Vacuuming is an important part of swimming pool maintenance and should be done at least once a week. When it comes to this chore, there are several options to choose from. You can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on an automatic cleaner, or you can go with a more affordable option, a manual pool vacuum.
Truthfully, vacuuming a pool that is routinely maintained only takes 15 or 20 minutes at the most. When it comes to choosing the right vac head for your pool, the hundreds of options can be overwhelming.
We’ve done the homework for you and have come up with the seven best manual vacuum heads to suit a variety of pools or situations.
Our Top Seven Manual Vacuum Heads For 2023
- Best Budget: Milliard Pool and Spa Vacuum Head
- Best all around: FibroPool Professional Pro Flex
- Best for above-ground pools: Agii Manual Pool Vacuum
- Large pools: US Pool 14” Weighted Manual Vacuum
- Small pools: US Pool Supply Weighted Vacuum Head
- For vinyl liners: Poolmaster AIR
- For fiberglass pools: Mr. Humble Pool Vacuum Head
Manual Vacuum Heads Compared
Best For Above-Ground Pools
For Large Pools
For Small Pools
Best for Vinyl Liners
For Fiberglass Pools
How Do Manual Vacuum Heads Work?
Every pool owner needs to know how to clean their pool manually, even if they own an automatic cleaner.
Manual vacuum heads work by attaching to a telescopic pole with a suction hose connecting to your skimmer. Hooking it up for the first time is a breeze. Before you start operating a manual vacuum head, there are a few other things you need first.
- Pool vacuum head
- Telescopic pole
- Pool suction hose
- Skim vac or vacuum plate.
The vacuum head is what I’m talking about today.
Considerations When Choosing a Pool Vac Head
There is a wide variety of vacuum heads available. To narrow down your search, here are the main things to look for:
- Pool shape. A round pool will require a rounded head or a head with side brushes. A square or rectangular pool requires a rectangular head.
- Pool finish. Your pool finish won’t be suitable for all vacuum heads. That’s why our top 7 list is broken into different categories.
- Type of debris. Generally, screened pools get less debris than unscreened pools. Some cleaners only pick up sediment like sand, while others are capable of picking up physical debris like leaves or twigs.
Which Is Better: A Manual Vacuum Head Or An Automatic Pool Cleaner?
This question is a double-edged sword that needs a little clarification. If you have a screened pool (pool enclosure) that is chemically well-balanced and you hardly get debris other than sediment, then a weekly scrub with a manual vacuum head would work. However, if you are not home that much or simply don’t want to do the physical labor, then an automatic is best.
If your pool always has high chemical levels, especially high chlorine levels, this could damage your automatic cleaner if you keep it submerged all the time. If your chemicals are stable, but you get bigger debris like leaves or sticks, a manual vacuum head is the best option.
And if you have an algae problem, a manual vac head is the way to go. Check out our article about the best pool vacuums for algae.
The answer depends on your pool and the circumstances of that particular pool.
Are Manual Vacuum Heads Worth It?
Manual vacuum heads are worth their weight in gold. Even pool owners that operate an automatic cleaner should keep one handy. If your machine malfunctions or is in the shop for repairs, the pool still needs to be cleaned, so having a manual cleaner handy is a good idea.
Plus, most pool vac heads cost less than $50, so it’s a good investment.
Another good reason to have a manual vacuum cleaner is for algae removal. Some automatic cleaners can handle algae removal, but generally, a manual head is recommended.
What Do You Look For In A Manual Vacuum Head?
There are several things to look for when purchasing a manual vacuum head. Here are a few things that I always consider when I’m looking for a manual vacuum head:
- Weight. Weight is a key factor, so the head will stay on the bottom without lifting. An unweighted vacuum head will flip over and not clean accurately because you’re fighting for it to stay on the bottom rather than cleaning.
- Brushes. If I’m cleaning a round pool, I always look for side brushes. For any other shape, a half-moon or triangle works just fine. Bottom brushes also keep the vacuum head off the bottom, a critical factor when removing physical debris.
- Suction. A strong suction will make my job easier. Although different vac heads vary, if you have weak suction, it’s usually caused by the pool’s circulation system.
- Width. Choose the appropriate width to suit the size of your pool. If you have a large pool, look for a 14” size or similar. For smaller pools, a 10” size or less will be good.
- Shape. Some pools have tight areas to get into, like around the steps. Having a smaller head or a triangular-shaped head will make it easier to get into these spots.
Best Manual Vacuum Heads Reviewed
1. Best Budget: Milliard Pool and Spa Vacuum Head
- The 13” wide head and contoured body make cleaning faster
- Soft brushes to suit vinyl and fiberglass pools
- Takes standard pool hoses
The Milliard Pool and Spa Vacuum Head is an affordable vacuum heat at less than 20 bucks but packs plenty of punch. The head is 13” wide, and the contoured body easily cleans the pool. The softer brushes enable it to clean vinyl pools as well.
What I like the most about this head is the universal vacuum ports. The vacuum port fits both 1.25” and 1.5” vacuum hoses, which makes it user-friendly.
- Great maneuverability
- Great suction, especially for the price
- The most common complaint is that it is hard to push across the bottom
2. Best All-Around: FibroPool Pro Flex
- 6 integrated weights to keep it submerged
- Fits standard 1.5" hoses and standard pool poles
- Long lasting urethane wheels with metal ball bearings roll effortlessly
The FibroPool Pro Flex head is our overall pick because it is a well-rounded cleaner at an affordable price, and it makes the chore of cleaning a pool easier.
The FibroPool is an efficient vacuum head that has the ability to pick up small debris like twigs and leaves. I love the chrome handle and wheels with metal bearings. It’s the same setup on automatic cleaners. That eye for detail ensures this is a quality cleaner at an affordable price.
It also has 6 weights strategically placed on the head to make sure it stays on the bottom, which in my research, I found most users of this vacuum head appreciate.
- Easy maneuverability which makes for a quick cleaning
- Cleans corners and ledges very well
- There have been some issues with the ball bearings coming off during shipping
3. Best for Above-Ground Pools: AgiiMan Manual Pool Vacuum
- Best for round above-ground pools
- Triangular head excels at reaching corners and edges effortlessly
- Safe for vinyl liners and fiberglass pools
The AgiiMan Manual Pool Vacuum has a triangular head that makes it easier to clean hard-to-reach corners and edges. My favorite feature is the 12 sets of bristles that protect the edge of your pool from damage. This is why we chose this as the best above-ground pool vacuum.
This is a great head, but some complaints are that it is not suitable for concrete pools because the suction makes it grip the bottom too hard. So stick with using this vacuum head in above-ground pools.
- The unique bristles on the bottom scrub while you’re vacuuming
- The lightweight and the suction power make it easy to scrub the walls
- Depending on the pool finish, it can be hard to push
4. Best For Large Pools: US Pool 14” Weighted Manual Vacuum
- Weighted body to stay submerged
- Swivel head prevents tangles & accepts 1-1/4" and 1-1/2" hoses
- 14" wide head - great for large pools
This US Pool 14″ Weighted Manual Vacuum is ideal for larger pools, especially with a concrete finish. The wide head means you’ll make fewer passes while picking up more debris.
I’ve used this head before, and I saved a lot of time cleaning because of the surface area it covers in one pass. There’s enough weight on the head to hold it down, and the effort I exerted to push it was minimal.
Although the wheels do not have ball bearings, they rolled effortlessly, and I had no problem rolling over the pop-up jets in the deep end. The 14” width makes for quick work.
- It has a swivel head which saves time
- Even though this is a larger head, you can still clean the walls with minimum effort
- It’s hard to clean stairs and corners because of the width of the head
5. Best for Small Pools: US Pool Supply Weighted Vacuum Head
- For above-ground & in-ground swimming pools
- Nylon cleaning bristles
- Safe for use in vinyl-lined pools
This US Pool Supply weighted vacuum head has a half-moon design which is ideal for smaller pools. The weighted head keeps the head on the bottom and provides easy maneuverability.
At 7.5” by 10.5”, this little cleaner has great suction and nylon brushes that don’t stir up the bottom too much, which makes cleaning more efficient. Since it’s not very wide, it’s best for vacuuming small pools.
- Good on all pool finishes
- Comes with a one-year warranty
- The brushes only cover the circumference, and I prefer brushes that cover the entire bottom for more efficient cleaning.
6. Best for Vinyl Liners: Poolmaster Deluxe
- Won't damage vinyl liners
- Swivel adapter to prevent tangles & fits standard vac hoses
- Adjustable suction strength
The Poolmaster Deluxe is a popular vacuum head specifically designed for vinyl pools. It comes with two air relief valves which prevent it from getting stuck on the bottom.
The relief valve isn’t found on all manual models, and is mainly used for vinyl and fiberglass pools to adjust the suction strength and prevent it sticking to the pool floor.
The relief valve combined with the weighted front end makes for an efficient cleaner. This head is pretty maneuverable and light enough to do a decent job with little effort.
- Able to pick up small debris
- Easy maneuverability
- It may be too light to stay on the bottom in deeper pools
7. Best for Fiberglass Pools: Mr. Humble Pool Vacuum Head
- Safe for fiberglass & vinyl liner pools
- Brushes ensure effective cleaning of corners
- Weighted to keep in on bottom of pool
Mr. Humble Pool Vacuum Head is an all-around great cleaner. This cleaner can be used on most surfaces, and it is the one I recommend most for fiberglass because of the nylon brushes that won’t scratch the gel coat.
What I love about this vacuum head is the number of brushes, both on the sides and the bottom. These brushes prevent the vacuum from sticking to the bottom while cleaning.
Some people take issue with lightness. This light weight makes it hard to keep the head on the bottom.
- The corner brushes do a great job cleaning corners
- The hose adapter swivels 360°, which prevents the suction hose from kinking
- Does not pick up heavier debris too well
Frequently Asked Questions About Manual Vacuum Heads
Are manual vacuum heads affordable?
For those who don’t mind putting in a little sweat equity, a manual pool vacuum is the way to go. Most of the manual vacuum heads cost less than $50.00 and are user-friendly.
How do I know if I’m getting the correct manual vacuum head?
The factors to consider are the shape of the pool, what type of debris you have, and the pool’s depth.
Do manual vacuum heads pick up leaves?
Most manual vacuum heads have enough suction to pick up small leaves. Some of the heavier-duty heads will pick up larger leaves and twigs.
Do manual vacuum heads pick up algae?
For algae removal, you want a cleaner that will brush and lift up the algae. Most manual vacuums are strong enough to lift up algae.
Do manual vacuum heads pick up sand?
Sand is probably the most common sediment found in pools. Even the smallest cleaners should have the ability to lift up minor sand or sediment.
Final Thoughts On Manual Vacuum Heads
Manual vacuum heads should be part of every pool owner’s tool kit, whether they have an automatic cleaner or not. Manual heads are affordable and do a decent job of cleaning pools. They are cheaper than automatic models and, depending on the circumstances, clean just as well.
There are several factors to consider when deciding whether or not you want an automatic cleaner. As a pool technician, I prefer manual cleaners because I can see what is going on with the pool I’m cleaning, and I have more control over what I’m cleaning.
Pools are unique, and each one has its own quirks and needs. In all likelihood, you’ll need to try a couple of vac heads before you find the one that is best for you.