The Best Robot Vacuums, Based On Extensive Testing


We spent over a month testing top-rated robot vacuums to find five reliable, simple-to-use options that offer excellent cleaning power. With super-smart navigation technology and impeccable mapping abilities, the best robot vacuums are an autonomous solution to removing allergens and debris from your home. Our overall favorite is the iRobot Roomba s9+ because it can get into the tightest nooks and crannies. Read on to learn about the rest of the winners from our testing process.

The iRobot Roomba s9+ won best robot vacuum overall because it has superior cleaning power compared to the other robot vacuums I tested, as well as the unique ability to get into every nook in a home thanks to its D-ring shape and well-designed brushes. Its app and easy-to-use interface were also the best I tried. This robot vacuum is spendy — it’s the top of the line iRobot Roomba — but simply put, it truly makes life easier.

As the top of the line Roomba model, the s9+ has some standout features that bring it to No. 1 on this list, first of which is its exceptional suction strength. iRobot says that it has 40 times that of the base Roomba model, the 600 series, a considerable step up from other models. I myself found that in the debris test, the s9+ picked up the most debris (75%) — 10% more than the runner up (the Miele Scout RX3, which did not make the list for its lack of smarts and a finicky app), and 36% more than the robot in last place (the Eufy Robovac G30, which made up for its lesser suction strength in navigation skills and affordability). But even with the extra suction, I found this model to be considerably quieter than the i3 EVO. While not quite as quiet as the Eufy Robovac G30 or Wyze vacuum, it was considerably quieter than the other budget Roomba I tested, the i3+ EVO.

The robot’s shape also helps set it apart. The s9+ is D-shaped, unlike all the other round vacuums on our list, which allows it to actually fit into corners and right up against walls. In fact, I watched it pick up dust against the baseboards that was missed by other vacuums. It did get stuck on my floor-length curtains (which I anticipated), so be sure to lift long curtains up before cleaning.

Having been a Roomba user for a few years now, I’m familiar with the app’s interface, and always found it to be pretty reliable, but my favorite feature is how easily you can add multiple robots. I started with DJ Roomba (you can name each vacuum whatever you please), and it’s — mercifully — simpler than I anticipated to flip between him and the three other Roombas I’m testing: Mark Ronson, Jazzy Jeff and Diplo. This is a helpful feature for people with multi-level homes or a robot vacuum as well as a mopping robot. Compared to some of the other connected apps, the iRobot app is smoother and more user-friendly.

The s9+ also had the most advanced technology of any vacuum I tested. This robot employs vision-based navigation or visual simultaneous localization and mapping also known as vSLAM (other robots I tested, like the Wyze Robot Vacuum and Eufy RoboVac G30, use LiDAR navigation). According to Brent Hild, iRobot Director of Product Management, “Our robots use vSLAM to build a map of the environment as the robot cleans and keep track of its location until it has finished cleaning.” Hild says the benefits of vSLAM navigation are mainly that a robot can build a more robust map of a home (including multiple levels), and can continue a cleaning job where it left off even if it’s been picked up, which LiDAR robots tend to struggle with.

In my tests, I found the LiDAR mapping to be pretty similar to vSLAM, especially in a home where there aren’t many obstacles. The Wyze was able to create a comprehensive smart map, complete with boundaries, but it didn’t specifically detect carpeting or was able to maneuver around obstacles in real time.

Surprised and delighted — that’s how I’d describe my experience with the Wyze Robot Vacuum. Setup was quick and simple, and I appreciate that Wyze makes only one robot vacuum — no complicated model names and confusing specs to sift through, just one vacuum that works, and works well. The mapping cycle was quicker than others (about seven minutes total, compared to the two to three runs required for a Roomba to completely map a space), but it did miss the higher-pile rug in my hallway, possibly because it was a bit too high for it to surmount. I don’t hold it against the Wyze vacuum much, though, since the rug was intended to be a challenge, and when I ran another mapping cycle, it clocked the rug and added the hallway to its map.

Compared to the other vacuums I tested, the Wyze robot vacuum required no assistance during its full passes through my home — it quietly breezed through the apartment without sucking the curtains up or getting stuck under furniture. It performed exceedingly well in debris-pickup tests, picking up approximately 61% of the coffee, baking soda and Cheerios scattered on the rug in just one cleaning cycle — scoring third overall in this category. And while debris pickup doesn’t tell the full story, I was super impressed with its cleaning abilities. The thing you’re sacrificing most of all with this vacuum is a self-emptying base. If you’ve had a robot vacuum before, you likely know that their small dustbins can fill up quickly, sometimes requiring a mid-clean empty, but if this isn’t a deal breaker for you, it’s a fantastic option for the price.

If you’ve never heard about a robot vacuum spreading unmentionable pet debris through the house before… count yourself lucky. It’s an unimaginable nightmare, especially for pet owners who know how difficult it is to clean up even a contained accident. The iRobot Roomba j7+ model is specifically made for obstacle avoidance with a built-in camera that identifies obstacles (including pet droppings) beyond its smart map of a home. This robot’s technology is slightly different than just vSLAM, since this one has a more-advanced camera that can actually take photos of obstacles, so you can tell it to what to avoid in the future. iRobot is so confident in the j7’s obstacle avoidance abilities, that they offer a “P.O.O.P. (Pet Owner Official Promise)” which offers a free replacement vacuum within a year of purchase if it does happen to run into pet waste.

This model is also a great option for parents of young kids, as the obstacle avoidance works just as well for cords, toys and clothing on floors. It had slightly less suction power than the s9+ in testing (though it still managed to pick up an impressive amount of dust and pet hair), and isn’t as adept at getting right up against walls and corners. But the obstacle avoidance technology is a worthy tradeoff for homes that may have an errant toy or mess at any given time.

The Eufy Robovac G30 is a comparatively affordable smart-mapping robot with “Smart Dynamic Navigation 2.0,” which maps your home using a gyroscope (which helps a robot learn its orientation in a space) and accelerometer smart sensors (which gives a robot a sense of gravity in order to determine acceleration) to learn a home. It follows a focused, zig-zag route, unlike other vacuums that use LiDAR or vSLAM navigation. This robot effectively mapped my home, methodically cleaning on each run. It doesn’t self-empty or support boundary guidance, but Eufy offers some upgrades if you want: For only $20 more, the G30 Edge includes boundary strip avoidance.

I was surprised to find that the Robovac G30 was the only robot able to slither under a mid-century desk I keep in my living room, something I didn’t even think was possible. It doesn’t have a protruding LiDAR sensor, and is slimmer than the other vacuums, so it’s able to clean under furniture that other robots can’t. It’s also very quiet, which is a welcome reprieve from some of the louder vacuums, like the Roomba i3+. A non-scientific but hopefully helpful note: Some vacuums (like the Roomba i3+) are intrusive when listening to music or watching TV at a normal volume, so if I don’t have to turn the TV or music up to hear over it, I’m pleased. This vacuum didn’t fare as well as the others in debris tests, picking up 39% of debris, but this test is only one factor when considering a robot vacuum. The Robovac G30 is nimble, quiet and affordable.

The Roomba i3+ EVO has the best blend of affordability and smart features for a budget model. It uses a variation of vSLAM navigation called SLAM, which simply drops the “v” and operates without a visual sensor (camera). “Instead, it navigates using a variety of sensors, including an optical floor tracking sensor, gyroscope and bump sensors to clean systematically like a vSLAM robot would,” says iRobot Director of Product Management Brent Hild.

The main drawback here is the lack of premium Roomba features (like an obstacle-detecting camera or super-powerful suction) and the loud volume of the vacuum as it’s cleaning. Compared to the other models on the list, this one is definitely the most obtrusive in terms of sound. However, this is the perfect model if you’re hoping to break into the world of Roombas without the expensive price tag of one of their more premium models. With a self-emptying base, it’s highly self-sufficient, and compared to similarly priced or more expensive vacuums (such as a Shark robot vacuum or Miele Scout RX3), it has a great navigation system. It picked up 55% of debris during that test, which fell right in the middle of all the vacuums. The debris tests can be taken with a grain of salt (or coffee grounds? Cheerios?) though, since they don’t tell the full picture of a vacuum. After all, you’re buying into iRobot’s highly rated customer service, a very user-friendly interface and a vacuum that’s able to stand the test of time.

I tested two other robot vacuums that didn’t make the cut — both were fine in terms of suction, but I didn’t find them to have the same level of reliability when it came to intelligence and self-sufficiency.

Miele Scout RX3 Home Vision: This vacuum offers live video feed while cleaning, which was an interesting selling point I wanted to see firsthand. Unfortunately, the interface of the app was clunky and prone to freezing, didn’t offer an archive of cleanings and more often than not, was unable to load the video feed. It performed well for debris tests, but overall it was difficult to use and required above-average human assistance due to getting stuck on rugs and under furniture — especially when considering the high price point.

Shark AI Ultra Robot Self-Empty XL: Similar to the Miele vacuum, this Shark model clocks in at a higher price point, but was difficult to get properly functioning. The app has a tendency toward quitting and freezing, and the robot stalled several times during each full cleaning cycle for no obvious reason, needing to be rebooted and the app restarted (requiring a login each time).

I’ll preface my testing overview by setting the scene for my at-home lab: I live in a one bedroom apartment that has parquet wood flooring, medium-pile carpet, several low-pile area rugs (some are from Ruggable, so they’re two separate pieces) and two different types of tile. I also have a decent amount of furniture, curtains in both rooms and a French bulldog who has a tendency to leave toys strewn about and relieve himself on the floor from time to time (we’re working on it). Suffice it to say: There are countless obstacles and surfaces for a robot vacuum to encounter.

My tests began by sending each robot on a mapping run, during which the robot methodically maps out the entire space, noting walls, furniture and separate rooms to create a comprehensive map along the way. Some robots require a mapping run, but others use the first few cleans to fully map the space. Then I ran them through two to three full cleaning cycles through my entire 750 square foot apartment, not making an effort to pick up dog toys, lift curtains out of the way or hide stray cords — I wanted to see how the robots would perform in difficult conditions.

As they went, I recorded several important factors: how many times they got stuck or required human assistance, the noise level during cleaning, their mapping abilities and how maneuverable they were (Were they able to get over rugs? Under furniture?). Once the robots were finished, I checked the contents of the dust bin to inspect how much they had collected from the floors, and took note of how difficult or easy it was to locate and empty the dust bin.

In terms of measuring just how much each robot picked up, I ran them each through a cycle while confined to a 3 foot by 5 foot area, atop a rug with multiple pile heights for an added challenge (some robots tend to have difficulty getting up onto and cleaning high pile rugs). Then I vacuumed and shook out the rug between each test. To ensure consistency, each robot was set to “auto” cleaning mode, which is meant to adjust suction level for different surfaces. I sprinkled set volumes of baking soda, coffee grounds and Cheerios onto the rug to represent common types of household messes. The coffee grounds and baking soda represented anything from potting soil to flour to dust, while the Cheerios stood in for larger pieces of debris like dog food, crumbs or, of course, cereal. Then I weighed the total debris picked up after each robot completed one cycle.

To simulate how these bots would work in a multi-story home, I also brought the robot vacuums to the stairwell to see if they would hurl themselves off the stairs or avoid peril.

All of these vacuums also come with free apps to schedule cleaning even when you’re not at home. I made note of each app’s performance — were they clunky to operate? Did they consistently lag when opened? Lose connection to the robot? I tried to start each one remotely (i.e. off of the shared Wi-Fi network in my apartment) to see if they would easily start a cleaning routine while I was out of the house. The apps also store floor plans that your robot has mapped out (and all but the Eufy Robovac G30 allows for setting boundaries, or “no-go” zones), inform you of issues or maintenance needs and remind you when it’s time to update your robot’s software.

After many hours of researching market-leading robot vacuums, talking to experts in the field and testing them myself, I boiled the shopping criteria down to three main aspects: intelligence, maneuverability and cleaning ability. They work in conjunction, as even the smartest robot wouldn’t be up to snuff if it had limited suction power or low-quality bristles for gobbling up debris.

Intelligence covers an array of abilities a robot vacuum might have, mainly its capacity to properly map a space, remember the layout of your home and avoid obstacles. In general, the higher the price point on a vacuum, the “smarter” it is, but there are exceptions of course.

There are three main navigation methods for robot vacuums: multi-pass/random bounce, LiDAR (laser navigation) and vSLAM (visual simultaneous localization and mapping).

Some vacuums simply lack the ability to power through high-pile rugs or multiple surfaces, which to me, kind of defeats the purpose of an automated cleaning product. All of the vacuums on our list were able to move from hardwood to tile to carpet with ease, but some are slimmer than others (like the Eufy Robovac G30), allowing them to scoot under furniture. The very best of this list, the Roomba s9+, is actually D-shaped, which makes it fabulous at sucking up dirt from walls and corners. Other robots account for corners and walls by long, spinning bristles on their fronts that loosen debris and sort of drag it under the robot like a crab digging through the sand.

Of course, it’s important for a vacuum to be able to lift and remove dirt and debris from a room. There are several factors that play into these abilities, like suction power, bristles or rollers and battery life. While robot vacuums are not yet a rival to the suction power or precision of an upright vacuum, most of the vacuums on our list have multiple suction strengths (which you can change throughout cleaning, or let your robot automatically sense what type of floor it’s on). Higher suction power means more of a drain on battery though. Brush rolls are another consideration: Bristle brush rolls tend to get more hair caught in them (requiring more frequent cleaning), but I found that Roomba’s rubber brush rolls (like the ones on the winner, the s9+), tend to stay cleaner and pick up more debris.

Just be aware: An upright or stick vacuum is still an invaluable piece of cleaning tech in your home, even with a robot. Upright vacs have more powerful suction, and you’re able to concentrate on specific, highly soiled areas, plus you can clean up that mess immediately, where a robot vacuum might take up to an hour to reach the area. Upright and stick vacuums are also essential for sucking up crumbs from underneath couch cushions, dusting blinds and cleaning baseboards, so you don’t want to ditch them in lieu of a robot; instead, add in a smart little guy for routine maintenance. I find that a robot vacuum helps me clean about 75% of the floors, while the other 25% is underneath furniture and needs to be cleaned from time to time, and that’s certainly enough for me.

I’ve thoroughly tested and researched a variety of products for shopping guides and reviews during my five-year journalism career. The list includes dishwasher detergents, bed sheets, mattresses, spray cleaners, brooms and more. I’ve written review and shopping content for brands such as The Strategist, Domino, Insider Reviews and Real Simple.

For this piece, I spent approximately a month testing seven robot vacuums, recording their quirks, benefits and differences. I also reached out to iRobot Director of Product Management, Brent Hild, and Wyze Product Manager, Hongfei Ning, to learn about all things technical when it comes to engineering top-of-the-line robot vacuums.

Most people (experts and users alike) agree that a robot vacuum is a fantastic tool for everyday cleaning. But there are some jobs you’ll still need an upright or handheld vacuum for, like cleaning baseboards, getting in between couch cushions, fitting underneath furniture and super deep cleans. That said, robot vacuums have come a long way. “When the Roomba first launched in 2002,” says Hild, “consumer sentiment was a bit skeptical that a robot vacuum could clean floors like an upright vacuum. In fact, over the past several years, the robot vacuum segment has outpaced that of the upright vacuum segment.”

In general, Ning says you can expect a robot vacuum to last anywhere from 4 to 6 years depending on daily wear and tear. However, Hild tells us that iRobot often hears from customers still using their original Roombas from 2002 — so your vacuum may last even longer.

If you’re hoping to acquire a premium vacuum at a lower price, refurbished units are a great option. According to Hild, “Roomba-restored robot vacuums go through a number of quality assurance measures before they’re resold as manufacturer ‘certified refurbished.’ These measures include [getting] replacement parts, mechanical testing and software upgrades. In the end, the restored robot is guaranteed to operate just as well as a new retail Roomba robot vacuum, with the same iRobot customer care support and backed by a 90-day warranty.” Something to note: Chris Atkeson, roboticist and a professor at the Robotics Institute and Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, points out that a robot’s batteries do degrade over time. He recommends getting a new battery if you’re opting for a refurbished unit.

The cost of a robot vacuum will vary depending on the its navigation system. In my research, I found that random bounce budget vacuums hover around $200. For a LiDAR or vSLAM vacuum, the cost can range from $300 to $1,000.

The allure of a robotic vacuum is that it’s mostly self-sufficient. But like an upright vacuum, your robot will require cleaning and occasional maintenance to stay in fighting shape. Over time, the brushes can bend or break, hair can clog the brushroll and the filter will need changing. The iRobot app includes a “robot health” section which will tell you when certain parts (like cleaning brushes or filters) need to be replaced, but Ning recommends cleaning the dustbin, brush and HEPA filter after every other cleaning, depending on the frequency of use. He also recommends replacing the brushes and filters every 6 months.