The Best Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2022

updated: January 05, 2022

Your pool is a big investment. You can’t afford NOT to have the best swimming pool cleaner you can find. However, with all the pool cleaning products on the market, it’s hard to figure out which work the best for different pools and situations.

Pool Cleaner Types

Pool cleaners (also known as pool sweepers) come in manual and automatic varieties. Whether you buy a robotic inground pool cleaner or an above ground pool vacuum will depend on several factors. The best choice depends on your type of pool, budget, debris accumulation and how much you want to bother with hoses, accessories and maintenance.

Check out our reviews featuring top models from brands such as Dolphin, BARACUDA, Zodiac, Aquabot and more.

Automatic Pool Cleaners

Robotic pool cleaner at work.

Nothing beats the summer heat like a crystal-clean swimming pool. If you’re one of the approximately 7.2 million homeowners who own a pool, consider yourself lucky. Despite the privilege of pool ownership, most pool owners can’t afford to hire out their pool cleaning. So, we’re left to tackle the necessary evil of removing leaves, bugs, and other unsightly debris ourselves.

Keeping your pool clean has more than just the aesthetic benefits of crystal clear water. A clean pool is more hygienic for your family and reduces water loss. It also conserves energy and lengthens the life of your pool pump and filters.

Automatic pool cleaners require very little physical effort on your part, but can be pricey. They come in a few different varieties: robotic cleaners, suction side cleaners and pressure-side cleaners.

Robotic pool cleaner.
Robotic pool cleaners

1) Robotic pool cleaners are fully self-contained automatic cleaning machines. They don’t require your pool pump and run simply by plugging into a nearby GFCI outlet. Some robotic models also clean walls, stairs, and even your pool’s waterline. They reduce the wear and tear of your pool filter by acting as a secondary filter. They’re good for debris both large and small and contain it inside the machine.


    Pros of robotic pool cleaners:

  • Versatile cleaning with minimal effort on user’s part
  • Energy-efficient
  • Can clean floor, wall, stairs, and waterline
  • Reduces wear and tear of your pool filter
  • Can reduce pool filter cleaning by 80%
Robotic Icon


  • Expensive
  • More moving parts means more maintenance/likelihood of breakage
  • Must clear the cleaner’s filter frequently
Robotic Icon
Suction-side pool cleaner.
Suction-side pool cleaners

2) Suction-side pool cleaners attach to the suction side of your pool’s filtration system. The suction force of the pool pump propels them around the pool. As they move along the bottom of the pool, they also scrub the pool floor (sometimes with a spinning disc) and can be ideal for screened-in pools with minimal dirt, sand and leaf litter.


    Pros of suction side pool cleaners:

  • Affordable
  • Easy to maintain
  • Few moving parts, so they’re less likely to break
  • Can be left in the pool for long periods of time
Suction Icon

    Cons of suction side pool cleaners:

  • The pool pump must run for them to work, thus increasing your energy bill
  • They can be harder on your pool filter by depositing more debris faster into your pool filter basket
Suction Icon
Pressure-side pool cleaner.
Pressure-side pool cleaners

3) Pressure-side pool cleaners attach to the pressure side of your pool’s filtration system. Water returning to your pool propels them around so they can collect dirt and debris. They often have a tail-like sweep hose that helps remove dirt from pool walls and tight areas. They have a bag that collects the debris so less of it ends up in your pool filter basket and are good for pools with larger and more frequent debris. Some pressure pool cleaners require a separate booster pump.


    Pros of pressure-side pool cleaners:

  • Easier on your pool filter
  • Affordable
  • Easy to maintain and repair
  • Can reduce pool filter cleaning by 80%
  • Can remain in pool for long periods of time
Pressure Icon

    Cons of pressure-side pool cleaners:

  • Can only run when your pool pump is running
  • May require an extra booster pump
Pressure Icon
Robotic pool cleaner standing near the pool.

Robotic pool cleaners are by far the easiest automatic cleaners to install. You pretty much just plug it into a GFCI outlet, turn it on and drop it in the pool. Your pool pump doesn’t need to be running, so you can give it a rest while this little guy does his thing. It will save your pool filter by using its own self-contained filter to collect debris of all sizes. However, they are the most expensive automatic pool cleaners.

How they work

Pool robots don’t require anything but a 110V outdoor ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. It contains a transformer that converts your power supply to a low voltage. A long power cord (50 ft. or more) connects the transformer to the cleaner. Sure, water and electricity don’t usually mix. But a GFCI outlet automatically shuts off power if it detects an electrical imbalance, which prevents electrocution.

A pump in the pool vacuum robot pulls water into the underside of the machine, filters the water with an internal filtration system, then pumps clean water out into the pool. The suction from the pump itself moves the robotic pool cleaner along the pool’s surfaces. Dirt and debris are collected in its filter bag while it scrubs the walls, stairs, and pool floor with brushes, rollers or water jets.

Woman with a Robotic Vac

Robotic pool cleaners can be programmed for different pool sizes and a timed cycle of cleaning before shutting off automatically. These smart boys have internal microprocessors that learn the size and shape of your pool. This helps them calculate the quickest, most efficient cycle to get your pool sparkling clean. Some pool robots have a remote control so you can enjoy a nice poolside cocktail while directing it to clean certain areas that might need a little more scrubbing.

A typical cleaning cycle lasts between 2-4 hours. Unlike suction and pressure cleaners, robotic pool cleaners should not remain in the pool for prolonged periods. Remove it as soon as possible after the cycle is done. Clean the filter bag or replace it with a disposable one. During pool season, store in a covered area such as under the deck away from the elements and direct sunlight. In winter, store inside a garage or basement.



  • Sizable inlet port collects large debris like leaves, twigs, rocks, acorns, etc.
  • Internal filtration system collects small particles of dirt, sand or silt
  • Programmable for many types and sizes of pools
  • Prolong life of pool filtration system
Robotic Icon


  • Expensive
  • Power cables can get tangled / pose a trip hazard
  • Can get stuck in corners
  • More parts & technology to potentially repair
Robotic Icon

If you’re ready to take the plunge and invest in a pool vacuum robot, check out our 2022 reviews to find a top-rated model that’s right for you.


Suction Pool Cleaner

Suction pool cleaners are generally the least expensive of the automatics. They attach with a hose to the inlet (or suction side) of your pool filtration system and send debris straight to the pool filter. They require your pool pump to be running in order to operate.

Since suction side pool cleaners make the pool filtration system work harder, you’ll have to clean or backwash the pool filter more often.

These cleaners are best for above ground pools or pools with light debris and do a great job with fine dirt and sand. If you get a lot of leaves, bugs, and other large objects, consider buying a separate leaf catcher attachment to catch that stuff before it gets into your filtration system.

How they work

To first set it up, it might be necessary to turn the cleaner upside down in the water so all the air escapes to let it sink to the bottom of the pool. Some pools come with a connection specifically for suction side pool cleaners, but not often, so you may want to plan for that when the pool is first installed.

Man with a suction pool cleaner.

To move around the pool, suction pool cleaners use the force of the water being pulled into it by the pool pump. Most of these machines move in a random pattern, but some of the wheeled ones work in set cycles of left/right turns. Brushes or squeegees beneath the machine detach the debris to let the suction carry it through the hose and back to the pool filter.

Flow volume can often be adjusted at the hose or on the machine itself so you get just the pressure needed for efficient cleaning. Too much can make the machine move too fast and miss spots and could damage the cleaner. Too little pressure will make the cleaner move too slowly or unable to climb the walls of the pool.

Suction pool cleaners are only as good as your pool filtration system. If the existing system struggles to keep the pool clear in normal operating conditions, the suction cleaner isn’t going to be a big help. It would be better to look at another type of cleaner such as a robotic cleaner or manual pool vacuum that doesn’t require the pool’s plumbing.


    Pros of suction pool cleaners:

  • Affordable
  • Easy to maintain – no filter bags to clean or change
  • Few moving parts, so tends to last longer
Suction Icon

    Cons of suction pool cleaners:

  • Pool pump must be running to operate
  • Puts more strain on your pool filter
  • Only as good as your pool’s filtration system
Suction Icon

If you have an above-ground pool or smaller in-ground pool with minimal debris, check out our 2022 suction side pool cleaner reviews to find a top-rated model that will work for you.

Ridding your pool of bugs, leaves and other debris is a must to keep the water clean and maintain the chemical balance. Skimmers are simple, inexpensive, and your pool’s best friend. They come in manual, automatic and self-contained models. Which one you choose depends on your pool type and budget. You’ll want one that’s not only affordable, but durable and easy to install.
How Pressure Pool Cleaner Work

Pressure side pool cleaners are usually more expensive than suction cleaners, but still cheaper than robotic cleaners. They attach with a hose into the water line that flows into the pool from the pool pump and filter. Some pressure side pool cleaners have an external booster pump that exerts higher pressure than the pool pump can produce.

Higher pressure machines often have handy features like timers and don’t require as much fuss. All pressure side pool cleaners come with their own filter bags to catch debris, which keeps it out of your pool filter, thereby prolonging the pool filter’s life.

How they work

Pressure side pool cleaners use the water flowing from the pool pump to propel it kind of like a jetski. Part of the flow gets diverted to a water jet which pushes debris and dirt into the intake and through the internal filter.

They’re usually more powerful and quicker than suction cleaners, but since they operate on positive pressure rather than negative (vacuum) pressure, they can’t climb walls like suction cleaners can. So these guys are best for large debris on the pool bottom. Without brushes or squeegees, they’re not good at picking up small debris. They work best for in-ground pools.

Since some of them may require separate booster pumps or dedicated pressure lines to be installed, they may be incur more costs than it’s worth. Make sure you know exactly what your pool and budget can handle before buying.


    Pros of pressure-side pool cleaners:

  • Cheaper than robotic cleaners
  • Prolongs the life of your pool filter and pump
  • Works well for large debris
  • Faster than suction cleaners
Pressure Icon

    Cons of pressure-side pool cleaners:

  • May need additional lines or pumps
  • Doesn’t pick up small debris well
  • Extra filter bag to empty
  • Doesn’t climb walls
Pressure Icon

If you have an in-ground pool that tends to collect a lot of large debris on the bottom, a pressure-side pool cleaner may be just what you need. Check out our 2022 reviews to find a top-rated model that will work for you.


Pool Cleaning: Tools You Need to Do it the Right Way Every Time

No matter how many cool automatic cleaners you have roaming around your pool, it’s still necessary to roll up your sleeves and use a little elbow grease for a thorough clean. Pools often need this extra bit of effort on our part when we procrastinate in cleaning them, but also upon first opening the pool for the season, and after storms and vacations.

How to Vacuum a Pool

For heavy accumulations of debris and especially algae, you’ll need some manual cleaning tools at your disposal.

Pool Skimmers

Unlike the suction, pressure and robotic pool cleaners that roam around the bottom and walls of the pool, skimmers hang out at the water’s surface. The most basic of these is a net attached to a telescoping pole. They’re perfect for removing leaves and other debris floating on the water’s surface since automatic cleaners often miss that. For bigger pools, make sure you have a skimmer with a telescoping pole that allows you to reach at least halfway across the pool so you can walk the circumference and stay dry. Of course, you always have the option of using the skimmer while you’re in the pool.

Pool skimmer at work.

Skimmers come in 3 basic types:

  1. Manual – That’s the net on a pole. They won’t do much for filtering out fine debris, but they’ll catch bugs and leaves like nobody’s business.
  2. Automatic – If you really hate using the net on a pole or are really short on time, opt for an automatic skimmer. Sometimes these attach to an existing suction side pool cleaner and use the pressure to create a whirlpool that sucks in leaves and other debris.
  3. Self-Contained – These are the newest type of skimmer. They’re powered by sunlight with built-in solar panels. They’re more expensive than the others but on sunny days, they can reduce the need to run the pool pump thereby saving power.

Pool Brush

Man with a pool brush.

Attach a pool brush to a telescopic pole to scrub your pool’s walls and floor. These are especially good for algae removal, which automatic pool cleaners can’t tackle as well. When you open the pool for the season, you’re more likely to need one of these. After that, use it at least twice weekly to brush walls, ladders and corners of the pool where automatic cleaners often miss.

The material of the brush depends on the pool’s surface. If it’s unpainted concrete, use a brush with stainless steel and nylon bristles. If it’s gunite, use a brush with only stainless steel bristles. For fiberglass, vinyl or painted concrete, use a brush with only nylon bristles.


Pool Vacuums

Suction Pool Cleaner at work.

Suction-side, pressure-side and robotic pool cleaners all fall into this category, but you can also use a manual pool vacuum. They’re usually cheaper than the automatic type. The vacuum head attaches to a telescopic pole and also to a suction hose attached to a pump that comes with the vacuum. Air should always be expelled from the hose before attaching to the pump.

You’ll basically move it along the bottom of the pool the same way you’d vacuum your carpet. Spend more time and move slowly in heavily soiled areas. Vacuum at least once a week and after storms that may deposit a lot of debris into the pool.

Keep it Clean

Prevention is the best medicine, even for pools. Don’t neglect the maintenance. Stay on top of the cleaning, the chemicals and your filtration system to keep your pool clean and healthy for your family. It’ll save you a ton of work and stress by doing a little pool maintenance each day.

Our pool maintenance expert, Luke Reed, earned his BS in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1998. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of industries, including design and construction of luxury swimming pools.
image description Comments
July 19, 2021 at 3:04 pm

I heard that automatic pool cleaners are more trouble than they’re worth—that they’re prone to all manner of mechanical breakdowns, tend to get stuck in one corner, and aren’t very good at scrubbing the waterline. How do I know I won’t be wasting my money?

Kevin (Cleanup.Expert Team)
July 21, 2021 at 10:01 am

Hello, Jerome! While it’s true that a small percentage of automatic pool cleaners will suffer from technical glitches that cause the kind of problems you describe, this is the exception and not the rule. A machine only gets listed in our buyers’ guides after it has been proven to be reliable, durable, and worth every penny of what you end up investing in it. There are thousands of people all over the planet who are immensely satisfied with their automatic pool cleaners because these useful devices make pool ownership a joy again.

Erin Webb
April 4, 2021 at 12:01 pm

Hello, Luke! I have a Dolphin Premier, and it used to climb walls like a champ. Nowadays, not so much. I’m not sure what happened, but I don’t like it. Can you help me out?

Kevin (Cleanup.Expert Team)
April 5, 2021 at 1:02 pm

Hello, Erin! Thanks for your question. There could be many reasons why a formerly excellent climber isn’t performing up to snuff. It could be that the debris bag is too full.
If the problem is intermittent, keep in mind that the robot doesn’t climb the walls on every pass. Usually, it’s every five to six passes.
Also, check the impeller to ensure there are no hair strands or other debris that can impede its free rotation. If you find debris, you’ll need to clean it out. This will take only a few minutes to do. Check out this YouTube video if you want to find out how to do it.
Sometimes, a robot will stop climbing if the pool water is too frigid. Make sure the temperature of your pool water is at least 60°F. If none of these suggestions remedy the problem, call Maytronics support.
Take care, and have a fabulous summer!

Margie Powell
March 9, 2021 at 9:34 am

I live in Massachusetts, and have a 50 foot inground pool adjacent to a few large maple and oak trees. A ton of leaves and acorns in the early autumn fall into the pool. What’s the best robotic pool cleaner for sucking up this type of debris?

Kevin (Cleanup.Expert Team)
March 9, 2021 at 7:24 pm

Hello, Margie! For larger debris, one of the best robotic cleaners is the Polaris 9550.

Some robotic pool cleaners only have three to four inch wide openings. For big leaves and acorns, this simply won’t do. The Polaris 9559 has a roomy nine inch wide intake port and a larger-than-normal debris canister–perfect for the kind of flotsam and jetsam you described.

I hope that helped!

Pearl Haskins
April 19, 2020 at 11:28 pm

Great recommendation. I’ll be sure to check each one out as our family is looking for a pool cleaner as the one we have was recently broken.

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