8 Creative Ways to Vacuum a Pool Without a Skimmer

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Keeping the pool clean requires good circulation of water.  One of the key aspects to the pool’s circulation system is the skimmer.

A pool skimmer is the rectangular opening on the side of an in-ground pool or that little machine hanging over the wall of an above-ground pool. 

Skimmers are also important for vacuuming a pool as they often provide the suction for the vacuum.  Depending on the size of the pool, more than one skimmer may be needed. 

Although important, skimmers aren’t a must-have! In fact, you can vacuum your pool without a skimmer. 

There are a number of gadgets out there that don’t need a skimmer to work. They will, however, require some extra effort on your end. 

Keep reading to learn more about how to vacuum a pool without a skimmer.

What Do Pool Skimmers Do?

Through use of your pool’s pump and filtration system, pool skimmers draw water from the surface of the pool. They draw about ⅛ inch of the water to help get rid of floating matter such as leaves, debris, hair, or sunscreen.

Without a skimmer, those contaminants will sink down and increase the possibilities of algae growth, cloudy water, and fungus.

The skimmer often has a screen basket to trap the debris.  The basket should be routinely emptied out in order to allow for efficient flow back to the pump.

Vacuuming your pool will help keep the water clean and balanced. This will ensure the chemicals will work at maximum effectiveness.

Normally, when vacuuming a pool, you connect one end of the hose to the vacuum head and the other end to the skimmer in order to harness the suction of the pump. But what if you want to vacuum the pool without a skimmer?

How to Vacuum a Pool Without Skimmer

No skimmer? No problem. There are a few methods you can try to vacuum your pool without a skimmer. 

Method #1: The Siphonic Way

This method works best for above-ground pools. You’ll need a vacuum head, a vacuum hose, and a telescopic pole.

Follow these steps to vacuum your above-ground pool using the siphonic way:

  1. Attach both the telescopic pole and the vacuum hose to the vacuum head.
  2. Place the vacuum head in position at the bottom of the pool.
  3. Submerge the entire vacuum hose in the water and make sure it’s filled up to its top end.
  4. Place your hand over the top end of the vacuum hose to seal it.
  5. While your hand is still in place, quickly toss the top end of the vacuum hose out of the pool and under water surface level.
  6. The pressure difference will cause suction and have the water travel from the bottom of the pool into the hose and out the other end.
  7. Using the telescopic pole, move the vacuum head around the bottom of the pool to suck the sunken debris.
  8. Once done, lift the vacuum head out of the water and detach the vacuum hose.


  • You don’t need to use a vacuum head if you don’t have one; the hose is enough.
  • You can use any type of hose; it doesn’t have to be a pool vacuum hose.
  • The same goes for the telescopic pole; you can use any available pole or stick.
  • It’s convenient, easy, and affordable.


  • It drains some of the pool water, so you may have to add some water.
  • If the hose is small in diameter, it might get clogged up with large debris.
  • It only works for above-ground pools.

Method #2: The Robotic Pool Cleaner

Robotic pool cleaners work just like a RoboVac. They’re either electric (corded) or chargeable (cordless). You just need to plug it in or charge it, adjust the mode and time, then drop it down into the pool.

It has wheels, brushes, and a built-in filter. It glides across your pool’s floor and walls, sucking water, filtering it, and ejecting out clean water. 


  • It works great for large pools.
  • It’s perfect for all pool shapes.
  • It’s suitable for all types of pool lining.
  • It’s user-friendly.
  • It requires no effort whatsoever.
  • It has different adjustment options for different needs. You can choose the duration, for example, 1, 2, or 3 hours. You can also adjust it to work daily, every other day, etc. Also, you can choose floor only or floor and walls.


  • It’s quite pricey, but you get what you paid for.
  • The filter needs cleaning every now and then.
  • Some types are limited to the pool floor only.
  • If cordless, it may need charging roughly every week.
  • Its movement is limited to the cord length, so make sure to pick the right type.

Method #3: The Portable Filtration System

A portable vacuuming system consists of a 1.5hp motor, a stand-alone pump, and a filter. You’ll just need to attach a vacuum hose to the pump, plug it in, and vacuum the pool.

The water will go in through the vacuum hose to the filter and out of the discharge pipe. For this method, aside from the pump, you’ll need the following tools:

  1. Vacuum head: It’s really important to pick a durable vacuum head that’s compatible with your pool type. 

There are different vacuum head options depending on whether your pool is in-ground or above ground.

Also, vacuum head types vary depending on the pool’s lining and size. You’ll need to use a vacuum head with soft nylon-bristle brushes if your pool is vinyl-lined.

On the other hand, vacuum heads with wheels or steel-bristle brushes will work best for harder surfaces like concrete. 

  1. Vacuum hose: there are many vacuum hose brands out there. You’ll need to choose a hose that’s flexible to move around easily and durable to withstand the pool’s chemicals.
  1. Telescopic pole: it needs to be corrosion-resistant with a thick aluminum shaft. Also, it has to have a universal connector for all of the cleaning attachments.


  • It’s good for cleaning pools in windy and desert regions.
  • It can be used also to drain the pool.
  • It comes with variable filter sizes for different uses.
  • Easy to clean the filter.
  • It comes with a service cart for easier movement.


  • It’s big and a bit heavy.
  • The price is high.
  • The filter needs cleaning regularly.

Method #4: Pool Vacuum System

A pool vacuum system is typically powered by a battery, sometimes as large as 100AH.  It has a powerful propeller on top that pumps all the debris through a mesh bag.

You’ll just need to place the vacuum head down into the pool, plug it into the battery cart, and the propeller will start pumping right away.


  • It’s quick and easy to use.
  • It’s powerful and picks up all kinds of debris.
  • Many are designed to be portable on wheels.


  • The battery needs charging.
  • It’s bulky to move around
  • It can be pricey

Method #5: The Leaf Bagger

This is the simplest tool you can use for vacuuming your pool. You’ll simply need to put a leaf bagger down into the pool, attach your garden hose to it, and turn the water on.

The water from the garden hose will create suction that will push the leaves up the mesh bag on top of the leaf bagger.


  • It’s affordable.
  • The mesh bag comes in various sizes.
  • It only requires a garden hose.


  • Requires manual labor
  • The suction is not high; works only with leaves
  • The garden hose can get tangled
  • It won’t scrub down the walls

Method #6: Handheld Pool Vacuum

A handheld pool vacuum is similar to an upright vacuum that you’d use in the house, except it’s intended for use underwater.  The vacuum is powered through a rechargeable battery.

It’s lightweight and can provide its own suction without need for a hose.  It can connect to most telescopic poles to allow for use in both in-ground and above-ground pools.


  • It’s quick and easy to use
  • It’s powerful and picks up all kinds of debris
  • No need for a hose


  • The battery needs charging
  • It requires manual labor
  • May require frequent cleaning to maintain suction
  • Some of the vacuum heads may be small and take longer to clean a large pool

Method #7: The Pool Drain

If you have an in-ground pool with a main drain, you may be able to use it as a makeshift vacuum.  Similar to a skimmer, the main drain is also providing a source of suction back to the pump.

For this method, you’ll want to sweep the floors and walls of your pool with a standard pool brush.  Slowly brush any debris towards the drain so that it can be sucked back into the pump and filtration system.


  • It does not require any additional cost.
  • It only requires use of your pool brush.  


  • Requires manual labor
  • It can be difficult to steer debris to the drain without it swirling elsewhere
  • Large debris may not make it through the grating of the drain

Method #8: In-Floor Cleaning System

An in-floor cleaning system eliminates the need to connect a vacuum hose to the skimmer, as it automatically cleans the pool.  Unfortunately, this option must be planned ahead of the pool’s installation.

The in-floor system includes rotating jets in the floor of the pool that direct debris towards a drain.  The debris then travels to a canister that can be pulled from the pool deck, similar to a skimmer basket.


  • Self-cleans the pool without need for manual vacuuming
  • It’s powerful and picks up all kinds of debris


  • Only for in-ground pools
  • Needs to be planned during initial installation of the pool
  • Expensive and may require maintenance over time

Cleaning the Pool Without a Vacuum

While vacuuming the pool is the best way to keep the pool clean, a final resort is to simply use your skimmer net.  With the net installed onto the telescopic pole, carefully sweep it across the bottom to scoop up debris.

This method will take more time than vacuuming, especially if there’s a large amount of debris at the bottom.  But, it works well enough if you’re just trying to clear out a few stray leaves, bugs, or other unwanted items that have settled to the bottom.

Final Takeaway

When it comes to vacuuming your pool, there are many methods that you can resort to and gadgets that vary from simple to extravagant and from cheap to expensive. Just weigh your options and pick the most convenient one for you.

Even if you do have a skimmer, some of the options may be useful in helping to cut down the amount of effort needed to vacuum your pool –such as the robotic vacuum cleaner.

If none of the methods above work for you, you can build your own vacuuming machine. Yes, some people have done that before. So, if you’re handy and know your way around tools, a couple of pipes and a motor will work magic for you.

Once you’ve mastered vacuuming your pool, it may be time to turn attention towards getting the pool grout cleaned up like new!

Happy (clean) Swimming!

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