Thanks to the onward march of technology, the best robot vacuum cleaners are far more than just a cute novelty nowadays. They navigate with almost frightening precision, suck up dust pretty efficiently and can even empty their own bins in some cases. 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 (opens in new tab) , or any of the other best vacuum cleaners (opens in new tab) on our lists – around. However, used daily, 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. 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.
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The best robot vacuum cleaners we've tested
Recent and deserving winner of a T3 Award, the MaxV Ultra is a robot vac and a robot mop that needs minimal intervention from you. Those three rather large bins you see in its dock hold, from left to right: water with cleaning fluid; dirty water; rubbish taken from the robot's on-board bin.
As you can probably deduce from that, when you send the MaxV Ultra into battle it first wets its mop, then it cleans your home, vacuuming and mopping at the same time. Then it comes back to base, ejects the dust and debris and cleans its own mop! Oh and just to really stick it to rival 'bots, this genius of a machine is able to lift its mop safely out of the way when it detects it's on a carpet or rug.
Truly, this is what we all dreamed of when the idea of robot vacuum cleaners was first mooted. Its mapping, obstacle dodging and cleaning performance are also all about as good as it gets. Fantastic, in summary.
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.
The Yeedi Vac 2 Pro offers a significant step up from previous Yeedi models, with excellent mopping and vacuuming process more effective. It's not 'cheap' as such but it's way more affordable than the assorted Roborocks and iRobots that we usually favour, and represents particularly excellent VFM when you take into account that it is both a vacuum cleaner and a mop. Yeedi also offers frequent discounts via its Amazon shop, too.
With an impressive 3000pa of suction and a battery life of around 4 hours, it has more power and longer life than similarly priced rivals. It's also easy to use, reliable and the mapping isn't bad, although the obstacle avoidance could be made a little less stringent – it likes to give obstacles detected quite a wide berth, rather than cleaning up to the edge of them. There are a few other niggles around the mapping process and app, but for the price, you really can't complain.
A step up from the Yeedi Vac 2 Pro in terms of features and performance, the price of Mop Station Pro may be accordingly higher, but it's still excellent value. It has some of the features of the luxe Roborock and iRobot models at the top of our chart but at a more affordable price. Navigation is generally good and cleaning performance on hard floors impresses. It's not as unstoppable or as smart as the Roborock, and it lacks that machine's ability to lift its mop when venturing on to rugs. However as a hard floor cleaner, the Mop Station Pro is hard to fault for its price.
This is a classic 'use every day' robot vac. We found that it would occasionally miss areas of debris, and as a result it's not really one for dealing with major spills or floors that have gone uncleaned for weeks on end. That's true of all robots though, in truth, and if you send your Yeedi out daily, it will keep your floors impressively clean overall.
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.
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+ (opens in new tab) 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.
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+.
The upgraded Eufy 30C Max (opens in new tab) 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.
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.
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.
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.