Having a swimming pool in your backyard can be a dream come true during those hot summer months. But keeping it clean and free of leaves, dirt, and other debris is not always an easy task. That’s where a good handheld pool vacuum can come in handy.
A handheld pool vacuum allows you to quickly clean up messes and debris in your pool, without having to haul out a large automatic cleaner. Handheld vacuums are lightweight, easy to use, and often cordless for maximum portability. They can reach tight spots along steps and in corners that bigger cleaners can’t always get to.
But with so many handheld pool vac options on the market, how do you choose the best handheld pool vacuum? Here is an in-depth look at the best handheld pool vacuums to make your selection process easier.
How Do Handheld Pool Vacuums Work?
Handheld pool vacuums are manually operated, meaning you move them around the pool yourself to suck up dirt and debris. They operate very similarly to a household vacuum cleaner.
Most handheld pool vacuums have an intake nozzle on the bottom which draws water and debris inside as you move the vacuum across the pool surface. The debris passes through a filter bag or basket that catches everything while allowing water to flow back into the pool.
Some more advanced cordless handheld vacuums utilize a pump to create suction power, while more basic models rely on the power of your pool’s filtration system. These hook up via a hose to the dedicated vacuum line on your pool’s skimmer or filtration system. The suction from the pump powers the vacuum.
No matter what type you choose, a handheld pool vacuum makes quick work of cleaning up leaves, bugs, dirt, sand, pebbles, and anything else that winds up in the water. They’re ideal for routine maintenance and quick cleanups.
Factors To Consider When Choosing a Handheld Pool Vacuum
There are a few key factors to consider when shopping for the best handheld pool vacuum for your needs:
- Corded – Corded handheld vacuums connect via a hose to your pool’s skimmer or dedicated vacuum line for power. No batteries required. But the cord can be cumbersome.
- Cordless – Cordless vacuums run on battery power so they have no strings attached. This gives you unlimited mobility around the pool. But runtime is limited per charge.
- Manual – Basic manual vacuums rely on suction created by pulling the unit through the water. No electricity or batteries needed, providing maximum cost-efficiency. But they require more physical effort to use.
Size of Pool
Consider the surface area you need to clean. Larger pools may benefit from a more heavy-duty model with longer runtime and a broader cleaning path, while smaller above-ground pools can get by with more compact handhelds.
Type of Debris
Some vacuums are better designed to pick up fine dust and sediment, while others excel at leaves and larger debris. Evaluate what typically winds up in your pool.
Ease of Use
Look for lightweight models with comfortable handles that won’t cause hand fatigue. Long hoses allow access to all areas without having to get in the pool. Simple maintenance and cleaning between uses is also ideal.
Filter bags catch debris for easy emptying. Some have multi-level filtration for fine particles. Permanent baskets or cartridges just need rinsing between uses. Larger capacity means less frequent emptying.
For cordless models, battery runtime ranges from 15 minutes to over an hour. Plan accordingly based on your pool size. Spare batteries allow for continuous cleaning.
By keeping these factors in mind while shopping, you’ll be able to select the ideal handheld vacuum to make your pool maintenance a breeze this swim season.
Reviews of the Top Handheld Pool Vacuums
Here are our picks for the best handheld pool vacuums in both corded and cordless varieties:
Best Cordless: INTEY Handheld Pool Vacuum
- Pro-level suction power from built-in pump
- Large easy-empty debris basket
- Up to 35 minutes continuous runtime
- Lightweight at just 5 lbs
This versatile cordless vacuum features strong suction to easily pick up dirt, leaves, bugs, and sand in above ground or in-ground pools. The debris container is extra large to allow longer cleaning time between emptying.
The lithium battery provides up to 35 minutes of run time and recharges in just 3-5 hours. Weighing only 5 pounds, it’s easy to maneuver around your pool single-handedly without fatigue. An attachable brush loosens stuck-on debris.
Reviewers say it cleans their pools “extremely well”, picking up “everything in its path.” The generous battery life, long hoses, and easy maneuverability make cleaning “much faster” than with corded models.
Best Corded: Pentair Kreepy Krauly K70400 Handheld Pool Vacuum
- Powerful suction from pool’s filtration system
- Clean smooth hard plastic design
- Wide 10” cleaning head
- Dual foam layer filter bag
This popular handheld pool vacuum utilizes the power of your pool’s filter system to deliver vigorous sucking action through the extra wide 10 inch head. The smart flow valve adjusts suction as needed.
The dual layer filter bag catches fine and coarse debris down to 40 microns. Just rinse and reuse. The hard plastic body resists scratches and sun damage while also making emptying the bag mess-free and quick.
At only 6 pounds, most can clean an entire pool easily in one session. Reviewers agree it “sucks up debris like crazy” and makes hand vacuuming “fast and easy.”
Most Affordable: Swimline HydroTools Weighted Pool Vacuum
- Low cost manual operation
- Weighted head provides downward force
- Protective bumper guard
- Easy grip handle
This budget-friendly pool vacuum uses manual power to create suction, meaning no electricity required. Just glide it over the surface and the weighted head forces the vacuum down to suck up debris into the reusable filter bag.
The rubber bumper guard protects surfaces as you clean. At under 3 pounds, the lightweight plastic body and soft grip handle minimize arm strain. It conveniently attaches to standard 1-1/4” or 1-1/2” pool poles for extended reach and comes with an easy connect adapter.
Thrifty reviewers call it a “lifesaver” for quick cleanups between robotic vacuuming. It “does the job just fine” when you want to vacuum without lugging out hoses or cords.
Best Heavy Duty: Zodiac Ranger Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner
- Industrial grade suction power
- Extra large debris canister
- Wheeled design rolls across surfaces
- Ideal for quick whole pool cleanups
This ultra-powerful handheld pool vacuum uses the full force of your pool’s filtration system to swiftly suck up tons of leaves, dirt, sand, and debris. The oversized low profile head glides effortlessly across the floor and walls.
The extra large filter bag allows you to clean your entire pool without stopping to empty. The wheel kit lets you roll the vacuum rather than carry it for smooth maneuverability. Weighing just 11 pounds, it’s still fairly lightweight for a heavy duty model.
Owners of big pools love that this “sucks up debris like a shopvac” and powers through leaf cleanups faster than other vacuums. If you need major cleaning muscle from your handheld, this delivers top suction.
Best for Above Ground Pools: XtremepowerUS Heavy-Duty Suction Vacuum
- Ideal for smaller above ground pools
- Super lightweight at just 2 lbs
- 15 foot flexible hose
- Easy flow power dial
Specially designed for above ground pools up to 18 feet, this hand vacuum couples extreme light weight with smart functionality. The power dial lets you adjust suction based on need to conserve energy.
Despite weighing a mere 2 pounds, the heavy duty nozzle and generous 15 foot hose suck up debris quickly and efficiently. Owners are “amazed at how much dirt this little vacuum can pick up.” Several say it far outperforms previous electric vacuums.
For above ground pools, this compact but mighty vacuum is a great affordable solution for regular cleaning needs. You’ll love that you “can clean the entire pool in less than 10 minutes.”
How to Use a Handheld Pool Vacuum
Using a handheld pool vacuum is a pretty straightforward process, but here are some tips for getting the most efficient cleaning results:
- Prep the pool – Remove any large debris like toys and floating objects first. Brush walls with a pool brush to dislodge any stuck-on dirt or leaves.
- Assemble the vacuum – Connect the hose if using a corded model that hooks up to the skimmer intake. Ensure a tight seal. Or fully charge cordless models before starting.
- Move methodically – Work in sections for thorough coverage. Start at the top and vacuum down toward the main drain. Use broad overlapping strokes.
- Get into corners – Use the hose range of motion and pole extensions to reach tight spots and steps. Move slowly and concentrate suction in these areas.
- Empty the bag – Check the filter bag or basket regularly so it doesn’t clog up and reduce suction power. Rinse debris after emptying.
- Strain small particles – For any remaining fine silt or dirt particles still in the water, run the pump and filter for 1-2 hours after vacuuming.
- Rinse and store – Give the vacuum, hoses, and attachments a final rinse with fresh water before storing until the next use.
By following a thorough cleaning pattern and emptying the bag before it gets overfilled, your handheld vacuum will suck up all traces of debris quickly for clear pool water all season long.
Handy Tips and Tricks
Beyond the basics, here are some handy pro tips for getting the most from your handheld pool vacuum:
- For cordless models, keep backup charged batteries ready for continuous cleaning.
- Use back and forth zig zag motions instead of circles for better coverage.
- Attach a pool pole to reach all areas without getting wet.
- Let the vacuum sit for 20 seconds in clogged areas to fully draw out debris.
- Clean pump baskets after vacuuming to prevent debris from recirculating.
- Replace filter bags once they appear worn for maximum effectiveness.
- Periodically check the suction intake for obstructions like leaves.
- Consider adding wheels to corded vacuums for easier maneuvering around the pool.
Keeping these tips in mind will help you power through pool cleanups in the least amount of time. Taking good care of your handheld vacuum will also ensure it lasts for many years and swims seasons to come.
How often should I use a handheld pool vacuum?
- For in-ground pools, handheld vacuuming twice a week is ideal for keeping water free of visible debris and sediment. For above-ground pools, once a week is usually sufficient.
How is a handheld vacuum different from an automatic pool cleaner?
- Automatic cleaners run themselves around the pool untethered to clean all surfaces. Handheld vacuums are powered by the pool’s filtration system and require you to manually move them around to clean.
Is a handheld vacuum enough for proper pool maintenance?
- Handheld vacuums are great for quick cleanups but won’t provide the most thorough cleaning on their own. Use in conjunction with automatic cleaners and brushing for ideal pool maintenance.
How long should I vacuum my pool with a handheld unit?
- For small above-ground pools allow 15-20 minutes. Larger in-ground pools may require 30-45 minutes to cover all surfaces efficiently based on the level of debris.
Can I use a handheld vacuum after shocking my pool?
- Yes, you can use a handheld vacuum after shocking or adding chemicals as it will not remove them from the water. Just avoid getting in the pool yourself for the recommended time after shocking.
Keep Your Pool Sparkling all Season
A handheld pool vacuum is an indispensable tool for quick cleanups and routine pool maintenance. Choose a model that fits your pool type with the right combination of power, efficiency, and ease of use.
By regularly hand vacuuming the surfaces and corners, you’ll keep your pool free of leaves, dirt, bugs, and anything else that blows or washes in. That way you can enjoy crystalline water without unsightly debris all season long.
Here’s to happy safe swimming in a sparkling clean pool this summer!