Leaves in the swimming pool can alter the pH, encourage algae blooms, and create a hazardous swimming environment. Fortunately, there are dozens of leaf vacuums you can use to quickly remove the debris from the water before it’s too late. Choosing the right leaf vacuum can be the difference between algae blooms and clear water.
The best pool vacuum for leaves is the Pool Blaster Leaf Vac because it has a massive 15-inch bag, rolling wheels for ease of use, and a powerful suction fan. This pool vacuum uses AA batteries to run for up to three hours. Attach it to a telescoping skimmer pole and remove leaves of all sizes.
Depending on your situation, you might also prefer one of the following pool vacuums for leaves:
- Try the Dolphin Nautilus for an advanced robotic cleaner.
- The Pool Whale Mini-Jet Vac is excellent for small pools.
- The Polaris 360 is the best pressure-side cleaner for leaves.
- If you have a booster pump, try the Polaris 380.
- The Poolmaster Big Sucker Vacuum is the most affordable option.
- Those with above-ground pools should get the Pool Blaster Catfish Vacuum.
In this post, I’ll explain everything you need to know about choosing a pool vacuum for leaves. I’ll also include detailed reviews of each of the vacuums listed above. Let’s get started!
What to Look For in a Pool Vacuum for Leaves
When you’re looking for a new pool vacuum for leaves, it’s important to know every must-have feature. For example, not all pool equipment pads have what you need for some of the vacuums on the market. You might need special pumps, extra pressure, or telescoping poles.
So, what should you look for in a pool vacuum for leaves?
- Leaf bag size: Make sure the leaf bag is big enough to handle the leaves in the swimming pool. Those with large leaves need a 10-inch to a 15-inch suction port, whereas those with small leaves can stick to 2-inch to 3-inch suction ports. A bigger leaf bag will let your vacuum carry more weight before it needs to be emptied.
- Vacuum type: There are many different types of vacuums, including pressure-side, suction-side, robotic, and manual vacuum cleaners. They have unique attachments, cleaning methods, leaf bags, and power sources. You must know what your pool can handle before choosing the type of pool vacuum.
- Wheel style: Some pool vacuums have thick wheels, whereas others have wide rollers. The wheel style determines the vacuum’s mobility. For example, a three-wheeled Polaris 360 can’t make the same sharp turns as the previously mentioned Pool Blaster Leaf Vac. However, the durable tires last much longer.
Pro Tip: If you have a suction-side or pressure-side leaf vacuum, I suggest upgrading to a variable-speed pump. These pumps let you control the pressure. You can lower it to save money when you don’t need to vacuum, but the higher speeds allow the vacuum to pull all of the debris out of the water with ease.
Leaf Bag Size
The last thing you need is to have to empty the leaf bag every couple of minutes. Your pool likely has hundreds of leaves, which means the vacuum needs a large leaf bag. Most leaf bags range from 2 to 15 inches. You also need to consider the suction port’s diameter. If it’s too narrow, none of the large leaves will get into the bag.
If it seems like your pool pump isn’t pulling enough water, there might be a clog in the vacuum. Most pressure-side and suction-side vacuums rely on the pool pump to remove debris from the pool. Large leaves clog the narrow passageway, limiting the water pressure. Not only is this bad for the pump, but it means you won’t get the most out of the pool cleaner.
There are three kinds of collection methods found in leaf vacuums:
- Leaf bags are the most common method because they’re flexible, easy to remove, and have the biggest bag to collect the debris. However, they’re not as durable as the other methods, making them a less popular option for those with rocks, sticks, and other sharp debris in the pool.
- Leaf canisters are quite popular because they work with any type of pool, they filter fine debris, and they can be attached to other vacuum hoses. The only downside of leaf canisters is that the outer plastic shell can crack, which immediately reduces the pressure, and renders the vacuum useless.
- Leaf filters are the best choice for small leaves. They also collect sand, dirt, and other fine debris. That being said, I advise against leaf filters if you deal with a lot of large leaves. These filters clog quickly if the leaves are over five inches across, which means you have to empty them more often than the other options.
Choosing the vacuum type is the most important piece of the puzzle. You can’t use some pressure-side vacuums without a booster pump, and a robotic cleaner doesn’t need any pressure from the equipment pad. There are many variables to consider, so let’s cover each type of pool leaf vacuum below.
- Pressure-side vacuums: Pressure-side vacuums rely on the pump’s pressure to push water through the vacuum, pulling leaves and other debris into an attached bag. Some pressure-side vacuums need up to 30 PSI, which means they require a booster pump for the extra pressure.
- Suction-side vacuums: Suction-side vacuums use the pump’s pressure to suck debris into the pump’s basket and filter. They often use in-line canisters to collect leaves and other large debris. These vacuums never require booster pumps, but they’re not the best for extra-large leaves (unless you have a large debris canister).
- Robotic vacuums: Robotic vacuums plug into a nearby electrical outlet. They have built-in filters that collect virtually all of the debris on the bottom of the pool. Furthermore, they often come with built-in GPS, pool mapping programs, routine schedules, and automatic docking for hands-free operation.
- Manual vacuums: Manual vacuums are the best budget-friendly options, but they typically have massive leaf bags. You can connect most manual vacuums to your skimmer’s telescoping pole. Some manual vacuums are suction-side vacuums, whereas others use batteries to avoid unwanted hoses and cords.
It’s up to you to decide if you prefer rollers, wheels, or brushes. While rollers provide excellent durability, they’re not as mobile as wheels. On the other hand, brushes scrub fine debris and algae, but they’re harder to move around the bottom of the pool.
I’ve found leaf vacuums with removable tires to be the best option. You can replace the tires without getting a brand-new vacuum when they wear down. Furthermore, the tires develop a thin film that increases their grip on the pool’s liner. Rollers are a close second place.
While brushes are excellent for fine debris, they’re not the best choice for leaf collection. I highly recommend vacuums with brushes if you’re always fighting algae blooms, dirt, and pollen in the pool. However, the brush will push large leaves around the pool rather than sending them into the leaf bag.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Pool Blaster Leaf Vac
- Best Robotic Vacuum for Leaves: Dolphin Nautilus CC Vacuum
- Best for Small Pools: Pool Whale Mini-Jet Vac
- Best Pressure-Side Cleaner: Polaris 360 Pool Vacuum
- Best for Booster Pumps: Polaris 380 Pool Vacuum
- Best Budget-Friendly Vacuum: Poolmaster Big Sucker Vacuum
- Best for Above-Ground Pools: Pool Blaster Catfish Vacuum
Best Overall: Pool Blaster Leaf Vac
The Pool Blaster Leaf Vac is an excellent choice for any pool owner. It has a massive 15-inch bag that pulls hundreds of leaves out of the pool with each load. This vacuum uses AA batteries that are included with the purchase. You don’t need cords, cables, hoses, or anything other than a telescoping pole of your choice.
One of the best features of this leaf vacuum is that it doesn’t demand pressure from the pump. You don’t have to upgrade your pump, grab a booster pump, or run it on the off-hours. Your new vacuum has an impeller-style blade that pulls all of the debris that it collects into a mesh bag. You’ll remove everything from extra-large leaves to fine dust and dirt.
Another reason I love the Pool Blaster Leaf Vac is that it can replace surface skimmers. We’ve all used surface skimmers to remove leaves and other floating debris. This vacuum can be used on the bottom or top of the pool, so you can hang up the old skimmer. The impeller blade pulls everything off the surface in seconds.
Bottom Line: The Pool Blaster Leaf Vac is hands-down the best leaf vacuum on the market. It’s affordable, easy to use, and doesn’t require a bunch of tangled cords and hoses. Furthermore, you can use it with your existing equipment and reduce the number of moving parts. The massive collection bag can be removed and clipped quickly, too.
|Power Source||AA batteries|
|Collection Method||Extra-large leaf bag|
- This ultra-lightweight leaf collection bag can hold leaves of all sizes.
- It comes with the AA batteries required.
- There’s no need for cords or hoses.
- You can leave your pump off while using this leaf vacuum.
- It’s usable on the top and bottom of the pool.
- Although it’s affordable, this leaf bag is pricier compared to other battery-operated vacuums.
- The mesh bag is prone to tears if there are lots of thorns and other sharp objects.
Best Robotic Vacuum for Leaves: Dolphin Nautilus CC Vacuum
The Dolphin Nautilus CC Vacuum is one of Maytronics’ most impressive pool vacuums. It has two extremely fine filters that can be removed and washed.
The flexible rollers force debris on the bottom of the pool into the filters for a hands-free collection service. Furthermore, it’s programmable and doesn’t require your pool pump to run.
The electrical cable is braided to prevent shocks and other hazards, but it also keeps the cord from tangling.
This robotic vacuum climbs pool walls and docks itself after running on its routine schedule. They offer an upgraded variant that includes WiFi connections for additional programmable features from anywhere in your home.
You can program this robotic vacuum to run daily, once every two days, or once every three days. It cleans the pool for two hours, then returns to the dock.
This vacuum has a 50-foot cable, so it’s perfect for pools of all sizes. It’s also quite energy-efficient and uses much less electricity than pool vacuums that require pump circulation.
Bottom Line: The Dolphin Nautilus Vacuum is a top choice for countless pool owners. You don’t have to run your pump as often since this vacuum removes the algae and other debris. Everything from the customizable settings to the scrubbers makes this cleaner a high-quality selection for any swimming pool owner.
|Power Source||Electrical outlet|
- This robotic vacuum only needs to be programmed once and cleaned after each use.
- The fine mesh filters remove all of the debris at the bottom of the pool.
- The cleaner climbs walls to catch leaves and other debris.
- There’s no need to run your pool pump while using this vacuum cleaner.
- It automatically docks itself without any user input.
- Much like all robotic vacuums, this one is quite pricier than other types.
- The mesh filter is great for small leaves but not large leaves.
Best for Small Pools: Pool Whale Mini-Jet Vac
Do you have a small swimming pool that’s filled with leaves? You don’t need to break the bank to get a high-end vacuum cleaner.
The Pool Whale Mini-Jet Vac is a compact leaf-collection bag that removes leaves of all sizes. Clip the provided bag on top of the vacuum and roll it around the bottom of your vinyl, fiberglass, or plaster pool for instant results.
Unlike the vast majority of manual pool vacuums, this one includes a telescoping pole. It stretches up to 56.5 inches, making it more than ideal for above-ground pools.
It also has small brushes on the bottom of the vacuum that scrub fine debris into the bag. However, there are narrow slots that allow leaves to flow into the bag, too. It also has two wheels for guidance.
Another great feature of this leaf vacuum is that it can be used at any water temperature in the pool or spa.
You don’t have to get a separate spa vac, so you’ll save money if you have a combined pool-spa setup. Simply add or remove sections to the pole for the perfect length, then vacuum the pool, spa, or pond in your backyard.
Bottom Line: The Pool Whal Mini-Jet Vac is tiny but mighty. It uses a big leaf collection bag, small scrubbers, and mid-sized wheels to get the job done. It’s hard to beat a handheld leaf vacuum that comes with everything you need to get started.
|Power Source||Garden hose pressure|
|Collection Method||Leaf bag|
- You don’t need to run your pump or add batteries to use this cleaner.
- It comes with a budget-friendly price tag.
- This setup includes a bag, brush, wheels, hose adapters, and an adjustable pole.
- It’s the perfect size for small pools, spas, ponds, etc.
- The hose water can add phosphates (aka algae’s food) to the water if it’s used for too long.
- This setup has a short pole, so it’s not ideal for deep swimming pools.
Best Pressure-Side Cleaner: Polaris 360 Pool Vacuum
The Polaris 360 Pool Vacuum is one of my favorite pressure-side vacuums. It’s a classic vacuum that attaches to the pool’s water outlet (also known as the return line) coming from the pump.
The pressure sends all of the debris into the collection bag from under the vacuum. The extra-large wheels allow leaves and other large debris to get into the bag.
This pressure-side vacuum doesn’t need a booster pump. It has a large corrugated hose with swivels to help it turn without tangling. There’s also a float valve on the back of the vacuum that holds it on the bottom of the pool. These vacuums are some of the easier cleaners to diagnose and repair, so it’s quite user-friendly.
Each Polaris 360 has rubber tires that grip the bottom for optimal performance. The leaf bag is attached via Velcro straps. Remove the bag, dump the debris, and clip it back onto the vacuum. It even has a see-through blue shell to help you see if there’s debris trapped in the vacuum’s internal components.
Bottom Line: The Polaris 360 Vacuum Cleaner is a personal favorite that will continue to stay at the top of many pool owners’ lists. It’s easy to use, doesn’t require an additional pump, and collects leaves of all sizes. I highly recommend this pressure-side vacuum for anyone who wants to automatically get rid of leaves without manually pushing a vacuum.
|Power Source||Pump pressure|
|Collection Method||Leaf bag|
- It comes with a moving debris scrubber to lift dead algae.
- This vacuum has adjustable hoses to fit any pool length.
- Each swivel turns to prevent the hoses from tangling.
- The removable tires let you keep the pool vacuum for many years to come.
- There are quite a few parts in this suction-side vacuum.
- The swivels and float valves are prone to leaking if they’re not stored properly.
Best for Booster Pumps: Polaris 380 Pool Vacuum
The Polaris 380 Pool Vacuum is an upgrade from the Polaris 360. The only reason it’s not listed as the best pressure-side vacuum is that it needs a booster pump.
Booster pumps are plumbed into the equipment pad to provide impressive power. With a booster pump, the Polaris 380 can go almost twice as fast as the Polaris 360.
Much like its predecessor, the Polaris 380 Vacuum has a tail scrubber, removable tires, and a Velcro leaf bag.
It collects large debris in a fine mesh bag, making it perfect for leaves, pollen, dirt, and algae. It also includes 31 feet of durable hoses, but you can add more hoses if your pool is bigger than 31 feet.
The additional pressure from the booster pump allows the Polaris 380 to climb the pool’s walls. It’ll scrub and vacuum every inch of the pool that’s underwater.
Furthermore, the gripped tires won’t warp or loosen from the pressure. This cleaner is built to last many years, and it includes Polaris’s manufacturer warranty.
Bottom Line: The Polaris 380 is a tank of a pressure-side vacuum cleaner. It’s durable, easy to use, and powerful. It can climb walls, scrub all of the debris in the pool, and collect any leaf in sight. Although it needs a booster pump, the added pressure is more than worth it for pool owners with lots of organic materials in the pool.
|Power Source||Booster pump|
|Collection Method||Leaf bag|
- The Polaris 380 can climb the walls in the swimming pool.
- This cleaner has a durable mesh collection bag.
- It’s much more powerful and quicker than the Polaris 360.
- This pool vacuum has a rear scrubber to remove leftover debris.
- You need a booster pump to run the Polaris 380.
- This vacuum is slightly more expensive than the Polaris 360.
Best Budget-Friendly Vacuum: Poolmaster Big Sucker Vacuum
If you want a helpful leaf vacuum without spending too much, the Pool Master Big Sucker Vacuum should be at the top of your list.
It has a wide mouth and four rollers that help it collect any leaf in your swimming pool. The massive bag allows you to collect hundreds of leaves between emptying the vacuum.
This vacuum has a garden hose attachment. Connect a nearby hose to the vacuum, turn it on, and watch as the hose’s pressure forces the debris into the bag.
It comes with compatible adapters to fit almost any garden hose. Furthermore, there’s an adapter for telescoping poles to push the vacuum around the bottom of the pool.
Although it’s low-cost, this vacuum isn’t low-quality. The durable outer shell protects it from breaking or denting.
There’s no need to worry about replacing the vacuum if you drop it or one of the wheels breaks. You can replace the wheels, though they don’t have removable gripped tires like the Polaris models.
Bottom Line: The Poolmaster Big Sucker Vacuum has a wide mouth and a garden hose attachment to help you quickly vacuum the leaves out of the pool. It won’t clog or jam, thanks to the massive inlet’s diameter. Furthermore, you can leave the pump off, and there’s no need for a booster pump or electrical cord.
|Power Source||Garden hose|
|Collection Method||Leaf bag|
- It includes a massive leaf bag and inlet for all leaf sizes.
- You don’t need any electricity to use this pool vacuum.
- The big bag can remove all of the leaves from the pool before being emptied.
- It comes with adapters for garden hoses and telescoping poles.
- The pressure is dependent on your garden hose’s water pressure.
- Garden hoses can add phosphates and other debris into the pool.
Best for Above-Ground Pools: Pool Blaster Catfish Vacuum
The Pool Blaster Catfish Vacuum is a unique vacuum because it has a rechargeable battery, and it’s my top choice for above-ground pools.
You can plug it into the wall and use the vacuum for up to 45 minutes. It has a large collection canister designed to remove leaves, pollen, and everything in between. There’s also a built-in handle to help you vacuum the pool if you want to get into the water.
This vacuum combines wheels and scrubbers to remove the debris and glide along the bottom of the pool. It’s much like a carpet cleaner because it has a push-to-start button and a wide-angled head.
It includes multiple adjustable pole sections to help you make the vacuum as long as you need for any above-ground pool size.
The company sells additional filters if you prefer fine mesh or if you need a replacement. All of the parts are replaceable, which means you can fix them rather than getting a brand-new cleaner if something goes wrong.
Bottom Line: The Pool Blaster Catfish Vacuum is an excellent choice for those with above-ground pools because it’s similar to a traditional vacuum, it has powerful brushes, and the canister can pick up massive leaves. Charge the batteries and enjoy the vacuum without turning on the pump or dealing with bulky cables and hoses.
|Power Source||Rechargeable batteries|
|Collection Method||Leaf canister|
- This vacuum includes multiple pole lengths to customize the vacuum’s size.
- The large canister is ideal for leaves and fine debris.
- There’s no need to replace the battery since it’s rechargeable.
- The wide vacuum head has scrubbers and wheels for the ultimate user-friendly cleaning session.
- Twist the canister to unlock and dump the debris quickly.
- The batteries only last for 45 minutes before they need to be recharged.
- The pole handle is too short for partially in-ground or fully in-ground pools.