The best robot vacuum cleaner to sort your home will save you time, effort and strain as it autonomously does the work for you. To call this anything less than a robot slave would be a lie. Before our future robot overlords rise up and take over from puny, fleshy humans, enjoy these robots cleaning slaves - while you still can.
The best robot vacuum cleaners will zip about your home, across carpet, rugs, wood floors and tiles, effortlessly sucking up dirt, dust and allergens. They will keep working while you sleep or are out at work, returning to base to charge when needed only to keep working some more. Ideal for homes with messy kids and molting hairy pets that need constant cleaning care.
Lots are backed by smart apps that let you control the robot from your phone or with your voice. From scheduling cleaning, like in the dining room after dinner time, to full manual driving like a remote control car. Many have different modes for things like edge cleaning, deep cleaning and spot cleaning where there's been a spillage.
The very latest models will even return to base where they not only charge but have the waste removed into a larger fixed bin. These can last up to a month of cleaning without you needing to do a thing.
Robot vacuum cleaners are widely varied in price from a few hundred way up to over a thousand. So what do you need to spend to get the results you need? We've reviewed all the best units, each with its own specialism, and rounded-up the best of the best below for you to pick the best robot vacuum for you.
1. iRobot Roomba i7+: Best overall
Best overall robot vacuum
Battery life: 120 minutes | App: iOS, Android, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant **Multi-surface:** Yes | Pet capable: Yes
As one of the original robot vacuum cleaner pioneers, iRobot is well established in research and development of some of the best autonomous vacuum features. As such its top-end Roomba i7+ is so autonomous it'll even empty its waste while recharging, meaning you don't have to touch it for around a full month of cleaning. This is a big jump forward.
Of course that means this is also expensive. But combine with it smart assistant voice controls, intelligent mapping that learns rooms and you can literally say "Alexa (or Google), clean the lounge" and off it will go to do your bidding.
Suction power is excellent while 99 percent of allergens, pollen, mold and dust mites are removed using a filter system. All that's backed by a smart app to help you schedule cleans and keep track of performance. This is a cutting-edge robot vacuum cleaner - literally - that will slice into the dirt right to the edges of your home.
2. Shark IQ Robot Vacuum: Best for self-cleaning
Best for boundary marking
Battery life: 90 minutes | App: iOS, Android **Multi-surface:** Yes | Pet capable: Yes
The Shark IQ Robot Vacuum does it all, from a self-cleaning roller that's ideal for pet hair to an emptying tank for up to a month of cleaning before you need to empty the wall bin unit. This does most of what the iRobot competition does, only at a lower price. Yes it's louder and might not be quite as quick to learn rooms, but it gets there in the end meaning romm specific cleaning requests via the app or smart assistant voice controls. This vacuum even talks back to ask for help if it gets into trouble.
At 90 minutes battery life isn't the longest but this is powerful and gets over bumps well. The spinning brushes make short work of dirt in corners or under skirting board - there's nowhere to hide, muck, this Shark is here to hunt you down.
3. Neato Botvac D7 Connected: Best for boundary marking and corner cleaning
Best for boundary marking and corner cleaning
Battery life: 120 minutes | App: iOS, Android **Multi-surface:** Yes | Pet capable: Yes
Neato is another big name in the world of robot vacuums, having been around since the start. It still stands out from the rest with its D-shape design which ensures this D7 Connected bot can get close to edges and right into corners so dirt never escapes.
The smart mapping learns your home and shows it on the app but this, unlike the competition, also lets you edit. You can mark out lines to show areas that are No-Go zones which is fantastic for cables, pet beds, tussled rugs and the like which might otherwise hinder cleaning.
A two hour battery, Turbo power mode, smart assistant controls and spot cleaning all make this a superb robot vacuum. If only this were able to store more waste before needing emptying, it'd be near perfect.
4. iRobot Roomba 960: Best for precision
Best for precision
Battery life: 120 minutes | App: iOS, Android, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant **Multi-surface:** Yes | Pet capable: Yes
The iRobot Roomba 960 is a really excellent example of a robot vacuum with top features and excellent performance combined in a perfect balance. This isn't cheap, however. For the money you get a three stage filter, smart assistant voice controls, enhanced suction power, auto adjust cleaning head, adaptive smart navigation and app support. Grab this in a sale and you're getting yourself a really great robot vacuum.
5. iLife A9: Best for dust
Best for dust
Battery life: 120 minutes | App: iOS, Android, Amazon Alexa **Multi-surface:** Yes | Pet capable: Yes
When it comes to dust, the iLife A9 leaves no sign thanks to its cellular bin. Essentially this uses cyclonic tech and multiple bins to store dirt and dust of varying sizes, filtered to leave nothing but pure air. You also get great looks, a low-profile design for getting under objects, four cleaning modes, app support and an included virtual barrier to cordon off areas.
This does struggle with bumps onto higher rugs but for the price this is a fantastic robot vacuum with loads of great features, including smart assistant voice controls and super navigation smarts.
6. Dyson 360 Eye: Best for looks and power
Best for looks and power
Battery life: 45 minutes | App: iOS, Android **Multi-surface:** Yes | Pet capable: Yes
Dyson spent 17 years perfecting its robot vacuum, it claims. The result certainly is a good looking and powerful bot that will suck up any and all dirt, dust and allergens. The camera based navigation works well with minimal bumps and decent speed.
Battery life is some of the worst out there, due to all that suction power. The app works well but is basic with little beyond scheduling and two modes, Max and Quiet. Despite featuring a tank track, this still struggles over bumps and the 0.33-liter bin won't hold much before needing emptying.
7. Eufy RoboVac 11S: Best for affordability
Best for affordability
Battery life: 100 minutes | App: N/A **Multi-surface:** Yes | Pet capable: Yes
Eufy offers great specs at a low price when it comes to robot vacuums and the 11S is one of its best. This little robo-slave is one of the slimmest out there making it easy for this to get under low couches and units. It's also good at getting into corners and along edges. There isn't an app so that's not ideal for scheduling but the suction is decent and movement is good enough to avoid knocks and bumps. Charge times could be faster but the 100 minute battery is pretty decent nonetheless.
How to choose the best robot vacuum for you
When choosing one of the best robot vacuum cleaners on the market the first thing you should ask yourself is what type of cleaning you specifically need.
For example, do you need the robot vacuum cleaner to clean hard floors, carpeted floors, or a mixture of both? In addition, do you need the robotic vacuum to be a pet hair removal specialist? Or maybe you need a system that can run for a particularly long period of time due to the size of your home?
While many robot vacuums feature similar core functionality, certain models do lean towards specific specialisms, so we advise you to make sure that you know exactly what you need from a robot vacuum upgrade before you pull the trigger.
In addition, you should evaluate the layout and structure of your home, both in terms of the suitability of a robotic vacuum cleaner and where it can be docked. Remember that each robot vacuum comes with its own docking station (which often needs clearance either side to ensure optimal operation) where the machine charges up between cleaning runs, so knowing exactly where that can be placed should also be an important consideration.
Lastly, it is worth considering your floor coverings and furniture, as if you have a tall, multi-floored dwelling with multiple staircases then maybe a robot vacuum cleaner wouldn’t be the best option.
After all, these machines can’t climb stairs and while they won’t plunge to their doom thanks to automatic drop detection tech. If you want to leave the robot running while you’re out, or on a schedule to come on while you are at work floor transitions may prevent the vacuum from returning to the base station. This means you’re going to come home to a robot vacuum that has no charge.
Naturally, if you have an apartment this won’t be an issue, and from our personal experience it is manageable as well with a simple upstairs-downstairs arrangement. Running the robot on the secondary floor while you’re in the house means it can be retrieved and docked before you leave. For anything more complex, we’d suggest at a combination of robot vacuum cleaner and a traditional manual cleaner.
How long will a Roomba clean for?
The robot vacuum cleaners we tested – including Roombas and other brands – can run autonomously for over an hour, averaging one hour and 40 minutes. We found that the more expensive machines don't necessarily run the longest.
However, there are lots of features that matter at least as much as how long your robot vac can vacuum before returning to its station. If you have a few larger spaces and are worried a robot vacuum won't be able to cover them, check the manufacturer's website – they all make that information pretty easy to find so you can know before you buy.
Are robot vacuums good value?
The answer is yes, depending on a few things. First, it depends on whether you have pets. If you do, a robot vacuum is definitely worth it. Pet owners know that vacuuming and dusting regularly can keep pet hair under control for the most part, but no one likes to vacuum more than once a day or to follow their pet around with a vacuum cleaner – the only way to keep your home pristine if you have heavy shedders. Even the fairly mediocre robot vacuums we tried did a good job of keeping pet hair at bay.
Second, it depends on where you plan to use it. Even our favorite robot vacuum cleaners struggled on carpeting. However, they were amazing on hardwood flooring. If you have a lot of hardwood flooring, a robot vacuum is a great investment.
Third, it depends on how you plan to use it. These machines have gotten better and better over the years we’ve been testing them, but they do not replace a human being with a broom and a mop. They can keep your place tidy between deep cleanings, though, especially if you have pets, as mentioned above.
Are robot vacuums safe for wood floors?
You don't have to worry about robot vacuum cleaners on your hardwood floors. Hardwood flooring is their specialty and the brushes are not stiff enough to scratch. We tested them on flooring in a 103-year-old home and the floors looked great afterward – not a scratch on them. There was some chatter online about how early robot vacuums could scrape hardwood flooring with their front wheel, but we have never had a problem, even after testing for hundreds of hours over the years with multiple models from many manufacturers.
Keeping robot vacuums out of problem areas
Robotic vacuum cleaners are meant to take one chore off of your list, but your home may not be prepared for a robot vacuum to operate smoothly. These machines can be tripped up by cords, clothing, flooring transitions and much more. Designers have tackled these problems in a number of different ways. Here are some options for keeping robot vacuums away from danger zones:
Some units come with a small device that shoots an infrared beam across a threshold to keep the robot vacuum away. Usually, they offer blockage from 4 to 7 feet.
These are magnetic strips that a robot vacuum's sensors read and know to avoid. These keep the robot vac from running into objects in your home.
Many modern models offer smartphone apps with mapping capabilities. You can use the app to tell the robot which rooms to clean and which to avoid.
Some models take it one step further and let you section off not just rooms, but portions of rooms. It's like having a virtual boundary marker that sections off problem areas – a Christmas tree skirt or pet bowl areas. You just swipe off-limits areas in the virtual floor plan of your home on your phone's screen. Then the robot vacuum won't clean in that area .
Care and maintenance tips for robot vacuums
The best robot vacuum cleaners have a lot of moving parts, so they require some maintenance for optimal performance. Here are some tips on getting the most out of yours:
Do not overfill: This can be easy to do with tiny bins that are typical of these machines. Many of them do not have full-bin indicator lights, either. It is up to you to remember.
Clean the brushes: Take time to pick the hair out of brushes and wash them thoroughly on a regular basis. They will struggle to spin and pick up more hair and debris if you skip cleaning them.
Clean the wheels: Wheels also need regular cleanings. They won't turn or grip as well if they are coated in dirt.
Update often: The best robot vacuum cleaners come with a phone app that will update itself on a regular basis, but it is still worth checking for updates from time to time to ensure optimal performance.
Robot vacuum tips for allergy sufferers
Even with their smaller proportions, robot vacuums have the potential to create many of the same problems as full-sized machines. Any type of vacuum can kick up a lot of dust, which can affect those with allergies and asthma. If you have allergies or asthma, it is worth a little extra effort to make sure the cleaning process won't make you sick.
Buying the right machine in the first place is a good starting point. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has not certified any robot vacuum cleaners as asthma and allergy friendly yet. There are at least a few models that boast strong filters, though, which should help in containing dust and other allergens. Some robot vacuum filters even rise to the level of HEPA (high efficiency particulate air), which meet U.S. Department of Energy standards for containing very small particles. Look for those and also use the type of precautions that make sense with all kinds of vacuum cleaners:
Empty often: Any time a vacuum of any kind gets too full there is the potential for it to throw debris back into the air.
Empty outside: Robot vacuum cleaners have tiny dustbins but they can still create quite the cloud when you empty them.
Be thorough: When possible, set your robot vacuum to go over high traffic areas more than once.
Environmentally friendly cleaning
Environmental friendliness may not be your top consideration when choosing a robotic vacuum cleaner, but if it's a factor that interests you, consider these aspects as you shop:
Durability: Any product that's made of plastic and has a battery will damage the environment when it enters a landfill. Read online reviews to find the most durable robotic vacuum so that yours won't end up in a landfill anytime soon. Look for a long warranty, which can be a good indicator of durability.
Repairs: Fixing a product rather than throwing it away will help the environment. If your robot vacuum has problems, consider sending it to the manufacturer for repairs.
Battery life: No battery lasts forever, and when your robot vacuum battery can't recharge anymore, don't throw it in the garbage. Instead, visit call2recycle.org to find a place to recycle it.
How long does carpeting last?
Your robot vacuum is likely just one cleaning tool you use to keep your flooring fresh and clean. Floors eventually wear down, though; experts say carpeting lasts five to 15 years. In high-traffic areas, however, carpet may not even make it to the five-year mark, even if you choose the looped/Berber style. The rotating brushes of a vacuum cleaner, including those on robot vacuums, can contribute to the breakdown of fibers over time. The decision of when to replace carpeting can be largely a matter of aesthetics, but there are a handful of health and safety issues, too. Here are a few things to consider:
Threadbare threats: When you can see the horizontal threads that run under your carpet, it's probably time to replace your flooring. This is the case especially when that happens along room borders, which can create a tripping hazard.
Allergy awareness: Older carpets tend to retain more dust and other allergens. If you notice your allergies acting up, it might be a sign you need to get new carpets.
Flooring flatlands: Matted carpeting always looks bad, and matted carpeting in high-traffic areas looks even worse because it's surrounded by the fluffy, newer-looking carpet. When you can't cover up the bad spots with an area rug, it's time for new carpeting.
Color discord: If you've shampooed your carpets and had them professionally cleaned but your high-traffic areas still look darker than the rest of your floors, it may be time to replace your carpets.
Off odors: The same applies to pet smells or any other odors: If you have shampooed the carpet and it still smells bad, you should consider replacing it.