Keep your above-ground swimming pool sparkling and clean with our hand-picked selection of the best above-ground pool vacuums.
But keeping your pool clean is a top priority. In fact, next to keeping the pool water at a comfortable temperature with an efficient pool heater, cleanliness is right at the top of the list of things your pool requires from you.
Most new pool owners are surprised by how quickly debris can begin to accumulate in the pool: dirt, sand, leaves, hair-balls, and so on. For the daily grind of keeping the pool clean, a solid above-ground pool filter and pump keeps the water moving and mostly clean.
Along with your favorite pool brush, and a floating pool chemical dispenser, one of the classic pool cleaning pieces of equipment is leaf skimmer net—a long plastic rod with a net. But this will only help you clean debris that is at the surface or that is floating in the water.
A pool vacuum does the work that a floating pool skimmer won’t do, polishing the bottom and sides of the pool, giving you that sparkling, clean water you want.
There are a few different options when it comes to picking out the best pool vacuum. While there are lots of pool vacuums on the market, not all are made for the specific needs of an above-ground swim pool.
Here’s the ultimate buyer’s guide to the best above-ground pool vacuums.
Intex Auto Pool Cleaner
⭐ Best pool vacuum for Intex above-ground pools
So it’s no big (pool) shock (ha! Pool pun!) that they would make a vacuum specifically for their line of above-ground swim pools. The Intex Auto Pool Cleaner is made specifically for Intex above-ground swimming pools that have a 1” to 1.5” hose fitting.
The vacuum requires a filter pump that can handle a flow rate between 1,600-3,500 gallons per hour and works in pools that are 24ft and smaller.
The Intex Auto Pool Cleaner does the dirty work for you, scrolling back and forth along the floor to collect loose debris, including sand, leaves, and small sticks. For more pesky pool debris, like algae, use a brush to scrape off the sides and let the vacuum roll over it and collect it.
Budget-friendly, backed by Intex’s long history of building quality pools, and super easy to install (took me about three minutes to get started with it), the Intex Auto Pool Cleaner is the best pool vacuum for the Intex pool owner.
AIPER Seagull SE Cordless Above-Ground Pool Vacuum
⭐ Best cordless above-ground pool vacuum
One of the frustrating parts of above-ground pool vacuums is the constant cord tangles. The AIPER Seagull SE solves that problem by essentially being an aquatic-certified Roomba for your swim pool.
After the Seagull SE is fully charged, slide into the water, and it will zoom along the floor of your above-ground pool (up to 33-ft in diameter, covering even the largest above-ground pools on the market), for 90 minutes.
The latest version of the Seagull SE—we tested the original AIPER back in 2019—has a feature where if the battery is about to die, it will motor towards the nearest wall and park. This was a frustrating feature in the past with the AIPER—it would die in the middle of the pool and I’d have to wade out into the middle of the pool and rescue it from its own bad decisions.
AIPER also added an easy-to-grip handle on top of the unit casing making it easier to retrieve from the water after it’s done cleaning the pool.
All in all, I love this little thing as it’s very easy to use, offers a truly hands-off above-ground pool vacuuming experience, and despite the smart technology, doesn’t break the bank at around $200.
Dolphin E10 Above-Ground Pool Vacuum
⭐ Best above-ground pool vacuum for high-debris backyards
Dolphin is one of the big names in pool cleaning, making commercial-grade pool vacuums for large aquatic facilities (we use two commercial Dolphin automatic cleaners at the local Olympic-sized swim pool where I coach) as well as powerful little vacuums for backyard above-ground pools.
The Dolphin E10 is an absolute monster and doesn’t require a hose or suction to do its thing—it’s powered by electricity instead of your pool pump.
The E10 is best-suited for people who have a pool underneath a lot of tree cover and foliage and are constantly battling the amount of debris getting into the pool.
Simply drop the Dolphin into your above-ground pool, let it complete its 90-minute cleaning cycle, pull the filter bucket out the top and give it a rinse, and either have it go another round with your pool or jump in and enjoy some clean pool water.
Tip: Take a section of rope, just over the depth of your pool, add a buoy to the end, and tie it to the E10. It will make pulling the vacuum out of the pool much easier when it’s done cleaning instead of pulling it by the power wire.
The Dolphin E10 is definitely better suited to above-ground pools that are constantly facing onslaughts of debris and for the pool owner that wants the best. The E10 is also designed to work in above-ground pools up to 30ft in diameter.
The E10 ain’t cheap, with a $599 price tag and more if you want a caddy to make lugging the 15lb unit to and from the water’s edge.
Intex Handheld Above-Ground Swim Pool Vacuum
⭐ Best handheld rechargeable vacuum for above-ground pools
Another pool vacuum made by Intex, this one is designed for above-ground pools that are no larger than 18 feet in length.
With a telescoping aluminum shaft (up to 94”), a rechargeable battery (charged through a USB port), and a sturdy brush and suction head that pulverizes and collects dirt, the Intext Handheld is a great selection for those who prefer to take their pool cleaning into their own hands.
The Intex Handheld unit has a waterproof switch that makes sure the unit will turn off if it is completely dropped and submerged in the water.
Pool Blaster Max CG Handheld Above-Ground Pool Vacuum
⭐ Best commercial-grade handheld above-ground pool vacuum
Looking for a stronger handheld above-ground pool vacuum? Like, heavy-duty kind of strong?
The Pool Blaster Max Li is your best bet.
It’s significantly more heavy-duty compared to the Intex handheld, running for an hour on a full charge, using a 12.75” vacuum head with scrubbing brushes to suck up algae, debris, and other unwanted pool guests.
The head on the vacuum is tough enough for harder pool surfaces like concrete but gentle enough to use on fiberglass, PVC and vinyl pool liners (such as those most commonly found in metal frame above-ground swim pools like those made by Intex and Bestway Pools).
For difficult spot cleaning, and getting into hard-to-reach areas where your pool filter isn’t properly circulating water and allowing debris build-up or even algae growth, the Pool Blaster Max CG is an indispensable tool in the above-ground pool owner’s belt.
U.S. Pool Supply Above-Ground Vacuum Kit
⭐ Best no-frills above-ground pool vacuum
This above-ground pool vacuum is no-frills and includes everything you need to manually clean your swim pool or spa.
It includes a deluxe jet vacuum that uses pressure from your garden hose that pulls debris as large as leaves into the collection bag at the top of the vacuum head. Also included are a 16” wide brush for hitting the walls and pesky areas like behind the pool ladder. The vacuum even comes with a telescoping pool pole.
While the suction on the vacuum isn’t as strong as electric or suction-side pool vacuums—it’s limited by the water pressure from your garden hose—it does an efficient job at collecting most of the debris in the pool (at this price point, expectations should be somewhat tempered).
The U.S. Supply Above-Ground Vacuum Kit is almost hilariously inexpensive–$29.99 for the deluxe set with the brush—and is gentle enough to work on vinyl-lined above-ground swim pools.
Elbow grease sold separately.
Above Ground Pool Vacuums – FAQs
What are the different types of above-ground pool vacuums?
While vacuuming is nobody’s idea of a great time, it is a requirement for a clean and sparkling pool.
Fortunately, pool vacuums have come a long way in recent years, with better tech and more “hands off” approaches available for backyard pool owners.
Here are the three main kinds of above-ground pool vacuums on the market:
Robotic pool vacuums.
The ultimate set it and forget it tool is a robotic pool cleaner, alternatively known as automatic pool cleaners. They are the premium option—drop it in the water (no, you won’t get shocked when it enters the water)—and a couple of hours later, fish it out. Clean pool.
They have a mesh bag inside to collect gunk and are powered by electricity, not your pump, which means that a robotic pool cleaner can do the hard work of cleaning your pool while the pump and filter are off.
Think of robotic pool vacuums as an iRobot for your swim pool.
Pressure side pool vacuums.
A form of automatic pool cleaner, these bad boys look odd—there’s a unit that floats on the surface while a mesh bag drags along the bottom, collecting unwanted guests—but they are an affordable way to skip the manual part of vacuuming your pool.
Pressure side pool vacuums have few moving parts (i.e. easy to troubleshoot), rely on the water pressure from your pump and filter to move around the pool, and it’s kinda cool watching the unit move around the pool.
Suction side pool cleaner.
When you think about an actual vacuum, like the one that you use on carpet in your house, this is what you should have in mind when it comes to suction side pool cleaners.
They work in much the same way, pulling down onto the surface of your pool, using the water pressure from your pump and filter to move around the pool.
But unlike your dryland vacuum, you don’t need to guide a suction side pool cleaner; it moves around the pool on its own.
Handheld above-ground pool vacuums
FOr pool owners who prefer to do the vacuuming the manual way, there are vacuums that can be powered either via the pressure on your garden hose (as is the case with the U.S. Supply Above-Ground Pool Maintenance Kit) or using a powered handheld unit.
These kinds of pool vacuums necessitate a little more elbow grease and can be harder to move in deeper pools.
What is the best way to vacuum an above-ground pool?
Depending on the kind of vacuum you end up choosing for your above-ground pool, assembly and getting started can take a few seconds or a few minutes.
No matter what kind of vacuum you end up choosing, there are some pointers to follow:
⭐ Use the right setting for how dirty the pool is. If your vacuum attaches to the filter and pump, make sure to have the filter system set to the correct setting. For routine cleaning, set the pool filter to the filter setting. For heavy cleaning, after a big rainstorm or after extended periods of use, set it to the waste setting.
⭐ Slow and long sweeps. Moving the pool vacuum head too quickly will send debris and organic matter flying around the water, requiring more passes later on. Speeding through the passes will create a cloud of debris (the pool might be so dirty that this will happen regardless) which will require waiting an hour or two for it to settle.
⭐ Pull the vacuum out of the water. Don’t leave your pool vacuum into the water when you aren’t using it. Pool chemicals—and this is especially the case if you plan on shocking the water—can corrode pool equipment when exposed to extended periods of time.
⭐ Don’t forget to test. Once you’ve completed the vacuuming, it’s time to test the water. Pull out your pool test kit, whether that’s your digital pool test kit or pool test strips and check to see how balanced the water is.
How often should I vacuum my above ground pool?
Your regular vacuuming schedule varies by how much your pool gets used and how well covered the pool is between uses.
For starters, consider vacuuming your above ground pool at least once a week. There will be special occasions where it’s a good idea to get some vacuuming done, including when you open the pool, when you close the pool, or after heavy use and after un-awesome weather.
Properly covering your pool when it is not in use—even if you are just using a solar cover which has the bonus effect of reducing water evaporation and retaining heat—will help cut down the amount of time spent vacuuming the pool as it will help keep debris out of the water.
Do pool vacuums remove algae from the water?
Algae can be a really tough customer, especially once it’s started to take hold on the pool walls, behind the steps of your above-ground pool, and so on.
Vacuuming the pool can help a little in these situations (especially when combined with a good algaecide or using your favorite pool shock), but where pool vacuums can really help is preventing algae from getting started in the first place.
By regularly vacuuming up leaves, dirt, dead insects, and other uninvited pool guests, you remove the food source and stop algae growth in its tracks.
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