How to Vacuum a Pool: The Best Guide to Pool Maintenance

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Learning how to vacuum a pool correctly is one of the more essential tasks you should learn as a pool owner. A thorough vacuuming session will keep the water clean and bacteria-free. This simple task will save you a lot of grief (and literal pain) in due time.

How to Vacuum a Pool

Reasons Why You Should Learn How to Vacuum a Pool

A dirty pool harbors countless potential dangers

Waterborne parasites and bacteria like Giardia, E.coli, and Cryptosporidium could grow and thrive in the murky water. They can cause symptoms ranging from high fever and stomach cramps to debilitating diarrhea. While these microbes spread primarily through human feces, they could also infiltrate your pool by tagging along on infected leaves and algae spores. You’ll know when you have an algae infestation when the water turns a noxious green.

Reasons Why You Should Vacuum Your Pool

And that’s not even mentioning how bad your pool would look without proper care. A greenish tinge in the water, dead leaves, dirt floating around, and algae sticking to the pool’s sidewalls will definitely mess up your good summer vibe.

A thorough vacuuming session will keep these unwanted remnants in check and help minimize risks. Furthermore, it will also preserve the natural aesthetic a swimming pool can add to a house.

Tools You Will Need for Manual Pool Cleaning

Before vacuuming, you’ll need to arm yourself with an excellent toolset.

Pool Vacuum Head

The pool vacuum head is the star of the show. It creates the suction needed to lift debris from off the pool’s floor and scrape it off sidewalls. Some models (like the Swimline HydroTools 8110) also have stiff bristle brushes to dislodge stubborn dirt and algae. These brushes also act as a funnel to gather debris straight into the suction port and thus make your job a whole lot easier.

Pool Vacuum Head

Most models have protective plastic bumpers to prevent the vacuum head from damaging your pool’s sidewalls. Additionally, they’re also weighted to make it more comfortable to clean with the long telescopic pole.

Most pool vacuum heads are designed for use in tandem with a pool circulation pump. If you don’t have one (a common theme for houses with inflatable pools and hot tubs), there are special vacuum heads that use your garden hose for suction instead. We’ll discuss more about this type later in the article.

Telescopic Pole

If you own a pool, it only stands to reason to have a telescopic pole— along with a skimmer, net; and hooks— since they are the basic cleaning tools found in a common tool shed. 

Depending on the size and depth of your pool, find a telescopic pole that can comfortably reach down to the deepest part. Usually, a pole that can extend and retract between 7 to 20 feet will do (like the Unger Professional Multi-Purpose Pole).

Telescopic Pole

Vacuum Hose

The vacuum hose connects your pool vacuum head with the skimmer inlet. The inlet— powered by the pool circulation pump— provides the vacuum head with powerful suction force needed to do its job. A standard hose should be resistant to UV radiation and pool chemicals; while durable enough to withstand the daily wear-and-tear, along with the occasional bumps. 

Like the pole, buy a hose with enough length to cover every cubic inch of your pool, leaving no spot unchecked.

Vacuum Hose

Vacuum Plate

The vacuum plate is a little trickier to describe.

Like previously mentioned, your vacuum head takes suction directly from the skimmer inlet. Typically, the inlet sits underneath a strainer basket in the skimmer box. The basket acts as a filter and keeps debris from entering and clogging up the skimmer line.

Since you can’t use your vacuum without first removing the basket, you run the risk of  clogging up your pump by vacuuming unfiltered water.

That’s where the vacuum plate comes in: fit the plate into the strainer basket and plug the hose into the plate’s fitting. With that setup, you can vacuum water without worrying about damaging the whole thing, now that there’s a filtration layer to keep things in check.

Vacuum Plate

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Vacuum a Pool

This section is only for owners of pools with a full-fledged filtration system. For those with an inflatable pool, hot tub, or a small pool sans the filtration system, you can skip to the garden hose method below. 

Air Out Your Vacuum (Priming)

The first step is purging your vacuum of all the air pockets inside. These pesky air bubbles will make your vacuum lose suction. It will save you a ton of time and effort removing them beforehand.

Install the suction hose into your vacuum head and clip it onto the head of the telescopic pole.

Lower the vacuum head into the pool and take the free end of the suction hose. Lower it into the water to let the line fill up with water. After that, find a strong water jet (like the pool return) and hold the hose’s end near it. The jet will shoot through the hose and purge out the air.

You will know it’s working when you see air bubbles rising from the vacuum head and pop on the water surface. Keep the hose submerged until the bubbles stop rising.

Fit the Hose into the Skimmer Inlet

Find the skimmer box and, if you already have your vacuum plate, install the plate into the strainer basket. Plug the free end of the suction hose into the plate’s fitting, and you’re ready to go.

Start Vacuuming!

With everything set up and suction power set to the maximum, use the telescopic pole to steer the vacuum head around. Moving it back and forth should suffice, but it’s important not to forget the corners and places with sticky dirt and algae growths. Continue until the whole place is spotless.

Vacuuming with a Garden Hose

For houses with inflatable pools, hot tubs, or small pools without an elaborate filtration system, vacuuming with a garden hose is an inexpensive way to get the job done.

Like we mentioned before, if you’re going to use this method, make sure that you get a pool vacuum head compatible with a garden hose and vacuum bags (like the POOLWHALE Portable Pool Vacuum Cleaner).

Vacuuming with a Garden Hose

Prep the Vacuum Head

Connect the vacuum bag to the appropriate port on the vacuum head. The bag will gather up all of the dirt and debris in the pool as you clean.

After that, connect your telescopic pole to the vacuum head. Take your garden hose (you may need to buy one long enough to reach the bottom of the pool) and plug it into the hose valve on the vacuum head.

Start Cleaning

Connect your garden hose to the outdoor faucet. After you’ve got a secure connection, lower the vacuum head into the water with the pole and switch on the water in your garden hose. Use the pole to steer the vacuum head around just as you would with a regular vacuum, sucking up all of the dirt, debris, and algae.

In case you start losing suction, nine out of ten times, it’s because the vacuum bag is filling up to capacity. Just take the cleaning head out of the water and empty the bag, and you’ll be ready to go again.

How Often Should I Vacuum My Pool?

A vacuum session every week will keep the water in your pool clear and healthy. 

But cleaning frequency also depends on the frequency of use. If you and your family play in the pool every day, you may have to vacuum it once every half week or so. Do it at your own pace, but we recommend you never go more than a week without vacuuming.


As you can see, vacuuming is an incredibly important task if you want to use your pool safely. Don’t think of it as a bothersome chore or task. Rather, consider it a great way to keep the pool fresh, bacteria-free, and fun for everyone involved. 

We hope that our instructions have been clear and helpful to you.

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