We Tested the Best Roombas for a Hands-Free Chore Day

Our favorite is the iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum

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iRobot Roomba j7 on testing lab floor

The Spruce / Henry Wortock

If vacuuming your home is your least favorite activity, consider a robotic vacuum. More specifically, consider investing in a Roomba, iRobot's high-tech line of robot vacuums. "They're great for someone that's gone during the day and wants to have this [cleaning] task off their list," says Becky Rapinchuk, The Spruce's Cleaning Board member and founder of Clean Mama. There are several different models of Roombas on the market, so we put them to the test in The Lab in Des Moines, Iowa, to find out which ones are the best. We graded each vacuum on ease of setup, effectiveness, noise level, features, maneuverability, ease of emptying, and overall value. (After all, Roombas can be expensive!)

Our favorite, the iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum, is easy to use, effective at picking up a variety of debris, and is reasonably priced.

Here are the best Roombas for a hands-free chore day, backed by our thorough testing and research.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum

4.5
iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Setup
    5/5
  • Effectiveness
    5/5
  • Noise Level
    3.5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Features
    3/5
What We Like
  • Can operate with or without Wi-Fi

  • Affordable

  • Transitions from carpet to hard floors seamlessly

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks high-tech smart features

  • No obstacle avoidance

The iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum is our top pick because almost anyone can operate this device. It's compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, but you can also just push a button on top of this vacuum and it will start cleaning. If you're a beginner to robot vacuums, or if you don't want to rely on apps and Wi-Fi connectivity, you'll absolutely want to choose this vacuum. If you appreciate a few high-tech features or are looking for a robot vacuum with stellar cleaning abilities, this vacuum is also for you. We just love that you don't have to enable the smart features to get a great clean.

Our tester had this robot vacuum up and running in less than five minutes, and it scored a 5-star rating in effectiveness on carpet and hardwood flooring. It sucked up pet hair, synthetic human hair, and Cheerios with ease, and it did a "really impressive" job vacuuming up sand from a carpet. Compared to the other robot vacuums in The Lab, this one transitioned smoothly from area rugs to hardwood floors, which is a big plus if you have a home with a variety of flooring types.

This Roomba was knocked a few points for lack of features, but it performed the basic, advertised functions extremely well. It was a little noisy, so you'll likely have to turn up your TV volume if you're watching a show while running it. In addition, the Roomba 694 doesn't have object avoidance technology, which is one of the newest features that more expensive models (like the Roomba j7+) offer. You'll likely need to do a bit of pre-cleaning before running this vacuum to make sure your floor is clear of stray socks or crayons it could possibly suck up. While this might be an inconvenience, object avoidance technology usually means an increase of at least $500 in price.

All in all, if you're looking for an affordable, excellent, and easy-to-use robot vacuum, the Roomba 694 is the way to go.

Dimensions: 13.54 x 13.4 x 13.4 inches | Battery Life: 90 minutes | Charge Time: Not listed | Cleaning Path Width: 7 inches | Filter Type: Cartridge | Brush Type: Rubber and bristle | Smart Features: Alexa and Google compatible, customizable cleaning schedule

iRobot Roomba 694 with scattered cheerios on gray floor

The Spruce / Henry Wortock

What Our Testers Say

"I was very impressed with how the human and pet hair didn't seem to get tangled up in the brushes. I tested more expensive models and, for the price, I thought this performed very well."—Michele Hanson, Product Tester

Best Budget: iRobot Roomba 675 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum Cleaner

iRobot Roomba 675

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Compatible with Alexa

  • Can operate from an app

  • Auto-adjustable cleaning height

What We Don't Like
  • Small canister

  • Lack of high-tech smart features

Any robot vacuum in the Roomba 600 series is going to be a solid buy. Our top pick is at the high end of the 600 series, but the Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum is also a great budget-friendly choice. It's both a simple and affordable Roomba, and will give you a great clean. The robot vacuum works with your Alexa speaker, can be app-controlled, and auto-adjusts itself to optimize cleaning on different types of surfaces. We didn't test this Roomba in The Lab, but with over 33,000 5-star ratings on Amazon and a range of basic features paired with great performance, we think it's worth including.

At 0.6 liters, this Roomba doesn’t have a particularly large canister, so it's better suited for smaller homes or quick cleanup jobs. It also doesn't have extra fancy features like object avoidance or a self-emptying canister. However, for the price, it's an excellent pick for anyone who craves the convenience of a robot vacuum without the hefty price tag. Plus, the battery life is 90 minutes, which is competitive with higher-end picks, and you're able to customize your cleaning schedule so you can come home to clean, sparkling floors.

Dimensions: 13.34 x 13.26 x 3.63 inches | Battery Life: 90 minutes | Charge Time: 3 hours | Cleaning Path Width: 7 inches | Filter Type: Replaceable HE filter | Brush Type: Rubber and bristles | Smart Features: Alexa and Google compatible, customizable cleaning schedule

Best Splurge: iRobot Roomba s9+ 9550 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum

4
iRobot Roomba s9+ (9550) Wi-Fi® Connected Robot Vacuum

Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

What We Like
  • Powerful suction

  • Can clean corners

  • Self-emptying base

  • Spot-cleaning feature

What We Don't Like
  • Battery life shorter than expected

  • Loud operation

The Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum is stunning. The gold accents and unique shape of this robotic vacuum make it a true statement piece to have gliding around your home. However, a stylish build and top-of-the-line features come at a price, as this is one of the most expensive Roombas on the market. We tested this vacuum in The Lab and at home and discovered that you really need to unlock the smart features for this robot vacuum to perform well. If you're a beginner to the robot vacuum world, this is not the model for you. If you have the patience to let this device smart map and learn your home, then it can be worth the splurge.

The s9+ model promises to pack the most power of all the Roombas, so if you have a habitually dirty home full of pollen, dust, or pet hair, this could be a great feature for you. Our at-home tester loved that it cleaned her home daily and emptied itself, without any effort on her part. However, she did find the battery life is closer to 60 minutes than the advertised 120 minutes. Our lab tester thought this robot vacuum was easy to set up and effective at cleaning, but didn't love that it left some debris on the floor around the base. Both testers were thrown off by how loud this robot vacuum is, so you definitely can't make a phone call while this is running.

The biggest standout feature of the Roomba s9+ is its unique shape. Two rounded corners allow it to clean corners in your home better than any other Roomba currently on the market. If you're interested in mopping after vacuuming, you can also purchase the iRobot Roomba s9+ Bundle that includes this Roomba and the Braava Jet m6, too.

Dimensions: 22.64 x 16.53 x 20.87 inches | Battery Life: 120 minutes | Charge Time: 3 hours | Cleaning Path Width: 9.5 inches | Filter Type: Replaceable HE filter | Brush Type: Rubber and bristle | Smart Features: Alexa and Google compatible, smart mapping, smart charge and resume, visual navigation, custom cleaning routine, on-demand cleaning, self-emptying, cleans corners, pairs with compatible robot mop

iRobot Roomba s9+ vacuum on carpet and hard flooring

The Spruce / Henry Wortock

What Our Testers Say

"The s9+ also has a spot-cleaning function, which is a nice additional feature that many other robot vacuums don’t have. When you press the spot-clean button, the s9+ will clean a small area about 3 feet in diameter instead of running through a full cleaning cycle. This is nice if you accidentally spill something or if your cats just had a royal rumble, and there’s a pile of fur left behind."—Lindsay Boyers, Product Tester

Best for Carpet: iRobot Roomba i7+ Robot Vacuum

4.1
Roomba i7+ Robot Vacuum

Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

Our Ratings
  • Setup
    5/5
  • Effectiveness
    4/5
  • Noise Level
    4/5
  • Maneuverability
    3.5/5
  • Features
    4/5
What We Like
  • Self-emptying base

  • Smart mapping

  • Dual rubber brushes for pet hair

  • Easy to set up

What We Don't Like
  • No object avoidance

  • Did not fully self-empty

The iRobot Roomba i7+ Robot Vacuum is smarter and more high-tech than the 600 series, but it's a step down from the Roomba s9+ model. What does that mean exactly? It has some convenient and smart features that the Roomba 694 doesn't have, but it can't clean corners like the s9+ model. However, the Roomba i7+ has a self-emptying base, and one dust bag will hold 60 days worth of debris (according to the manufacturer), so you will likely only have to change the bag once every two months. When the Roomba is done cleaning your home, it will dock itself and empty the debris into the tower, so you don't have to release dust back into the air by emptying the dust bin. Our tester found that it mostly delivered on this process, but did leave a little bit of debris behind in the Roomba's dust bin.

The battery life is only 75 minutes, but this Roomba has a smart charge and resume feature. When it gets low on battery, it will dock itself, charge, and then get back to cleaning your home. Speaking of cleaning, our tester was impressed with this Roomba's ability to identify and pick up everything on our testing floor. It performed its best on our testing lab area rug, expertly sucking up everything in its path.

The Roomba i7+ will learn your home through smart mapping and it should avoid large obstacles like stairs, but it doesn't have the technology to avoid smaller obstacles like socks, cords, or pet waste. If that's important to you, you'll need to purchase a j7 or j7+ Roomba. The "i" and "j" look very similar, and the only difference is that the Roomba j series has obstacle avoidance, while the Roomba i7+ does not. However, we think if the Roomba i7+ Robot Vacuum is on sale, you should snag it.

Dimensions: 3.63 x 13.34 x 13.34 inches | Battery Life: 75 minutes | Charge Time: Not listed | Cleaning Path Width: 7 inches | Filter Type: Not listed | Brush Type: Rubber and bristle | Smart Features: Alexa and Google compatible, smart mapping, smart charge and resume, visual navigation, custom cleaning routine, on-demand cleaning, self-emptying

iRobot Roomba i7+ robot vacuum vacuuming up dirt and debris on carpet

The Spruce / Henry Wortock

Best for Pet Owners: iRobot Roomba j7+ Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum

4
iRobot Roomba j7+ Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum

Courtesy of iRobot

Our Ratings
  • Setup
    5/5
  • Effectiveness
    4/5
  • Noise Level
    3.5/5
  • Maneuverability
    3.8/5
  • Features
    5/5
What We Like
  • Obstacle avoidance

  • Self-emptying base

  • Pet owner's promise

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Loud operation

The Roomba j series created a lot of buzz upon its release because it promised to avoid pet waste. We tested the iRobot j7 in The Lab and one of our editors received a sample of the j7+ model to test at home, and the j7+ is the only one that successfully avoided pet waste. Upon further inspection of iRobot's website, they only offer the Pet Owner's Official Promise (lovingly named the P.O.O.P. Promise) on the iRobot Roomba j7+ Robot Vacuum, so that's why it's our top pick for pet owners. If your Roomba j7+ does not avoid solid pet waste during its first year of use, iRobot will replace it.

Besides this precise obstacle avoidance feature, the Roomba j7+ includes a self-emptying base, in addition to smart-mapping features. You can set a cleaning schedule or remotely start the vacuum from your smartphone. Our at-home tester noted that setting up this robot vacuum was incredibly easy, and she was impressed that it continued to learn her home better with each clean.

This model is a step up from the Roomba i7+ but that step comes at a cost. This is an expensive Roomba, but if you're a pet owner with a puppy or elderly dog prone to accidents, it could be worth the price. Just be prepared for the louder operation of this vacuum, especially when it empties, which may be hard to talk over and disturb your sleeping pup or cat on the couch.

Dimensions: 13.3 x 13.3 x 3.4 inches | Battery Life: 90 minutes | Charge Time: 3 hours | Cleaning Path Width: 7 inches | Filter Type: Replaceable HE filter | Brush Type: Rubber and bristle | Smart Features: Alexa and Google compatible, smart mapping, smart charge and resume, visual navigation, custom cleaning routine, on-demand cleaning, self-emptying, obstacle avoidance

What Our Testers Say

"I'm usually not a fan of robot vacuums (I actually like to clean), but the Roomba j7+ delivered on its promises. It expertly navigated around real pet waste as well as chocolate pudding, and every day it picked up pet hair from my floor that wasn't visible to me. It's loud when it empties, and it didn't do a great job picking up cereal or spilled potting soil, so it's not perfect. But if you have pets and are looking for a hands-free vacuum, this is it."—Erin Johnson, Product Tester

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the iRobot Roomba 694 for its incredible value. It's easy to set up, can clean with or without Wi-Fi, and transitions from one surface to another seamlessly. Looking for smart features like obstacle avoidance? Opt for the iRobot Roomba j7+ Self Emptying Vacuum. It smart maps your home, has a self-emptying base, and includes PrecisionVision navigation to help it avoid running through pet waste.

iRobot Roomba i3 EVO Robot Vacuum

The Spruce / Henry Wortock

Other Options We Tested

iRobot Roomba i3 EVO Robot Vacuum: This robot vacuum was quiet and did a good job picking up debris from carpet and hardwood flooring, but it doesn't come with a self-emptying base and our tester had a difficult time with the initial setup. We found the 600 series easier to use than the i3 EVO, and since they're at similar price points, we recommend opting for the Roomba 675 or 694—instead of this pick.

iRobot Roomba j7 Robot Vacuum: Our tester in The Lab loved this vacuum and gave it high marks. However, it didn't avoid pet waste, as promised. The j7 was effective at sucking up cereal, debris, and sand off of carpet and hardwood flooring, and our tester found it super easy to set up and use. But, if you're looking for precise obstacle avoidance, you should opt for the slightly more advanced j7+ model that's backed by the Pet Owner's Official Promise.

iRobot Roomba s9+ on testing floor

The Spruce / Henry Wortock

How We Tested the Roombas

We purchased and tested 30 robot vacuums, including multiple Roomba models, in The Lab in Des Moines, Iowa, for two days. We unboxed and timed the setup process. Our testers assembled each vacuum, inserted any filters, and hooked up docking stations. (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.

As the robot vacuum was operating, we used a decibel reader to assess the noise level of each. 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, sock, and chocolate pudding on the floor, and then we took note of whether it successfully avoided those obstacles. Lastly, not all Roombas 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, in comparison with the price tag and promised features.

Aside from cleaning your floors, Roombas also come with features such as voice control, smart mapping, and scheduled cleans. Our home testers are currently performing long-term tests on our top vacuums to put these smart features through their paces in the real world. We will update this list with their fresh and thorough insights once those tests are complete.

iRobot Roomba and computer on floor

The Spruce / Henry Wortock

What to Look for in a Roomba

Battery Life

Most Roomba models will run for around 90 minutes before needing to recharge. Robot vacuums take their time cleaning your space, and Roombas are no different. If you have a smaller space, a 60 to 75-minute run time may suffice. If you live in a large home, opt for a model with a 120-minute battery life. The higher-end (and more expensive) models also often have a "smart charge and resume" feature. These models will dock themselves automatically when their battery is low. Once they've successfully charged, they'll resume cleaning your home.

Smart Capabilities

All Roombas work with the iRobot app. Most are also compatible with in-home smart speakers like Alexa or Google Assistant. You can program almost all models to run on a cleaning schedule (such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at noon). You can also start some Roomba models from your smartphone before you even get home. Other features include smart mapping, where your Roomba learns your home so you can tell it to, "Clean the living room," and it will concentrate its cleaning run to that area. Be aware that with each smart feature, the price tag usually goes up.

Noise Level

If you live in a single-person household and plan on running your Roomba while you're not home, its noise level might not be important to you. However, if you have pets, children, or are noise-sensitive yourself, you may want to take note of the robot vacuum's noise level. Self-emptying Roombas seem to be particularly loud during the "emptying" phase.

"My dogs do not like the Roomba and kind of freak out," says Rapinchuk. "This is something to consider especially if you have dogs or cats and you want to run it when you're not around. Or if you have napping children—it does make noise!" In our testing, we found that the iRobot Roomba i3 EVO was the quietest model, while the s9+ was the loudest.

Standout Features

Obstacle Avoidance

The newest Roomba technology is the PrecisionVision Navigation feature that helps the vacuum avoid small obstacles like pet messes and cords. According to iRobot, an accidental robot vacuum run through pet waste was a huge concern for their customers. With this technology, the Roomba uses a small camera on the front of it to identify obstacles and work around them instead of running through them. After the Roomba's cleaning run is complete, the app will show you what it avoided and you can mark whether it was correct in avoiding that spot or not. This way, the machine continues to learn your home and adapt to temporary and permanent obstacles.

Self-Emptying Base

To achieve a truly hands-off clean, look for a Roomba with a self-emptying base. At the end of your Roomba's run, it will dock itself, and then the tower will suck all of the debris out of the Roomba and into a dust bag. When it is time to change the dust bag (recommended every 60 days for regular cleaning), you open the lid at the top of the tower, pull out the dust bag, and dispose of it. This does require you to purchase extra dust bags, but this process offers a more hygienic clean, since there's no possibility of the dust releasing back into the air when you manually empty the dust bin.

iRobot Roomba j7 upside down on carpet

The Spruce / Henry Wortock

FAQ
  • How do I empty a Roomba?

    To empty a standard Roomba, lift the lid and remove the canister. Open it over a trash can and empty the contents. You can dust out the canister or put it back into the Roomba. Cleaning your vacuum is an important step to make sure that the Roomba continues to work as designed. If your Roomba has a self-emptying base, it does the emptying for you. All you have to do is remove and replace the dust bag every 60 days (or when it is full).

  • How do I maintain a Roomba's battery?

    Roombas come with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery installed. Typically, they come with a charge when you open the box. The Roomba will keep itself charged and return to its charging dock when it has a low battery. You can also see a visible low battery indicator on the top of the vacuum or in your iRobot app.

  • How do I reset a Roomba?

    To reset your Roomba, just press the CLEAN button for 10 to 20 seconds (depending on your model). You will hear a reset tone or see a white light when it has rebooted. You can also make changes to the zones that your Roomba cleans or other settings via the iRobot app.

    iRobot also has service support on their website, which will help you set up your Roomba, and reset it or make any changes in the future.

  • How often should you change a Roomba bag?

    If you have a self-emptying Roomba, you should change the dust bag every two months to keep the vacuum working at its best. This number is based on regular surface cleaning, but you may need to change the bag more often if you have a lot of pet hair or debris on your floors. Keep an eye out for an indicator light on the base that will let you know when the bag is full.

iRobot Roomba on testing floor

The Spruce / Henry Wortock

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was written by Erin Johnson, a commerce editor at The Spruce, focusing on appliances, cleaning, and organization. Erin 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 low-and high-tech products to life. You can also find her work on Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens, Apartment Therapy, and Southern Living.