If you have lots of trees around your pool you are likely to get lots of leaves constantly falling in it, particularly during fall, and to deal with them effectively you need to act sooner rather than later.
When vacuuming leaves from a pool, if there are many, you will constantly need to stop vacuuming to empty the pump strainer basket as it will quickly become full. To prevent this, you first need to remove the bulk of the leaves with a net before vacuuming.
There are also many innovative products available that can, at the very least, make life easier when it comes to vacuuming leaves from swimming pools. I will describe the various ways below.
Removing leaves by vacuuming
The most sensible thing to do before you even start skimming leaves from the surface or vacuuming leaves from a pool is to sweep any leaves there may be around the pool, on the deck or paving, to prevent them from being blown into the pool.
When leaves start falling rapidly, one of the best things you can do is to regularly use a good skimmer net (leaf skimmer) to get any leaves off of the surface of the pool before they start to become waterlogged and sink to the bottom, which only makes the problem worse. It will also mean you do not have to empty the skimmer baskets so often too.
Tip to prevent leaves dropping to the bottom
At the time of year when I get most leaves falling in my pool I set my pump timer to run the pump for an hour two or three times overnight. This way the skimmers pull in most leaves before they become waterlogged and drop to the bottom.
It will take a only few minutes each time but may save you much more time in the long run after they have sunk to the bottom of your pool.
Before you even consider vacuuming leaves from a pool, if you have lots of leaves there, then you should try to remove as many as you can using a net or pool leaf catcher. To do this effectively you need one with a leaf scoop or leaf rakes that allows you to slide the front of the net under the leaves and collect them. Without this, a net will probably just push the leaves around without actually picking them up.
The pool net I have used for a number of years is the Stargoods Pool Skimmer Net.
This is a very heavy duty leaf rake net that is good at scooping leaves on the bottom of a pool. It has a fine mesh net too so good for getting smaller particles out of the pool water.
Tip for getting stubborn leaves off the bottom of a poolHow to clean leaves from bottom of pool
Even with a good net such as this one sometimes it can be hard to get sunken leaves off of the bottom. I have developed a technique where I slide the net along the bottom towards the leaf or leaves and as I reach them I pull the net back a couple of inches and then slide it forward again to scoop up the leaves. This action causes a small eddy in the water which lifts the leaf of the bottom slightly enabling the net to then slide under it.
If you have lots of leaves in your pool, as well as other debris then the best thing might be to just bite the bullet and vacuum to waste.
Best pool vacuum head for leaves
Some vacuum heads will deal with leaves at the bottom of the pool better than others will. There are also other easier ways of removing leaves which I will go into further on.
In my experience the types of pool vacuum heads that have brushes do not do such a good job as the brushes tend to push the leaves along without allowing them to enter under the vacuum head (and get sucked up). When I use this type of vacuum head to collect leaves I have to continually lift or tilt the vacuum head a little to allow the leaves to be drawn in underneath.
The best multipurpose vacuum heads for vacuuming leaves from a pool are those without brushes and which have wheels that keep the head just off the pool bottom. Leaves can pass under this type of vacuum head more easily and be sucked up into the pool hose.
I use the Millard Flexible Pool Vacuum Head which I find works quite well for removing the odd leaf left after I have used a net to remove the bulk of them. The wheels stop the head from scratching the pool surface too and it is also weighted to help keep it on the bottom of the pool.
Other ways of removing leaves from a pool
There are also some specialist leaf vacuums, also known as a leaf gulper, leaf master or leaf eater which have a net that collects the leaves as you move it around the bottom of the pool. They connect to a standard garden hose, not to a pool vacuum hose, and the water flow powers it. The most popular of these is the Poolmaster 28300 Big Sucker Pool Leaf Vacuum which has eight water nozzles to create a current and push the leaves into the net – a very clever design.
In-line leaf strainers
These are devices that you connect to your vacuum hose which strain the leaves before they enter the pool pump and filter system and trap them in the leaf canister. They can be used with both manual pool vacuums and automatic pool cleaners.
There are a few different models on the market. One of the most popular is the Hayward W560 PoolVac Navigator.
It attaches to standard 1.5″ pool vacuum hoses and is easy to empty the leaves that are collected. You can also fit a pool skimmer sock to trap smaller particles of debris too.
Hayward also manufactures a larger capacity version which would be a better choice if you have a very big leaf problem in your pool – Hayward W530 Large Capacity Leaf Canister.
There is also another type of leaf strainer that uses cyclonic technology in order to separate the leaves when they are sucked up. This means it doesn’t become clogged and lose suction like some other types of inline leaf strainer can.
The Zodiac Cyclonic Leaf Canister fits all types of vacuum hoses as it comes with various adapters to suit most setups. It has a side handle to make emptying the leaves and other debris easier.
Buy a floating skimmer
If you have lots of debris in your pool, particularly if you have trees near your pool as I do so you are constantly removing leaves, which your skimmers struggle to deal with, then you may wish to look at adding a floating skimmer to help out.
These robotic pool skimmers are solar-powered and move around on the surface of the pool under their own power collecting debris as they go. You just need to take it out and empty it now and again (as you do a skimmer basket).
It saves you having to use the skimmer net so often and because it moves around it can collect debris before it gets waterlogged and sinks to the bottom, particularly when the pool pump is off so the skimmers are not skimming.
There are two popular models available:
The Instapark pool skimmer works completely on solar power to remove the surface debris as well as reducing the amount of dust, leaves, pollen and bacteria. It has a wireless app that you can sue to control it.
The Aquamoto Skimbot 2021 Robotic Solar Powered Pool Cleaner removes 90-95% of surface debris as well as reducing the amount of dust, leaves, pollen and bacteria.
It has an intelligent onboard navigation system that maps the water surface and targets dirty areas. You can also control it through an iOS or an Android app on your phone.
The ultimate in leaf removal – a robotic pool cleaner
If you can afford one of these it will certainly be something you will never regret. A robotic pool cleaner will happily work its way around the bottom of your pool, and actually up the sides too, removing leaves and dirt as it goes. What can be better than that?
I finally bought a Dolphin robotic pool cleaner almost 2 years ago and I must say it is the best investment I ever made as far as our pool is concerned. How did I ever survive without it! It saves me hours of work each week and as it is so easy to use I clean more frequently too
I also have a number of friends and neighbors who own them and they say they wouldn’t want to be without theirs either.
The overwhelming consensus on the swimming pool cleaning forums and Facebook groups is that the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus robotic pool cleaner is the best on the market, by far, yet it is actually nowhere near the most expensive available.
The Nautilus does not use the pool’s filter system so does not need to be connected to a vacuum hose. Instead it is powered via an electrical cable and moves around the pool, including climbing the walls, cleaning and scrubbing the water line as it goes.
It will collect leaves and debris and hold these within its filter. It is programmable to run at set times of the day or week.
How to keep leaves out of your pool
There are really only two ways to stop leaves from getting in your pool.
The first option is to cut down any trees or other plants that are close which are likely to drop leaves – but that would be a shame as there aren’t enough trees in the world.
The second option is to use a pool net or pool cover so that when they fall they don’t manage to get in. Obviously if you still wish to swim you will have to remove this to get in the pool but actually, in many areas, once fall arrives and the leaves fall the pool is probably too cold to swim in anyway, unless it is heated of course.
If you use a leaf net cover it will keep out leaves and other larger debris, but won’t keep out dust and other micro particles. They are stretched across the entire pool and will normally overlap by a few feet too. They can be used at any time of year but you would tend to use them only in fall and winter.
A popular net pool cover is the Blue Wave Rectangular Leaf Net In Ground Pool Cover. It comes in a range of sizes from 12 x 20 feet to 30 x 50 feet so there should be one to fit all pools.
If you are not able to anchor it around the swimming pool you can also buy Blue Wave water-filled tubes to hold it down.
A pool cover is mainly used in winter to stop debris from getting in. As they are a solid weave they prevent debris from entering. They are rather like a tarp. These are NOT pool safety covers, which are much more expensive and which you can find pool safety covers here.
Blue wave also make a good range of inexpensive winter pool covers in an even larger size range than their nets above. A winter cover will let rainwater pass through and very fine silt but stop anything else.
See the full range of Blue Wave Rugged Mesh In Ground Pool Winter Covers.
My top 3 pool cleaning tools
These are the pool cleaning tools I have found the most useful since I have had my pool.
Step and corner vacuum brush
This is a really useful tool for getting into the areas that a standard vacuum head simply cannot reach. Aquatix Pro Pool Step & Corner Vacuum Brush
Leaf rake net
If, like me, you get plenty of leaves at the bottom of your pool then a good leaf rake/net is a must. The Stargoods Pool Skimmer Net gets under the leaves easily.
Robotic pool cleaner
These are quite expensive and it was a number of years before I bit the bullet and bought one. I have never regretted it. The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is the most recommended pool cleaning robot on all of the pool forums. It not only cleans the bottom of the pool but also the sides and the waterline.
Frequently asked questions
Can you shock a pool with leaves in it?
You can still shock a pool when it has leaves in it but the shocking process will be less effective as the chlorine will be attacking the leaves and any other organic material so it will be used up rapidly. It would be better to remove the leaves first, unless we are just talking about a few, in which case they will not have much of an adverse effect.
Can leaves stain a pool?
Yes, leaves can stain the bottom of your pool as many contain various oils, such as tannin. Fortunately, most of these stains may fade away due to the action of the chemicals over a few weeks without you having to take any action to remove them.
How do I keep leaves out of my pool?
You can ensure your pool skimmer is working efficiently so that leaves will be trapped in it before they have a chance to sink to the bottom of the pool. During the fall it may be worth covering your pool when not in use to prevent large amounts of leaves from entering.