The 8 Best Pool Cleaners of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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From robotic cleaners to scrub brushes, our favorite pool cleaners will rid your pool of buildup and debris.

<p>Real Simple / Anna Knief</p>

Real Simple / Anna Knief

Pool owners know that keeping a pool cared for takes serious work and commitment. No matter how often you use it, it’s imperative that your pool gets cleaned frequently so it can be in the best shape for swimmers. Thankfully, there are plenty of high-quality pool cleaners you can use to get the job done.

“Automatic pool cleaners are a convenient way to keep your pool clean and ready to use with less fuss and bother,” says Gary Hohne, president and CEO of pool service company Brighton Pools. “Although they won’t completely eliminate manual cleaning and maintenance, automatic cleaners do help reduce the need for brushing, skimming, and vacuuming the pool. If you want your time back, auto cleaners are the way to go!”

To help you in your search for the best pool cleaner, we tested 21 pool cleaners in various locations across the country over the course of several months, evaluating them on design, ease of use, effectiveness, and value. Whether your pool is in-ground or above-ground, large or small, we can recommend a pool cleaner for your needs.

Dolphin Nautilus CC Supreme Pool Cleaner

Best Overall Pool Cleaner

Who it’s for: People who want an effective and easy-to-use cleaner that can be controlled using an app.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a pool cleaner that can easily climb stairs.

This powerful, easy-to-use robotic pool cleaner provided us with a thorough clean time and time again. It comes with three scrubbing brushes and two types of filters, as well as a long hose that never got twisted or bent during use. It’s also WiFi-enabled, so you can control the settings and timing via a helpful app. Plus, the setup is super simple: All you need to do is plug it into a power outlet, place it in the pool, choose your cycle, and let it work—freeing up your time to tackle other chores.

The Nautilus CC Supreme is also fairly lightweight relative to other robotic cleaners, with a large handle to help you keep a firm grip on it as you take it in and out of the pool. Additionally, we found the instructions for each cleaning mode to be very easy to understand and use, and the filters are also simple to remove and clean.

Our one complaint is that this cleaner did have a hard time climbing stairs, so you may need to rely on a manual cleaner or brush to tackle them. This is also the most expensive pool cleaner on our list, but if you can swing it, we think it’s worth the splurge for its convenience and consistent results.

Price at time of publish: $1,699

Product Details:

  • Type: Robotic

  • Pool Type and Length: In-ground pools up to 50 feet

  • Cord Length: 60 feet

  • Weight: 24.6 pounds

Aiper Seagull 1000 Cordless Robotic Pool Cleaner

Best Budget Pool Cleaner

Who it’s for: People who want an affordable, cordless pool cleaner that can run while you’re in the pool.

Who it isn’t for: People with very deep pools.

If you’re looking to keep costs down, make sure to check out this reasonably priced pool cleaner from Aiper. In addition to being affordable, it is cordless, lightweight, and compact, making it easy to handle and store. We were even able to run the cleaner while in the pool, since it’s compact enough that it doesn't get in the way.

The cleaner features two angle settings and a powerful motor that runs on a rechargeable battery, which can last up to 90 minutes. And given its small size, we were pleasantly surprised by how much this little vacuum was able to pick up. It does tend to get caught in the deep end (even if you adjust the angles accordingly), making it a better choice for people with shallow or above-ground pools. Still, setting up the cleaner is incredibly simple, thanks to easy instructions. Overall, we think this is an exceptional option for someone who wants low-lift cleaning at an affordable price.

Price at time of publish: $370

Product Details:

  • Type: Robotic

  • Pool Type and Length: Above-ground pools up to 35 feet in diameter; in-ground pools up to 50 feet

  • Cord Length: Cordless

  • Weight: 15 pounds

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Cleaner

Best In-Ground Pool Cleaner

Who it’s for: People who want a fast-acting pool cleaner that can climb in-ground pool walls with ease.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a WiFi-enabled pool cleaner.

To keep your in-ground pool looking shiny and fresh at all times, consider this robotic cleaner from Dolphin. We found it to be a highly effective cleaner that's much easier to use and faster than the brand’s previous versions.

A fairly compact and lightweight cleaner, this device comes with a handle that you can use to take it in and out of the pool as well as a user-friendly instruction manual. It has strong, easy-to-replace filters that can vacuum up tons of leaves and sediment in a two-hour window, and it skillfully climbs pool walls and scans the bottom for debris using a smart navigation system. Just plug it into an outlet and drop it in the water; it’ll do the rest of the job itself.

On the downside, it is a fairly pricey pool cleaner, and it doesn’t come with Bluetooth, so you can’t control it via an app on your phone. Still, it saved us many hours of time spent cleaning the pool, and if you have an in-ground pool, we think you will be happy you spent the money.

Price at time of publish: $999

Product Details:

  • Type: Robotic

  • Pool Type and Length: In-ground pools up to 40 feet

  • Cord Length: 60 feet

  • Weight: 20.8 pounds

Dolphin Escape Robotic Pool Cleaner

Best Above-Ground Pool Cleaner

Who it’s for: People who want a top-loading pool cleaner for cleaning above-ground pools.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a less expensive cleaner that can fold up when not in use.

This above-ground pool cleaner can collect and hold plenty of debris despite its smaller-than-average size and light weight. It uses robotic scanning to locate dirt, leaves, and sediment, with a roller design that helps it navigate the space of a pool and even straightens out the liner a bit as it circulates throughout the pool area.

This cleaner features a large top-load filter (for easy removal and exchange) and an active scrubbing brush, along with an instruction manual that comes complete with videos to help with set-up. Size-wise, the cleaner is relatively compact and just needs to be plugged into an outlet in order to work. The price tag is a little high, and it doesn’t fold up, so it’s a bit tricky to store when not in use. Yet all in all, this is a practical and efficient cleaner that saves time and cleans above-ground pools thoroughly.

Price at time of publish: $999

Product Details:

  • Type: Robotic

  • Pool Type and Length: Above-ground pools up to 30 feet

  • Cord Length: 40 feet

  • Weight: 14.2 pounds

Polaris VRX iQ+ Robotic Pool Cleaner

Best Smart Pool Cleaner

Who it’s for: People who want a heavy-duty pool cleaner that can be controlled using an app.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a lightweight and low-priced cleaner.

WiFi-enabled pool cleaners can be helpful because they allow you to control them from the convenience of your phone, and we love this option from Polaris. Pick from seven different cleaning modes, check the water temperature, and schedule cleaning cycles using the accompanying app, making the cleaning process truly a breeze.

This robotic cleaner runs on four-wheel drive so it moves very easily on the bottom of the pool and has a great grip for climbing pool walls. Other than the setup, it requires little effort to get going—all you need to do is plug in the extra-long cable, put the cleaner in the pool, press start, and let it run. The app lets you know when the job is complete, but you can also check the control panel for updates. The filter is top-loading so you can access it easily, and the cord’s design allows it to fully rotate without getting twisted. This cleaner is admittedly a big investment, but its ease of use and effectiveness make it worthwhile if you can swing the cost.

Price at time of publish: $1,650

Product Details:

  • Type: Robotic

  • Pool Type and Length: In-ground pools up to 60 feet  

  • Cord Length: 70 feet

  • Weight: 46 pounds

Poolwhale Pool & Spa Vacuum

Best Pool Cleaner for Spot Cleaning

Who it’s for: People who want a lightweight cleaner for collecting debris.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a powerful cleaner that will scrub the surface of the pool.

If you need an inexpensive pool cleaner for occasional spot cleaning, look no further than this pick from Poolwhale. It’s an ultra-compact, pressure-powered vacuum cleaner that uses suction and pressure from a standard garden hose to collect debris into a mesh filter bag. You can connect the three-bristle vacuum head either to the included six-section pole or attach it to one of your own if you want a longer reach (we did find the included pole to be a bit short).

One of the biggest perks of this low-priced cleaner is that it’s very small and lightweight, taking up minimal space for storage and making it easy for anyone to use. Because of its tiny size, it does take some time to vacuum up a whole pool, so it’s best used by people with small pools and pools without filters (like Jacuzzis or inflatable models). Still, its suction works surprisingly well and picked up plenty of debris in our testing. And because it needs to be attached to a hose, it can conveniently double as a filter when water levels are low.

Price at time of publish: $44

Product Details:

  • Type: Pressure vacuum

  • Pool Type and Length: In-ground pools up to 25 feet; above-ground pools (up to 4 feet deep)

  • Cord Length: N/A

  • Weight: 1.3 pounds

Hayward The PoolCleaner 2-Wheel Suction Cleaner

Best Suction Pool Cleaner

Who it’s for: People who want a pool cleaner that relies on the pool’s pump for suction power.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a fast-acting cleaner and people who want a robotic pool cleaner.

This highly effective and reliable suction cleaner uses two-wheel drive and tire treads to get around the pool with ease. It relies on the pool’s pump to suction up debris using the hose connected to the skimmer. You can pick from three interchangeable flow settings and take advantage of the cleaner’s self-adjusting turbine vanes that ensure all debris is collected without jamming up, as well as its pre-programmed steering sequences.

Although this isn’t the fastest pool cleaner on the market (you’ll have to be okay waiting around for it to finish up), it does a thorough job, cleaning all areas of the pool and climbing up the side walls without any issue. It’s also very simple to set up and the bright white hose helps it stand out in the water.

Price-wise, it’s right about average, and worth the cost if you want a cleaner that doesn’t require you to do a lot of work. As long as you’re fine with the longer-than-average run time, you’ll be glad you picked up this top-notch cleaner.

Price at time of publish: $429

Product Details:

  • Type: Suction-side

  • Pool Type and Length: In-ground pools up to 32 feet

  • Cord Length: N/A

  • Weight: 12 pounds

Lalapool Professional Pool Brush

Best Pool Cleaner Brush

Who it’s for: People who want a simple way of getting algae and chemical buildup off their pool walls and floors.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a heavy-duty pool cleaner that removes all grime and debris.

For a simple but efficient way of keeping your pool clean, opt for a brush, such as this one from Lalapool. It’s an 18-inch-wide brush made with tough, flexible bristles that can tackle all areas of a pool, with a wide sweeping zone to cover a lot of territory and curved edges to get into tricky corners. And don’t worry about damaging your pool floors and walls, as the brush is designed to be gentle and avoid scrapes.

We found this durable and sturdy brush to be great for cleaning walls and scrubbing floors. Because it’s not a vacuum, it doesn’t actually remove debris, but it’ll keep your pool clean from algae or chemical buildup like chlorine and sunscreen. There’s no setup required, since it’s just a brush, although you can purchase an extension pole separately if you want to clean certain areas from afar. Even if you have an automatic pool cleaner, we think this is a tool that everyone with a pool could benefit from for quick touch ups.

Price at time of publish: $21

Product Details:

  • Type: Manual brush 

  • Pool Type and Length: All 

  • Cord Length: N/A 

  • Weight: 10.4 ounces (without pole)

Final Verdict

The Dolphin Nautilus CC Supreme Robotic Pool Cleaner was among the most effective in our testing, and its lightweight design makes it easy to handle and store. Plus, it’s Wi-Fi-enabled, so you can control it remotely using an app. For a more budget-friendly option, the Aiper Seagull 1000 Robotic Pool Cleaner is a cordless and compact robotic pool cleaner that can run for up to 90 minutes when fully charged.

Our Testing Process

We tested 21 different pool cleaners in various locations across the country, using them at least once per week over anywhere from two to four months. Before the first use, we recorded the amount of time it took to set up the pool cleaner from start to finish. Prior to each use, we took note of the pool conditions, including the amount of debris and whether the water was clear or clouded. We followed the manufacturer's instructions for each cleaning, and used a stopwatch to time how long it took for the cleaning to complete (excluding manual brushes). For those cleaners with WiFi-compatibility, we explored the app's features and functionality. After each cleaning, we evaluated the emptying and cleanup process of each pool cleaner. We rated each cleaner based on its design, ease of use, effectiveness, and value.

How to Shop for Pool Cleaners Like a Pro


Pool cleaners come in multiple types, including suction, pressure, and robotic cleaners. Automatic suction (aka suction-side) cleaners, such as the Hayward The PoolCleaner 2-Wheel Suction Cleaner, “use suction from your pool’s plumbing and filtration system to move the cleaner around the bottom and walls of your pool” and are best for pools where “debris is light,” explains Gary Hohne, president and CEO of pool service company Brighton Pools. With suction cleaners, you’ll need to be prepared to clean out your filter more frequently, since they cause more dirt to run through the system.

Pressure cleaners, like the Poolwhale Pool Vacuum Cleaner, act as vacuums and “use water pressure from your pool’s plumbing and filtration system to move the cleaner around the bottom and walls of your pool,” says Hohne. They’re similar to suction-side cleaners, but they feature a filter bag to collect debris and take the load off your pool’s filter. While they’re good for collecting large debris, such as leaves, they don’t clean the surface of the pool as thoroughly as contact cleaners.

And then there are robotic cleaners, which “collect dirt and debris as they move along the pool bottom and literally scrub and cleans the walls and interior surfaces,” explains Hohne. “Robotic cleaners tend to be more expensive, but are very effective and they reduce wear and tear on your pool filtration system while helping your filter perform more efficiently. They collect larger debris like small branches, twigs and leaves too!”

In addition to the three main types of pool cleaners above, you can also use a pool brush (such as the Lalapool Professional Pool Brush) and a skimming net attached to a long telescoping pole to manually scrape off stains and algae and remove any floating debris. These are best reserved for spot cleaning or above-ground pools and spas.

Pool Type

While many pool cleaners can work in pools of all different sizes and shapes, some are specifically geared for in-ground pools, while others are designed to work in above-ground pools. If you have a Jacuzzi or inflatable pool in need of cleaning, opt for a spot cleaner that’s especially compact and not as powerful as a device aimed at larger-scale pools.

Cleaning Coverage

Most pool cleaners are designed to cover pools up to about 50 feet in length, which should be more than enough for most people’s homes. Additionally, most pool cleaners effectively cover the floor and walls, and some higher-end models can even tackle stairs and the waterline. The best quality cleaners can even squeeze into tight corners or curved edges.

Cord Length

Many pool cleaners come with long cords that plug into power outlets so that they can clean the pool from all angles without requiring you to manually move them around. These lengths can vary, but are often around 50-70 feet. Some cleaners are cordless, though, and operate via rechargeable batteries (just keep in mind that this means they’ll have a limited runtime).

More Pool Cleaners to Consider

Pool Blaster Max Li Cordless Pool Vacuum: This suction pool cleaner is easy to use and good for quick cleanups, but its plastic construction feels less durable and lower-quality than some other models in consideration. It also feels fairly pricey, at $200, for a vacuum without an included pole.

Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner: We liked a lot about this lightweight pool cleaner, including its “gentle” cleaning approach and powerful twin motors, but its high price tag and lack of a Bluetooth connection kept it from making the favorites list.

Questions You May Ask

What are the benefits of a pool cleaner?

While it’s absolutely possible to keep your pool looking good with manual cleaning, an automatic pool cleaner can require much less effort, save on time, and do a more thorough job than you could’ve done on your own. A high-quality cleaner can collect and store debris from tricky corners of the pool and scale walls, too, and often use a smart navigation system to scan the bottom for anything your eyes may have missed.

How long do robotic pool cleaners last?

With good care, a typical robotic pool cleaner can last at least four or five years. To ensure your pool cleaner’s longevity, make sure you clean it regularly, check for wear and tear, and remove it from the pool and wipe it down after each use.

How much should you expect to pay for a pool cleaner?

According to Hohne, the average pool cleaner can cost anywhere from $600 to $2,000. (The robotic pool cleaners on our list range from about $400 to $1,700.) The more expensive models usually sport helpful features like Bluetooth capability, four-wheel drive, and extra-long cords, while cleaners on the lower end might be more basic yet still get the job done. But to really save on costs, opt for a small vacuum or brush cleaner rather than a robotic one.

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Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Rachel Simon, a writer for Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, The New York Times, and many other publications. To come up with this list, we tested 21 different pool cleaners over several months and evaluated them based on design, ease of use, effectiveness, and value. For expert insight, Rachel spoke to Gary Hohne, president and CEO of pool service company Brighton Pools.

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn’t an option. All products go through the same rigorous process, whether they are purchased or sent by the company.

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

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