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Best Budget Pool Cleaners 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Last Updated: May 10, 2021

INTEY-Pool-Cleaner-Automatic-Suction-Pool-Vacuum-feat

Pool cleaners can be extremely expensive devices, and to be honest, many of them don’t work very well. Many models can get hung up on ladders, stairs, and even narrow sections of your pool. Unfortunately, the alternative is spending many hours using your hand skimmer, and when you look at your pool as you pass by, there will always be some debris making it look dirty.

We drew on our extensive history with these devices and chose five different brands that are budget-friendly and commonly found at your local pool supplier. We’ll go over the pros and cons of each one to help you get a better idea of the type of pool cleaner that would be right for your pool. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide where we discuss how these devices work and what’s vital for them to include to work correctly n your pool.

Keep reading while we discuss suction power, filter, microns, tangling, weight, and more to help you make an educated purchase.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Editor’s Choice
Winner
Zodiac Baracuda MX6 Zodiac Baracuda MX6
  • Cyclonic action
  • Quick connect style hoses
  • Hoses swivel to reduce tangling
  • Second place
    Hayward ‘Wanda the Whale’ Pool Cleaner Hayward ‘Wanda the Whale’ Pool Cleaner
  • Balanced water flow
  • Bumper ring minimizes friction
  • No tool installation
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Zodiac Baracuda G3 Inground Pool Cleaner Zodiac Baracuda G3 Inground Pool Cleaner
  • Works with low-speed pumps
  • Climbs walls
  • Moves around corners
  • Intex Auto Pool Cleaner Intex Auto Pool Cleaner
  • Designed for Intex pools
  • Easy to order spare parts
  • Also works on other brands of pools
  • INTEY Automatic Suction Pool Vacuum INTEY Automatic Suction Pool Vacuum
  • Works on any surface
  • Easy to operate
  • Flow gauge
  • The 10 Best Budget Pool Cleaners – Reviews 2021

    1. Zodiac Baracuda MX6 – Editor’s Choice

    Zodiac-Baracuda-G3-W03000

    The Zodiac Baracuda MX6 Is our editor’s choice, and this pool cleaner is ideal for pools that have the variable speed or multi-speed pumps Due to its unique low flow design. He uses cyclonic action to attract and trap debris in a net, preventing it from getting in your pool. This model uses quick-connect hoses that make changeovers a breeze. There is also a hose swivel that helps prevent the cleaner from getting tangled as it moves around the pool.

    The biggest downside we experienced while using this device was that it tended to get stuck on steps or tight corners.

    Pros
    • Ideal for pools with variable speed pumps
    • Cyclonic action
    • Quick connect style hoses
    • Hoses swivel to reduce tangling
    Cons
    • Gets stuck on steps

    2. Hayward ‘Wanda the Whale’ Pool Cleaner

    Hayward-900-Wanda

    The Hayward ‘Wanda the Whale’ Pool Cleaner is our pick for the best value, and we believe it is the best budget pool cleaner for the money. This model has an attractive look that helps improve its ability to navigate your pool, as the contoured head improves steering on the unit. A balanced water flow helps to ensure quiet, smooth operation. It also features a built-in bumper ring that minimizes friction with the pool wall and helps steer the device back into the pool. No tool installation means you can have this pool up and running in a matter of hours, and it’s lightweight, so pulling it from the water is less of a hassle.

    While we were reviewing this brand, our chief complaint was the small filter bag that would quickly get clogged up in our larger pool.

    Pros
    • Balanced water flow
    • Contoured head for improved steering
    • Bumper ring minimizes friction
    • No tool installation
    • Lightweight
    Cons
    • The small filter clogs easily

    3. Zodiac Baracuda G3 Inground Pool Cleaner – Premium Choice

    Zodiac-MX6-In-Ground-Suction

    The Zodiac Baracuda G3 Inground Pool Cleaner is our premium choice pool cleaner, and it comes equipped with some excellent features. The first thing you are likely to notice about this model I how quietly it runs. We hardly noticed it as it moved around our pool, and it works well with low-speed pumps as well as with more powerful models. This unit can climb walls, and it moves around corners, steps, and ladders.

    This brand came with the most durable hoses of all the brands we reviewed, and our only complaint is that it takes a long time to get all of the debris off the pool floor.

    Pros
    • Quiet
    • Works with low-speed pumps
    • Climbs walls
    • Moves around corners
    • Long-life hoses
    Cons
    • Moves slowly

    4. Intex Auto Pool Cleaner

    Intex-Auto-Pool-Cleaner

    The Intex Auto Pool Cleaner is the only model of pool cleaner on this list specially designed for the unique needs of Intex pools. It does an excellent job of cleaning this style pool and does it in a reasonable amount of time. It also works on other brands of pools with a small adapter. The device seems reasonably durable, and spare parts are easy to obtain.

    The downside to these pumps is that they require a strong pump, which is not something Intex pools are known to come equipped with, so you may need to purchase a one with more horsepower. The hoses supplied with this brand of pool cleaner were also very flimsy and sprung leaks quickly, especially after upgrading our pump. Many people may have a difficult time locating the adapter required to use this cleaner with other brands, so this model is mostly limited to Intex pools.

    Pros
    • Designed for Intex pools
    • Easy to order spare parts
    Cons
    • Requires a strong pump
    • Only works on Intex pools
    • Leaky hose connections

    5. INTEY Automatic Suction Pool Vacuum

    INTEY-Pool-Cleaner-Automatic-Suction-Pool-Vacuum

    The INTEY Automatic Suction Pool Vacuum I the final brand of budget pool cleaners on our list. This vacuum will work on any surface, including the pebble walls on some inground pools. It’s effortless to operate, and it features a handy flow gauge that lets you fine-tune the balance between suction power and maneuverability. This model is lightweight, which helps when removing it from the pool or storing it away for the season.

    We would have liked to rank this model higher on our list, but the hoses leaked almost immediately, and the rubber disk didn’t last much longer before it tore. This brand had the shortest lifespan of the five models on this list.

    Pros
    • Works on any surface
    • Easy to operate
    • Flow gauge
    • Lightweight
    Cons
    • Hoses leak
    • Rubber disc wears quickly

    Buyer’s Guide

    Let’s take a look at how these pol cleaners work to help make sure you get the most for your money.

    How They Work

    Most of the brands on this list operate by tapping into the pools return jet. We carry the high-pressure water returning from the filter to the cleaning machine by plugging a hose into the return jet. Once the high-pressure water reaches the device, we can use it to turn wheels, tracks, or create other forms of self transportation, but its primary purpose is often to create a spiraling cyclone of water. This water cyclone can draw debris toward it from a considerable distance where it will eventually get trapped in a net or bag located in the machine.

    Filter

    A primary component in the pool cleaner is the filter for two reasons. The first reason is that you need a filter that will trap the types of particles you are trying to remove from your pool. If you are only trying to remove leaves and other large-sized debris, most of these units will be more than up to the task. However, if you are looking to remove sand or pollen, you will need a filter capable of catching smaller particles, which not all models have.

    We measure pools contaminants using microns, and the more microns, the larger. Bacteria can be as small as two microns, while a human hair is typically about 75. Some models have filters that can filter down to 2 microns, but the vast majority will use a netting that can catch leaves and some seeds but will have a difficult time with sand and other tiny particles like that. Some brands will allow you to replace the pre-installed filter with an aftermarket one that can pull smaller particles out of the water.

    Another detail to consider when looking at the filter is thee continuous emptying and cleaning that will be required. Some models have difficult-to-access filters, while other units may capture debris and refuse to let it go, even after vigorous hosing. Neither situation is ideal and will make using the device more challenging.

    Durability

    One final concern is the durability of the cleaner that you have in mind. Pool chemicals, especially chlorine, can make many plastics and rubbers hard and brittle over time. Sunlight can also make plastic hard and brittle over time, and while submerged in water, your cleaner may receive a more concentrated dose of UV rays, which will increase the speed at which the plastic degrades.

    Another factor to look at when considering durability is that many of these devices bump into the wall and steps to change direction, and this repeated bumping action can wear parts down over time. Other designs require large areas of the machine to contact the pool floor or wall at all times. This constant contact and rubbing can quickly wear down those parts and require frequent maintenance.

    Conclusion

    When searching for a suitable pool cleaner for your pool, we hope that you keep the tips we have supplied in our buyer’s guide in mind. They should point you in the right direction. If you are still not sure about which one is the best, we recommend our editor’s choice. The Zodiac Baracuda MX6 is easy to use and easy to connect to your pool. It’s lightweight and does an excellent job of cleaning your pool. Another great choice is the model we picked as our premium choice. The Zodiac Baracuda G3 is extremely quiet, and it moves around steps and ladders with precision.

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    Featured image credit: INTEY Pool Cleaner Automatic Suction Pool Vacuum feat, Amazon