The Best Robot Vacuums

Whether you’re replacing an early generation robot vacuum or looking to purchase your first, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the abundance of options and prices, ranging from fairly cheap to fairly steep. We tracked down reliable bots for every home and budget, from simple robots that dust hardwood to mightier models capable of pulling pet hair out of thick rugs. Then we put them to the test to see which ones could pick up dirt while navigating an obstacle course of furniture.

The 5 Best Robot Vacuums

The Best
Navigation and Cleaning Combo
iRobot Roomba 960
Roomba 960
Thorough cleaning with “recharge and resume” technology.
Pros
Methodical cleaning pattern
Reliable suite of sensors
“Recharge and resume” technology
Advanced app
Cons
Price

Why we chose it

Methodical cleaning pattern

All Roombas boast iRobot’s patented three-stage cleaning system (agitate, brush, suction) and dirt-detection sensors, enabling them to identify high-soil areas and target their cleaning efforts. What really sets this robot apart, though, is its smooth, s-shaped cleaning pattern that actually seeks dirt. In all of our in-home test runs, the Roomba 960 would start at one end of the room, zoom to the other end, and snake its way back, repeating this pattern until it covered the entire area. This motion likely helped it outpace the other bots in our controlled test by picking up 71% of the mixture without pausing or “thinking” it was done halfway through the allotted time. The 960 also has impressive suction power — five times that of the 600-series — making it particularly good for cleaning up after shed-prone pets.

Reliable suite of sensors

The 960 uses odometry (similar to the system that measures the tires on your car) to build a map of the area and help calculate how far it’s traveled. As an added feature not found in its entry-level siblings, the camera on the top of the 960 helps it recognize certain spaces via different patterns of light in order to determine its position on the map.

“To build the map of the floor it is cleaning, the robot — in its brain — draws an imaginary box and then tries to travel and color in that box. As it moves through the home, it discovers walls and other obstacles that help form a map... Once it’s colored in that box, it draws another one and so forth.”

“Recharge and resume” technology

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to even the best robot vacuum is battery life. Poor battery performance can lead to half-cleaned floors and extra legwork on your end. Fortunately, the Roomba 960 (along with other advanced models) has “recharge and resume” technology. This means that when its battery runs low, the 960 will travel to its dock to power up so it can finish the cleaning job. We found this is especially useful for larger homes with more rooms that require extra vacuuming.

Advanced app

The easy-to-use interface of the iRobot app makes setting up your Roomba an absolute breeze — very seldom did we encounter connectivity issues during testing. The app will send you real-time updates of the robot’s status, and if you feel like your floor needs an extra cleaning pass or you need to focus on dust along the baseboards, the app also lets you enable specific cleaning functions.

Both the 690 and 960 let you schedule cleaning times and start a cycle while away, but the 960 goes a step further by sending you a detailed report of where and for how long it cleaned. Although you can still use the virtual wall barrier, you won’t be able to customize or draw virtual boundaries on a map like you can with the i7 — but if you’re indifferent about those high-tech features, the 960 will provide you with just enough post-cleaning data to confirm it’s done its job.

Roomba-Carpet-Movement-for-Best-Roomba

Points to consider

Price

This is a drawback for many robot vacuums on the market today — but you do typically get what you pay for. The Roomba 960’s hefty price tag isn’t even one of the most daunting ones. (Just look at the i7+, for example. At $1,000, you’re upgrading to detailed mapping and automated dustbin emptying). But if the price tag is a dealbreaker, check out the newer Roomba e5. It retails for about $100 less but still has the same impressive suction power as the 960. The e5 comes with a washable bin and is designed specifically to deal with pet hair, so if you don’t care about the 960’s meticulous mapping feature or s-shaped cleaning pattern it’s a good option.

The Best
for Tight Spaces
Eufy RoboVac 30C
RoboVac 30C
A no-fuss, sleek design that kicks dirt lingering beneath low-clearance furniture.
Pros
Diligent cleaner
Smart, sleek design
Easy to use
Price
Cons
Random motions

Why we chose it

Diligent cleaner

The Eufy impressed us with how smoothly it cleaned and transitioned from hardwood to carpet. During our controlled testing, the Eufy 30C unleashed its suction power, sought the mess, and consumed just as much as the Roomba 690 (about 64% of the mixture). Plus, if you’re at home and watching the robot work, you can customize how you want it to clean with spot and edge cleaning functions — the former boosts suction power to target tougher areas on carpet.

The no-frills design didn’t hinder this bot’s cleaning longevity — it outpaced some of our other models when cleaning by consistently running its full 100 minutes. Others sometimes considered the areas clean and called it quits after 10-45 minutes. You’re definitely maximizing cleaning capacity with this bot, because the Eufy didn’t waste time circling one particular corner of the room or halfway cleaning another.

Smart, sleek design

The Eufy 30C glides around and under furniture with ease, making it able to venture into places your handheld and other robots physically can’t. It’s almost an inch shorter than the other vacs we tested, standing at 2.85”. The Eufy was the only robot that “thought” it could manage cleaning under the leather couch in the testing room of the apartment. Granted, it didn’t account for the additional low-hanging beams in the middle of the couch and cried for help when it got stuck, but the fact that it tried and could fit under such a low clearance for even a small amount of time serves as a testament to its slim yet powerful design.

Easy to use

Transitioning the robovac between our two testing homes was a cinch: The robot quickly adapted to the systems of each and responded well to specific cleaning commands on the app (spot and edge cleaning, directional shifts, and premade scheduling prompts). And if you want to keep your robot out of a certain area, Eufy gives you three different ways to do this: virtual controls, physical remote controls, and boundary strips (these look like thin magnets).

We also receive real-time updates on the Eufy’s progress, so if it were to get stuck under a piece of furniture or scoop up a napkin in its left wheel on the way out of the kitchen — we knew immediately. These push notifications are common to almost all robot vacuums today, but Eufy gave especially deliberate, clear, and accurate updates, which made fixing the problem that much easier. After pulling the robot out from under the couch or plucking the forgotten napkin from its wheel, the bot continued its route as if nothing had happened.

Price

While this is a pretty basic bot when compared to the market at large, the Eufy 30C is reliable, provides a powerful clean, and still gives you the freedom to forget about vacuuming, for hundreds of dollars less than some others. It isn’t one of the cheapest, but for its price ($300), it optimizes its capabilities and meets marketing claims.

If you want something even cheaper

We picked the Eufy 30C because of the convenient mobile control and powerful suction, but if you don’t care about , scheduling cleans from your from your phone, or mind giving up a little bit of suction power, the Eufy 11s has great reviews and retails for about $80 cheaper than its newer sister. The Eufy 30 is basically our pick without — again, if you don’t mind giving that up, this is another sound option.

Points to consider

Random motions

The Eufy 30C absolutely gets the job done and typically uses its full battery life before returning to the home base. But if you want a detailed map or report of exactly where your bot cleaned while you were gone, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The lack of advanced navigation can actually be an advantage in some situations — just because a bot maps the area, doesn’t mean it’ll automatically give your home a better clean. If you don’t mind moving your robot between floors, the Eufy will clean without the sensitivity or (potential) predetermined restrictions of a stored floor plan — it starts with a clean slate every time like the Roomba 690. While this might mean it bumps into the same bar stool every round until you move it elsewhere, this isn’t necessarily a negative, since the landscape of your home is prone to change over time, too.

The Best
Basic Model
iRobot Roomba 690
Roomba 690
A persistent, diligent, and cost-effective robot that won’t stop until the dirt is gone.
Pros
Cleaning power
Cost-effectiveness
Cons
Shorter battery life
Not as easy to clean

Why we chose it

Cleaning power

This robot is tenacious. In fact, it might even be a more diligent cleaner than the 960 (although not as powerful). We were impressed with the Roomba 690’s decisive motion — rather than languishing in tight spots, it either powered through or powered back out. The Roomba 690 also picked up almost two whole cups of cheerios — when it noticed a pile in the middle of the floor, it used its “dirt detection” power and circled the mess until it was gone.

Roomba-Carpet-Movement-2-for-Best-Roomba

The Roomba 690 makes its way around by bumping into things, because it doesn’t have the same sensor makeup as the 960 or i7 and lacks the light-detecting camera. But it does do its job. This was even reflected in our controlled tests, where the 690 wasn’t too far behind the 960 in overall dirt pickup (64% compared to 71%).

Cost-effectiveness

One of the main reasons we kept this robot in our lineup was because of its reliable, basic functionality at a fair price. It retails for around $300 on Amazon, which is an entry-level price tag in the robot vacuum market. Not everyone is going to want or need an advanced robot vacuum that maps and methodically travels throughout their home — if you’re looking for a robot to do the bare minimum and give one or two rooms an effective clean, this is a safe bet.

Points to consider

Shorter battery

The Roomba 690’s battery doesn’t last as long as those of pricier models. Although the 690 technically runs for 15 more minutes than the 960, the Roomba 960 can extend its battery life for a certain run by recharging and resuming without any prompting. That said, there’s no need for an upgrade if you have a small home or apartment — the 690 has you covered. For few rooms and thin to normal carpeting, the 690 allows you to give your manual vacuum a much longer down time.

Not as easy to clean

The Roomba 690’s brushes are easy to pop in and out — but pulling long hair strands entwined within the bristled brush can be a chore, especially when compared to the dual rubber-brushed design of the newer i and e Series Roombas. Unlike the newer iRobot models, the 690 and 960 dustbins can’t be washed because of their proximity to the motor (the company fixed this problem by moving the motors farther away).

The Best
for Map Customization
EcoVacs Deebot 900
ECOVAVCS
This robot builds a detailed blueprint of your floor plan in no time, and its mapping customization features let you target contained messes with ease.
Pros
Navigation and advanced mapping
Slim design
Continuous cleaning
Cons
Weaker suction
Glitchy app

Why we chose it

Navigation and advanced mapping

When we let this EcoVacs robot roam the family and guest bedroom of our apartment (about 400 square feet total), it created a detailed map and accurately segmented the rooms in less than 40 minutes. The EcoVacs app lets you send the robot to clean a specific zone on your floor plan. We tested this from our office 19 miles away — we drew a box around a small portion of the living room in the apartment and watched the little blue dot on the app (which represents the robot) travel to that box and clean for three or four minutes before returning to its home base. If you want to clean a contained spill without having to wait 30 minutes for your robot vacuum to bump around and figure out where the mess is, you can just tell this bot exactly where to go.

Slim design

Despite being a tad taller than our Roombas (3.74”), this robot makes a point to travel under under low-clearance furniture. The knob at the top (which is the hub that emits the laser — or lidar — technology that makes mapping so easy) makes it a little thicker and less able to crawl under certain places than the Eufy, but this didn’t necessarily hinder its performance in slipping under those dressers and low coffee tables.

Ecovacs-Demo-for-Robot-Vacuums

Continuous cleaning

Like the higher-grade Roomba models (i7 and 960), you can set the EcoVacs Deebot 900 to a “continuous cleaning” mode. This means if your robot runs out of battery halfway through the cleaning run, it’ll scoot back to its charging base for an extra boost before continuing the round. Combined with the easy and efficient mapping functionality, this makes running this robot relatively low-touch.

Points to consider

Weaker suction

If you want a robot vacuum to pick up loose, light debris, this EcoVacs will get the job done, but it isn’t as powerful as others. It only brought in about 43% of our test mixture after 30 minutes. That’s not to say it wouldn’t have collected it all eventually, but we chose it more for its easy-to-manage, strong mapping technology than pure cleaning power. You can also select “max” vacuum power in the app to amp suction for any and all cleaning passes, if you choose. You will be forfeiting a quieter clean, but that’s only a problem if you’re around to hear it.

Scott Ledterman, general manager of EcoVacs, says that noise and suction power go hand-in-hand. Ledterman says the team at Ecovacs tries to strike the right balance between delivering effective cleaning and tolerable noise, even if this means slightly slowing fan motor speeds (which weakens suction) to drive the noise down.

“At the end of the day, it needs to have enough power to pick up dirt and grime reliably to where it doesn’t leave stuff on the floor… but combine that with a product that’s quieter than a dishwasher, so it can run in your home while you and your family or friends are actually hanging out in the home.”

Glitchy app

While the mapping and customization features seemed to work pretty seamlessly for us, we think there are some noteworthy weaknesses in the app. And we’re not alone. Users have complained about map connectivity failure. While we didn’t experience total failure with our bot — we actually found the bot to adapt to new scenarios and map our floors relatively quickly — it did flicker between “connected” and “unconnected” several times on the app. The glitching kept us from using our robot for a bit, but typically only lasted for a couple minutes.

The Best
High-Tech Model
Roomba i7+
Roomba i7+
This powerful cleaner also has a superb memory — send this robot to clean specific rooms, and it’ll even empty its own dustbin.
Pros
Automatic dust disposal
Powerful cleaner
Navigational and mapping skills
Cons
Price
Hyper-sensitive dirt disposal

Why we chose it

Automatic dust disposal

The only messy part about operating a robot vacuum is manually dumping out its contents after a few cycles. Sometimes, you might even need to vacuum the dust that didn’t quite make it into the trash can. iRobot takes care of this with the i7+. The i7+ is basically the i7 bot with a self-emptying dustbin. It returns to its base and immediately vacuums its contents into the base tower (which can hold up to 30 bins of dirt) after every run. Meaning you won’t have to empty the dustbin yourself, and will only have to empty the tower occasionally. The only time you ever really have to touch your robot vacuum with this feature is when it decides to roll over a pile of cords or lodge a piece of loose clothing in one of its wheels.

Roomba-i7-Dock-for-Best-Roomba

Powerful cleaner

The i Series has a stronger suction power than any other Roomba on the market (10 times that of the 600-level models). So if you want your robot vacuum to be somewhat on par with your handheld, this is probably the vacuum to choose. The i7+ didn’t perform quite as well as we had anticipated, but we chalked this up to the fact that it wasn’t familiar with the environment at the time. We — and iRobot — recommend letting this robot fully discover your floor plan before setting high expectations for suction/cleaning power. Even the best robot can only clean well once it’s had a chance to optimize navigation.

Navigational and mapping skills

Roomba-Map-for-Robot-Vacuums

The i7+ offers advanced navigation and an ability to “remember” up to ten different floor plans. After a few runs, the i7+ will present you with a detailed map that segments the different rooms of your floor plan, which you can then adjust and rename. You can tell the i7+ exactly where to go, taking the term “hands-off” to a whole new level. It did take several hours (over a day’s worth of testing) for this bot to learn its way around the 700 square-foot base level of our three-story home. The Neatos, on the other hand, only needed one run to spit out a detailed map of our floor plan (although getting them to actually use them later on was a bit of a hassle). But it’s worth waiting on the i7+ to learn its way around, because once it does, it doesn’t forget where it’s traveled and typically withstands shifts in base placement.

Points to consider

Price

Purchasing the i7+ over the i7 means paying for the automatic dust dispenser, and it makes this model one of the most expensive robovacs on the market. But if you want a quality mapping bot that offers a wide margin of customization when it comes to cleaning your home, and is seriously low-touch, it’s a great choice. If you’d rather save the cash and empty your own dustbin, the stand-alone i7 retails for about $700, which is pretty comparable to bots with similar functionality (the Neato D6 is the same price).

Hyper-sensitive dirt disposal

While this robot is extremely low-touch, it isn't perfect. You might still have to monitor or manually empty this bot when it comes to larger particles in higher volumes, but this is true for most robovacs today. For example, we received a few unnecessary notifications about a “clogged” dustbin tower. When we threw a cup or two of Cheerios on the ground to see how well the i7+ could consume them, the robot did its job — the tower, on the other hand, did not. Even after the i7+ had completed the run and “emptied” the contents on its own, we were still greeted with a bin full of dried cereal.

Runner-Up
Neato Botvac D6
Botvac D6
Consumes pet hair with ease and maintains a long battery life for a thorough cleaning.
Pros
Versatile design
Good for larger homes
Cons
Inconsistent performance
Sensitive to changes

Why we chose it

Versatile design

One of our observers called this robovac a true “workhorse” in reference to its cleaning persistence— and we agree. The Neato Botvac D6 trails along walls with ease and can impressively wiggle its way into angular corners better than round bots because of its D-shaped design.

Good for larger homes

It seemed to shine when we set it free in the lower level of the three-story home (about 700 square feet); we watched it run for the advertised 120 minutes before scooting back to the charging base in a completely different room. It can store up to three different stories, so if you have a larger home and want a powerful clean, this bot will do the job.

Points to consider

Inconsistent performance

We didn’t put it in our lineup this time, however, because even though the D6 a pretty decent cleaner, we couldn’t consistently use the features that essentially make it more expensive. For starters, both the D4 and D6 quit halfway through both our testing rounds — we assumed they “considered” the small space clean after 15 minutes, but this also left a lot of coffee and flour residue on our floor. We also encountered some connectivity issues — it would take these bots a while to connect to our strong WiFi signal.

Sensitive to changes

Using the floorplans was also a bit of a struggle. The app would send us alerts saying the bots couldn’t use previously-made maps because the bases had been “moved” from the starting point of the navigational run. Even if the bases had been moved, the fact that a slight shift would keep the bot from using its detailed, premade floor plan (with all of our no-go lines) was disappointing. Here’s the good news: These bots receive over-the-air updates, so Neato will likely resolve these shortcomings in the near future, and its flagship D7 will soon include a zone cleaning feature for more isolated messes.

Guide to Robot Vacuums

How to find the right robot vacuum for you

Decide what your home needs

We all know the robot vacuum market is heavily saturated. But it doesn’t have to be quite as overwhelming if you know what you want (and what your home needs) going into the search. If you live in a smaller apartment with one level and only a few rooms, you might be better off choosing an entry-level model. Even basic models should deliver straightforward connectivity and a good clean — in some cases (as seen above with our Eufy 30C and Roomba 690 picks), they’re even more efficient cleaners than the higher-level models with all the extra bells and whistles.

On the other hand, if you have a larger home, you might want to consider a robot that recharges and resumes cleaning until the job is done. If your pet sheds a lot, this is also something you should consider beforehand — the more powerful models (like the Roomba 960, e5, i7, i7+, and Neato D6), might be more expensive, but if it means you have to deal with less of that winter coat accumulating within the depths of your carpet, it might be worth it.

Think about how “connected” you want your robot to be

Aside from accounting for your personal preferences and your home’s physical layout, you also need to think about how automated you want your bot to be. All of our top picks are Wi-Fi compatible — it makes cleaning your house while you’re away an extremely easy task. If you want to take it a step further, mapping bots let you know where your robot cleaned, automatically recharge and resume cleaning cycles, and some let you draw boundary lines to keep the bot out of certain areas. As you climb the functionality ladder, though, the cost climbs with you.

Have reasonable expectations of your robot vacuum

Some people are surprised to learn that robot vacuums can’t clean in certain areas or find themselves intertwined in loose strings and smart phone charging cords. Yes, it happens — your robot vacuum is not an all-powerful, invincible machine, although it may sometimes seem that way based on marketing campaigns. Some do have powerful vacuuming capabilities, but overall, these robot vacuums are more or less suction sweepers that also manage to perform well on carpet.

They also don’t work as well when it comes to larger particles — like cheerios. Most would pick up a little less than the majority of two cups before spitting some back out and trailing streaks of crushed cereal behind them. Again, this is why you need to keep your upright vacuum for these larger, more contained spills that require strong suction.

Prepare your home

Although they aren’t intended to wholly replace manual vacuuming, robot vacuums are nonetheless powerful. This means they, too, suck up phone chargers, shoe laces, and other thin cords without differentiating between them and actual debris. You will have to move boxes, laundry baskets, and cords out of the way in order for your robot vacuum to do its job well. Think about it — you wouldn’t deliberately shove your regular vacuum into a pile of charging cords or stringy tassels, would you?

“What we find time and time again is that [consumers] open up the bin for the first time, see all of the dirt and that validation, and become motivated to actually do all of the room prep...You’ve got to do a little bit of work, and you get a lot of payback.”

Look for sound customer support

There’s a certain inevitability in experiencing difficulties when it comes to operating a robot vacuum, so you should always get a feel for the customer support prior to purchasing. Here are two likely scenarios: You’ll find yourself not knowing how to operate it to begin with, or after working for a time your robot starts malfunctioning. Neato and iRobot both offer helpful tutorial videos and simple explanations for when you receive an error message, but sometimes they just don’t quite cover what you need. This is where you need a human’s help.

For example, we reached out to Neato customer support in light of the bots’ connectivity and floor plan issues and received a response from customer service within just a few hours, explaining we should try “soft” resetting (pressing the side and left start button to reboot) and “hard” resetting (taking out the battery and letting it breathe) to get our bots working again. And when we hadn’t updated Neato on the status of our issue after a few days, several representatives reached out to us to make sure we got the help we needed.

Supervise your pets

Though initially curious about the new robot vacuum cleaning the house, most pets will get used to it and eventually leave the robovac to clean in peace. That said, there are plenty of horror stories about robot vacuums trailing through poop and then proceeding to “clean” the whole house. If you have pets, only run your bot in a closed-off room or while under supervision.

Robot Vacuums FAQ

Can a robot vacuum handle going up and down stairs?

Most robot vacuums cannot climb stairs to clean different levels of your home. If you want to clean both your first and second floors, you’ll have to move your robot vacuum to do so. Falling down the stairs can damage a robot vacuum, but most today have built-in drop sensors that detect “cliffs” or “edges” and keep it from falling (this is known as cliff-avoidance technology).

Can a robot vacuum handle wet cleanups?

A traditional robovac doesn’t handle water or wet messes. If your robot vacuum gets wet, you’ll need to shut it off, take it apart to clean, and ensure everything’s dry before turning it on again. If you want a robot cleaner that can scrub down your wood floors and handle spills with ease, consider a robot mop or dual vacuum/mop.

How loud are robot vacuums?

This was the one question all of our testers had in common: “How loud is it?” And after hearing it, most followed with: “That’s so loud.” Again, it’s important to have realistic expectations when it comes to these things. You’ll likely run your robovac for a longer period of time than you would your handheld, which means you should feel comfortable listening to it. Most bots ranged around 50-65 dB — to compare, a budget upright vac rang in at about 80 dB. So, no, they’re not silent, but they’re not overly noisy, either. If you can’t stand the constant white noise, the scheduling feature allows you to program your robot to clean your floors while you’re away or in another room.

Is mapping technology necessary in a robovac?

The answer to this question depends on your preferences. Do you want to be able to send your robot to clean the popcorn crumbs under your couch and around your coffee table after watching a movie? Do you want to be able to draw virtual lines around your pet’s water bowl to keep the robot away? Maybe you just want to just press a button and let the robot roam around the house without giving it a second thought. Oftentimes, these mapping bots are more expensive than bots that use random motions — but if you want to spend a little extra to have more control, then mapping might be for you. We think maps are only really beneficial when you can use or manipulate them with ease and your bot is intuitive enough to handle changes (like moving the base slightly). The mapping functionality should help your bot avoid major, immovable obstacles like fireplaces, dining room tables, or kitchen islands. But there are always parts of your home that are going to move, and most of the time, these bots will adapt.

Will my robot vacuum receive software updates?

Yes — some companies offer software updates while you’re using the robots. For example, a few of our iRobot and Neato models offered updates during testing. The one drawback is that it does take time for the update to load (think about how long it takes to update your iPhone to the newest software). But it is nice to know that your bot can maintain current technology, and this also allows for constant improvement (read: continual glitch and connectivity fixes).

The Best Robot Vacuums: Summed Up

iRobot Roomba 960
Eufy RoboVac 30C
iRobot Roomba 690
Ecovacs Deebot 900
iRobot Roomba i7+
The best
Navigation and Cleaning Combo
for Tight Spaces
Basic Model
Map Customization
High-Tech Model
Price
$699
$300
$375
$350
$950
Run time
70–100 minutes
100 minutes
60 minutes
90 minutes
75 minutes
Usable maps
Virtual barriers
WiFi-enabled
Smart home compatible
Recharge and resume technology

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