubber wheels, not plastic. The rubber will stick better to your pool surface and be able to navigate around the pool a bit easier. Also look for wide tires – the wider the better, which will give you better traction.

Reach and Pool Size

Most manufacturers of pool cleaners specify a size range for their units. While you may be able to use a cleaner with a 30-foot pool compatibility rating in a 40-foot pool, you can’t always expect optimal performance.

On the same note, some manufacturers specify a range of pool sizes because of the hose lengths they include. Many pool owners have hoses already, so adding an extra length isn’t a problem. But if a vacuum uses programming software to get around, it could wind up going in circles in a pool that’s much larger than what the manufacturer outlines. Speaking of going in circles, a handy feature on good pool cleaners these days is deflecting sensors which can detect where walls and obstructions are and get around them easily.

Plus, the more hose you link together, the higher the odds your vacuum will wind up with tangles. If you don’t want to have to babysit your cleaner, you’ll need to give it just the right amount of hose length. Also make sure to look for cleaners with a swivel cord which can help prevent tangles.

Pump Compatibility

When you hook up a pool cleaner, you’re attaching it to your pool’s pump. The suction of the pump tubing is what sucks debris into the vacuum. Therefore, your pool pump’s horsepower and gallon-per-minute rate can affect the cleaning ability of your vacuum.

Use your pump’s rating to weed out incompatible vacuum cleaning tools. Or, consider an additional pump to power your vacuum cleaning device.

Compatibility accounted for 15% of our overall score.

Surface Suitability

While some pool cleaners can handle all surface types, others work better with a narrower spread of materials. In some cases, pumps are ideal for gunite or plaster but don’t work so well on vinyl surfaces, such as above-ground or quick-set pools.

Read the manufacturers’ recommendations to see what the best fit is for your pool. Keep in mind that most pool cleaners use even suction for effective vacuuming, so an uneven surface like pebbles or tile might be challenging to clean thoroughly.

Cleaning Ability

Obviously, your pool cleaner should be effective at picking up debris. Mobility, climbing ability, and other factors certainly come into play here, but we also took at look at the effectiveness of the brushes (rotating rubber brushes and hard bristle brushes are the best), suction power, and how much dirt and debris it can hold.

Cleaning ability accounted for 25% of our weighted score for each model.


Longevity is really important when you’re making a big decision like a critical piece of equipment for your swimming pool. To assess durability, we put each pool cleaner through a series of tests to see how it held up to some bumps and bruises. High quality brushes are also a key consideration here – are they going to hold up to repeated cleanings or fall out after just a few uses? We also looked at customer return rates, warranty claims, and other data to see which ones break down the most.

Durability accounted for 20% of our overall score.

Lifetime and Accessory Costs

The lifetime price of the pool cleaner and the features and accessories that come with it made up 20% of our overall score.

Most cleaners are compatible with a range of pool pumps and attachment types. Therefore, the odds are low that you’ll be unable to find the right accessories to get your cleaner to work. Still, many companies offer accessories for their vacuums, such as leaf bags or pH testers, that connect to the pump tubing.

When looking at the cost of your pool cleaning tools, you should factor in the replacement cost for parts plus accessories. Many units require filter changes, tread replacement, and other routine upkeep. Some accessories can help you cut down on lifetime costs too, like a programmable timer that you can set to only run the pool cleaner when you need to which can help you save on energy costs if you choose an energy efficient model. Most pool cleaners are going to consume around 200 watts per hour, so try to avoid models that are up closer to 1,000 watts per hour. Just don’t forget about your pool cleaner completely remember to clean it every once in a while too.

Instead of looking at the up-front price of the unit, consider the long-term or lifetime costs, and make your purchasing decision accordingly. At the same time, you can compare that amount to the investment you’re currently making in cleaning your pool by hand.

You might be paying someone to maintain and clean your pool, when it’s cheaper to purchase a robotic cleaner to handle the job for you.

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