Best Pool Cleaner For Leaves 2023 Reviews

leaves floating in an inground pool

This Article Was Last Updated on April 11, 2023

Leaves are an ugly sight in a pool. Additionally, leaves can cause serious damage to your pool if they’re not removed. For these cosmetic and operational reasons, as a pool owner, you need to remove them frequently. Removing leaves from your pool is a two step process. We’ll focus on the best pool cleaner for leaves in this article. However, applying a manual leaf net is also important.

How To Find The Best Pool Cleaner For Leaves

First, if you live in an area with a high leaf load, the best pool cleaner is you.  That’s right, good old you with a pole and leaf net in your hand.  When there is an excessive amount of leaves falling from the trees, there is no pool cleaner in the world that will keep up with them when your pool is surrounded by trees.  If you get out there every day during the leaf drop period, you can keep your pool in much better shape than just letting the leaves build up and taking care of them all at once.

Best Pool Cleaner For Leaves: Polaris 280

Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure-Side In-ground Pool Cleaner, Double Venturi Jet Powered, 31ft of Hose with an All Purpose…
  • CLEANS IN 3 HOURS: Powered by a separate Polaris booster pump, dual venturi jets create strong vacuum power to reliably clean any in ground pool in 3…
  • FOR IN-GROUND POOLS: Safe for all pool shapes and surfaces including vinyl, fiberglass, gunite, pebble, & tile.
  • Complete Coverage: The Vac Sweep 280 moves fluidly as it sweeps & scrubs the floor and walls of your pool- while its large 2.25″ inlet picks up large…

Leaves fall intermittently throughout the year whenever you have trees near a pool. Therefore, you need the best cleaner for leaves to help aid your manual leaf net sessions.  Fishing out five or ten leaves from the bottom of the pool manually is not something you need to do. Depending on how frequent leafs are in your backyard and how often you run your pool cleaner, it may even be capable of picking up all of the leaves in your pool. 

The most commonly used and best pool cleaner for leaves is the Polaris 280 which is a pressure side cleaner.  This cleaner requires a booster pump and you need a dedicated line from the pool equipment to the pool to power this cleaner. The Polaris 280 is applicable to all inground pools including vinyl liner, gunite and fiberglass.

How The Polaris 280 Works 

The Polaris 280 can be trusted no matter your situation. If you are building a new pool, the Polaris 280 is a great choice.  If you already have a pressure side cleaner and are looking to replace it, the Polaris 280 is a true workhorse of the pressure cleaner world.  It works using water jets pushing on the bottom of the pool.  As a result, these jets push leaves up into the leaf net which sticks out the top of the cleaner.  The wheels turn using the water pressure so the cleaner will randomly move around the bottom of the pool, cleaning as it goes.

Polaris 280 vs. Polaris 3900 Super Sport

If you are looking for something a bit more advanced with slightly better cleaning power, you might consider the Polaris 3900 Super Sport. This cleaner is a triple jet design, but works in much the same manner as the Polaris 280. Our recommendation is the Polaris 280 since these are known throughout the industry. If they have problems, just about any pool service tech out there knows how to rebuild them and get them back into operation.  

Best Pool Cleaner For Leaves And Dirt: Hayward PoolVac XL

Hayward W32025ADC PoolVac XL Suction Pool Cleaner for In-Ground Gunite Pools up to 20 x 40 ft. with 40 ft. Hose…
  • SUPERIOR DEBRIS PICKUP: Designed for gunite surfaces, the unique wing design, wide vacuum inlet and constant suction power make this cleaner more…
  • PROGRAMMED CLEANING: Exclusive AquaPilot preprogrammed steering pattern offers intelligent, complete pool coverage, covering pool floor, walls and…
  • SILENT OPERATION: Its advanced suction design cleans efficiently and quietly. And with no pulsating hoses or noisy parts, you’re left with a more…

If you have more of a dust and dirt problem than just leaves, you might want to consider the Hayward PoolVac XL.  These are well designed and utilitarian vacuums which have been known to work well historically. Suction cleaners work by sucking water through the pipe, back to the pool pump.  You can imagine that these only work well when there’s not too much leaf litter in the pool, since you primarily are relying on the pump basket and the filter to remove the debris being vacuumed out of the pool.  

Best Pool Cleaner For Leaves Premium Pick: Dolphin Nautilus CC

Dolphin Nautilus CC Robotic Pool Vacuum Cleaner — Wall Climbing Capability — Powerful Active Scrubbing Brush —…
  • The Dolphin Nautilus CC robotic pool vacuum cleaner features powerful wall climbing capabilities to scrub the floor and walls of your pool no matter…
  • With the Dolphin’s active scrubbing brush design, your pool surface gets incredibly clean. Each performance cleaning gives you an exceptional pool…
  • Get your pool exceptionally clean with the easy-access, top load fine filter basket. The fine filters remove debris from your pool for crystal-clear…

A great alternative to the traditional pool vacuum when removing dust and dirt is a robotic cleaner, like the Dolphin Nautilus CC.  These operate on their own power and do not require any additional plumbing or equipment. This is our favorite for retrofit applications. It’s a great choice for anyone living in a high dust or dirt load area who does not have an infloor cleaning system built into their pool. Not only is the Dolphin great for leaves, it’s one of the best pool cleaners overall.

Why Are Leaves Bad For An Inground Pool?

  • Clogging the pool filter
  • Staining the pool surface
  • Causing cloudy water
  • Requires more chemicals (therefore more money)

As we touched on earlier, leaves aren’t just an eye sore for your pool. They can cause many problems for your pool equipment and chemicals. For starters, leaves will clog a pool filter, preventing it from operating. Unfortunately, if you’re not timely with leaf removal, your filter will capture the leaves. This forces you to manually remove the leaves from the filter.

Furthermore, leaves can stain your pool surface if left too long. It’s important to have water circulating for many reasons and this is a major one. You’ll also start to notice cloudiness in your pool. As some of the leaves disintegrate, they will muddy up your water clarity. Through the leaves disintegration and by carrying in dirt/dust, you will end up spending more money on pool chemicals. Leaves also contain protein that helps algae grow in your pool. Getting rid of algae is a process of its own and will cost more money.

How Leaf Prevention Varies By Region

There are various demands on pool maintenance professionals as you go around the country. In the northeast, a rule of thumb is to close the pool before the leaves fall so you’re not fishing the fall leaves out of the pool. That way you can just let them fall onto the cover.  If you live in Texas, you know all about the ubiquitous live oaks that everyone loves. They can be frustrating whenever they are dropping leaves or pollen in the swimming pool.  When you live in Arizona you have to worry about the haboob (sand storm) filling your pool with dust, dirt, and if you’re especially unlucky, tumbleweed.  


Having a great pool cleaner and manually skimming for leaves will help preserve your pool. Leaves are bad for pool equipment and can cause long term cosmetic damage. We recommend the Polaris 280, Hayward PoolVac XL and Dolphin Nautilus CC pool cleaners.