Most pool vacuums and vac heads are designed to pick up smaller debris. But what if you have big debris like leaves? If this is the case, you’ll need to focus on a specific type of pool vac, a pool vacuum for leaves.
As a pool technician, I can tell you that pool vacuum cleaners are integral to swimming pool maintenance. Not only do they keep the pool sparkling clean, but they also remove potentially harmful bacteria and prevent the pool from staining.
And if you do have a leaf problem in your pool, you’ll probably know that some pool cleaners and pool vacs are better at picking up leaves than others. In this article, I’ll share my picks for the most effective vacuums for picking up leaves.
Our Top 5 Pool Cleaners For Leaves
The five vacuum heads reviewed cover the whole array of cleaners, from automatic cleaners, manual vacuums, and robotic cleaners. No matter what style of vacuum you prefer, this list has you covered.
- Pentair Rebel
- Poolmaster 28300
- Polaris Alpha IQ Plus
- Kreepy Krauly
- Polaris 360
Pool Cleaners for Leaves Compared
The most common pool cleaners attach to a hose connected to your filter. Some models have nylon bristles so they can scrub the pool at the same time, and some have channel wings that sweep debris into the vacuum.
Vacuums for leaves are specifically designed to pick up large debris from your pool because of their height and suction power. Standard heads on cleaners are designed to pick up sediment or finer debris.
Using a manual vacuum or automatic pool cleaner to vacuum a large number of leaves from your pool can easily clog your filter unless it’s a robotic cleaner with its own storage bag. If you’re using a suction vacuum without a separate bag, it’s best to net out the bulk of the leaves before you use the cleaner.
Different styles of cleaners function differently from the others. Which one you choose will depend on your pool size, the individual needs of your maintenance, and your preferred choice. The different styles are manual, suction, pressure, and robotics.
Manual cleaners are the most affordable option. They come in a few different styles.
The most common type is a vacuum head that connects to a pool hose and your pool skimmer. It’s operated by manually moving it back and forth with a long pole. The pool pump creates suction, and the debris and leaves are sucked into the filter.
Garden hose-powered pool cleaners hook up to your garden hose. The hose creates and suction effect, which moves leaves from the pool floor into an attached removable bag.
Battery-powered handheld pool cleaners are the third option. They are usually best for small pools and picking up dirt. They aren’t always great at picking up leaves.
Automatic pool cleaners come in three types; Suction, Pressure & Robotic Pool Cleaners.
Suction cleaners utilize pool filtration to suck leaves into the filter. Side pressure cleaners use the pressure from the pool pump to move around the pool. Side pressure cleaners hook directly into a dedicated pressure cleaner line and move around the pool by thrust.
A drawback to a side pressure cleaner is that it requires a booster pump to create a jet stream for mobility. The booster pump eliminates excess pressure on the pump so it doesn’t wear out prematurely.
There are two types of automatic cleaners: climb the walls and stay on the bottom. A general rule of thumb to differentiate them is whether they have tracks or wheels. Tracks enable the cleaner to climb the pool walls and clean to the surface.
If you’re getting leaves on steps, you’ll need a pool cleaner to pick up leaves and climb walls.
The key difference between a standard pool cleaner and a pool cleaner for leaves is brushes and height. Brushes are a great addition to vacuum cleaners because they scrub the pool while vacuuming. However, they will also sweep away thicker debris like leaves without picking them up.
Cleaners that are low in height will not pick up leaves because there isn’t enough clearance. A good leaf vacuum will have enough clearance to pick up the leaves as it rolls over the top of them.
There are four main things to look for in a cleaner for leaves:
- Avoid pool vacs with brushes
- Ease of installation & use
- A price that fits your budget
You’ll need a cleaner that has the ability to handle larger debris and have good mobility. For leaves, you do not want scrub brushes, as they will just move the leaves around.
Another important factor is the filtration system. If you have a heavy leaf problem and use a suction or pressure cleaner, the leaves end up in the filter and can clog your system. This will result in constant backwashing and/or cleaning of your filter. This isn’t so much a problem if you don’t have excessive leaves.
The solution is to use a manual or robotic vacuum because they have their own debris bags. A cheaper solution is to clean out the bulk of the leaves with a net before you use a manual or automatic cleaner.
Best Pool Cleaners for Leaves Reviewed
1. Our Top Vacuum for Leaves: Pentair Rebel Vacuum
- Receives praise from pool technicians for quality & leaf cleaning
- Automatically cleans pool without intervention
- Gets into tight corners which other cleaners miss
The Pentair Rebel Vacuum is the overall pick because of its durability, cleaning power, and ease of use. It’s an affordable suction-style cleaner that produces results in minimum time.
Its two-wheel design allows it to reach hard-to-find corners that similar cleaners cannot. What makes it great for leaf problems is its turbine and roller skirts. The roller skirts pick up debris, and the turbine provides clear access to the debris where other cleaners will clog.
As a pool tech, I have used this cleaner before and can attest to its quality and ability to pick up leaves.
- Affordable price
- Climbs walls
- Easy to install
- Picks up leaves, palm seeds and all debris
- Slow turnaround time
- Does not work on pools with vinyl liner
- Doesn’t get into tight corners due to round shape
2. Best Budget Cleaner for Leaves: Poolmaster Big Sucker
- No pump or power needed - powered by a garden hose
- Effective at picking up leaves
- Top selling trusted product
The Poolmaster Big Sucker is a manual vacuum that is specifically designed for picking up leaves. It’s been around a long time and is a tried and proven model.
It is lightweight and relatively easy to push around the pool. It includes a fine mesh bag that easily traps dirt and leaves. A great feature is the eight high-pressure jets on the bottom, which lift leaves. The multi-directional wheels, combined with the pressure jets, make light work of leaf removal.
In my research, I found that this picks up leaves easily, and the positives greatly outweigh the negative comments. Some people have found that the bag falls to the side when full of leaves, which gets in the way of the vacuum. So you’ll need to empty it. Having the bag will, however, mean you won’t have to clean leaves out of the pool filter.
The other common complaint is the bag falling off. This is easily fixed by looping the string around the bag to hold it tighter.
- Easy maneuverability
- Captures twigs
- The plastic material isn’t high quality and breaks over time
- Bag falls to the side and gets in the way when full of leaves
3. Best High End Cleaner for Leaves: Polaris 9560iQ Sport
- Top-tier WiFi controlled robotic cleaner
- Will pick up acorns, pine needles, sand, blossoms & large debris
- Long 70' no tangle cord
The Polaris 9560iQ Sport is one of the best of the best in robotic cleaners. It is Wi-Fi controllable and does a great job of cleaning.
Let’s start with this unit’s cons and then talk about the positives.
The unit does boast WiFi control, however, some users have not been able to connect it to their phone or other devices and therefore take advantage of this functionality. For others, the app is just a little glitchy at times. But for the majority, this hasn’t been a problem.
As with most products, in my research, I found that a very small percentage of people received defective units or their units stopped after a short time.
Unfortunately, from what we’ve heard, the Polaris support leaves much to be desired. Think of long hold times; phone calls not being returned. This may only be the minority of users, but I want you to be informed.
And finally, the cost of this unit is mid-range for a robotic cleaner. At around $1400-$1700, depending on where you buy it. Other similar cleaners are cheaper.
Now for the positives.
If you’re looking for a robotic pool cleaner that picks up leaves, you’re in the right place. I found that the Polaris does a great job of picking up leaves, pine needles, blossoms, and other large debris. Many have reported that their pool is super clean.
I found that this unit also rarely gets stuck. Many pool cleaners do get stuck on ladders, drains, and steps but not with this one. So if you’ve had this problem in the past, then this will likely solve this for you.
Probably the best thing about this unit is you can put it in the water, let it do its thing, and come back to a clean pool.
- Picks up leaves easily
- Leaves pool super clean
- Doesn’t get stuck
- The price point is between $1,400-$1,700
- Heavy to lift out of the water
- Pool customer service from Polaris
- WiFi app glitch for some
4. Suction Cleaner: Polaris 360
- Reliable suction cleaner for inground pools
- Effective picking up fine dust, sand, leaves & other debris
- No booster pump needed
The Polaris 360 is a suction cleaner with great maneuverability and power for inground pools with any surface. When researching this model, I found that it picks up fine dust and sand and leaves well. It will get around to most nooks and crannies in your pool, but sometimes it will take a few hours as it moves randomly.
Its removable bag traps leaves and debris, so you don’t have to clean your filter afterward. And the tail that swishes around will stir up the sediment on the bottom, allowing your pool filter to pick it up too.
It’s a pressure cleaner that doesn’t require a separate booster pump, making it a powerful cleaner at a premium. The 360 is a tried and true industry favorite.
- Vacuums, scrubs, and cleans at the same time
- An affordable cleaner for less than $800
- The attached bag keeps debris away from the filter
- Expensive replacement parts
- It sometimes leaks from joints
- Hoses are a little thin
5. Affordable Vac for Leaves: Kreepy Krauly
- Only one moving part - reliable design
- Very effective for leaves, sand & dust.
- Climbs walls & will last around 3-4 years
The Pentair Kreepy Krauly is a suction-style cleaner that is lightweight, affordable, and great at picking up leaves.
This is a great mid-range option that is easy to install and use. It comes with only one moving part, which means minimal maintenance.
After some research, I found that the Kreepy Krauly is a great pool cleaner for picking up leaves and other debris, such as sand and dust. Even if you have a lot of leaves in your pool, this pool cleaner will work great on leaves. It falls short, picking up large, heavy debris like pebbles, though.
It climbs the walls of most pools and climbs well most of the time. But whether or not it will climb your pool depends on your pool surface, how you set it up, and your pump power.
It will get around by itself to most areas of your pool, but it may get stuck if you have a ladder. And for some users, they stay in the deep end.
The durability of this model is likely limited to 3-4 years. Although this model works well, don’t expect it to last 10+ years.
Overall, if you’re looking for a vacuum for leaves for the money, most will be impressed with this pool cleaner.
- Easily picks up leaves and debris
- Automatic valve regulates water flow
- Expensive replacement parts
- No as durable as older models
1. What is the best pool cleaner for leaves?
The answer depends on your pool finish, what ports you have, and your budget
Manual cleaners are the cheapest and do a good job picking up leaves, especially those that connect to the skimmer.
Pressure cleaners connect to your pump, but you’ll need a booster pump and a special port.
Robotic cleaners usually do a great job with leaves and larger debris. And since they have an attached bag, they are ideal for those with lots of leaves in their pool.
2. Where do the leaves and debris that I vacuum go?
Suction and pressure cleaners trap the leaves and debris in your filter system, which must be cleaned regularly.
Manual and robotic cleaners include a bag to trap debris and are easy to clean. As mentioned, having a bag is the best option if you have a lot of leaves.
3. Should I clean my vacuum head?
After cleaning up thicker debris like leaves, hose down the vacuum head so it doesn’t dirty up the pool again.
When picking a pool cleaner for sucking up leaves, there are many options to consider. However, with some knowledge, you can easily pick the right cleaner.
The first thing to consider is what system your pool is plumbed for.
Automatic cleaners are great but a little more pricey than manual options. If you don’t mind the labor of cleaning your pool, a manual option is cheap and reliable.
If you want the best of the best and want a hands-off cleaner for your leaf problem, then a robotic cleaner is the go.
There are plenty of options, each with its functions, so do a little homework, and you will find the perfect pool cleaner for your pool.