Zodiac W70482 Baracuda Wahoo Automatic Pool Cleaner
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The 7 Best Pool Cleaners for Crystal Clear Water All Summer Long

Keep your pool clean with the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus.
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Almost nothing beats diving into a cool swimming pool on a sweltering summer day. However, jumping into a puddle of leaves or a sea of algae can quickly spoil that refreshing feeling. Luckily, pool cleaners make it easy to maintain clean waters so you'll be able to swim at ease all season long, whether you're hosting a pool party or taking a solo dip.  

Automatic pool cleaners (or pool vacuums) remove debris from the surface of the pool floor and walls. While some cleaners are powered by either your pool's suction or water pressure, newer robotic cleaners have their own power source and container to avoid straining your pool's existing equipment. Some non-robotic cleaners have their own containers, while others will use your pool's existing filtration equipment to house debris.

With so many options out there, it can be difficult to figure out which is best for your pool size and style. To help, we researched the best pool cleaners out there, keeping in mind each pick's type and filtration method, as well as pool types. We also consulted Brian Wells, a pool expert for Leslie's Pool Supplies, and Mark Thompson, owner of Absolute Pool & Spa Care.

Overall, we recommend the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus. It has two brushes and is able to climb walls, so it's the best defense against fine particles as well as rocks, bugs, twigs, and leaves.

Here, the best pool cleaners. 

What We Recommend

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Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Overall: Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner

View at Amazon ($849)

Also available at Walmart

Why You Should Get It: It has dual scrub brushes and is compatible with all pool shapes and surfaces. It also has the ability to climb walls, so it'll be able to capture a bunch of different kinds of debris. Plus, it has a built-in handle that makes it easy to grip and transport it if needed. 

Keep in Mind: The model is more expensive than some other options on the market. 

No matter your pool shape, style, and surface material, the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner is sure to get the job done. The overall best pool cleaner is compatible with a variety of pool shapes and has a thorough brushing system that cleans both walls and floors.

The model has two brushes, one at the top and the other on the bottom, each of which will bust up sticky algae, collect ultra-fine dirt and dust particles, and catch things like leaves and pebbles. The robot is also able to scale both the walls and the floor, so you don't have to break out your net. 

One of the best parts about the cleaner is that it is a true set-and-forget robot. To use it, all you have to do is press one button, place it in the pool, and let it do its job—within two hours your pool will be clean. There are even three settings to dictate how often you want the pool cleaner to run, so you can choose between every day, every other day, or every third day.

Plus, the unit is made with a specially designed swivel cable that won't tangle, so you won't have to worry about checking on the cleaner while it works. 

The model is just about 20 pounds, which is fairly lightweight in comparison to some other picks out there. There's even a built-in handle that's sturdy and easy to grip, so you'll be able to pick it up and place it into your pool without an issue. 

If you want to use the Dolphin app, The CC Plus with WiFi costs about $30 more than the CC Plus. The app lets you start and stop the robot, manage scheduling, and monitor run time. It's a nice feature for families whose children have impromptu playdates and who don't want lots of kiddos interfering with expensive electronics.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 19 pounds
  • Cable Length: 60 feet
  • Pool Length: Up to 50 feet
  • Filter Type: Reusable top-access cartridge
  • Suggested Pool Type: In-ground

Best Robotic for Fine Debris: Dolphin Nautilus CC Supreme Robotic Pool Vacuum Cleaner

View at Amazon ($1,499)

Why You Should Get It: It has a dedicated waterline scrubbing mode and three brushes that will thoroughly clean your pool.

Keep in Mind: It's expensive, and it may not collect as much large debris.

For the best pool cleaner for fine debris that may be hard to clean, consider the Dolphin Nautilus CC Supreme. The unit's waterline mode is a must for protecting decorative tiles around the pool perimeter and keeping them clean. 

On waterline mode, the CC Supreme will spend two hours scrubbing away the grime that can form calcium deposits that discolor your tile and grout—that includes dirt and dust, as well as sunscreen and your body's natural oils. 

Unlike some other designs, the model has a third brush in the center that rotates faster than the other two, so it's good for breaking up algae and other especially sticky goop. The filter, which has two sections for fine and ultra-fine debris, can be accessed from the top so it's easy to clean out between uses. 

In comparison to the Dolphin CC Plus, the CC Supreme is smaller in size. It also has an additional brush, an ultra-clean mode, and an indicator for when the filter is full so you'll know when to clean it out. Plus, the unit's WiFi access lets you control it from your smartphone with the MyDolphin Plus app, so you'll be able to schedule cleanings as well as manually drive it for additional spot cleaning. 

Product Details:

  • Weight: 24 pounds
  • Cable Length: 60 feet
  • Pool Size 50 feet
  • Filter Type: Reusable top-access cartridge
  • Suggested Pool Type: In-ground

Best Non-Robotic for Fine Debris: Pentair Kreepy Krauly Great White Inground Pool Cleaner

View at Walmart ($497)

Also available at Amazon.

Why You Should Get It: It drives on bristles to bust up algae and has a reputation for lasting longer than the average suction-side cleaner.

Keep in Mind: It doesn't climb steps and is sensitive to pump pressure changes.

Pentair's Kreepy Krauly Great White Inground Pool Cleaner is a non-robotic suction-side option that drives completely on stiff bristles that surround the large intake. The automatic model, which is ideal for in-ground pools, has a patented set of bristles that will thoroughly clean algae and grime.

The pool cleaner is a versatile option that's compatible with all pool surfaces and shapes. With this model, you'll get a suction regulator, vacuum gauge, skimmer adapters, manual vacuum handle, and multiple hoses. The only assembly required is attaching the hose to the cleaner and then to the skimmer or dedicated vac line. A leaf canister is available as well if you want to avoid clogging your filter with any large debris. 

The model works with variable speed pumps, but it is sensitive to either too much or too little pump pressure. To help, it comes with a flow gauge to make sure the water flow is within ideal range, but keep in mind it may take a few tries to get the pump speed just right.

The cleaner works with an oscillator that'll move it back and forth, causing the cleaner to cover the bottom of the pool and pick up grime. It spends most of its time in the deep end but does move to the shallow end as well as climb walls.

It'll run whenever your filter pump is running but can take up to six hours to cover the entire pool. It comes with 40 feet of hose for a pool up to 36 feet (you need an extra 4 feet of hose for your pool length), but you can buy more hose pieces to extend the hose for a bigger pool. You can also attach a telescoping pole to the cleaner to manually clean certain spots of your pool, like steps or ledges or the spa.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 19 pounds
  • Cable Length: 40 feet
  • Pool Size: Not listed 
  • Filter Type: Uses pool's existing filtration system
  • Suggested Pool Type: In-ground 

Related: The Best Swimming Pool Accessories for Your Coolest Summer Ever

Credit: Courtesy of Leslie’s Pool Supplies

Best Robotic for Large Debris: Polaris VRX iQ+ Robotic Pool Cleaner

View at Leslie’s Pool Supplies ($1,440)

Why You Should Get It: It has four-wheel drive and a larger-than-average canister to collect large debris.

Keep in Mind: It's expensive, and it may not pick up as much fine debris or stuck-on grime.

If your pool tends to gather larger pieces of debris, it's worth trying the The Polaris VRX iQ+ Robotic Pool Cleaner, our pick for the best robotic pool cleaner for large debris. Ideal for in-ground pools, the cleaner has a large filter and four-wheel drive, so you'll be able to keep the pool clean easily. 

The Polaris VRX iQ+ Robotic Pool Cleaner is an app-controlled model that's compatible with many pool shapes and surface types. In addition to a custom cleaning mode, the cleaner offers four pre-set options to choose from: Smart Cycle, Quick Clean, Deep Clean, Waterline Only, and Custom. Through the iAquaLink app, you'll be able to choose between each mode, as well as schedule cleaning cycles and target specific cleaning areas. 

The cleaner features a 5-liter filter basket, which is larger than some other options on the market. It also has four-wheel drive, which will help the cleaner navigate larger debris you want removed. Plus, through the app, you'll be able to drive the unit around your pool, ensuring it doesn't miss a leaf, branch, or any other objects. When it's done cleaning, you'll be able to store it in the included caddy. 

It's worth noting that the VRX iQ+ only has one brush at the front of the robot, while some other designs have at least two. However, Polaris has its own Vortex Vacuum technology for stronger suction. Plus, the unit is protected by a two-year warranty. 

Product Details:

  • Weight: 21 pounds
  • Cable Length: 70 feet
  • Pool Size: 60 feet
  • Filter Type: Top-access reusable canister
  • Suggested Pool Type: In-ground 

Related: The 9 Best Pool Covers You Can Buy Online, According to Reviews

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Non-Robotic for Large Debris: Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 In Ground Swimming Pool Cleaner

View at Walmart ($499)

Also available at Amazon.

Why You Should Get It: It has its own collection bag and a big intake to handle large quantities of oversize debris.

Keep in Mind: Its focus is on large and loose debris, as opposed to algae or grime. It's also not as compact as the other cleaners on this list, so you'll need more space to store it.

The Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 is a pressure-side cleaner powered by the water return jet. Couple that with its own collection bag, and the Vac-Sweep 360 doesn't create any extra work for your skimmer and filter, an ideal combination for your pool.

The cleaner is ideal for in-ground pools and is compatible with all pool shapes and vinyl and fiberglass surfaces. It works by connecting to a dedicated pressure line, and it will sweep, scrub, and vacuum debris with ease. It features a bag that's made of mesh fine enough to contain sand, but it'll also trap leaves and pebbles, making it a great pick if you have tons of large debris. 

Although the model is not robotic, it still has some features that make it comparable. For starters, it has an in-line back-up valve that will help free the cleaner in case it gets cornered, so the cleaning cycle won't get interrupted. Plus, the filter bag will remove debris before it gets to your pump basket or filter, which will help lengthen the lifespan of your filtration system. 

It's worth noting that, like the Pentair Kreepy Krauly Great White, this pressure-side cleaner is sensitive to pressure, and you'll need to calibrate it so the wheels get 28 to 32 revolutions per minute. You also must assemble the cleaner, but you won't need much more than scissors, pliers, and a measuring tape.

If you have more than one water return jet, it comes with a pressure relief valve and eyeball regulator so that all water pressure is dedicated to the return hooked up to the cleaner. If your water returns are either plastic pipes flush with the pool wall or directional eyeball settings—in other words, no socket threads—you'll need an adaptor kit to attach the hose to the return.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 14 pounds
  • Cable Length: 31 feet
  • Filter Type: Removable bag
  • Suggested Pool Type: In-ground
Credit: Courtesy of Leslie’s Pool Supplies

Best Robotic for Above-Ground Pools: Polaris 7000 Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaner

View at Leslie’s Pool Supplies ($549)

Why You Should Get It: It will clean the cove as well as the floor.

Keep in Mind: Robotic pool cleaners, including this one, won't climb the walls of an above-ground pool.

If you have an above-ground pool, consider the Polaris 7000 Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaner. The unit is compact, less expensive than some other options on this list, and will clean the entire pool in less than two hours. 

The cleaner has a brush on the front that'll work to scrub algae and other grime. After the cleaning cycle is finished, you'll appreciate the 3-liter canister that has a transparent top, so you'll be able to tell when it needs to be emptied. 

When it comes to robotic cleaners, they typically won't climb the walls of an above-ground pool because the 90-degree angle where the floor meets the wall is too sharp. The Polaris 7000, however, will clean the floors as well as the cove of an above-ground pool—which is a weighted, sloping circle around the pool floor that keeps the liner from getting air pockets.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 15 pounds
  • Cable Length: 40 feet
  • Pool Size Up to 30 feet
  • Filter Type: Top-access reusable canister
  • Suggested Pool Type: Above-ground

Related: 7 Best Above-Ground Pools for Summer Fun

Best Non-Robotic for Above-Ground Pools: Zodiac Baracuda Wahoo Automatic Pool Cleaner 

View at Amazon ($210)

Also available at Walmart.

Why You Should Get It: The price is right, and it comes fully assembled.

Keep in Mind: It's powered by and collects debris with your existing filtration system.

For a more affordable, easy-to-use pool cleaner it's worth considering the Zodiac Baracuda Wahoo Automatic Pool Cleaner. The non-robotic model is a suction-side cleaner that comes assembled right out of the box and cleans your pool using a moving diaphragm. 

The cleaner connects to the skimmer and collects all debris into the pool filter. It should pick up both fine and large debris, but be sure to clean your pool filter regularly to keep your motor from burning out.

Unlike other options on this list, the pool cleaner is driven by a finned disc, which gives it a better chance at climbing up and cleaning the walls. The wheel deflector—the round circle where the hose meets the cleaner—keeps it from getting stuck in one spot. Plus, it's compatible with low horsepower pumps, and the hose has a FlowKeeper valve that regulates itself for ideal suction.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 14.85 pounds 
  • Cable Length: 30 feet
  • Filter Type: Uses pool's existing filtration
  • Suggested Pool Type: Above-ground

The Bottom Line

Overall, we recommend the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner as the best pool cleaner because the cleaner is compatible with a variety of pool shapes and has a thorough brushing system that will clean both the walls and the floors. Plus, you can choose from multiple settings and have a clean pool within two hours. 

What to Know About Pool Cleaners Before Shopping

Type 

The three main types of automatic pool cleaners are robotic, suction-side, and pressure-side. Robotic cleaners run on electricity and bypass your pool's filtration equipment completely. They use computer navigation to reach all areas of the pool and can be programmed to clean for a specified amount of time or just in a certain section of the pool.

Suction-side and pressure-side pool cleaners are powered by your pool's existing pump motor. Suction-side pool cleaners connect to the skimmer or a dedicated suction to suck up dirt and debris. The suction moves the cleaner around the pool at random. A pressure-side cleaner is connected to the water return jet; the pressure pushes the cleaner around the pool, also at random. Both of these pool cleaners will run as long as the pump motor is running and can take up to six hours to cover an average-sized in-ground pool, which is about 16 feet by 32 feet.

A suction-side pool cleaner is typically better for finer debris, says Mark Thompson, owner of Absolute Pool & Spa Care in Atlanta, Georgia, while pressure-side pool cleaner is better for the bigger stuff.

Filtration Method

Robotic cleaners have reusable containers within them, either cartridges or baskets you clean out periodically. Suction-side pool cleaners collect debris in your pool's skimmer or filter basket. You have to keep a close eye on those because if they get too clogged, your motor will have to work harder and may burn out. If you want to protect your motor, a leaf canister attached to the hose of the suction-side pool cleaner will keep the larger stuff away from your existing filter basket.

Pressure-side pool cleaners have their own reusable collection bags. It can be handy to have an extra one on hand so you can clean out a full one without missing a cleaning cycle. "Pressure-side pool cleaners have more moving parts than suction-side pool cleaners, which can mean more maintenance and repairs," Thompson says. 

Pool Type

Most automatic pool cleaners are compatible with all in-ground pool shapes, sizes, and surface materials. Just be careful if your pool is lined with vinyl. If there are bubbles, tears, or rocks in the liner, the pool cleaner can create further damage—and many cleaners have exceptions for damaged vinyl in their warranties. There are pool cleaners (robotic, suction-side, and pressure-side) available that are designed specifically for pools with vinyl linings.

Your Questions, Answered

How does a pool cleaner work?

Pool cleaners are powered by either electricity, suction, or water pressure and drive around your pool floor and walls to collect debris in either their own containers or your pool's existing filter. They pick up both large and small debris, such as sand, silt, pebbles, twigs, bugs, and leaves. Cleaners with brushes can also agitate stuck-on algae and calcium deposits.

What is the difference between a suction-side and pressure-side cleaner?

Suction-side pool cleaners are powered by your pool's pump, and the suction from the hose drives the cleaner around the pool floor surface at random. They can drive on wheels, bristles, or a rubber disc. Some pools have dedicated ports for suction-side cleaners, or they can connect to the skimmer.

Pressure-side cleaners connect to the water return jet. The water pressure pushes the cleaner around on wheels. The pressure-side cleaner collects debris in its own bag.

What size pool cleaner do I need?

Almost all size pool cleaners will work in an average-sized in-ground pool, which is about 32 to 36 feet long. For robotic and non-robotic cleaners, you want to have a hose or cable longer than your pool for ease of movement. Robotic pool cleaners can weigh anywhere from 20 to 30 pounds, and sometimes the caddy costs extra, so consider how often and how far you will haul it when choosing a size. We suggest looking for an ergonomic design to make transporting it more comfortable.

How long do pool cleaners last?

Pool cleaners of any kind last about five to seven years on average, both Thompson and Wells say. After two to three years, some parts may need replacing for normal wear and tear, like wheels and brushes, says Wells. You may also want to upgrade your pool cleaner to take advantage of the latest features, technology, and productivity settings. "Honestly, with any of these, you can make them last as long as you want, but at some point, it will make sense to get a new one," Wells says.

Who We Are

This article was written by Veronica Graham, a freelance writer in Austin, Texas, who has been writing about home, automotive, and lawn and garden products for the last two years. She's also a former American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor and spent her childhood in the water more than on land. To create this list, Veronica talked to Mark Thompson, owner of Absolute Pool & Spa Care in Atlanta, Georgia, and Brian Wells, a pool expert from Leslie's Pool Supplies in Phoenix, Arizona. She also pored over owner manuals and talked to pool owners about their experiences, needs, likes, and complaints.