The Best Robot Vacuum

These bots would leave all others in the dust... but there isn’t any dust left.

The 30-Second Review

The best robot vacuums can take care of basic cleaning with minimal human intervention. 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.

Best Midrange Robot Vacuum

The golden medium of robot vacuums, the Roomba 690 offers impressive cleaning power for hundreds less than the competition. And it managed to clean our floors without getting completely stuck. It’s a substantial upgrade from our budget pick, and holds up surprisingly well even against the higher-tech Roomba 960.

Best Budget Robot Vacuum

The Ecovacs Deebot offers advanced technology for just $200. Great for basic cleaning, not so great for big messes or lots of furniture.

Best High-End Robot Vacuum

iRobot Roomba 960
If you want maximum cleaning power and intelligent navigation, nothing beat the Roomba 960 in our testing.

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 found that well-functioning robovacs start around $200. And while deluxe models can climb all the way up to $1,000, a superbly powerful bot can be yours for $700. Our favorites represent the best functioning, most reliable bots between those price points.

In the market for a good deal? We suggest the Ecovacs Deebot N79. Coming in right at $200, this is one of the cheapest models you can find that will effectively clean your floors. While its navigation is almost wholly random, those loops and zigzags eventually cover an entire room. Even more impressively, this budget bot is WiFi-enabled and controllable by the Ecovacs app — the only under-$300 model in our entire lineup boasting smartphone connectivity.

If you’re looking for a few more features, we recommend the iRobot Roomba 690. You get a fully equipped Roomba — with iRobot HOME app control, Amazon Alexa compatibility, intelligent navigation, and accelerated cleaning power — for a little less than $400. It easily outperformed other, more expensive options thanks to its cleaning power and learning abilities — gathering more debris than most high-end robovacs and managing to wiggle its way out of trouble whenever it got stuck.

If you want the best money can buy, the iRobot Roomba 960 is a truly superior bot and costs several hundred dollars less than other comparable models. Second-generation learning and navigation skills enable it to intelligently clean an entire level of your home, pausing to recharge as needed and then picking up where it left off. The Roomba 960 collected more debris than any robot vacuum we tested, and its refined sensors allowed it to tackle concentrated messes without requiring much maintenance afterward.

Our Picks for the Best Robot Vacuum

Best Budget Robot Vacuum

Ecovacs Deebot N79 A featherweight robovac with heavyweight features like cliff avoidance, dual bristle/rubber brush, and a mobile app.

If you want a cheap-but-functional robovac that won’t get stuck every 5 minutes, the Deebot N79 is for you. It’s compact and light enough to work its way through tight spaces, and has adequate sensors to keep it out of too much trouble. And we were pretty blown away by the fact that it runs off an app just like the bots in upper price brackets. Reviews of the Ecovacs app aren’t exactly glowing, but mostly feature the standard complaints of bugs and connection issues that are ubiquitous in this space. All bot apps could do with serious improvement.

Deebot offers another standout feature compared to other low-cost bots: While most use bristle brushes or, worse, just suction, the Deebot features a combo bristle / rubber brush. The inclusion of rubber panels does wonders for cutting down maintenance time, as they help minimize hair tangles. And the triangular formation of its bristles and extractors helps direct debris more efficiently toward the suction.

While this bot is more than capable of tackling hard flooring and low-pile carpet, it doesn’t perform well against thick flooring or hefty, low-lying obstacles. In our controlled testing, the Deebot had a really hard time with the horizontal metal bar beneath a chair. As with all budget bots, you’ll need to do a little room prep before running this model or lay down the somewhat clumsy magnetic strip that’s included in the box to block off areas. But after clearing away any obvious traps, you will be impressed at how much hair and dust it gathers during its lengthy, 100-minute battery life.

Having a long run time is key for the Deebot, as its random cleaning pattern needs a lot of passes to accomplish a thorough clean. For this reason, one tester preferred the Edge and Spot Clean programs to Auto. She worried that the collision-course cleaning that characterized its automatic mode wouldn’t cover her entire apartment. You can easily switch among four modes (Auto, Edge, Spot, Single Room) using either the Ecovacs app or the remote.

For a first foray into the wonders of robotic cleaning, or to keep up with light vacuuming in a simple apartment, the Ecovacs Deebot N79 has you covered. While this bot is a great deal and offers substantial power for its price, it won’t last you as long as more expensive models. The Chinese-based company doesn’t provide much in the way of domestic customer support (there’s no American telephone number) or repairs (it doesn’t currently sell replacement parts). Luckily, the Deebot design is so standard, you can easily find generic troubleshooting advice as well as compatible parts sold by third-party retailers. If you would prefer a company with American contacts and branded replacement parts (and don’t mind sacrificing on WiFi connectivity), go with the nearly identical Eufy 11 Robovac.

Although the Ecovacs Deebot’s results look disappointing, none of our other budget bots cleaned any better.

Best Midrange Robot Vacuum

iRobot Roomba 690 Smart navigation, app control, and powerful cleaning without breaking the bank.

iRobot is without doubt the robovac industry leader, and with its Roomba 690 model, you get the company’s superior technology and reliable customer service, as well as WiFi connectivity, all at an accessible price. It came in a close third out of all robovacs in the baking soda tests, collecting just barely less than the Samsung Powerbot — a luxury bot that costs about three times as much.

Smart Home If you’re worried about privacy, rest assured that the iRobot HOME app doesn’t remember the map of your home from session to session. Furthermore, the company has confirmed that as smart home innovations continue, it will never use or share your information without permission.

The 690 may not fall into the luxury category in terms of price, but it’s hard to pin down any other reason why it wouldn’t qualify. In addition to its powerful and well-designed cleaning system, the tech features are second to none. Use the app to start a cleaning cycle while you’re away from home and then monitor its progress — it draws a map of your home’s layout as it cleans.

While Roombas are exceptionally capable of managing terrain changes, the 690 does have the tendency to bump into furniture at full speed. While this could be an issue for living spaces with lots of spindly furniture, during our in-house testing, we were just impressed with its tenacious forward motion. Rather than languish in tight spots, the 690 either powered through or powered back out. The result: Both the Roombas we tested spent a lot more time actually cleaning instead of dancing around dead ends.

Robovacs in general take a lot of cleaning responsibility out of human hands, but sooner or later, you will have to clean your robovac. (It will probably be sooner — after two cycles max.) Fortunately, the Roomba 690’s design makes cleaning a cinch: Access the bristle and beater (rubber) brushes by lifting a wire hatch and popping them out like two toilet paper holders. Since you’ll find the majority of caught hair where the brush nestles into its slot, being able to easily remove them is a big plus. But be sure to put all its little pieces back together properly: We once ran the 690 mistakenly thinking the filter was fully in place; during that run it kept spitting the debris it gathered back out onto the carpet in a fine dust.

While the 690 topped its competition in terms of efficacy, our runner-up, the bObSweep Bob Pethair Plus, offers certain benefits for pet owners and allergy sufferers. Though more expensive than the Roomba 690, it contains a patented HEPA filter, which claims to be capable of trapping 99 percent of the fine particles that trigger allergies and asthma. The bObSweep also employs an ultraviolet light to disinfect floors — killing microorganisms and potentially doubling your vac’s germ-busting efficacy.

It took a few retests (due to an improperly installed filter), but the Roomba 690 took third place in our controlled tests.

Best High-End Robot Vacuum

iRobot Roomba 960 The most thorough cleaning we tested, plus app control, zoning ability, and recharge and resume technology.

This is it — the robovac that blew away the competition with powerful cleaning, smart scouting, and tech benefits galore. The $700 tag makes it an investment, but after witnessing the Roomba 960’s robust abilities, we started to think it was a reasonable asking price. Especially given the higher price points of comparable models.

At-home testers loved that it went from fresh-out-of-the-box to up-and-running in a few simple steps. The iRobot HOME app is easy to download and master, and syncing Roomba with Alexa is a breeze. Testers also appreciated how it cleaned in a grid-like pattern (“Like a spreadsheet,” one reported), leaving those coveted fresh vacuum tracks.

All Roombas from the 600 series upward 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. But the 960 utilizes both optical and acoustic sensors to locate and tackle concentrated messes, and we saw this skill in action. While other bots wasted a lot of time wedged in corners and butting up against furniture, the 960 located the massive baking soda spill at the center of the floor and relentlessly pursued the mess. It naturally ended up gathering the largest amount of baking soda of all the contenders (5.9 ounces) — managing to get over a third of the powder in less than half its standard run time.

The Roomba 960 cleaned up in our test course, collecting 5.9 ounces of baking soda (left). The Neato Botvac Connected called it quits partway through and came away with just 1.3 ounces (right).

We loved how the Roomba 960 overcame obstacles during controlled testing, but that same relentlessness had unexpected consequences for at-home testers: In one scenario, the 960 got ahold of a lamp cord and ended up pulling the entire lamp off the table.

The 960 is both a deluxe robot vacuum and a comparative bargain. Our other finalist in that category, the Samsung Powerbot, came in a close second in every comparison but is advertised at $300 more. However, the Samsung does boast clear error messaging, longer battery life, and a semi-angular shape that helps it to get into corners. While protruding, whisker-like brushes solve some of the shortcomings of circular bots, models like the Powerbot that feature one or more straight edges have a better chance of getting dusty crevices.

The Roomba 960 spent less time struggling with obstacles and managed to collect the most baking soda in our test.

Did You Know?

The robots are taking over… household chores.

So you’ve already relinquished vacuuming to a robotic helpmate and are eager to hand over more jobs? While not quite the humanoid robots we once imagined would populate the 2000s, bots can tackle a growing number of tasks:

Mopping

  • iRobot Braava

Pool cleaning

  • iRobot Mirra
  • Aquabot Breeze IQ
  • Dolphin Nautilus
  • Zodiac Polaris
  • Hayward Sharkvac

Window washing

  • EcoVacs Winbot

Lawn mowing

  • Husqvarna Automower
  • Worx Landroid
  • McCulloch ROB
  • Robomow
  • Greenworks

Grill cleaning

  • Grillbot

Don’t throw out your manual vacuum just yet.

Robovacs are not intended to wholly replace manual vacuuming. The best they can do is elongate the time between human vacuuming sessions — especially helpful in households with pets and their endless shedding, or kids and their endless spilling. As we mentioned before, our top upright carpet vacuum picked up over 80 percent of the baking soda in just four minutes, while the Roomba 960 only managed to get 37 percent in half an hour.

What’s in a name?

During our research, we found that Amazon reviewers talk about their bots “Rudy” or “Ding Dong” and then quickly explain, “Hey, you have to name him.” We thought this was silly at first, but once we had our own bots scuttling about our office, we could see where the emotional attachment came from.

Dogs and robovacs: a crappy combination

There are plenty of spectacularly horrific stories about robot vacuums trailing through doggie doo-doo and then proceeding to “clean” the whole house. While the comic writing to be found on the subject in viral Facebook posts and Amazon reviews is worthy of Reader’s Digest, we suggest keeping your experience of the subject purely literary: If you have dogs, only run your bot in a closed-off room or while under supervision.

What about the Dyson 360?

While most super-expensive robot vacuums have power equal to their price, some disappoint. The Dyson 360 — a stately robovac made by the knight of vacuums, Sir James Dyson — is as tall as a four-layer cake, and, despite its four-digit price, is reported to be an inept cleaner, a clumsy mover, and too darn tall to fit under areas that truly need vacuuming. This is a surprising failure, not only because Dyson is a leader in vacuum technology, but also because it was among the first companies to develop a robovac prototype back in the ‘90s.

The Best Robot Vacuums, Summed Up

Robot Vacuums
The Best
Ecovacs Deebot N79
Budget
iRobot Roomba 690
Midrange
iRobot Roomba 960
High-End