Why not? Robot vacuums are all the rage. One of the most despised household duties is vacuuming. Although it lacks the ick factor of cleaning the toilet or the monotony of dusting, dragging and moving a noisy, heavy vacuum is its own form of torture.
Robot vacuum cheat sheet
Robot vacuums don’t have any unwieldy cords or hoses to deal with, and they just need minimal effort on your part: You can use a physical remote or a mobile app to monitor one from your sofa, and higher-end versions can be programmed to wake up and begin cleaning without any human intervention. Food crumbs, pet hair, and dust are easily disposed of by robot vacuums, making them suitable for regular maintenance and fast cleanings when you have visitors.
Our top pick isn’t the most expensive model on the market, but it is among the most expensive. We also have a specific recommendation in this category if you have a more limited budget.
Best all-around robot vacuum
iRobot Roomba 960
The Roomba 960 stands out from other robot vacuums due to its flawless navigation, outstanding cleaning, and advanced functionality.
The Roomba brand from iRobot has become associated with robot vacuums in the same way as Q-tips have become synonymous with cotton swabs. The Wi-Fi-enabled Roomba 960 is proof of this. It transforms a dreaded task into something you almost look forward to. It kept all of the floor surfaces in our testing immaculate with three cleaning modes and dirt-detecting sensors, and its camera-driven navigation and mapping were excellent. Its user-friendly app sends out reminders and thorough cleaning reports. The ability to use Amazon Alexa and Google Home voice command to monitor it is the icing on the cake.
The Roborock S6 MaxV has a powerful robot vacuum with a lot of customization options. Its obstacle avoidance feature is very interesting, and it’s a fantastic addition to an already amazing household assistant.
When a manufacturer creates a single system with several functions, you sometimes end up with a product that is a jack of all trades but a master of none. That wasn’t the case with Roborock’s vacuum/mop hybrid, and this new version has stereo cameras that help the unit avoid obstacles like shoes and power strips, which can trip up robots with less sophisticated navigation systems.
Most sophisticated robot vacuum
The iRobot s9+ is the most advanced robot vacuum in the market, but it’s out of scope for most people’s budgets.
iRobot has done it again, raising the bar for robot vacuums by developing a new model that can clean its own dustbin. When the Roomba s9+ docks, a second powerful vacuum in the docking station immediately sucks the dust and debris out of the vacuum, storing up to 30 dustbins full of dirt. It also keeps everything in a filter pocket, ensuring that nothing gets into your home’s air when the bag has to be changed. However, as you might have suspected, this one comes at a hefty price.
Best budget robot vacuum
The iLife A4s Pro is a solid, no-frills robot vacuum that will thoroughly clean your floors without draining your pocket.
If you’re on a budget or don’t need all of the bells and whistles (Wi-Fi networking, mapping, and smart speaker support) that more advanced (and much more expensive) robot vacuums have, the iLife A4s Pro provides a lot of bang for your buck.
Best robot vacuum for pet hair
The Yeedi K650 is a simple robot vacuum that can handle pet hair well. Several of Yeedi’s low-cost robot vacuums have amazed us, but the Yeedi K650 blew us away with its ability to pick up pet hair from the floor using the silicone rolling brush that can be swapped out for the standard bristle brush. The silicone brush eliminates tangled hair from obstructing the vacuum’s cleaning.
Robot vacuum cleaners are not cheap
The ease that robot vacuums offer comes at a price: high-end models can cost up to $1,000, with many of the better models costing less than half that. To help you decide which ones are worth the money, we put models from some of the most famous brands to the test in a real-world lab: my house, where two girls, three cats, and a dog punish the floors on a daily basis. I assigned each of them the job of vacuuming a 400-square-foot area that included low-pile carpet, hardwood flooring, and linoleum, all of which were constantly covered with food crumbs, pet fur, tracked-in dirt, stray cat litter, and other debris. Every model had to contend with random floor clutter for several days in order to preserve the real-world condition.
Also, the most expensive robot vacuums can be used as a complement to your stand-up vacuum, not as a replacement. Despite manufacturer claims, most upright vacuums lack the suction capacity of upright vacuums. Consider them a simple way to keep your floors clean in between deep vacuumings with your new sweep.
Robot vacuum features and functions
Fundamentally, all of the robot vacuums in our guide work in the same way: they drive themselves around your house on two wheels, sucking up dirt from your floors. Two to four bottom brushes—both rolling-style agitators and spinning side brushes—grab dirt from the floor and wall edges, respectively, and direct it to the suction area or a small, filtered dustbin. They return to their charging dock when their cleaning is done or their battery is poor.
However, the manner in which they accomplish this varies by manufacturer and model. Beyond the basics, here are some features and functions to consider.
Almost all models have an “automatic” mode that allows you to clean a room by pressing a button on the remote, in an app, or on the vacuum itself. This is perfect for cleaning on the fly, but most models can also be set to clean on a schedule. The latter scenario is ideal if you want them to clean when you’re away or if you want to establish a daily cleaning schedule. Some higher-end models also work with smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home, enabling you to control them with voice commands.
A robot vacuum, like a stand-up vacuum, can be adjusted to clean both carpet and hard flooring. Most have the ability to adjust suction and other cleaning functions automatically or with your guidance to adapt to various floor surfaces. They may also have a spot mode for more focused cleaning on a specific area (for example, cleaning up a spill), options for single- and double-passes of space, or the ability to clean only along the wall edges and baseboards.
The allure of robot vacuums is that they promise to complete tasks with little to no supervision from you. They must be able to navigate a room’s complex layout, walk around furniture and other obstacles, and avoid hazards like falling downstairs and being tangled in electrical cords.
Robot vacuums use a mix of sensors to “see” the area. Cliff sensors warn it when there is a shift in distance from the floor, such as stairs or a sunken living room, so it doesn’t fall down. Other sensors warn it when it has collided with an obstacle, causing it to change direction, or when it is close to a wall.
Manufacturers are gradually integrating mapping capabilities into their robot vacuum cleaners. These models create a 360-degree view of the room using an onboard camera or laser reflections. This enables the robot vac to map out the room and place itself inside it.
The benefit of mapping is that the vacuum would know which areas it has already cleaned and which it hasn’t, allowing it to avoid cleaning the same area twice. It also tells it where to resume cleaning if it wants to rest and recharge in the middle of the job. This makes it suitable for larger spaces and, while it’s still a luxury feature, higher budgets.
Before using your robot vacuum, in an ideal world, you can clear all of your floors of clutter. However, we exist in the real world, and it is not always feasible or desirable to do so. Knowing this, many robot vacuums have a feature that allows you to block off places you don’t want it to enter, such as a pet’s area, your kids’ room, or a tangle of unit cords in the corner. Sometimes, all you have to do is stretch a length of magnetic tape in front of or on a prohibited area, which the vacuum’s sensors would sense and tell it to stop. However, some models use virtual obstacles, such as the ability to draw lines on a floor plan to indicate where the robot should avoid.
A robot vacuum’s dimensions are significant for several reasons. They’ll start by seeing how well it fits into tight spaces like under kitchen cabinets and low-clearance furniture (couches and recliners). If it’s too tall, it won’t be able to enter these areas, or, worse, it’ll get trapped and have to be physically freed. Second, the dustbin gets smaller as the robot vacuum gets bigger. Since robot vacuums don’t use expandable bags like their stand-up counterparts, what you see is what you get when it comes to debris capacity.
Robot vacuums with Wi-Fi capabilities can be controlled through a mobile app instead of or in addition to a physical remote. The convenience alone isn’t enough to justify the higher price tag, but some models’ apps also include features including comprehensive cleaning histories and the ability to save and update floor maps for easier navigation. If you’re cleaning big, complicated spaces, those models are worth considering.