How do Pool Vacuums Work?

Cleaning your pool is essential if you want to have a comfortable, sanitary swim. To have a clean pool, you need an assortment of equipment and supplies: chemical testing kit, chemicals, skimmer, vacuum, and pool brush. With so many requirements to keep your pool clean, it can be tiring, and hiring a company to routinely clean your pool can become expensive.

To save your energy, you can invest in an automatic pool cleaner to help cut down some of the manual cleaning, but there may still be times you need to vacuum your pool. So, what’s the difference in a pool vacuum and an automatic pool cleaner, and why would you need to do both?

Pool Vacuums: When, How, and Why to Use

If you have a large amount of debris that has accumulated on the bottom of your pool, you should use a pool vacuum to remove the debris from the pool. Using a pool vacuum will allow you to focus on the specific area(s) in which you need to vacuum dirt and debris. If a recent storm has blown through, or a large amount of people have recently been in for a swim, you will want to use a pool vacuum to clean the floor of your pool after these certain events.

Pool vacuums work best in low and slow situations. Rather than a vacuum cleaner for the floors of your home, you can’t quickly run a vacuum over the floor of your pool to suck up all the debris. If you do this, the dirt will get kicked up and moved throughout the water, settling in a completely different place than where it started.

You will want to start in a specific area, more than likely the shallow end. Slowly move your vacuum along the bottom of the pool to vacuum up the dirt or debris. Slowly make your way towards other areas of the pool that need dirt or debris to be removed.

While using a pool vacuum is time and energy-consuming, you should plan to use a pool vacuum for those times when you need to vacuum specific areas of your pool, rather than during normal, routine cleaning. Leave the routine cleaning to an automatic pool cleaner!

When to Use an Automatic Pool Cleaner

Automatic pool cleaners are beneficial for routine cleaning maintenance under normal circumstances. This means if there have been no large amounts of added debris, the automatic pool cleaner should continue to keep the pool clean without the need for excessive cleaning, such as using a manual pool vacuum.

An automatic pool cleaner is best used for maintaining a clean pool, rather than cleaning a dirty pool. This is because an automatic pool cleaner can move around large amounts of dirt and debris on the pool floor as it is moving. This debris can get stirred up and circulated to another part of the pool, settling in a completely different area than where it started. This means you will end up having to work even harder to clean the bottom of the pool with a manual pool vacuum because the automatic pool cleaner has moved the debris around so much.

Automatic pool cleaners can move throughout your pool and suck up small to large-sized debris, depending on the type of cleaner you choose. While automatic pool cleaners save time and energy, what other benefits can they offer?

Using an automatic pool cleaner can reduce excessive wear and tear on your filter and skimmer system. With less debris filtered into the skimmer, these pieces of equipment are preserved and maintained. In addition to maintaining the filter system, your heater can also be used less. An automatic pool cleaner moves throughout the pool, which means heated water can be more evenly dispersed through the use of an automatic pool cleaner.

Less time and energy spent on cleaning plus less wear and tear on your pool equipment is a win-win!

Find a Pool Vacuum

When finding a pool vacuum, it is important to know the size, shape, and type of surface the vacuum is designed for. A vacuum that is designed for concrete or gunite pools will be damaging to use on a fiberglass or vinyl pool. Alternatively, a vacuum that is designed for a fiberglass or vinyl pool may not adequately vacuum or clean the bottom of a concrete or gunite pool.

Pool vacuum heads can come in different shapes and sizes, which is important to provide optimal cleaning. If you have a pool floor with corners and crevices, a pool vacuum that can access those areas is essential to provide the best possible cleaning.

This swimming pool vacuum head is 14” wide, swivels, and attaches to a vacuum hose and aluminum handle. The swivel design and flexible body allow this vacuum to manually move throughout the floor of your swimming pool with ease. This vacuum should be used on concrete or gunite pools.

POOLWHALE Triangular 11” Swimming Pool Vacuum Head

The triangular design of this 11-inch vacuum head allows those tricky corners to be reached during cleaning. This vacuum head can pick up sand, leaves, algae, and hair; all common debris found at the bottom of a pool. This POOLWHALE vacuum head is designed for vinyl and fiberglass pools.

U.S. Pool Supply 12” Vacuum Head

This 12-inch vacuum head attaches to a 1 ¼ or 1 ½ inch vacuum hose. In addition to vacuuming, this head also includes an array of bristles on the bottom. These bristles will remove the buildup of dirt, stains, or algae while subsequently vacuuming them up. This vacuum head is intended to be used on vinyl or fiberglass pools.

Find an Automatic Pool Cleaner

Deciding which automatic pool cleaner to purchase can seem overwhelming, as there are various options and styles to choose from. There are suction-side cleaners, pressure-side cleaners, and robotic cleaners, which are plugged into a GFCI outlet for safe electrical power.

suction-side pool cleaner is connected to your skimmer or suction line. Once connected, the cleaner will move through your pool to suction up any dirt and debris that may have accumulated. This automatic cleaner is an affordable option in providing a clean pool floor.

pressure-side pool cleaner is more expensive as it offers more extensive cleaning. This pool cleaner is hooked up to the pressure jets within your pool to drive itself through the pool. These cleaners typically have wheels and a filter bag to provide a thorough cleaning.

robotic cleaner uses a GFCI electrical outlet to power itself to move throughout your pool. This robotic cleaner moves throughout the bottom of your pool, scrubbing the floor clean and sucking up any debris that has settled or been removed.

Dolphin Nautilus Automatic Robotic Cleaner

This automatic robotic cleaner by Dolphin comes with a top-load filter basket, clever scanning system, and active brushing system. This cleaner can be scheduled to clean every day, every other day, or every third day. This cleaner is plugged into a GFCI outlet for immediate use.

Zodiac Suction-Side Automatic Pool Cleaner

This suction-side pool cleaner by Zodiac features a low-flow design which will consume less energy during use. This automatic cleaner will climb the walls effortlessly by using its powerful turbine blade. If you have a two-speed or variable-speed pool pump, the low-flow design makes this cleaner is ideal.

Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure-Side Pool Cleaner

This high-end pool cleaner can sweep, scrub, and vacuums the floors and walls of your pool. There is a large capacity filter bag to collect debris to keep the debris from reaching your pool’s filtration system. This helps preserve the lifespan of your pool’s equipment.


Having both an automatic pool cleaner as well as a pool vacuum is beneficial in obtaining and maintaining a clean pool.

Pool vacuums are necessary for spot-cleaning areas where dirt and debris have accumulated. Manually vacuuming your pool weekly through routine maintenance can get both tiring and time-consuming.

When using a pool vacuum, go low and slow throughout the floor of your pool. Quickly moving the vacuum along the bottom of the floor will cause the dirt and debris to easily move throughout the water and settle in another area on the pool floor.

Having an automatic pool vacuum for those everyday or routine cleaning applications can keep your pool clean without requiring excessive manual cleaning. Do not use an automatic pool cleaner to clean excessive amounts of dirt and debris, as the automatic cleaner can potentially do more harm than good. The automatic cleaner can move throughout the floor and walls of your pool and scatter the dirt and debris while to other areas of the pool.

Whether you choose a suction-side, pressure-side, or robotic cleaner, having an automatic pool cleaner alongside your manual pool vacuum will give you the combined arsenal you need to keep your pool floor safe and clean.