A great robot vacuum keeps your carpeted and hard floors free of dirt and debris and requires minimal care and maintenance. When considering the right model for your home, Alicia Johnson, cleaning expert and owner of Cleaning Green, recommends looking at your space to get a sense of where a robot vacuum might need to maneuver obstacles or get stuck. "If the layout of your house is simple, no need to go for an expensive one with a high-end navigational system, but if the layout is difficult, you need to pump up the budget."
With that in mind, we tested 30 robot vacuums in The Lab in Des Moines, Iowa, to see how top picks performed in real life and selected our favorites based on each vacuum's ease of setup, effectiveness, features, noise level, maneuverability, and overall value. We also sent our top picks to home testers to evaluate smart functionality and long-term performance.
Backed by our thorough testing, here are the best robot vacuums that alleviate the stress of cleaning your floors.
ECOVACS Deebot N8 Pro+
Easy to set up
Docked itself on first try
Excellent smart mapping
Loud when emptying
Mop brushes need constant cleaning
Ease is the name of the game with the ECOVACS DEEBOT N8+ Robot Vacuum and Mop, and that's why it's our top pick. After all, a robot vacuum is supposed to do all the hard work and make cleaning something you never have to worry about. That's exactly what this vacuum-mop combo does from the moment you take it out of the box. While the full manual is available online, the enclosed quick start guide aided in a speedy assembly process in our lab. It was ready to use in four minutes and 30 seconds.
Once in action, this robot vacuum earned a perfect score while cleaning the hardwood floor and rug. Our tester noted that it easily picked up all the hair and debris and transitioned onto the rug seamlessly. After the test was over, there was no hair or debris tangled in the brush roll, which is a relief if you're a pet owner who is used to cutting hair from underneath your vacuum. For the mopping test, this vacuum cleaned up the messes, but the brushes were still sticky with syrup when the test was over. That was an expected outcome, but note that this vacuum isn't self-cleaning. You'll still need to wipe down the bristles if it runs through a particularly sticky or gooey mess.
While this pick isn't quite as loud as a regular vacuum, it may require you to turn up your television's volume a bit if you're attempting to clean the house while watching your favorite show. The loudest part of this vacuum is the self-emptying feature, which, fortunately, only happens at the end of the cleaning session. Notably, users can also make use of laser mapping. Our lab tester was impressed with how it methodically mapped out the lab room's floor and avoided furniture and other large obstacles.
After lab testing, we sent this model to a long-term home tester, who used it regularly for six months. The tester praised the straightforward app setup, which involved scanning a QR code to download the app and guided instructions for getting started with mapping. Our home tester reported the same mopping and vacuuming effectiveness we saw in the lab, praising the N8+'s ability to detect carpet versus hard flooring, releasing water and mopping only on the latter. Our long-term tester also appreciated the convenience of running the device unsupervised. "I love that I can use the app to choose areas of the house I want it to focus on," our tester said. "Usually, I'll have it run through the common areas of my home, since those get the most traffic. I often use the vacuum and mop function together, as it leaves my floors clean and shining." The tester made sure to pick up objects, such as dog toys, before running the machine and stepping out. The best part was that the tester always returned home to spotless floors.
Price at time of publish: $450
Battery Life: 110 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: Not noted | Mapping: Yes | Self-Emptying: Yes | Filter Type: HEPA | Smart Capabilities: Laser mapping, obstacle avoidance, smart recharge, interactive map, carpet detection, cleaning report
ILIFE V3s Pro Robot Vacuum Cleaner
Excellent object avoidance
Easy to use
Quick assembly process
No mopping feature
No app compatibility
Struggled in corners
Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest things. At least, that's what we found when testing the ILIFE V3s Pro Robot Vacuum. Our lab tester appreciated that this robot vacuum doesn't have an app or voice control features that would make it "smart." This simplistic design makes it easier to use out of the box, and an excellent starter robot vacuum, especially if you want to dip your toe into the robot vac world on a budget without having to download apps or navigate smart mapping features.
When testing in the lab, this robot vacuum was ready to go in two minutes. Our tester loved that it had an obvious power switch and easy-to-use remote control. There is no mopping feature on this vacuum, but it did a pretty good job vacuuming, picking up most of the debris on its first try. It struggled with the Cheerios placed in a corner, but that's a pretty common pain point that much more expensive models may also experience. However, this model avoided obstacles very well, including chocolate. Our lab tester noted that "even when other vacuums were getting stuck in the chocolate that melted, ILIFE did not get stuck at any point." Our lab tester also appreciated the low profile and ILIFE's relatively unobtrusive routine and reported that emptying this robot vacuum required very little effort.
In addition to lab testing, a long-term tester spent six months using the V3s Pro on hardwood and tile floors and while caring for a foster dog. This tester echoed our lab tester's sentiments about the ease of use and called it a "lifesaver" in picking up dog hair in hard-to-reach places, such as under the bed, but noted that it couldn't fit under lower furniture. Our real-world tester was also impressed by the amount of debris it picked up, but mentioned that the vacuum had some difficulty managing uneven flooring and bumps and required a few tries. Despite its lack of smart features, our long-term tester said that this robot vacuum is perfect for her small apartment, and she also appreciated being able to use the remote to turn this model on and off.
Price at time of publish: $160
Battery Life: 90 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: 11.8 inches | Mapping: No | Self-Emptying: No | Filter Type: HEPA | Smart Capabilities: Anti-bump and anti-fall, programmable schedule, self-charging
Samsung Jet Bot AI+ Robot Vacuum With Object Recognition
Quick assembly process
Did not avoid all objects in test
Must download Samsung app
If you're okay with spending a little bit extra for a sleek appliance, opt for the Samsung Jet Bot AI+ with Object Recognition robot vacuum. This device scored a 5-star rating for effectiveness because it easily sucked up all of the debris and hair in our testing lab. While it certainly features a higher price tag, our lab tester raved about its high quality, easy setup in under three minutes, and its flawless maneuverability around and under furniture. It includes a self-emptying base and a camera on the front so you can stream your vacuum's run around your apartment. This feature can also help the vacuum avoid objects, which we observed in the lab. While this model avoided some large objects like furniture, it ran through chocolate pudding.
Our lab tester described the noise level of this vacuum as "quiet and soothing" but reported that it had trouble transitioning from a hard floor to a rug. The docking station can empty the dust bin, and the filter moves up and down when you turn the robot vacuum on, as if to give you a moment to check its cleanliness before the machine gets to work. The device also talks to you when it's turning on and off or when there is an object in its way that it needs assistance with. While this model requires setting up through the Samsung SmartThings app (and a Samsung account, if you don't have one) to operate, the app offers control from your smartphone for scheduling and monitoring or voice commands using Bixby, Alexa, or Google Assistant.
After six months of routine use, our long-term home tester agreed with our lab tester's observations about general effectiveness and the relatively speedy setup. In our real-world tester's case, the app didn't detect the Jet Bot AI+ automatically, which required manually entering this model. The app did recognize an already-established Samsung robot vacuum on another floor of the home. The home tester also mentioned similar issues with hardwood-to-rug floor transitions, specifically on rugs with tassels. On a low-pile rug, the Jet Bot AI+ performed smoothly, but on a higher-pile rug, it became turned around or flipped the rug over. Our tester also noted in their most recent review that this vacuum did recently break—the roller blade fell out of the bottom—and they have not been able to repair it. Still, our long-term tester appreciated the vacuum's overall cleaning performance when it was functioning, including its ability to clean corners pretty closely, thanks to the fan brush.
Price at time of publish: $1,099
Battery Life: 90 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: 12 inches | Mapping: Yes | Self-Emptying: Yes | Filter Type: HEPA | Smart Capabilities: Laser mapping, obstacle recognition, carpet detection, interactive map, livestream cleaning
Best for Tile and Laminate
Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot Vacuum & Mop Self-Empty XL
Can vacuum and mop at the same time
Cleans in multiple passes
Does not leave much residue after mopping
Easy to set up
Setting up specific cleaning zones is tedious
Doesn't fully clean edges and corners
Must empty manually when in mop mode
The Shark RV2610WA AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot quickly became an essential (and favorite) part of our tester's home cleaning routine. Once all of the protective plastic wrapping had been removed, our tester said this vacuum was relatively easy to set up, because it only came with three separate pieces—the vacuum, the charging base, and the home pad. This vacuum did need to be at least 50 percent charged in order to begin the app sync and configuration process. Once this vacuum is connected to Wi-Fi, it automatically begins mapping your home's floor space and layout. You can then configure the map with specific zones to indicate carpeting, no-go zones, high-traffic areas, and no-mop zones. Our tester noted that this zoning process was the most tedious out of the vacuum's entire setup, but it's not completely necessary if you don't plan on scheduling the vacuum to automatically clean.
With all of its features customized to your liking, you can expect this robot to excel at cleaning, especially on hard surfaces like tile and laminate. With Shark's unique Matrix Clean Navigation, this vacuum moves in a grid-like pattern to ensure that every spot in your mapped area is cleaned with multiple passes. This vacuum is also equipped with CleanEdge Technology, which uses a blast of air and corner recognition to remove debris for a more improved edge-cleaning result around your home. Our tester said that she still occasionally uses her canister vacuum to deep clean the edges of her home because this robot vacuum does not completely catch every bit of debris in corners. She also enjoys this robot's quiet operation, which doesn't compete with a television that's set to a normal volume.
But the real star of this vacuum's design is its simultaneous vacuum and mop capabilities. Our tester loved this feature so much that she scheduled it to run in her home every day while she was at work. She checks the app to monitor the robot's progress and receives a notification when the cleaning routine is complete. The one downside of the simultaneous cleaning feature is that the vacuum does not self-empty, so our tester had to empty the vacuum when she got home each day. This design flaw is especially frustrating if you prefer to use the combo mode rather than the vacuum-only setting, which uses the self-empty function. Despite this missed opportunity, our tester loves this vacuum's performance for daily use, as it keeps her home much cleaner, especially with children and pets always at play.
Price at time of publish: $700
Battery Life: 120 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Mapping: Yes | Self-Emptying: Yes | Filter Type: HEPA | Smart Capabilities: Programmable schedule, object avoidance, Matrix Clean Navigation, CleanEdge Technology, Sonic Mopping
Best for Apartments
iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum
Easy to assemble
Easy to empty
Reliable for daily cleaning
Didn't avoid small objects
Hair gets stuck in brush roll
For apartments and smaller homes, where high-tech floor mapping and small object avoidance aren't as essential, the iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum is a reliable and fairly priced robot vacuum model. While this vacuum may lack some of the latest smart features on the market, it is equipped with a HEPA filter, which helps trap all of the dust that easily accumulates in crowded, smaller spaces. You'll find that this filter keeps dust from recirculating back into your home's air. According to Deni Ivanov, Digital Marketing Director at Royal Cleaning, "Your robot vacuum's filter is its very heart—it ensures even the smallest of smallest dirt particles are captured so you can have a debris-free floor."
The robot vacuum was easy to assemble and empty, and our lab tester loved that it did exactly what it promised to do: suck up debris very well. It didn't avoid small objects like socks, so you'll definitely need to make sure your floors are clear of tiny things before running it in your space. It's also slightly louder than some other models, so plan to turn up your TV's volume or move your conversation into another room while it cleans away.
While the Roomba 694 doesn't come with many bells and whistles, our long-term home tester reported that the app is easy to use for the initial setup. Our tester loved the step-by-step guidance, which was thorough enough to avoid turning to the instruction manual. After six months of regular use, our home tester found this robot vacuum much more effective than a stick model at cleaning hair and dirt. She also appreciated not having to supervise the device or the brush roll cleaning process. Over time, she has noticed that hair does get stuck on this vacuum's brush roll, so she regularly removes hair to maintain its suction power.
Both our in-lab and real-world testing confirmed that this vacuum performs the basics well. As a Wi-Fi-connected machine, you can also schedule cleaning sessions and set up voice controls with Alexa or Google Assistant through the app.
Price at time of publish: $250
Battery Life: 90 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: 7 inches | Mapping: No | Self-Emptying: No | Filter Type: HE | Smart Capabilities: Programmable schedule, voice control, smart recharge, anti-drop and anti-collision
Best for Pet Hair
eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 30C MAX
Works well on pet hair
No floor mapping
Does not avoid small objects
Needs strong Wi-Fi connection
If you live in a home with pets, you certainly understand the challenges of keeping your floors clean. That's where a robot vacuum can come in handy. A simple run at the end of the day will capture so much unseen pet hair—you'll be delightfully disgusted when you empty the dustbin. While all of our top picks performed well with pet hair in our lab, the eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 30C MAX offered consistent hair pickup. This mid-price robotic vacuum is ideal for use on hardwood floors and low- and medium-pile carpets, and it has several useful features that make it stand out. We tested this robot vacuum in the lab and at home with two testers and found that it does a fantastic job as long as you have a good Wi-Fi connection. While our initial home tester experienced difficulty with Wi-Fi setup, our lab and long-term home testers found the setup seamless. Our long-term tester reported that it took less than one minute total, and the Alexa integration was swift with an existing Amazon account and convenient when asking the 30C MAX to spot clean.
This model from eufy provides improved suction power and quiet operation, and it can run for up to 100 minutes with only one charge. It features the brand's signature slim design—the vacuum is less than 3 inches tall, so it can glide underneath low furniture. Our long-term tester loved this low profile, which allows the vacuum and charging dock to store discreetly under a bookshelf. The RoboVac also has BoostIQ technology, which automatically increases suction when needed. Our home tester raved about this feature, noting that "it handled pet hair beautifully and even better on the MAX rather than the BoostIQ setting." Our in-lab tester was ultimately impressed with how quick and effective it was at suctioning up a range of debris, including hair, sand, and Cheerios. While it struggled a bit to transition from the hard floor to a rug, it avoided large furniture well and handled pet hair in our home tester's space with total ease.
While this robotic vacuum does an excellent job of picking up pet hair and dirt from hardwood floors and carpets, this model doesn't have floor mapping technology like more high-tech vacuums do, meaning it cleans in a random pattern. It also avoids large objects but not small ones like socks—so you'll need to do some pre-cleaning before running this vacuum. After one month of use, our long-term home tester observed that this model often jumps around, missing debris completely in certain areas, and it repeatedly runs into objects. The vacuum does come with magnetic strips you can lay out around your house to help the vacuum avoid any obstacles, which our initial home tester used and our long-term tester didn't. While effective, our home tester found the strips visually unappealing and the number insufficient to cover all the areas the vacuum should avoid. While this robot vacuum may not be ideal for a larger home, homeowners with smaller spaces to clean will delight in its efficient suction power for quick daily cleanings.
Price at time of publish: $260
Battery Life: 100 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Mapping: No | Self-Emptying: No | Filter Type: Not listed | Smart Capabilities: Programmable schedule, voice control, boundary strips, boost mode
Narwal Freo Versatile Self Mop Clean Robot with DirtSense
"Freo mode" ensures that all debris is picked up
Has heated drying in mop mode
Equipped with flooring identification technology
Difficult to pair robot to app
The Narwal Freo Versatile Self Mop Clean Robot converted our tester—an admitted robot vacuum skeptic—into a believer of efficient and convenient cleaning power. While setup is slightly more involved than other vacuum designs (you must attach the vacuum cleaning brushes), our tester said the instruction manual offered color-coded and detailed guidance that made the process easy to understand. But pairing this vacuum to its smartphone app was an unnecessarily confusing and lengthy process for our home tester. This vacuum arrives with a QR code that instructs you to download the Narwal app, which is not the correct app to download for this model. Once our tester got in contact with Narwal's customer service—a surprisingly convenient process—they were able to download the correct Narwal Freo app and pair the vacuum in no time. We recommend searching for the Narwal Freo app in your phone's respective store, rather than scanning the QR code, to expedite this process.
With setup out of the way, the Narwal quickly begins mapping your home's floor plan. From there, you can subsequently customize your map in the app with specific zones, so the vacuum knows each floor type in your home. Our tester ran this vacuum on both its standard mode and its "Freo mode," which auto-detects dirt and will continue to clean until the floor is spotless. "My house is absolutely cleaner with this," our tester explained. "My floors were always a mess, and doing a once a week vacuum and mop does not keep up with the issue, but it's also all I have time for [without the robot]." This combo robot can also switch its mopping pressure when moving between floor types to avoid water logging laminate and leaving sticky residue behind on tile. It also has a "Smart Swing" feature, which allows it to whisk dirt and debris away from edges and corners for more effective cleaning. While this feature may not be fully effective, our tester finds it good enough for everyday cleaning needs: "I think I still need do a deep vacuum and mop—when I can move furniture around and really get under things (like couches)—but this [robot] makes it so I can go a lot longer in between deep cleanings."
Unlike other robot mops, this model also heat dries during its mopping mode, so you're left with a sparkling clean and completely dry floor before it's even through with an entire room. With its stellar performance aside, we acknowledge that this vacuum is the most expensive pick in our roundup. Based on its performance, our tester felt that the price was justified and worth it, especially if you're looking for a truly hands-off robot vacuum. "This is exactly how you would want a robot to work: it's quiet, it self [cleans], and it knows where and when to vacuum and or mop," our tester said. "I can run it while I'm not at home, and I do not have to change the mop pads or do much other than occasionally add water and solution, and empty the dirt bin." While this vacuum's price point may not be for everyone, its performance backs its steep investment, and it will free up time that you would have spent cleaning during your weekly routine.
Price at time of publish: $1,400
Battery Life: 210 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Mapping: Yes | Self-Emptying: No | Filter Type: Not listed | Smart Capabilities: Programmable schedule, object avoidance, flooring identification, Smart Swing corner and edge cleaning, heat dries in mop mode
|Overall Rating||Setup||Effectiveness||Noise Level||Maneuverability||Features|
ECOVACS Deebot N8 Pro+
ILIFE V3s Pro Robot Vacuum Cleaner
Samsung Jet Bot Robot Vacuum
Best for Tile and Laminate:
Shark AI Ultra Robot Vacuum & Mop Self-Empty XL
Best for Apartments:
iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum
Best for Pet Hair:
eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 30C MAX
Narwal Freo Mop Clean Robot
Our top pick for a quality robot vacuum is the ECOVACS DEEBOT N8+ Laser Mapping Vacuum and Robot Mop with Self-Empty, because it is incredibly easy to assemble and operate. It suctioned up pet hair and debris quickly, and its smart mapping features are top-notch. If you're not looking to invest too much money in a robot vacuum, a high-quality yet cheaper option is the ILIFE V3s Pro Robot Vacuum. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of some other robot vacuums, but it is so easy to use and works just as well as many other models we tested, for a fraction of the price.
Other Options We Tested
iRobot Roomba i7+ (7550) Robot Vacuum: This vacuum performed relatively well during our testing, but our tester had to manually empty it after it had already self-emptied into its tower. The vacuum also got tripped up by a few small obstacles and kicked some Cheerios farther into the room instead of suctioning them up. It did successfully vacuum up all of the hair and dirt in The Lab, but we think it should have performed better for the price. However, if it were on sale, it would be worth buying.
eufy by Anker RoboVac G30 Edge: We love that this robot vacuum comes with a remote as well as an app, so you can decide what works best for you. Our lab tester thoroughly enjoyed the spot-cleaning feature but noted that the vacuum slowed down while vacuuming carpet. When it was cleaning on hard floors, however, it excelled. Overall, this was an easy-to-use vacuum and would make a great starter robot vacuum for someone who doesn't need all the bells and whistles of an AI machine. If this were on sale, we'd say, "Go for it."
iRobot Roomba i3 EVO (3150) Robot Vacuum: This vacuum took our testers around 10 minutes to set up, but once it was up and running, they were very impressed. It was quiet, so you could enjoy your TV shows or conversations while the machine does its thing around your home. This model doesn't have object avoidance, which is a bummer, and the base required to utilize the self-emptying feature is sold separately. Still, it's a great basic robot vacuum for daily surface cleaning.
How We Tested the Robot Vacuums
We purchased and tested 30 robot vacuums in The Lab in Des Moines, Iowa, for two days. We started by unboxing and timing the setup process. Our testers assembled each vacuum, inserted any filters, hooked up docking stations, and installed mop pads. They rated the ease of setup based on all of these steps and how clear or confusing the instructions were. (Our current at-home testers will expand on these insights when they further get to know each vacuum's app and smart mapping features while using them long-term in their homes.) Once setup was complete, we tested cleaning effectiveness by observing how well each vacuum picked up debris—hair, Cheerios, and sand—from hard floors and carpets. If the machine had mopping capabilities, we tested that feature by spilling coffee and syrup on the hard floor, and then we set a timer for two minutes to see how well the robot mop cleaned up the mess.
As the robot vacuum was operating, we used a decibel reader to assess the noise level. We also took note of any special features included, such as obstacle avoidance or smart mapping that our home testers will further dive into, and scored on maneuverability as the robot vacuums made their way around our living room obstacle course. If object avoidance was an advertised feature, we tested that by putting a USB cord, a sock, and chocolate pudding on the floor, and then we took note of whether it successfully avoided those obstacles. Lastly, not all robot vacuums are self-emptying, so we rated each one on the ease of emptying the dust bin or included bag. Then, we had our tester assess the overall value based on how well the product performed in all of the tests, compared with the price tag and promised features.
Some robot vacuums and mops come with features such as voice control, smart mapping, and scheduled cleans. To put these vacuums and smart features through their paces in the real world, we sent our top vacuums to long-term home testers. We have updated our list with one-month test results and will provide more updates with our testers' fresh and thorough insights in the coming months.
|The Best Robot Vacuums||Battery Life||Mapping||Self-Emptying|
|ECOVACS DEEBOT N8+ Laser Mapping Robot Vacuum and Mop||110 minutes||Yes||Yes|
|ILIFE V3s Pro Robot Vacuum Cleaner||90 minutes||No||No|
|Samsung Jet Bot Robot Vacuum||90 minutes||Yes||Yes|
|eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 30C MAX||100 minutes||No||No|
|Narwal Freo Versatile Self Mop Clean Robot||210 minutes||Yes||No|
|Shark AI Robot Vacuum and Mop||120 minutes||Yes||Yes|
|ECOVACS DEEBOT T10+ Robot Vacuum and Mop||180 minutes||Yes||Yes|
What to Look for in a Robot Vacuum
Take note of the robot vacuum's battery life, and compare that to your cleaning needs. "Know that a typical home uses its vacuum for 60 minutes a day on average. You want a robot vacuum that runs at least an hour or north of that when fully charged," says Deni Ivanov, Digital Marketing Director at Royal Cleaning.
If you plan to use your robot vacuum to target just one room, such as a living room that houses the dog bed (and, therefore, a whole lot of dog fur), then a shorter battery life might suffice. If you want your vacuum to clean your entire home or cover a large amount of square footage, you'll want a model that has a longer battery life (90 minutes and up), a larger dust collection bin, and possibly even self-charging capabilities. While all of our top recommendations have a battery life of at least 90 minutes, if you want a model with extra longevity, the Narwal Freo Versatile Self Mop Clean Robot offers a 210-minute running time.
Will your robotic vacuum be cleaning hard floors or carpets? Certain products are designed to handle the transition from one floor type to another without losing suction, which helps it clean better and ensures that it will require less assistance throughout its routine. Many models will even automatically register what type of floor they're currently cleaning and change suction or brush features to optimize cleaning for that floor type. Our testing showed that the ECOVACS DEEBOT N8+ Robot Vacuum and Mop, our Best Overall pick, excels at recognizing the difference between carpet and non-carpeted surfaces and cleans accordingly.
Make sure your robot vacuum is compatible with your specific floor types. If you have many area rugs or a variety of surface types in your home, a robot vacuum with carpet detection will be very helpful in ensuring a good clean.
Most robotic vacuums come with smart capabilities, but you'll want to decide which ones are right for you and your cleaning needs, as each fancy feature usually comes with a bump to the price tag. If you want to be able to start the vacuum remotely or monitor its progress, you'll want a robot vacuum that comes with a programmable schedule or remote start features. This will likely require you to install an app on your smartphone and connect the robot vacuum to Wi-Fi. Your user manual will walk you through how to do that if you're not confident in your technical skills.
If you want to take it up a step, some models will make a map of your home, and you can instruct your robot vacuum to only clean the kitchen or just the living room and bedroom through the app. Others allow you to issue voice prompts to operate your robot vacuum with the help of voice assistants, such as Alexa, Google Assistant, or Bixby. Note that the commands you can use vary based on the manufacturer/model, so it's worth researching the possibilities and limitations of voice compatibility. Some brands could require a compatible smart speaker or hub that you need to connect to add this functionality, while others such as our Best Splurge recommendation, the Samsung Jet Bot AI+ with Object Recognition, might work with the Alexa app or a companion app such as Samsung SmartThings.
Object avoidance and boost cleaning modes are other smart features that make some models more advanced than others. Many robot vacuums with object avoidance have cameras on the front that can detect obstacles, such as a sock or a pet accident, so the vacuum will avoid that spot. Boost cleaning modes can recognize when an area is very dirty. The robot vacuum will increase its suction while cleaning that spot or maybe scrub harder if the model has both vacuuming and mopping capabilities. Keep in mind that these features will increase the price tag, often by hundreds of dollars, though they can make cleaning more convenient.
An excellent robot vacuum offers a fully hands-off cleaning experience, which extends to emptying the dust bin. Some robot vacuums feature a tower that contains a dust bin bag, and at the end of the robot vacuum's clean, it will dock itself and empty the debris into the tower. Then, all you have to do is throw the bag away and replace it with a new one. This means you won't have to interact with the dirt and debris. However, you will likely have to buy the brand's replacement bags, which is an additional cost. This emptying process is much louder than the robot vacuum's normal noise level, so it might scare pets or infants as well.
Basic robot vacuums will clean methodically around your space, and if they bump into anything, they'll rotate and start cleaning in a different direction. Robot vacuums with smart mapping features make a map of your home before the first cleaning, so they avoid running into permanent obstacles, such as couches or door frames. In addition, your robot vacuum will likely learn your space a little better each time it cleans your home. You can also direct the robot vacuum from your smartphone to only vacuum your kitchen or bedroom if you need it to do a quick clean before guests come over.
One of the biggest pain points of using a robot vacuum is that you may have to pre-clean before running your device. This is because robot vacuums work best with clear floors and no obstacles. The latest technology on robot vacuums includes object avoidance. If your vacuum has this feature, it will have a camera on the front of it that can identify something, like a sock or a pack of crayons on the floor, and will go around it instead of running into it and possibly making a bigger mess. This is an especially great feature for pet owners if their dogs are prone to having accidents in the home. This feature is a work in progress with many robot vacuums and will likely get better and more precise in the years to come.
How do robotic vacuums work?
Generally, robotic vacuums rely on a variety of sensors to determine their path through your home, including where they should go to clean. Some of these sensors help detect "cliffs," like staircases or edges that the machine could fall off, while others sense where objects like furniture are in relation to the vacuum and help it avoid bumping into them. More technologically advanced robotic vacuums may also implement machine-learning in order to get their cleaning done. Mapping software, customizable cleaning preferences via an integrated app, and dirt sensors provide these smart vacuums with additional information to move through your home and clean the areas that need the most attention.
Can a robotic vacuum replace an upright vacuum?
If you find the right robotic vacuum for your home, it can do an excellent job keeping your floors clean and end up saving you some time on routine vacuuming. But you shouldn't toss out your full-size vacuum just yet. Where robotic vacuums are highly effective at regularly cleaning floors, including the hard-to-reach corners of your home, they don't always feature the sheer cleaning power that, say, an upright vacuum does. So, when it comes to deep cleaning a high-pile carpet or any vacuuming job that calls for attachments, like cleaning couch upholstery, you're better off sticking with your upright model.
How do you keep a robotic vacuum from getting stuck under furniture?
Even if you have a smart robotic vacuum that can learn and adapt to your home's layout, there is always the risk that it will end up stuck under the couch or another large item of furniture. Luckily, you can prevent that from becoming a recurring issue by choosing a model with a low profile, adding risers to the legs of your furniture, or blocking its pathway under furniture with string or a virtual barrier.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Erin Johnson, a commerce editor at The Spruce focusing on appliances, cleaning, and organization. Johnson has hands-on experience testing upright, cordless, handheld, and robot vacuums and mops and has developed and led tests in The Lab. She has boiled down testing insights and brought our experience with products like carpet cleaners and dustbusters to life. You can also find her work on Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens, Apartment Therapy, and Southern Living.
For additional insight, our writer interviewed Alicia Johnson, cleaning expert and owner of Cleaning Green, and Deni Ivanov, digital marketing director at Royal Cleaning, on robot vacuums and combo picks in residential cleaning settings.
Kate Geraghty, editorial director, contributed to this roundup, too. She uses the eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 30C MAX to clean her New York City apartment every weekend and trusts it to suck up every last crumb in the kitchen and piece of fuzz from the living room rug before it needs to be recharged. Mary Marlowe Leverette, a nationally recognized cleaning expert, provided additional research. Emma Phelps, updates writer for The Spruce, added additional testing insight to this roundup based on the latest round of feedback we received from long-term home testers. Phelps also swapped out a few vacuums to include the latest, best-performing models.
What Is Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure we fully stand behind every product we recommend and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all these products ourselves, though occasionally, we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut.
What Is a HEPA Filter?. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.