The best robot vacuums keep your carpeted and hard floors mess-free, require very minimal care and maintenance, and free up the time you might normally spend on tidying up your living space. They're the perfect companion for someone who doesn't enjoy cleaning, but loves the end result, and pet owners who are constantly pulling out their vacuum to pick up clumps of hair left behind after a particularly snuggly nap on the couch. They're not the best option for a house with a lot of stairs, since they need wide open spaces to roam and clean.
When considering the right model for you, 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 even get stuck. "If the layout of your house is simple, no need to go for an expensive one with a high-end navigational system," she notes. "But if the layout is difficult, you need to pump up the budget." It's more common nowadays to find models with smart mapping—technology that allows you to coach your robot vacuum on the layout of your space via an app to help it avoid tricky areas, like under your coffee table or around your baby's play mat. However, if you're interested in smart mapping, you still need to spend a bit more on a smart model versus a basic, turn-on-and-go one.
Thankfully, there's a variety of choices by leading brands available to consider, so whether you're new to robot vacuums or looking for an option to replace your current cleaning machine, you can find the vacuum for you. We've tested more than 40 robot vacuums at The Lab and at home to see how top picks performed and how user-friendly they are in real life. Our favorites were selected for their ease of setup, effectiveness, features, noise level, maneuverability, and value.
Ecovacs Deebot N8+ Vacuum & Mop Robot
Easy to set up
Docked itself on first try
Excellent smart mapping
Automatically uses vacuum or mop settings
Loud when emptying
Brushes are not self-cleaning
It would not be an exaggeration to say this robot vacuum can change lives. After it sailed through our lab with strong scores across the board, it continued to impress in a home setting, giving us back precious time in our week and delivering on its promise to clean floors of all kinds. The vacuum and mop settings worked smoothly together, and both functions can be used in the same cleaning session. In other words, you can come home to vacuumed rugs and carpets and mopped hard floors, without having to lift a finger. (And don't worry—it's also programmed to only release water on hard floors, so your carpets won't be drenched.) We were also pleased to see that its docking mechanism performs well, and it steers itself to its destination smoothly.
It's user-friendly and intuitive, too. Once we had it up and running (There's a QR code to scan and an app to download.), we were impressed with how this machine methodically mapped out the lab room's floor with its laser navigation, creating an efficient path for itself and avoiding large obstacles along the way. We saw the same effectiveness in the home setting, too. With the app, you can set it it to run in key areas of your home (high-traffic hallways, for example), or choose certain areas that need more attention.
If we could change anything about this robot vacuum and mop, we'd make the brushes self-cleaning and give it the option to hold cleaning solution opposed to just water. But, we worked around this limitation by simply soaking the mop pad with solution, so the solution didn't go through the interior components of the machine. We'd also lower the sound level of the robot vacuum when it runs and empties itself. These are minor quirks on an impressive machine, though. If it suits your budget, we highly recommend the Ecovacs Deebot N8+.
Price at time of publish: $650
Battery Life: 110 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Mapping: Yes | Self-Emptying: Yes | Filter Type: HEPA | Smart Capabilities: Laser mapping, obstacle avoidance, smart recharge, interactive map, carpet detection, cleaning report
Black + Decker RoboSeries Robot Vacuum with Maintenance Kit
Multiple cleaning modes
Easy to schedule via app
Noise level comparable to regular vacuum
Took multiple attempts to connect app
From Black + Decker, the RoboSeries Robot Vacuum rivals many higher-priced models, but for a fraction of the cost. It handles messes like food crumbs, dirt, hair, and dust with ease, and we appreciated that it tends to go over a spot multiple times to pick up all debris. Now, to be clear, this pick does not have mopping capabilities like some of our other picks, including our best overall. But, it still impressed us with its vacuuming.
Like some of the other machines we tried, there were some minor issues with getting it connected to Wi-Fi. In this case, it took five attempts. Once the app was up and running, though, it proved to be easy to use, and the "tap to run" feature worked great. We loved the scheduling feature of the app, and appreciated the flexibility of setting the preferred mode (like smart, wall follow, and spiral). You can opt to have a notification sent to you when cleaning begins, too, and use the app to check a map of where the robot has cleaned.
We also found this robot vacuum to be quite intuitive to objects in its path, though we did witness one instance of it getting stuck under a vanity and had to intervene. Other than that, it maneuvers super well, and displayed no problems with chairs or tables. It does not let you know when it needs to be emptied, but we've found that a weekly empty routine works well for small spaces, such as a studio apartment. It's a bit noisy and produces the same noise as a traditional upright vacuum, so plan accordingly if you intend to run it while you're home or you want your home to be quiet for your baby's nap.
Ultimately, in our eyes, Black + Decker has squeezed a lot of effective features into this machine, all for a very reasonable price. It's a handy little machine at a good value.
Price at time of publish: $170
Battery Life: 120 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: 12.6 inches | Mapping: Yes | Self-Emptying: No | Filter Type: HEPA | Smart Capabilities: Programmable schedule, self-charging
Roborock S8 Pro Ultra
Vacuum and mop capabilities
Fits under couches
Collection bag holds weeks of dust and debris
Bumped into a glass table during testing
Had some Wi-Fi connectivity issues
If you're comfortable with spending a little (or a lot) extra for a sleek, smart appliance, the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra robot vacuum is an excellent choice. It's an efficient cleaning tool and an overall time-saver, and while it's priced higher than many of our recommendations, it proved more effective than manual mop and vacuum combos we've tried. It was able to self-manage multiple surfaces and types of cleaning every time it ran. If you've dreamed about coming home to spotless floors, this is the kind of machine that can make that happen.
What really sets the S8 Pro Ultra apart is the range of self-led features that the machine manages. It automatically self-empties the debris collected by the vacuum into the larger collection bag (which promises to hold up to seven weeks' worth of material). It self-cleans in between uses. It self-refills the water tank, and it even self-dries its own mop pad, too, proving to be one of the most hands-off machines of its kind. The app will let you know when the water needs to be emptied, as well.
It took a bit of trial-and-error to get it to work with our Wi-Fi, but once it was up and running, we were pleased with its many cleaning modes that you can adjust room by room. So, if your dining room and entryway need more attention than your guest room, it's easy to program the S8 Pro Ultra accordingly with just a few taps of your smartphone. We did find that it bumped into a glass table a few times, but otherwise it maneuvers just fine in a home environment—even fitting under couches. It's definitely an investment, but we think the amount of time we get back in our week, and the top-notch features you receive, makes it worthy of consideration.
Price at time of publish: $1,600
Battery Life: 180 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: Approximately 13.9 inches | Mapping: Yes | Self-Emptying: Yes | Filter Type: Washable E11 Air Filter | Smart Capabilities: Selective room cleaning, high precision mapping, obstacle recognition, voice control, app control, self-washing, self-drying, self-refilling
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. It doesn't have an app or voice control features that would make it "smart," but this simplistic design makes it easier to use out of the box, and it's why we consider it an excellent starter robot vacuum. We see it as an especially great choice if you want to dip your toe into the robot vacuum world, without having to download apps or navigate smart mapping features. It's a great pick if you're sticking to a budget as well, since the lack of advanced features leads to a wallet-friendly price tag.
When testing in the lab, this robot vacuum was ready to go in just two minutes. We 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 cereal tucked into a corner, but corners are a pretty common pain point even more expensive models can't always tackle. (Some robot vacuums feature a square design to help them maneuver into these uniquely tight spaces.) However, this model did avoid obstacles well, including chocolate we placed in its path to mimic dog poop. We found that, even when other robot vacuums were getting stuck in the chocolate that melted, this machine did not get stuck at any point. We also appreciated the low profile, and how emptying this robot vacuum required very little effort.
Our home testing experienced echoed our lab findings. The vac picked up dog hair in hard-to-reach places (such as under the bed!), which was a highlight. It struggled under some lower furniture, and uneven flooring and bumps proved challenging, too. Still, despite its lack of smart features, there's lots to appreciate about this easy-to-use and effective machine.
Price at time of publish: $169
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
Best for Pet Hair
Ecovacs Deebot T9+ Robot Vacuum and Mop Combo
TrueDetect 3D technology
Subtle, quiet operation
Can handle large items like screws
Air freshener option
Self-empty feature affected by larger items
Disposable mop pads not very eco-friendly
The ECOVACS T9+ Robot Vacuum and Mop Combo earned the approval of a family dog during the at-home testing phase, something that can't be said about many machines. It's quiet and subtle, and thanks to the TrueDetect 3D technology, it even steered around the pet at times. The quiet operation is not a reflection of lower power, though. This machine definitely packs a punch when it comes to cleaning. Pet hair, zip-tie scraps, screws from home projects, and other debris were no match for its strong suction power. (However, a screw did get jammed at one point, so while the machine is strong enough, components aren't necessarily sized for larger pick-ups.) The mop feature proved efficient as well, and there's a mobile fragrance option if you like to add scents to your space.
We were pleased with the streamlined self-empty feature, too. We checked the robot bin's capacity every other day to make sure dog fur was getting cleared properly, but homes with less fur and debris could probably go longer. Notably, the larger 2.5-liter dust bag can go up to 60 days without emptying, too, depending on cleaning habits.
We didn't encounter many issues with this robot vacuum and mop, but it's worth noting any larger items trapped in the machine can affect suction or the self-empty feature, so we recommend double-checking your floor for misplaced or dropped items, especially as you're getting used to its abilities. Also, the mop pads it uses are disposable, which is something to keep in mind if you're mindful about waste. These are minor issues, though, and we ultimately found the T9+ to be a really high-performing machine that will work well in households with (or without) pets.
Price at time of publish: $800
Battery Life: 180 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: Approximately 13.9 inches | Mapping: Yes | Self-Emptying: Yes | Filter Type: Cartridge | Smart Capabilities: Programmable schedule, object avoidance, flooring identification, 3D mapping, mobile fragrance
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 over time
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 option. 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." So, this is feature worth knowing about and investing in, especially if you're trying to achieve a next-level clean or have allergies.
The Roomba 694 was easy to assemble and empty, and we loved that it did exactly what it promised to do: suck up debris very well. It didn't avoid small objects like socks, though, 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 as it cleans. While the Roomba 694 doesn't come with many bells and whistles, the app is easy to use for the initial setup. We appreciated the step-by-step guidance, which was thorough enough that we didn't need the instruction manual. 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.
After six months of regular use, we've come to appreciate not having to supervise the device or the brush roll cleaning process. Though, over time, we've seen that hair does get stuck on this vacuum's brush roll, which requires some regular maintenance to keep up suction power. We're comfortable with the bit of maintenance required for an otherwise efficient and effective machine.
Price at time of publish: $274
Battery Life: 90 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: 7 inches | Mapping: No | Self-Emptying: No | Filter Type: HEPA | Smart Capabilities: Programmable schedule, voice control, smart recharge, anti-drop and anti-collision
Best for Large Houses
Ecovacs Deebot T10 Omni Robot Vacuum and Mop Combo
Performs equally well on hard floors and carpets
Intuitive scheduling system
Mop feature handles messes well
Self-emptying, holds up to 60 days of debris
Less hands-on maintenance necessary
Loud when self-emptying
Cleans carpet and rugs better when mop pads are removed
If you're planning to task your robot vacuum with whole-house cleaning, the ECOVACS T10 OMNI Robot Vacuum and Mop Combo will accept the challenge. We experienced firsthand how well it tackles daily dust and debris on floors, as well as drips and spills from pets and kids. There is a bit of a learning curve to get to the know the app and the machine itself, and as the machine gets to "know" your space, too. Still, we were very pleased with the expert-level cleaning that this model offers. (We'd even go as far as saying the floors feel clean enough to eat from.) With a baby in the home where we tested, there were lots of extra messes around mealtimes, and we came to lean on this machine multiple times a day, every day, getting hours back each week. It also required less "corrections" than other robot vacuums, rarely stumbling and getting stuck.
There are enough options, settings, and functions that users will likely find preferences for what works for them and their home, whether that be scheduled touch-ups, consistent spot cleans, regular deep cleans, or a combination. Some features require a bit more maintenance than others (keeping the 4-liter mop tank full with clean water if you regularly mop, for example), but we found these small steps to still be a fraction of the effort that hands-on cleaning requires. Plus, to be fair, the 3-liter dust bags in the base can hold up to 60 days of dirt and dust, so that's a task you won't need to think about very often.
One quirk that we discovered is that the subtle addition of mop pads can affect this robot's efficiency on carpet and rugs. We found removing them completely when we weren't using the mop function made it run smoother. Another minor issue is the noise level of the self-empty feature. It's loud and disruptive, so be warned that it's pretty jarring and disruptive to pets.
Overall, we've been very impressed with how smooth and efficient this machine is, and how it's enhanced the quality of life in our home testing setting. While it's on the pricier side, if you have room in your budget, it's an amazing cleaning companion to add to your household.
Price at time of publish: $1,200
Battery Life: Varies by mode, up to 260 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: approximately 14.3 inches | Mapping: Yes | Self-Emptying: Yes | Filter Type: Washable high efficiency filter | Smart Capabilities: Voice assistant, programmable schedule, object avoidance, flooring identification, front facing camera, heat dries in mop mode
Best for Tile and Laminate
Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot Vacuum & Mop
Can vacuum and mop at the same time
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
During the testing phase, the Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot Vacuum & Mop quickly became an essential (and favorite) part of our home cleaning routine. 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. We did find that this zoning process was the most tedious out of the vacuum's entire setup, but it's a one-time thing and not completely necessary if you don't plan on scheduling the vacuum to automatically clean while you're away or busy.
When all of its features are 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 an improved result around your home. It's worth noting this robot vacuum does not completely catch every bit of debris in corners, but that's not uncommon for a robot vacuum and we're still pleased with its performance. We also enjoy this robot vacuum's quiet operation, which doesn't compete with a TV set to a normal volume.
But the real star of this vacuum's design is its simultaneous vacuum and mop capabilities. We scheduled it to run every day during testing, and appreciated how the app shows the robot's progress and sends a notification when the cleaning routine is complete. The one downside of the simultaneous cleaning feature is the vacuum does not self-empty, so this chore is waiting for you when you get home. This flaw is especially frustrating if you prefer to use the combo mode rather than the vacuum-only setting (which does use the self-empty function). Still, despite this missed opportunity, there's lots to love with this machine—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
We Still Recommend
eufy RoboVac 30C
Works well on pet hair
No floor mapping
Does not avoid small objects
Needs strong Wi-Fi connection
Another great choice is the eufy RoboVac 30C. Now, to be clear, our testing process included the eufy RoboVac 30C MAX, a model with very similar features but roughly 33 percent more power. As of our latest update, the 30C MAX was, however, sold-out. We think the eufy RoboVac 30C is also a great pick since it has many of the same specifications and settings. This mid-price robotic vacuum is ideal for use on hardwood floors and low- and medium-pile carpets.
It comes with improved suction power and quiet operation compared to earlier designs, and it can run for up to 100 minutes with only one charge. At less than 3 inches tall, it features the brand's signature slim design, so it can glide underneath low furniture. There's also BoostIQ technology, which automatically increases suction when needed. While the 30C MAX struggled a bit to transition from the hard floor to a rug, it avoided large furniture well and handled pet hair in our home testing space with total ease.
While this robotic vacuum does an excellent job of picking up pet hair and dirt from hardwood floors and carpets, it 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. You'll need to do some pre-cleaning before running this vacuum. During home testing, we did observe that the 30C MAX 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. While effective, these strips aren't attractive or necessarily realistic. The number included wasn't sufficient to cover all the areas the vacuum should avoid, either.
All in all, while this robot vacuum may not be ideal for a larger home, homeowners and pet owners with smaller spaces to clean will delight in its efficient suction power for quick daily cleanings.
Price at time of publish: $300
Battery Life: 100 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Mapping: No | Self-Emptying: No | Filter Type: Cartridge | Smart Capabilities: Programmable schedule, voice control, boundary strips, boost mode
|Overall Rating||Setup||Effectiveness||Features||Maneuverability||Noise Level|
Ecovacs Deebot N8+ Vacuum & Mop Robot
Black + Decker RoboSeries Robot Vacuum with Maintenance Kit
Roborock S8 Pro Ultra
ILIFE V3s Pro Robot Vacuum Cleaner
Best for Pet Hair:
Ecovacs Deebot T9+
Best for Apartments:
iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum
Best for Large Houses:
Ecovacs Deebot T10 Omni Robot Vacuum Mop Combo
Best for Tile and Laminate:
Shark AI Ultra Robot Vacuum & Mop
We Still Recommend:
eufy RoboVac 30C
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 automatically switches between vacuuming and mopping, 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 no-frills 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
ECOVACS N10 PLUS Robot Vacuum and Mop Combo: As much as we love some of the other ECOVACS robot vacuums, our experience with the N10 PLUS didn't measure up. The robot seemed to struggle during the mapping process, and the mopping feature didn't appear to work at all; it left some light water streaks, but did not lift any spots or show any obvious signs of cleaning. We also needed to troubleshoot the self-empty feature after thinking it had been working for weeks. There were simply too many flaws for us to be able to recommend it.
iRobot Roomba i7+ (7550) Robot Vacuum: This vacuum performed relatively well during our testing, but we 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 cereal farther into the room instead of suctioning them up. It did successfully vacuum up all of the hair and dirt we placed in its path 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. We also 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 offered by some other machines. If this were on sale, we'd say, "Go for it."
iRobot Roomba i3 EVO (3150) Robot Vacuum: This vacuum took us around 10 minutes to set up, but once it was up and running, we 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've tested over 40 robot vacuums in The Lab and at home, so we can fully understand and try out their long list of features—smart and not. When testing, we start by unboxing and timing each of the vacuum's setup process. We then assemble each vacuum, insert any needed filters, hook up docking stations, and install mop pads. We rate the ease of setup based on all of these steps and how clear or confusing the instructions are. Once setup is all complete, we test effectiveness by observing how well each vacuum picks up debris. In The Lab, we make the messes with hair, Cheerios, and sand, on both hard floors and carpets. If the machine has mopping capabilities, we test that feature with lots of spilled coffee and syrup on the hard floor, and then we set a timer for two minutes to see how well the robot mop cleans up the mess. During home testing, we observe effectiveness over time, as the vacuum handles a regular household cleaning routine and regular household messes.
Special features, such as obstacle avoidance or smart mapping, are additionally noted and we score on maneuverability as the robot vacuums make their way around our living room obstacle course—or the home, in the case of home testing. If object avoidance was an advertised feature, we test that in The Lab by putting a USB cord, a sock, and chocolate pudding on the floor, and then we take note of whether the vacuum successfully avoided those obstacles. Lastly, not all robot vacuums are self-emptying, so we rate each one on the ease of emptying the dust bin or bag. Finally, we assess the overall value based on how well the product performed in all of the tests, compared with the price tag and promised features.
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 will 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 ECOVACS T10 OMNI Robot Vacuum and Mop Combo offers a 260-minute running time, depending on cleaning mode or modes used. The ECOVACS T9+ Robot Vacuum and Mop Combo and Roborock S8 Pro Ultra both can run for up to 180 minutes.
Will your robotic vacuum mostly 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 the vacuum 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 their 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. In your home, you will want to additionally 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 vacuum with carpet detection will be very helpful in ensuring a good clean. If your house has a lot of stairs, you may want to steer clear of robot vacuums all together, or plan to use them only in high-traffic areas like the kitchen or living room, which may give the vacuum or space to roam as well.
Most robotic vacuums come with smart capabilities, but you'll want to decide which ones are right for you and your cleaning needs, since 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. Luckily, models including the ECOVACS Deebot N8+ and the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra have a QR code that makes this process fairly streamlined.
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. This feature is called smart mapping. Others allow you to issue voice prompts to operate your robot vacuum with the help of voice assistants, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Note that the commands you can use vary based on the manufacturer and model, so it's worth researching the possibilities and limitations of voice compatibility.
Some robot vacuums feature a tower that contains a larger dust bag that may hold weeks or even months of debris. At the end of the robot vacuum's cleaning cycle, it will dock itself and empty the recent collection into the larger tower chamber. When the bag is full, all you have to do is throw the bag away and replace it with a new one. You don't have to interact directly with the dirt and debris. The one downside to this convenience is that the emptying process is much louder than the robot vacuum's normal noise level, so it might disturb pets and disrupt your household. A number of our recommendations include this feature, such as the ECOVACS Deebot N8+ and Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot.
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 or after a messy meal. Lots of picks have smart mapping these days—it's not as rare as it used to be— including the ECOVACS T9+ and Black + Decker RoboSeries Robot Vacuum.
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 coach the vacuum to 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, and we tested it out by placing chocolate pudding in the vacuum's path.
This feature is a work in progress with many robot vacuums and will likely get better and more precise in the years to come, so look for newer models—like the ECOVACS Deebot T10 OMNI—if you intend to lean heavily on this type of programming.
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. Smart mapping, customizable cleaning preferences via an integrated app, and dirt sensors provide these 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 robot 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-sized, upright 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 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. Not to mention, if your home has stairs, robot vacuums aren't equipped to clean these uneven surfaces.
How do you keep a robotic vacuum from getting stuck under furniture?
Even if you have a smart robot 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 Dena Ogden, a commerce writer at The Spruce focusing on technology, appliances, cleaning, and organization. Ogden has firsthand testing experience, and currently uses an early ECOVACS Deebot model in her home (while coveting a vacuum and mop combo machine). She considered testing insights from The Lab and home testing settings to inform our selections.
Emma Phelps, updates writer for The Spruce, added additional test insights to this roundup, based on the latest round of feedback we received from long-term home testers. 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. Marisa Viglione, The Spruce's senior commerce editor for appliances, cleaning, organization, and technology, also provided insight into standout features and what to look for in a robot vacuum. Mary Marlowe Leverette, a nationally recognized cleaning expert, provided additional research.
For additional insight, we also reached out to 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.
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.