No one wants to go swimming in a pool full of dead bugs, leaves, and grass clippings. It looks terrible, but it can also throw off the water chemistry as these waste products start to decompose. That can make the water unhealthy. So it’s important to remove this floating trash soon.
Pool skimmers are the ideal tool for this. There are different types of skimmer. One is a permanent part of the pool that serves as an entrance to the filtration system. It picks up a lot of the leaves and other contaminants.
Here, though, we’re looking at the “leaf rake” type of skimmer. These are tools that you can use to manually remove all that junk that can fall into the water. They’re pretty basic as far as technology goes: a net on the end of a stick.
Let’s talk about what you should look for anyway, and then we’ll recommend a few that will be great for your pool!
What To Look For In A Pool Skimmer
As we said, a pool skimmer is a simple tool. There are only a couple of things you want to keep in mind.
The net is the “business end” of the tool. You want to focus on the strength of the net itself, its width and depth, the frame it’s attached to, and how well it’s attached.
Most nets are made of nylon. It should be strong enough not to tear while being pulled through water and picking up leaves. It should also be tear-resistant since small branches and other materials could pierce light materials.
You want a net that is wide enough that it won’t take you forever to skim the pool. It is also helpful for it to have a bit of depth so that it doesn’t fill up with trash too quickly. At the same time, though, you don’t want it to be huge. Remember that you’re already pulling against the resistance of water. Too much junk will make it heavier and harder to pull.
The net is always attached to a frame. Usually, the frame is oval or rectangular. These shapes allow you to focus on the main function: skimming the surface of the water. You don’t need the opening to be very deep.
But making it wide allows you to do the job more rapidly. Like the depth of the net, though, you don’t want it to be too wide because you’re manipulating it by hand. A good width is between one and two feet.
Finally, the frame is attached to a pole. Sometimes the pole is sold separately. You want a pole that’s long enough that you can reach the center of your pool from some point around the edge. It should be lightweight but rigid so that it doesn’t bend much while you drag the net through the water or when you left it out full of junk. You can often get telescoping aluminum poles that attach to the net.
How To Use A Pool Skimmer
Skimming your pool is easy. You simply hold the pole and pass the net through the surface. Keep about half the net below the surface and half above.
Your net is designed to catch visible items, so you can spot clean with it. You don’t have to skim every inch of the pool. Just pick out the areas where the leaves or other waste is.
Be sure to go slowly. This creates less stress on the net and the pole. It also helps you keep your balance, especially as you stretch to remove junk toward the pool’s center. The last thing you want is an unplanned dip!
Once you have a bit of material in the net, pull it out and dump it in a trash can or a compost heap. You don’t want to overload the net, but it should be able to handle a decent amount of waste.
Pool skimmers are great whether you have a few stray leaves or if there is a lot to clean up. Since it’s a lightweight tool, it’s not a problem to grab it to fish out a small amount of grass or whatever may be floating on the surface.
Also, you can use the skimmer to reach to the bottom of the pool to retrieve any items that may have fallen in. While a pool vacuum is best for cleaning the floor, a skimmer is far better for picking up your glasses if they slipped off and sunk!
When you’re done skimming, we recommend hosing the net from the outside. This will help remove any remaining trash. It will also remove chlorine that builds up and could decrease the lifespan of your skimmer.
Our Picks for the Best Pool Skimmers
We found a few of the best skimmers for your pool and wanted to share them with you. Note, that none of these include a pole. These can be bought separately. Again, we recommend an aluminum pole that’s long enough to reach the center of your pool from the edge.
This skimmer from Milliard has a plastic rim and nylon netting.
The net measures is about 17.5 inches wide at the widest and 14 inches at the narrowest (near the handle). The total “depth” is about 14 inches.
The net is relatively fine, so not much is going to escape. On the other hand, that makes it seem heavier as you try to drag it through the water.
We wish the rim were aluminum or something more durable, but this does seem to hold up well; it’s not susceptible to cracking or other issues.
The “handle” slides into a standard 1.25” extension pole (not included).
PoolElite offers a much deeper pool skimmer. If you want to be prepared for times there may be more debris, you’ll appreciate the size of this net! It’s also great if you frequently need to retrieve toys or other items that “accidentally” find their way to the bottom of the pool.
At its widest point, the net is 20 inches across. The manufacturer says it can hold up to 50 pounds, too. We agree it’s heavy-duty, although we wouldn’t test it near that capacity. It would make it very tough to lift out of the water, too! But regardless, it’s obviously a strong net and well put together.
The mesh has a decent “grain” to it. It catches most debris, although some smaller pieces occasionally slip through.
The frame is made of aluminum.
This net holds up well enough even for professional use by pool cleaners.
It clips into a standard 1.25” telescoping pole.
There’s a full lifetime guarantee on the product as well.
This pool skimmer from Triluca offers a fine mesh, a 14-inch opening, and a 17.5-inch-deep bag. It’s great for use in your pool, but it also works well for spas or even koi ponds!
The nylon net is finer than most, meaning it will pick up smaller debris than other skimmers. It can get clogged faster, but normally you won’t be picking up that much debris that it will matter.
The fine mesh is ideal for the surface. But it’s so fine that it adds resistance moving through the water. That can make it tougher to pull things up from underwater. However, if you’re concerned strictly with “skimming” the surface, this isn’t an issue.
It fits a regular 1.25” pole.
U.S. Pool Supply offers this quality skimmer that ticks off all the boxes. It’s got a 20-inch-wide opening, a 16-inch-deep net, and a net with just the right mesh to catch particles without an excess of drag.
From “top to bottom”, the net is about 12 inches.
The mesh catches flies and other small bugs as well as small pieces of leaves or twigs. It still allows sufficient water flow that you don’t get weighed down, though.
The frame is made of solid molded plastic. It seems durable enough to hold up well over time.
This works with a standard 1.25” pole.
This Stargoods skimmer is another fantastic tool for getting debris off the surface of your pool! The net measures about 14 inches wide and a bit under 10 inches high and 23.5 inches deep. But for regular pool maintenance, this is enough. It’s also great for your spa or hot tub.
The tool is sturdy and you’ll have to worry more about your pole – or your own strength – than overloading the mesh.
The frame is molded plastic. The corners are round and smooth so it should cause problems if you have a vinyl liner.
The mesh catches smaller particles, including insects. The water flow is decent, too.
Again, this is fine with all standard-sized 1.25” telescoping poles.
A skimmer is like a leaf rake for the water. It’s a basic tool that will help you get rid of the unsightly waste that can contaminate your pool. It’s easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and a great addition to your pool maintenance equipment!