Best robot vacuum cleaner 2022 to automate home floor cleaning

The best robot vacuum cleaners from top brands including iRobot, Roborock, Eufy, Dyson and Neato

Included in this guide:

Best robot vacuum cleaner: iRobot Roomba J7+
(Image credit: iRobot)

The best robot vacuum cleaners are way better at navigation now than they used to be: maybe some of you will remember those early robot vacs models that just went around in circles without doing any actual cleaning. As entertaining as it was to watch them, they didn't help keeping the house clean for sure. Thankfully, those days are gone and today's best robot vacuum cleaners are not only cheaper but they are also a thousand times better at sucking stuff up. 

Sure, even the best robot vacuum cleaner is not going to mean you'll never need to push a normal vac – like a trusty Dyson cordless vacuum , or any of the other best vacuum cleaners – around ever again. However, used daily or at least regularly, the best robovacs are an effective way to stay on top of dust and maintain your floors and carpets. 

If you need even more floor cleaning options, check out the ultimate best cordless vacuum cleaner buying guide: plenty of Dysons on this list too. Speaking of Dysons: we have a review of the superb Dyson V15 Detect, for you pet lovers out there. Finally, the best car vacuums can keep your motor vehicle dirt free, but it also helps if you take your wellies off before you get inside. Just saying. 

Here are some jump links to subjects further below which might be of interest: what is the best robot vacuum cleaner and how to buy the robot vacuum cleaner for you.

Without further ado, here are the best robot vacuum cleaners you can buy today, in order of preference. Although please note that the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra is incoming soon and looks like an absolute monster!

The best robot vacuum cleaners we've tested

iRobot Roomba J7+ on white backgroundT3 Best Buy badge

(Image credit: iRobot)

1. iRobot Roomba J7+

The best mid-priced robovac you can buy – for pet owners, especially

Size: 37cm x 8cm
Robot's dust capacity: 500ml + remote bin
Auto bin emptying: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Exemplary performer+Avoids obstacles, including dog mess+Quiet when cleaning+Expert mapping
Reasons to avoid
-Extremely loud bin emptying system

Like most higher-end Roomba robots, the new J7 is available to buy with or without the automatic self-emptying bin system. Simply opt for the J7 model if all you want is the robot vac itself or the J7+ if you want the complete combo package. With the Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal in place, whenever the J7’s small internal bin gets full, it wanders back to the Clean Base where a powerful fan sucks all the detritus into the Clean Base's large, disposable dust bag. At this point I should add that the Clean Base makes an absolute racket when emptying but thankfully the noise only lasts about 10 seconds. On the plus side, it’s the smartest-looking charging dock-cum-collection bin in the business.

So what sets this model apart from the plethora of other models available? Let’s start with obstacle avoidance since I have personally had a dog poo experience with a robot vac. Ingeniously, the J7 identifies obstacles and avoids them when necessary, including dog turds. In fact, iRobot is so confident of the J7’s turd-evasion technology, it will ‘replace any Roomba j7+ that doesn’t avoid solid pet waste’. That’s a major plus in my book. 

Aside from avoiding clutter, the J7+ also learns as it goes about its daily business by sending the user a number of images it has taken of any offending obstacles it’s come across while vacuuming. All you do is let it know whether the obstacles are permanent or temporary. It also maps the home remarkably well while the app itself lets you divide adjoining rooms and create no-go zones with ease.

Another handy thing with this robovac is that it’s pretty good at negotiating rugs. Since its two rubber rollers are set quite high, it doesn’t snag the edges of rugs as much as some other models.

In terms of design and function, the new Roomba J7+ is, without a shadow of doubt, our new favourite robot vac. It’s reliable, efficient and, despite the racket it makes while its bin is being emptied, very quiet in operation. Highly recommended.

Roborock S7 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Roborock)

2. Roborock S7

The best hybrid robot vac and mop in one

Size: 35 x 9.6cm
Dust capacity: 470ml + remote bin
Auto bin emptying: No
Reasons to buy
+Superb performance on all floor surfaces+Rear mop automatically lifts on rugs+Excellent LiDAR navigation and mapping
Reasons to avoid
-Small internal bin is messy to empty-Auto bin empty system not available in the UK

If you’re in the market for a robot vac that also mops hard floors then this model is far and away your best option. At 35cm in diameter, the S7 is 4cm wider than iRobot’s flagship Roomba S9 and 2cm wider than the Roomba i3. However, its single ribbed rubber roller is just 16cm in width – about the same as the i3 but a lot shorter than the Roomba S9’s substantial 23cm twin rollers. Mind, having a short roller bar isn’t of too much consequence with a robot vac since it will just take a bit longer to complete the task.

The S7’s efficient vacuum system made light work of our test carpet, removing everything in its path, but it was the rear-mounted mopping system that impressed the most. Unlike most hybrid bots that can’t tell whether they’re on hard floor or carpet, the S7’s ultrasonic sound sensor can detect even the slightest incline on its front wheels. Hence, as soon as it detects a rise in height, it mechanically lifts the rear mop off the floor so it doesn’t soak a rug or section of carpet. This means it will reliably vacuum and mop an entire room no matter how varied the floor surface is. Another bonus with the S7 is that it doesn’t ruffle up rugs as much as other models and that makes it the most rug-friendly model we’ve ever tested. 

The only major issue I have with the S7 is that its auto-emptying RockDock bin isn’t available in the UK. Without it you will need to empty its tiny 470ml bin yourself – a messy job – and on a very regular basis if you have any hairy pets. But other than that, we can't think of a better hybrid robot vac-cum-mop on the market right now.

iRobot Roomba s9+ (S9558) on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: iRobot)

3. iRobot Roomba S9+

Best robot vacuum at a higher price for pet owners and larger homes

Size: 33.8cm x 9.2cm
Dust capacity: 400ml + remote bin
Auto bin emptying: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant automatic bin emptying system+Top choice for pet owners+Impeccable performance on all floor surfaces+Superb mapping+Fab app
Reasons to avoid
-Quite expensive

Despite being a few years old, the Roomba S9+ is still arguably the most advanced – and expensive – robot vac around at the moment, and a veritable stonker it is, too. Like the Roomba i3+, i7+ and new J7+, the flagship S9+ ships with an automatic bin-emptying function that is truly hands off. We would always advise going for a combination system of this nature, especially if you have pets in the home because the alternative is having to empty the bot’s tiny bin yourself on a pretty regular basis. 

At 2,200 Pascals, the iRobot Roomba s9+ has extremely powerful suction and that means it's an excellent option for those with a lot of carpet. It also automatically detects the type of floor surface it’s on, ramping up or lowering the suction accordingly. The 3,300mAh battery, meanwhile, keeps the bot running for up to an impressive 120 minutes at a time. Its mapping system is also one of the best we’ve seen and the app that accompanies it is a joy to use.

Is there anything it’s not good at? Yes, to some degree thin rugs, especially if they have tasseled edges. Since the two rubber rollers are set lower than other vacs, they tend to snatch tassels and the edges of thin rugs on a fairly regular basis. However, in many instances the S9+’s roller will turn off if its sensor detects loose material and either back off or attempt to climb over the ruffled rug to continue on its path. If you have the financial wherewithal and a lot of carpets, you might not find a more complete model for your needs.

iRobot Roomba i3+ on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: iRobot)

4. iRobot Roomba i3+

Best lower-spec Roomba with auto bin-emptying system

Size: 33.6cm x 9.2cm
Dust capacity: 500ml + remote bin
Auto bin emptying: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Excellent auto bin system+Great performance on carpet+Really quiet+Keen price
Reasons to avoid
-No smart mapping

The problem with the majority of robot vacs is that you have to empty their tiny dust bins on a regular basis. By regular we mean after every vacuuming session and, if you have pets, possibly once or twice during a single spell on the pile. Perhaps this isn’t what you signed up for when you stumped up the readies on an autonomous bot to do your vacuuming.

Thankfully the keenly-priced and rather handsome looking iRobot i3+ gets around this huge hassle by including a larger bin – called a CleanBase – that’s attached to the charging dock. When the i3 detects that its 500-millilitre bin is full, it trundles back to the dock where all detritus from its smaller bin is evacuated into the larger bin (iRobot claims the bag holds 30 bins worth). When empty, the i3 heads off again to finish the job. This means you only need to get off your arse every few weeks to fit a new dust bag. For pet owners, it's a truly groundbreaking advance in robot vac tech.

The i3 doesn’t have a smart navigation camera sensor like its more expensive stablemates. However, despite the lack of a camera, the i3 still maps in straight lines and seems just as thorough in its cleaning as the more expensive i7 model. The key benefit of not having smart navigation on board is that the i3 is much cheaper to buy and that’s a major bonus given the price of robot vacs in general.

On the downside, the lack of a camera means that it loses some handy functions on the accompanying iRobot app, specifically smart mapping. For instance, there’s no ability to select different rooms which is a brilliant function on the more expensive models. This model simply covers every room on the same floor as if it were one large space. Another thing it doesn’t have is a ‘keep out’ zone function which can be handy if you have areas you’d like the vac to avoid. These are extremely useful functions to have on board but they’re not essential so if you’d rather the vac didn’t trundle into a specific room, simply close the door or put up some kind of barrier.

According to iRobot, the i3 and i7 have the same suction power but in our tests the i3 seemed to be a bit better – its twin rubber rollers performed extremely well on hard floor and superbly on carpet. This is also one of the quietest robot vacs I’ve ever used and one of the shallowest – perfect for reaching under low furnishings.

At around £100 cheaper than the older i7+, the i3+ is an excellent alternative that cleans as well as – and possibly even better than – the i7. It’s also quieter and more forgiving on loose rugs than the ultra expensive S9+.

Eufy BoostIQ 30C Max on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

5. Eufy BoostIQ 30C Max

Best cheap robot vacuum cleaner

Size: 32.5 x 7cm
Dust capacity: 600ml
Auto bin emptying: No
Reasons to buy
+Excellent performance for the price+Automatic suction control
Reasons to avoid
-Basic navigation skills

The upgraded Eufy 30C Max is a great example of how much robot vacuum cleaners have improved in recent times. Just a few years ago, a sub-£200 robot would have been guaranteed to be useless but the Eufy is far from that. It doesn't use any map-related cleverness to avoid pitfalls, but it does come with a long length of bendy plastic that you can use to physically block off problematic parts of your home. Do a bit of minor obstacle-removing prep, however, and you should find you don't even need that. It's not the most elegant of movers – in fact it's rather haphazard, and quite forceful – but it does seem to cover the ground well if you leave it to get on with things. It also features automatic floor-type recognition which is rare at this price.

The Eufy is definitely less good on deeper carpets than some of its flashier rivals, but if you've mainly got hard floors and a few rugs, you could save yourself a few hundred, buy this instead and barely notice a difference.

Roborock S6 MaxV on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

Roborock S6 MaxV on white background

(Image credit: Roborock)

6. Roborock S6 MaxV

A very decent robot vac with mopping action

Size: 35cm x 9.6cm
Dust capacity: 460ml
Auto bin emptying: No
Reasons to buy
+Efficient cleaning+Logical room mapping+Exceptional running time
Reasons to avoid
-Mopping action less good -No 5Ghz Wi-Fi support

Like the cheaper S5 Max reviewed below, this robot vac has superb navigation skills and maps a room in a very logical fashion, starting at the edges first before filling in the gaps.  It will also mop your hard floors using its 140ml water tank, though this becomes more confusing to program if you have a mixture of hard floor and carpet.

The S6 MaxV is equipped with two front facing cameras along with the company’s proprietary ReactiveAI obstacle avoidance tech. Consequently, it’s an expert navigator that carefully avoids obstacles like toys, stray dog turds, etc. It will even take a snapshot of the offending object and send it to your phone, should you want that kind of thing.

The downside to this clever navigation method is that in some instances it doesn’t clean tightly around fixtures like table legs. Similarly, it won’t venture under armchairs with a valance hanging over the front – it simply stops where others barge through. On the plus side, you can actually view what the camera sees on the Roborock app, which is not only fun in a child-like way but also possibly handy as some sort of security measure. Or perhaps a terrible idea due to potential privacy invasions. We'd turn it off, if we were you.

The S6 MaxV has properly powerful suction (2,500Pa) so it’s a great choice for all types of flooring, including carpets of slightly deeper pile. Mapping on the app is generally very good, too. Trying it in 2 very different homes we found it was not quite up to iRobot’s benchmark in one, but noticeably better in the other.

The mop add-on is nice to have but not all that great. It will mop your hard floors using its 140ml water tank to a reasonable standard, but the results are always slightly less than pristine, and it can also make programming confusing if you have a mixture of hard floor and carpet. It does not seem to be able to avoid carpeted areas/rugs when in mop mode, which is a bit disappointing.

However, everything else about this robot vacuum cleaner is top drawer, from the logical way it maps a room to the efficient way it cleans. Now all Roborock needs to do is follow iRobot’s lead and create a model with a self-emptying bin. Build it and they will come. Although even without one, the S6 MaxV is our champion droid, having been declared Best Robot Vacuum Cleaner at the T3 Awards 2021

iRobot Roomba i7 Plus on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

7. iRobot Roomba i7+

Older sibling of the S9+ is still a fine performer

Size: 33cm x 9cm
Dust capacity: 500ml + remote bin
Auto bin emptying: Yes
Reasons to buy
+State of the art, room-by-room navigation+Powerful cleaning action for a bot+Massive bin-cum-dock on i7+ model
Reasons to avoid
-Gets 'lost' when it goes under furniture

For the avoidance of any doubt, the i7+ is what's pictured above. The reason its base is so massive is that it also contains a large, bagged dirt bin, more like a traditional vacuum cleaner. When the i7 docks, dirt is sucked out of its small bin and into the large one. I've been using it for months and it's nowhere near full, so if you really don't like emptying bins, the i7+ is the one for you.

The i7 is the same robot but without the Daddy Bin, and £200 lopped off the price. Surely for most people, this is a better option? I don't know; iRobot was adamant that its customers hate emptying robot vac bins and insisted on the solution it's come up with.

In both incarnations, the i7 is a great cleaning robot. Its obstacle avoidance is solid, it navigates quickly enough to get around my place (2 bedrooms, an 'office'/dumping ground, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, lounge) usually without needing to stop to recharge. 

The really clever bit is that after the i7 has been around your place a few times, it maps it in its memory, accessed via the app, and you can split off and name each room individually. Now, you can dispatch the i7 or i7+ to clean only the bathroom (so long as the door is open and the path to it fairly clear) from anywhere in the world. 

That works really well. In fact, everything about the i7 works well, as it bloody well should, given the price. The one thing that does not work well is cleaning under sofas, wardrobes and so on. The i7 has a low profile that means it can get under all sorts of obstacles, which is great. However, its primary means of navigation is to scan the ceiling with an upwards-facing camera – navigating a bit like a sailor, by the stars, but with your light fittings and whatnot as the 'stars'. This is all very well in general, but as soon as the droid is under a sofa or wardrobe, it becomes partially blind. Laudably, this doesn't cause it to give up and fail, but it does mean it sometimes spends a very long time trying to blunder its way back out into the light.

That aside, the i7 was the best robot vacuum cleaner you could buy when it launched and is still an excellent performer.

Dyson 360 Heurist on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Dyson)

8. Dyson 360 Heurist

Best robot vac for abodes with lots of rugs

Size: 23cm x 12cm
Dust capacity: 330ml
Auto bin emptying: No
Reasons to buy
+Exceptional suction+Great performance on rugs+Really, really small+Wide brush for edge cleaning+A stunning looker
Reasons to avoid
-Poor battery consumption-No floor type detection-Tiny bin-Really, really small

We had already written about a billion words when reviewing this vac’s predecessor, the Dyson 360 Eye, because it was so immensely frustrating and very slow. Thankfully the vast majority of the 360 Eye’s quirks have been resolved for the newer 360 Heurist. 

The 360 Heurist is a gorgeous looker in all that electric blue and it’s so much smaller than any other robot vac on the market – just 23cm in diameter. That said, what it lacks in width it makes up for in height; at 12cm, it’s about 3cm taller than others which means it might not fit under the sofa. On the other hand, it’s small enough to fit into gaps other bots can’t reach while its brush runs across the entire width of the unit so it can clean right to the edge more efficiently than models fitted with a spinning side bristle.

Where the 360 Eye was slower than a tortoise, this one's a bit more hare like. After getting to know this writer’s test flat, it thoroughly cleaned two rooms and a hallway in a combined time of about 75 minutes but, unlike the iRobot s9+ and Roborock S6 Max, it had to return to the dock for a recharge midway, which took about two hours. So yes, the battery is its Achilles heel. Mind, the battery life is most certainly compromised by Dyson's insistence on making it one of the most effective suckers on the market. It comes with three suction levels but, sadly, no automatic floor detection. Hence you will need to select a single suction level and stick with it, unless you indulge in the faff of programming it in the Dyson app to ramp up the power in certain areas. This reviewer tried it out on the highest power and it sucked big time, in a good way. However, the battery started depleting rapidly and after around 30 minutes it was desperate to get back to its base for a recharge. So I set it to the lowest suction level and, lo and behold, it still sucked well while the battery lasted a full 63 minutes – and this was on a combination of hard floor, carpet and lots of rugs.

Which brings me nicely to why this vac is far and away the best robot vacuum cleaner for houses with rugs – thin slippery rugs, thick rugs, rugs with tasseled edges, you name it, this little cracker sails over them all. It does this because it’s equipped with caterpillar tank tracks instead of tiny wheels. In a simple case of physics, the tank tracks bring edges of rugs towards and under the bot so it can simply ride over them. Other bots ram straight in with total disregard, and before you know it, they’ve either wrapped themselves in Persian rug or left an ugly mess of ruffled rug behind them.

The 360 Heurist uses SLAM (Intelligent Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping) and a set of bright LEDs to navigate its way around a home, and in this respect it worked exceedingly well. However, as is the case with all robot vacs, you really do need to leave it to its own devices and try not interrupt it because it learns new stuff during every cleaning session.

Aside from not wanting to sync to my wi-fi’s 5GHz network – even though it should – and some periods where it looked confused when trying to relocate its dock, the 360 Heurist is a vast improvement over its predecessor. Yes, the bin is smaller than others (just 330ml) but it performs exceptionally well on carpets, hard floors and especially rugs, and it cleans right to edge almost every time. However, its smaller dimensions and high battery consumption means it’s more suitable for smaller abodes or larger rooms where clutter has been kept to a minimum.

Eufy X8 Hybrid RoboVac on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Anker)

9. Eufy X8 Hybrid RoboVac

Great mid-range model for vacuuming hard floors and mopping too

Size: 35cm x 9.5cm
Dust capacity: 600ml
Auto bin emptying: No
Reasons to buy
+Easy to set up and use+Mopping function is great+Very decent suction
Reasons to avoid
-Usual small bin issue-No self-emptying-Mopping not needed

If you like the look of the Eufy budget model further up our list why not consider this, the X8 Hybrid RoboVac. It's more money, but the X8 bristles with a raft of excellent features and it's also great if you have a mix of floor surfaces to tackle. Not only does it vacuum hard floors and carpets, switching between both with ease, it's got a 250ml water tank too. That means there's on-board mopping functionality, which we've found works a treat.

Setting the X8 up is also wonderfully easy, there's a rather good app that allows you to do all of the usual room mapping stuff and more besides. There's also a docking station, where the X8 will head to if it's getting low on battery power. There isn't any self-emptying though, so the compact 600ml bin needs manual intervention. However, program your X8 to make regular cleaning forays and there'll be very little to empty anyway.

This is a twin turbine model too, which means the X8 robovac is potent with 2000Pa X 2 suction power and no less than four suction settings. Pure, Power, Turbo and Max are all good for various cleaning tasks around the house. Also inside the box is a decent selection of kit including the main unit itself, a charging base, a power adapter plus two side brushes. There’s also an additional filter, cleaning tool, a water tank along with a washable mopping cloth. It's a great mid-range package.

Neato Botvac D7 Connected on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

10. Neato Robotics D701

The first really good 'smart' robot vacuum cleaner is still a 'smart' purchase

Size: 33.5cm x 10cm
Dust capacity: 700ml
Auto bin emptying: No
Reasons to buy
+Powerful cleaning+Fast and efficient navigation+Handy 'no-go' lines

This was, for several years, the pinnacle of robot cleaning technology, and it's still a good option that frequently turns up in Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday type sales frenzies. The D701 from Neato Robotics does just about everything right. After years of being driven crazy with frustration by other robots, it was quite the relief when it arrived (and quite the wrench when it had to go back after review).

My first experience of the Neato D701 was great. It burst out of its starting blocks (okay, dock), raced around my entire flat without stopping once, and when it got back the bin was practically full. That's despite another robot vacuum having already cleaned on that very day. Go figure.

Although I didn't really need them, due to the Neato's navigation being so sure-footed, you can also use the Neato app to set 'no-go' lines on a map of your house, so it doesn't enter the minefield that is your kids' room, or get stuck in the feet of that artfully designed dining room table. Amazingly, this actually works, although setting it up does reveal some minor limitations of the system.

That's because to do this, it has to go around your place, mapping as it goes. But if you ever move the position of its dock, you'll have to reset and start again. More problematic, it means you have to do battle with Neato's app and Wi-Fi system, which require a fair amount of perseverance to setup and pair. Newer smart vacs from iRobot and Roborock don't have these issues.

However, for overall performance, there's still little that beats the Neato. The only thing that seems to stop it is it will occasionally get 'lost' under sofas.

Roborock S5 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

11. Roborock S5 Max

Another fine mid-priced choice from Roborock

Size: 35cm x 10cm
Dust capacity: 480ml
Auto bin emptying: No
Reasons to buy
+Fast, accurate navigation+Decent cleaning power+Great VFM
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't get too near the edges of rooms

Until recently you had to pay top dollar for the best robot vacuum cleaners but this can usually be had for under £400/AU$700, and offers exceptional value at that price. The best thing about the Roborock S5 Max is its navigation, which is arguably even better than the i7. It absolutely whizzes around, and moves in a very logical way – first finding the edges of a space and then filling in the middle with eerie efficiency. Despite the speed of it, cleaning is pretty good, and because it's so adept at getting around, you can trust it to clean on a daily basis while you're at work. Like the more expensive S6 MaxV model reviewed above, it too will also mop your floors.

Part of the reason the Roborock gets stuck so infrequently is that it is rather circumspect about obstacles – it opts to stop short of them rather than trying to go over or through them. This does mean that it tends not to get too close to the walls and corners of rooms, or furniture, so edge cleaning isn't so good but that's a pretty minor quibble given the decent asking price.

360 S7 Pro LiDAR Robot Vacuum and Mop on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: 360)

12. 360 S7 Pro LiDAR Robot Vacuum and Mop

Efficient cleaning and mopping functionality, too

Size: 35 x 10.01cm
Dust capacity: 580ml
Auto bin emptying: No
Reasons to buy
+Mopping function+Decent suction+Voice control+Great app
Reasons to avoid
-Smallish bin-Not suited to thicker carpets

The 360 S7 Pro LiDAR Robot Vacuum and Mop is a great little mid-range machine that comes with the blessing of an easy set up process. Indeed, the app for this robot vac makes it a dream to configure, with plenty of settings that allow you to create precise routes for the machine to follow. Save these maps and you only need to do it once. Simple.

In terms of performance then the 360 S7 Pro is a great all-rounder. The on-board technology is really impressive, with the LiDAR proving extremely accurate. Your pre-determined no-go zones via the app will ensure it only vacuums where you want it to. Cleverly it can tell the difference between a hard floor or carpet, and adjust cleaning accordingly.

Suction power is more than adequate for the task in hand plus you'll get a very acceptable 120 minutes of operation on normal mode. The unit returns to its charging dock automatically if the battery goes below 20%.

While the waste bin isn't the biggest this model is perfect for regular quick cleans, plus the mop function can help tackle any more stubborn stains on hard floors. You can even vacuum and mop simultaneously. This makes it an ideal candidate for kitchen areas and open plan living locations, such as flats.

What is the best robot vacuum cleaner?

This is not an easy question as there are options at varying price points, and while the most expensive bots of all – iRobot's Roomba s9+, Roomba J7+ and Roomba i7+ – are in fact the best, you do feel that, given they cost quite a lot, they really ought to be the best. You can however opt for the Roomba J7, i7, i3 or s9, which are the same thing but without the automatic bin-emptying feature, for a somewhat more reasonable price.

However in terms of cost to benefit, the best robot vacuum for most people will be one of the new wave of far Eastern cleaning bots. The best of these that we've tried is the Roborock S7 and S6 MaxV. With excellent navigation and obstacle avoidance, speedy movement and perfectly adequate cleaning, it's practically a match for the Roombas, but can usually be found at a lower price.

How to buy the best robot vacuum cleaner for you

All the robots here come with docking/charging stations and do the following: clean, return to their docking stations when their batteries are dying, clean again, return home once finished. Again, newer ones are better at cleaning average-sized floors in one sweep. They can't climb stairs.

The robots can also all be taken off their charging stations, put in a room with the door shut, and made to clean there only, although then they usually won't return to base, because they don't know where the base is. However, the latest and greatest robots not only map your home accurately, they also let you specify which part of the map is which, so you can dispatch your robot pal to clean only the bathroom or home cinema space.

Navigation is via a mix of sensors, lasers and, in some cases, cameras. The latter technology is the most cutting-edge but that is not to say it is necessarily better than the ones that use laser scanning. As you can imagine, a robot that navigates by 'looking' upwards with a camera is going to struggle if it goes under a sofa. They all have drop sensors to prevent them falling down the stairs. 

Now, the first rule of robot vac buyers' club is this: do NOT try to use a robot vac like a normal one. Don't use it once a week, or to clean up spills. You will go mad. Robot vacs, by definition, do not suck up as much dust as proper vacs. And even if they did, they could only hold a little bit of it in their compact, frisbee-like bodies.

But guess what? They're robots! You can make them clean every single day and they won't complain. Even more than once a day, if you like. So long as you remember to empty their tiny dust bins every couple of days.

Do you live in a flat with only hard floors, and no furniture? Perhaps you're Japanese, or a fundamentalist minimalist. Yes? Then buy any of the best robot vacuum cleaners listed here and it'll work well. My place is like this and all the newer bots manage to get all the way around it on a semi-regular basis. 

Is your house more a mess of knick-knacks, furnishings, deep carpet, kids and pets? Then a robot vacuum cleaner will struggle more. Get used to receiving app notifications saying, 'Your robot is stuck' quite often.

If your place is somewhere between those two extremes, you should find that these 'bots will safely navigate over and around some of your household obstacles, but you will have to move the ones that it turns out they can't handle.

As well as setting these robot slaves to work every day, I also strongly recommend you let them work while you're out, or otherwise occupied. 

Why? Because, if you watch most of these robots working, it will drive you mad. You can see the debris it should be picking up. You're willing it to move there. But it has its own, 'intelligent', preset way of cleaning. It'll get there when it damn well gets there. And even then, maybe it'll miss it.

Also, robots hate moving obstacles such as humans. So get out and let it do its thang, is my advice. I mean, do you like being watched while you work? Exactly. It's also a bit of a waste of time trying to use the 'spot cleaning' modes on most of these robots – a cordless/handheld vac of some sort is so much easier. 

There are other things to bear in mind. Other than on the iRobot i7+, you'll need to empty the bin of your robot regularly – they're always small. You can also usually clean or change the filters on these things but if I'm being honest, I have NEVER EVER done that. But if you suffer from allergies, you may need to.

Duncan Bell
Duncan Bell

Duncan has been writing about tech for almost 15 years and fitness ever since he became middle aged and realised he could no longer rely solely on his boyish good looks. He used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."
Pre-lockdown Duncan was widely regarded as the best-dressed man ever to work for T3 – admittedly not saying much. Post-lockdown he is looking forward to wearing clothes other than shorts and hoodies again very soon, assuming he can still fit into them. He currently writes about cycling, fitness tech that isn’t too heavy, and all things kitchen and home related.