5 Best Budget Pool Cleaners under $500 – Top Picks & Reviews

Last Updated: May 4, 2021

a budget pool cleaner

A pool is a big upfront investment that is followed by ongoing costs in terms of maintenance and repairs. It adds a lot of value to your home, but it also brings a lot of expense.

Wanting to save some bucks on a pool cleaner is understandable. With a little luck and some canniness, you can find a perfect pool cleaner that will protect your investment and that won’t cause the eyes to pop out of your head when you go to pay for it.

We took a look at some of the more popular pool cleaners you might find when shopping on a budget. We wrote reviews of them and followed those up with a quick buyers’ guide to give you some ideas on what to look for when shopping for one.

A Quick Summary of the Winners in 2021

Zodiac Baracuda MX6
Zodiac Baracuda MX6(Best for Inground-Pools)

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18 lbs4.80/5
Hayward 'Wanda the Whale'
Hayward 900 Wanda the Whale Suction Above-Ground Pool Cleaner(Best for Above-Ground Pools)

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16 lbs4.65/5
Zodiac Baracuda G3
Zodiac Baracuda G3 Inground Pool Cleaner

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18 lbs4.45/5
Intex Auto Pool Cleaner
Intex Auto Pool Cleaner

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15 lbs4.40/5
INTEY Suction Pool Vacuum
INTEY Pool Cleaner Automatic Suction Pool Vacuum

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12 lbs4.15/5

The 5 Best Budget Pool Cleaners

1. Zodiac Baracuda MX6 – Best for Inground Pools

Zodiac Baracuda MX6

If you’re looking for a great budget pool cleaner, we’d suggest the Zodiac Baracuda MX6. It isn’t the best-performing pool cleaner available, but it combines performance and value to get our top pick.

Its design makes it great for dual-speed or variable-speed pumps. It also spins while it moves, so it doesn’t get caught in a corner or by stairs very easily. When it comes to pool cleaners, the assumption is that pressure-side cleaners cost less. The Baracuda MX6 competes with most of those in terms of raw price without needing an additional booster pump to make it go, so it’s tops in value.

For all that, it doesn’t climb walls very well. It’s a bit on the light side, so if you don’t have the suction set high enough, when it gets too high on the wall it’ll sort of float away.

  • No booster pump needed
  • Good for dual-speed pumps
  • Excellent performance
  • Doesn’t get caught easily
  • Superb value
  • Doesn’t climb very well

2. Hayward ‘Wanda the Whale’ Pool Cleaner – Best for Above Ground Pools

Hayward 900 Wanda the Whale Suction Above-Ground Pool Cleaner

The Hayward 900 Wanda the Whale is our top pick for above ground pool cleaners. Like the Baracuda MX6, it’s a suction-side pool cleaner, which means that what you pay for it is what it costs. It won’t require a booster pump as a hidden cost.

It does a great job cleaning up the little grit and debris that makes your pool look dirty. It’s also a snap to install. Plop it in and it’s ready to go.

Just don’t get it if your pool has soft sides. It’s not designed for those. It also has trouble handling larger things like pine needles and leaves. If you have a lot of those and buy this, you’ll need to supplement Wanda’s cleaning power with a little elbow grease.

  • Great value
  • Easy to install
  • Does well on the little stuff
  • No booster pump
  • Not great for large debris
  • Not for soft-sided pools

3. Zodiac Baracuda G3 Inground Pool Cleaner

Zodiac Baracuda G3 Inground Pool Cleaner

Zodiac’s Baracuda G3 is another budget-friendly suction-side pool cleaner that’s worth a look. What you pay for it is what it costs, unlike pressure-side cleaners that tout being affordable but require a booster pump to work properly.

The Baracuda G3 does a good job cleaning up, which is of critical importance. It can also slide around obstacles on the pool floor by way of the fins on its head.

Two things work against it. The first is that it will always get stuck on steps. It’s just not built for use on those. It also has a hard time sucking up large pieces of debris. If it gets something stuck in it, you might have to pull it out and push the obstruction down the pipe to get it working again.

  • Cleans great
  • No booster pump
  • Moves around obstructions pretty easily
  • Gets stuck on steps
  • Has trouble with large debris

4. Intex Auto Pool Cleaner – Good Choice for Intex Pools

Intex Auto Pool Cleaner

If you own an Intex pool, you know that you can’t use just any pool cleaner on it. If you want one, you’re limited. Either you use an Intex pool cleaner or you use your hands. For cleaning Intex pools, the Intex Auto Pool Cleaner is a fine choice.

The reason for that is pretty simple. It’s designed specifically for Intex pools. You don’t have to worry about whether the pool cleaner is going to rip and tear the liner for that reason. It also does a pretty good job. You will like the price, too.

The drawback is that you can’t use this on any pool but Intex pools. The hoses also have kind of a short reach.

  • Great choice for Intex pools
  • Inexpensive
  • Good cleaning
  • Can’t be used on non-Intex pools
  • Short reach on the hoses

5. INTEY Automatic Suction Pool Vacuum

INTEY Pool Cleaner Automatic Suction Pool Vacuum

The INTEY Pool Cleaner Automatic Suction Pool Vacuum isn’t a very budget-friendly pool cleaner. Sure, if you look at the price, it’ll look like it is. But it’s not. You might as well take the money you were going to spend buying it, go into your front yard, and light it all on fire. It’s that terrible.

You’re buying it to clean your pool. It does a poor job of doing that. It is badly designed, and will just float away for no apparent reason. It can also break pretty easily.

Against that is what you’ll pay for it. Based on the price tag, it looks like a great deal. That will remain so until you have to replace it pretty quickly.

  • Very affordable
  • Doesn’t do a good job
  • Breaks easily
  • Badly designed


If you’re looking for a good budget-friendly pool cleaner for your in-ground pool, we’d suggest the Zodiac Baracuda MX6. It does a great job cleaning, works with pumps with multiple speeds, and doesn’t need a booster pump. It doesn’t climb well, however. Wanda the Whale, the Hayward 900, is easy to set up, offers great value, and cleans up bugs and dirt very well. It just doesn’t like to clean up leaves.

The Zodiac Baracuda G3 does a great job cleaning and won’t get snagged on things on the pool floor, but it has a hard time swallowing large objects and can’t use the steps. The Intex Auto Pool Cleaner is a good choice for Intex pools, and it does a good job on those. It just can’t be used in other pools. As for the INTEY Pool Cleaner Automatic Suction Pool Vacuum, don’t be lulled by the price tag. It might be inexpensive, but it’s also shoddy junk.

We hope you found value in these reviews and the buyers’ guide. Buying a pool cleaner is a significant investment that’s intended to protect the investment you already made in putting in your pool. We wish you the best of luck in buying the right pool cleaner for you.