Best pool cleaners 2024: Top-rated in-ground and above ground pool cleaners

Best pool cleaners: Dog underwater in pool
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Dive into the best pool cleaners to keep your outdoor pool looking fresh and clean all year long. Whether it’s a pressure-side pool cleaner you are looking for, a suction-side model or a robotic pool cleaner, we’ve done all the hard work and discovered the top-rate gadgets from respected brands such as Polaris, Paxcess and Pentair. So the hardest decision you have to decide is what pool cleaner is best suited to your budget, pool type and needs. 

The price of the machine is one factor that will help you discover what is the best pool cleaner for you. Robotic pool cleaners are more expensive than other pool cleaner designs but they do come with their benefits. For example, you can just place robotic pool cleaners in the pool and let them get to work. 

But that’s not to say pressure-side pool cleaners and suction-side devices don’t have their list of positives. Pressure-side pool cleaners are known for coming with some serious suction power, while suction-side pool cleaners operate close to the pool surface for a super intense clean. 

To find the best pool cleaner for your outdoor pool, decipher what type of pool you have and how much debris it collects. If it’s a lot, look for the best pool cleaners that have a large throat and lots of suction power. If you’re time-poor, a robotic pool cleaner might be better suited to you. If you’re looking for more pool essentials, discover our guide to the best pool alarms and the best solar pool covers.

Best pool cleaners

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We've rounded up the best pool cleaners currently available to help you find the right product for you. We've reviewed most of the products in this guide, but some reviews are still in progress. When this is the case, we've summed up the specs, features and user reviews to help you make the right decision for you and your pool. 

Best pool cleaners: Polaris Vac-Sweep 360

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Polaris Vac-Sweep 360

The Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 is the best pool cleaner for performance

Reasons to buy

 Large inlet 
 No booster pump needed 

Reasons to avoid

 Users say it has a leaky hose 
 You need to buy an additional return line 

Despite having a compact design, this hasn't affected the performance of the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360. This powerful pressure-side pool cleaner features a large inlet of around two and a quarter inches. This inlet is wide enough to be able to capture stones and other pool debris before it gets sucked into your filtration system. Plus, the auto back-up feature is designed to make sure this debris doesn't get stuck while the machine is cleaning your pool.

The Vac-Sweep 360 comes with Polaris’ iconic three-wheel track design. This helps it move effortlessly around the pool and up the walls. According to the brand, it can leave a pool debris-free in under three hours. 

We're particularly pleased with the fact that no booster pump is needed for this pool cleaner, as its powered by the water pressure coming from the pool's return line. It's also designed to be safe for all pool shapes and surfaces, including vinyl, gunite, pebble, tile and fiberglass. Bundled with this pool cleaner is 31 feet of feed hose and a single chamber filter bag for capturing debris. 

But perhaps one of the most valuable points about the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 is its impressive Amazon reviews. The pool cleaner scored an average of 4.4 stars out of five, with most users highly rating the machine because there is no need to use a booster pump. If you’re looking for the best pool cleaner for an in-ground pool, you will find it in the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360.

Best pool cleaners: Zodiac MX6 Suction Pool Cleaner

(Image credit: Zodiac)

2. Zodiac MX6 Suction Pool Cleaner

The best pool cleaner for suction power

Reasons to buy

Brilliant suction power
Superb cleaning credentials

Reasons to avoid

Struggles with larger pieces of debris 
Suction-side cleaner means more wear and tear 

The Zodiac MX6 is a suction-side pool cleaner that’s suitable for in-ground and above-ground swimming pools. 

What the users say…

From 4,332 reviews the Zodiac M6 has received on Amazon, it’s averaged 4.2 out of 5 stars. Users rated the pool cleaner for its ability to climb walls, work just as well in the deep end as well as the shallow and how easy it is to assemble. However, It looks like the pool cleaner dropped points with buyers because of its ‘inability’ to pick up larger items of debris such as leaves or grass.  

Due to the fact this machine is a suction-side pool cleaner, this means it is powered by the suction of your main pool pump. On one hand, this is great because it doesn’t use up any extra power as it utilizes the current usage. However, because it attaches to the suction of your main pool pump, your pool filter will unfortunately experience more wear and tear.

Suction-side pool cleaners are known for their brilliant cleaning credentials and the Zodiac MX6 is no exception. The Zodiac MX6 sits very close to your pool floor meaning it's able to rid dirt or grime. As well as cleaning your pool floor, the Zodiac MX6 has no problems traveling up your pool sides. 

Thanks to its cyclonic suction power and articulating turbine blade it can tackle 90-degree angles with ease. If you invest in the Zodiac M6, it also comes with 8.4m of hose – which is brilliant if you have got a small to medium-sized pool. It will ensure the pool cleaner can reach even the furthest point in your pool. 

We're also a fan of the swiveling hoses with a quick-connect style, as this should ensure a simple and easy assembly process. Meanwhile, the rugged track design of the wheels means that the Zodiac M6 should have no trouble maneuvering around your pool, no matter what kind of tight corners it might have. It's also designed to scrub the floor and walls of your pool, all the way up to the waterline, ensuring that your pool is left squeaky-clean after every use. 

Best pool cleaners: Pentair 360042 Pool Cleaner

(Image credit: Pentair)

3. Pentair 360042 Vinyl Pool Cleaner

The best pool cleaner for vinyl pools

Reasons to buy

Designed for ultimate reliability
Pleated seal

Reasons to avoid

Struggles with pool sides 
Not to be used on an incline

Vinyl pools require the right type of pool cleaner. Why? Because pools with a vinyl surface are much more delicate than, say, concrete pool surfaces. 

What the users say…

On Amazon, the Pentair 360042 has had just over 600 reviews. It’s racked up a good average of 4.3 stars out of 5. Users said this machine was super easy to install, and it has left their pool ‘so clean’ they could see a ‘dime on the bottom of it’. However a handful of users marked down this device because of its inability to deal with deep ends of sharp inclines. 

So if you want to find the right pool cleaner that won’t make any holes or scratches to your walls and flooring, we’d suggest the Pentair 360042 because it's lightweight and doesn’t have any hard or scratchy surfaces. The head of the Pentair 360042 is actually fitted with a pleated seal, which makes it perfect for cleaning vinyl pools without you worrying about it ruining your pool surface. Meanwhile, the dive float directional system helps to guide the machine throughout the entire pool from the water line to the pool bottom for optimal coverage.

The Pentair 360042 also comes with an automatic valve. This means you will never have to worry about the Pentair 360042 getting tangled or caught because this back up valve cuts in every couple of minutes and draws the machine back. Not only does this feature help the Pentair 360042 continue with its cleaning regime should it get stuck, but it means it never misses a spot. So you can enjoy a super clean swim.

There is only one moving part in the Pentair 360042 which means there are no bags to empty, gears to be jammed or diaphragms to be replaced or repaired. This should help ensure that this cleaner lasts for many years to come with minimal maintenance from you. Combined with the fact that it doesn't require an expensive energy booster pump, this Pentair pool cleaner should save you a significant amount on your energy bills compared to other models.  

Best pool cleaners: Wanda the Whale Pool Cleaner

(Image credit: Hayward)

4. Hayward 900 Wanda the Whale Pool Cleaner

The best pool cleaner for above ground pools

Reasons to buy

Playful design
Cleans bottom of the pool quickly

Reasons to avoid

Doesn’t clean the sides
Not great for large pieces of debris

Fun, playful and backed-up with cleaning power, Hayward’s Wanda the Whale looks as good as it cleans. 

What the users say…

Wanda the Whale scored 4 stars out of 5 on Amazon from just over 1,700 reviews. Users of this device said they were "very impressed" because it works "way better" than a more expensive model. However the same user mentioned they did have to buy an additional hose because the one Wanda the Whale comes with isn’t long enough for their 30ft pool. One user of the machine pointed out that the machine works brilliantly for picking up algae and small pieces of debris, however it is not designed to pick up leaves.

On the manufacturer’s website, it says this turbine cleaner is designed to clean the bottom of all shapes and sizes of in-ground and above-ground pools. However we think Wanda the Whale is best suited to above ground pools. That’s because this pool cleaner won’t travel up the sides of your pool to give them a scrub. 

Wanda the Whale is fitted with a one-of-a-kind turbine system which helps it travel across your pool floor while remaining as quiet as possible. While moving across the pool floor, it pulls water up from the bottom as it moves. The unique whale design is fitted with a ‘deluxe bumper ring’ which is said to rid friction and prevent it from bumping into walls, steps and ladders. 

Meanwhile, the patented SmartDrive technology is designed to made Wanda cover the bottom of your pool as quickly and thoroughly as possible to ensure that there's no debris left behind. This pool cleaner comes with a 32ft hose that's designed to be installed and connected directly to your skimmer in less than 10 minutes without tools. Plus, there's also no expensive booster pump required for this pool cleaner either. 

Best pool cleaners: Pentair LX500G Kreepy Krauly Legend review

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5. Pentair LX500G Kreepy Krauly Legend II

The best pool cleaner for compatibility

Reasons to buy

 Low running cost 
 Works across different surface materials 

Reasons to avoid

 Has a ‘flimsy’ hose, according to reviews 
 Short warranty  

Coming with the Pentair name, the LX500G Kreepy Krauly Legend II is one of the best pool cleaners on the market. It is the second series of the brand’s Legend collection and has four wheels, which stops any tipping that might occur with other three-wheeled models. 

This is one of the design features that makes the device really compatible with all different kinds of pool surfaces. It also comes with a front-wheel drive, meaning it has great traction in inclined surfaces – this will help it cover as much of your pool as possible. Another bonus with this model is the fact it doesn’t need a booster jet – however, it should be noted that it will perform better with one. Its powerful dual-jets create a strong vortex to suck up all the dirt and move the Legend II around the pool. 

Meanwhile, the automatic back-up feature is designed to prevent hang-ups by steps and in corners, which should help ensure that the cleaner's performance is left uninterrupted for the quickest clean possible. One of the negatives about this pool cleaner that seemed to be voiced with a handful of users reviews on Amazon was its ‘flimsy’ hose that seems prone to splitting and breaking. 

Best pool cleaners: Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport pool cleaner

(Image credit: Amazon)

6. Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport

The best pool cleaner for big pools

Reasons to buy

 Big debris bag with a five-liter capacity  

Reasons to avoid

 Requires a booster pump 

The Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport is nothing to be scoffed at. Being able to suck up to 40GPM through its dual chambers, this pool cleaner is super powerful. If you have a large pool, this will be the best pool cleaner for you. 

It comes with a massive five-liter debris bag and has grippy wheels to crawl across the pool floor and walls with ease. The device comes with the brand’s one-of-a-kind ‘TailSweep Pro’. This clever design feature stops pool water from spraying sidewalks, the lawn, or people as the machine cleans. 

This cleaner is designed to be safe for all pool shapes and surfaces, including pebble, tile, fiberglass, gunite and vinyl. It also features a 2.5" inlet that's designed to pick up large debris that other pool cleaners wouldn't be able to handle. The triple venturi jets and all-wheel Posidrive is touted as delivering 'unmatched vacuum power', which is backed up by Amazon reviews that say that it works "like a champ". 

One major negative feature about this device is the fact it requires a booster pump to perform so that means an added expense. If you don’t already have a booster pump this could cost you around $300. Add that to the device’s already steep price tag of around $900 and this pool cleaner will cost you more than $1100. However, if the price isn’t an issue then give this powerful pool cleaner a go. 

Despite an overall positive rating of 4.2 out of 5 with over 470 ratings, it's also worth mentioning that some Amazon user reviews discuss the (expensive) bags getting stuck in the cleaner. A couple of users also say that the backup valve isn't particularly effective either. 

Best pool cleaners: Zodiac 6-130-00T Polaris Turbo Turtle

(Image credit: Amazon)

7. Zodiac 6-130-00T Polaris Turbo Turtle

Another great pool cleaner for above-ground pools

Reasons to buy

 Colorful design  

Reasons to avoid

 Gets tangled in its own hose  
 Not suitable for deep pools 

If there was an award for the most creative looking automatic pool cleaner, the Zodiac 6-130-00T Polaris Turbo Turtle would win every time. The device by the well-known water solutions brand, Polaris, was made for above-ground swimming pools. 

The turtle works by using the pressure of super fresh and clean water flowing back into your pool. Whilst the brand’s patented design in the form of a jet assembly, helps to loosen any muck around the pool corners or sides. It has a filter bag attached to it which crawls the bottom of the floor to pick up any debris. All you have to do is empty this bag and reattach it ahead of its next clean. This system means that that debris shouldn't ever reach your pump basket or filter, helping to prolong the life of your filtration system. 

Suitable for any above ground pool up to five feet deep, this adorable pool cleaner is designed to vacuum the pool bottom and sweep the sides in three hours or less. Weighing just 10 pounds and with compact dimensions of just 23 x 22.9 x 10.9 inches, it should be a breeze to store this cleaner away when not in use. 

Whilst there are lots of positives about this device, a handful of users who bought the turtle claimed this is a pool cleaner you will have to keep an eye on. That’s because users claimed it sometimes gets ‘tangled’ in its own hose. 

Best pool cleaners: Paxcess Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner

(Image credit: Amazon)

8. Paxcess Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner

The best affordable pool cleaner

Reasons to buy

 Robotic pool cleaner 
 Automated cleaning schedule 

Reasons to avoid

 Can mark the interior of your pool  
 Doesn’t work as well on corners 

If you’re after the best robotic pool cleaner, you’re in the right place. That’s because the Paxcess comes with many bonus features pressure-side cleaners just don’t have. This includes the ability to clean above-ground pools and in-ground pools, a scrubbing brush at its front, and an electric motor to help propel it in the direction it needs to go in. 

The Paxcess Pool Cleaner also has intelligent programming, which means you can place it into the pool and set it to clean every one, two, or three hours. All you have to do is plug it in and watch it get to work. 

This pool cleaner boasts a cleaning speed of 10 meters per minute and a cleaning area of 80 meters square. It's built with an ABS material that's designed to make it more durable, giving it a longer service life. Plus, weighing in at under 3kg, its compact and lightweight design means that storing and transporting the Paxcess should be as easy as possible. 

We're a big fan of the 12 month warranty, 24 hour sale service and professional repair service offered by Paxcess, which should help give you peace of mind when investing your hard-earned money. 

Some of the user reviews for the Paxcess Pool Cleaner were negative.  Despite averaging a score of four out of five stars, some users claimed that the sponge rollers left black marks over their pool floor and sides and scuff marks as the robotic pool cleaner scaled the sides. However, it is worth noting that this wasn’t the case for all users. Plus, the Paxcess is a great price for a pool cleaner that’s robotic.

What is a pool cleaner and does every pool need one?

A pool cleaner makes light work of restoring your pool water back to its clean and sparkly self. Pool cleaners suck up all of the dirt and debris that finds its way into the water. Whether it's twigs, stones, sand or leaves, the best pool cleaners use their suction power to travel across the pool floor and vacuum up the unwanted debris. 

The best pool cleaners can save you time, money and effort. They can also ensure you have a clean looking pool all year round and that the surface and pool floor is dirt-free. 

All you have to do is set a pool cleaning schedule and stick to it. It’s handy to note that some of the more sophisticated models can also be used to chemically treat your pool too. Many of the top pool cleaning brands have been providing pool cleaners for years. 

Kreepy Krauly was the first brand to create the first pool cleaner. But the likes of Paxcess, Polaris and Pentair are a handful of the other major well-known brands in the world of water solutions.

What makes a good pool cleaner?

Suction power
If your pool is exposed to a lot of debris, such as leaves from surrounding trees and dense landscaping, a pressure pool cleaner is more effective than smaller pressure side-suction cleaners, which are lighter and lack the power of a pressure cleaner. Consider the size of your pool, and what types of debris it’s prone to – whether it’s nearby trees, animals, or something else. Find a pool cleaner that can handle the corresponding size and quantity of debris.

Pressure cleaners can handle larger pieces of dirt and debris that fall into the pool. However, they require more suction and must be used with a booster pump. Some have debris bags with multiple chambers, or ones specifically made for fine particles like silt, not for sticks or larger debris.

Booster pump
Each pool cleaner model specifies whether it has an internal booster pump or requires an external one. Even if the vacuum has an onboard booster, you still need to have a booster line to connect it to. 

If it requires an external booster, you need to contact your pool professional to have one installed to operate the machine, which adds to the overall cost of the device. 

However, booster pumps do make your pressure pool cleaner more effective overall. They can make for a faster cleaning session, more consistent power, and can even reduce wear and tear on the cleaner.

Most pressure pool cleaners don’t work in an above ground pool. Look for a pressure side-suction cleaner instead. Most pool vacuums are designed for 8-foot deep ends and a surface area of 10 x 10 feet. If your pool is larger than that, get a hose extension so the pool vacuum can reach all corners of the pool. If you have a vinyl liner, the manufacturer should specify if the pool vacuum is suited for that type of surface. Some rotary brushes can damage vinyl or tile.

It’s important that your pool cleaner can run autonomously, so you’re not stuck monitoring it for several hours. You should ensure that the cleaner you choose has a long enough hose for your pool, or at least that it allows you to customize the length of it as needed. The best pressure pool cleaners should easily be able to handle the various terrains and locales within your pool, be it stairs, walls or any other curves or corners.

Pool cleaners that are equipped with tires that have deep treads or front-wheel offer great mobility, and are less likely to get stuck. This means they are ideal choices if you want to leave the cleaner unattended. Some units struggle or are completely unable to properly access and clean those areas, so be sure to choose a device that best suits your pool’s unique design.  

The quantity of jets a pressure pool cleaner has also greatly affects speed and mobility. Though thrust jets serve a dual-purpose for loosening stubborn dirt and sucking in debris, they can also affect the speed at which the cleaner moves and the direction it moves in. These jets are where water that the cleaner has already processed exits. Good pressure pool cleaners also have an in-line back-up valve, which can help remove it if it gets stuck.

Millie Fender
Head of Reviews

Millie Fender is Head of Reviews at Top Ten Reviews. She also works on our sister sites: Real Homes, Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, and Livingetc. As Head of Reviews, Millie is on a mission to make sure that we are reviewing all of the latest and greatest products for you and your home, whether it's a vacuum cleaner or an inflatable hot tub.

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