Close your eyes and picture it for a moment: An unassuming appliance going from room to room doing your least favorite chore for you while you put your feet up or maybe even while you’re at work or running errands. Robot vacuums can make this dream a reality and you don’t need to break the bank to afford one.
There are more robovacs than ever on the market today and they have come a long way from the very first one we tested in our Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab way back in 2002. We regularly test all types of vacuums in our Labs, from stick vacuums to canister vacuums to HEPA vacuums to vacuums for per hair and so much more.
For robots, we test these vacuums by setting them loose in a special two “room” obstacle course to observe on how well they transition from a hard floors to carpet (i.e. if they get stuck or not), how well they nab debris along walls and in corners, and whether or not they can go under and around furniture and from room to room. We measure the particles and pet hair they pick up from carpet and hard floors.
Our analysts also look at how intuitive the controls are, how easy they are to program, how loud each vacuum is, and how simple the dust bin is to remove and empty. Whether you want a model you can activate to clean before you get home, or one that does double duty and can wet-mop your bathroom too, these are the best robot vacuums you can buy in 2020:
Best Overall Robot Vacuum: iRobot Roomba s9+
Best Value Robot Vacuum: eufy RoboVac 15C Max
Best 2-in-1 Robot Vacuum and Mop: Ecovacs DEEBOT OZMO T5
Best Robot Vacuum for Large Houses: Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision
Quietest Robot Vacuum: Bissell EV675
Best Robot Vacuum for Pet Hair: Amarey A900
Best Robot Vacuum for Carpet: Samsung POWERbot R7070
Best Robot Vacuum for Object Detection: Roborock S6 MaxV
How do robot vacuums work?
Using navigation tools like sensors, lasers, and cameras, a robot vacuum works its way around your home, suctioning up pet hair, crumbs, and dirt into its dustbin from hard floors like wood, tile, and laminate, and low pile carpets and area rugs. High-end robots often have the capability to map and learn your space, so you can set the robot to clean only one room or a specific area, while cheaper models include boundary strips that you place on the floor to keep the robot where you want it. Even inexpensive models have fall-detection sensors that keep them from tumbling down stairs.
Many vacuums are "smart" and work with apps to help you schedule cleaning sessions and some sync with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and other digital voice aids for a truly hands-free experience. All robovacs automatically return to their charging docks to recharge, and some can even pause a cleaning session, recharge, and continue cleaning from where it left off. If you have pets, consider a model with a rubber brush roller. We found it was easier to clean of pet hair and lint than bristle brush rollers were.
Before your robot starts cleaning, pick up small items you don’t want vacuumed (check under the bed!), and ensure that power cords, clothing, rug fringe, and window blind cords are tucked away. Unless you’re using a wet-mop vacuum, clean up all wet spills. After cleaning, empty the dust bin and wipe down the sensors and charging contacts with a soft cloth so the robot can navigate more accurately and make a better connection with the charger.
Best Overall Robot Vacuum
iRobot Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum
In our Lab tests, the iRobot Roomba s9+ excelled on hard floors, and impressively picked up 99% of the uncooked oatmeal, sand, baking soda and small nuts and screws we spread on the floor — and it spot cleaned a small area faster and more thoroughly than the competition. When Roomba detects it's on carpet, it automatically pumps up the suction to clean deeper. Its onboard high-efficiency filter traps irritating allergens, while the corner brush reaches deep into corners and along edges to nab stray crumbs.
Robot vacuums can be messy to maintain, but Roomba's double rubber roller brushes didn't clog with pesky pet hair like bristle brushes did and its automatic dirt disposal system makes clean work of emptying the dust cup. Once cleaning is complete, Roomba returns to its charging base and the dirt it has collected is automatically transferred from the robot into the bag-lined dustbin without you having to touch the mess. Its large-capacity bags will last through multiple cleaning sessions and seal completely before you toss them so dust and dirt is contained.
One of the smartest robot vacuums we tested, Roomba maps and remembers multiple rooms and floor plans so it's easy to direct just where you want it to via the app or by voice command. And when its battery is low, even in the middle of a large cleaning job, it'll recharge itself quickly and go right back to where it left off, cleaning until the job is complete, yet avoiding the spots it's already done. Brilliant!
Best Value Robot Vacuum
eufy RoboVac 15C Max Robot Vacuum
One of the quietest vacuums we tested, the Eufy robot was a top performer — thanks to its two side brushes and roller brush action — and is packed with high-end features all at a price that's hard to pass up, making it a favorite with Amazon reviewers. Its sleek, super-slim design (just under three inches tall) means it can slip beneath low ottomans and couches to nab even the most difficult-to-reach dirt.
Eufy uses BoostIQ Technology to automatically increase suction power when it detects an extra-strength cleaning job is needed. Its large wheels helped it climb over door ledges and easily move from medium-pile carpet to hardwood or tile. With its advanced sensors, Eufy avoids any tumbles off ledges or stairs and bumping your furniture. There's a remote control for spot cleaning or for cleaning just the edges of your rooms while the smartphone app lets you customize a cleaning schedule that suits you, and syncs with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice-control convenience. In our tests, it ran for almost two hours on a single charge, and the large dustbin means less-frequent emptying. Like most robot vacuums, Eufy knows to return to its charging base when the battery runs low to fully recharge before the next clean.
Best Wet/Dry Robot Vacuum
Ecovacs DEEBOT OZMO T5 Robot Vacuum
If you want a gadget that does double-duty, this Ecovacs DEEBOT OZMO T5 can’t be beat – it’s the only one of our winners that can vacuum and wet-mop your floors simultaneously, using an innovative electronic water pump, reservoir, and either reusable or disposable pads. And you don’t have to worry about your carpet getting wet while using the DEEBOT. Thanks to its carpet detection capabilities, the robot automatically avoids them. While vacuuming, the DEEBOT knows when it's on carpet and automatically increases the suction to clean more deeply.
In our tests, the DEEBOT easily transitioned from bare floors to carpets and at 3.7 inches high, it maneuvered and cleaned exceptionally well under and around a love seat and end table and ran for an impressive three hours and 20 minutes. With its methodical vacuuming pattern, three levels of suction, and over three hours of run time, this vacuum is ideal for larger homes. Sensors prevent the robot from bumping into obstacles, or falling off ledges or down stairs.
Other cool features include its ability to create up to three different maps of your home's floor plan while it navigates its way around. Then, through the smartphone app you can access the map to set up a custom cleaning schedule and set boundaries for the robot around where you do and don't want it to clean. The app allows you to remotely start its cleaning cycle even before you get home and syncs with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
Best Robot Vacuum for Large Houses
Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision Robot Vacuum
With outstanding maneuverability, the Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision can vacuum through your home for up to two hours, taking care of your floors and carpet without bumping into obstacles. During testing, this pick vacuumed every size mess efficiently and more quickly than our other winners. It was speedy at spot cleaning, too. Rotating front brushes reach deep into corners and edges. It has multiple cleaning modes, depending on the cleaning you need (the turbo mode is noisier, though) and its multiple sensors prevent it from bumping into furniture, or toppling down stairs. Don’t rely on only the sensors to protect your investment — a handy boundary strip (included) is easily installed to stop the robot from entering a no-go area.
If you want to check that everything is okay at your home while you’re on the go, the two front cameras on the Scout RX2 Home Vision can transmit a live unrecorded image feed (encrypted) via the app to your mobile device while it cleans – the arrow buttons make navigating the robot a breeze. And if you’d prefer to not be that connected to your robot, you can completely remove the Wi-Fi module from the robot and use the remote control to schedule cleaning sessions, or direct the robot to an area for spot cleaning. A 2-year warranty comes standard, which is double the usual duration, and the cleaning tool for maintenance is installed in the dustbin, so it can’t get lost or misplaced.
Quietest Robot Vacuum
With its wonderfully quiet motor, we almost forgot the Bissell EV675 was maneuvering its way through our test rooms, running for up to 100 minutes before it needed recharging. It uses two edge brushes and a rotating brush roller to quickly clean pet hair and dry messes on bare floors, including along edges and in corners. Its low profile design helped it navigate into tight spaces and under furniture.
Though it's not Wi-Fi connected, with the remote, you can direct the robot to clean only the edges, or do a quick spot clean, which it did very well. You can also easily set a future cleaning schedule to take care of your home when you’re away. Like others, the automatic sensors detect stairs and drop-offs and alert the robot to low battery levels so that it can automatically return to the docking station to recharge. The Bissell is a great starter robovac for those not into techy gadgets.
Best Robot Vacuum for Pet Hair
Robot vacuums can often struggle with pet hair, but the budget-friendly Amarey A900 was the top scorer for pet hair pickup among our winners and any hair that got stuck in the brush was easier to remove. Using visual navigation, the Amarey maps out your space, following the optimal cleaning path around obstacles. Its first cleaning session may seem erratic while mapping, but the maps enable it to become substantially more efficient with future cleanings.
Its slim design – only 2.75” tall – lets it glide under beds and low furniture to clean hard-to-reach places. It offers four different cleaning modes including spot cleaning and edge cleaning. The auto mode adjusts suction for different floor types, increasing suction when it detects carpet. In our tests, the Amarey was quiet and cleaned for up to two hours before returning to its charging dock. If it runs out of juice in the middle of a job, once it is fully charged it will return to pick up where it left off.
With both a remote control for basic functions like cleaning modes, suction levels and directing the vacuum, and an app to provide access to mapping, scheduling and voice commands, the Amarey is easy to use no matter how tech-savvy you are.
Best Robot Vacuum for Carpet
Samsung POWERbot R7070
Looking for a robot vac to clean your carpet while taking gentle care of your floors? Look no further. The Samsung POWERbot R7070 was excellent at picking up dirt and fluff from carpet, bested only by our Best Value pick. Its wide brush roller means a larger area is cleaned with each pass, and automatic detection of the surface types enables the POWERbot to adjust its suction for the best cleaning. Its onboard camera and FullView sensors create an ideal cleaning path while avoiding obstacles, but it's the Edge Clean Master feature that blew us away. When the sensors pick up that it's nearing a corner or edge, an innovative rubber blade extends to help pull dust and debris from these hard-to-reach areas into the vacuum.
Like others, the app enables you to control your robot remotely or via voice enabled devices, and the coverage map shows where the POWERbot has cleaned. You can also schedule cleaning times when it is convenient for you. If the battery needs charging in the middle of a cleaning session, the POWERbot will recharge and resume where it left off. We found taking care of this robot particularly easy too – the rubber roller brush automatically detangles and removes pet hair and the filter is washable.
Best Robot Vacuum for Object Detection
Roborock S6 MaxV
Ask a dog owner what they love about their pet, and the list seems endless – ask them what they don’t like, and the list often comes down to two things: pet hair on their carpet and poop accidents. The Roborock S6 Max V has been specifically designed to tackle both of these things. While initiating the app to control the robot, it asks if you have pets. This setting triggers the dual camera system to be on the lookout for small objects in its path, provided there is substantial contrast between the floor and the object. During our tests, the S6 MaxV had no problem with avoiding dark objects on a light-colored floor, but it struggled to recognize the same object on a dark wooden floor and simply pushed it out of the way (not what you want if that was pet poop). Note that the object to be avoided can’t be smaller than two inches.
Robot vacuums usually struggle with pet hair, but enabling carpet mode made easy work of picking up fluff and embedded dirt as the S6 MaxV adjusted its suction when it recognized the carpet.
The S6 MaxV follows a linear pattern, cleaning the edges of an area first, and then working its way back and forth across the space quickly but methodically to ensure all of the floor surface is cleaned. Its low profile of just over three inches high zaps dirt in hard-to-reach places, and its single side brush takes care of corners. It maps as it cleans, and stores up to four maps for multi-level homes – through the app, you can set no-go areas you want the robot to avoid.
After vacuuming, use the S6 MaxV to wet mop with plain water only – water flow can be adjusted through the app, and the reusable mop cloth is washable. Using no-mop zones can prevent your carpet from being mopped, although it’s tricky to set the zone for an area rug. A moisture-proof mat at the charging base protects your floor.
Setting up cleaning schedules and selecting zones to be cleaned (or avoided) is done through the app – and you can also change the volume and voice of the robot. It has a long runtime – in balanced mode, it can clean for almost two hours. Like with most robot vacuums, sensors prevent it from falling down stairs, but it’s best to set up a virtual barrier.
Are robot vacuums worth it?
While no robot can manage stairs, or tackle ground-in dirt and debris as well as a stick or upright vacuum (yet!), the top performers in our tests do have impressive pick-up scores on hard floors and low pile carpets. They sweep up fine particles, like sand and baking soda, heavier debris, like oatmeal, orzo pasta, metal screws and nuts and even fluffy stuff, like pet hair.
Consider investing in one if you absolutely hate this chore or want your home cleaned more often than you have the time or energy for. Robot vacuums are great maintenance cleaners. Send them out several times a week and they’ll nab all the dust and pet hair, lint, and surface dirt on your floors before it has a chance to build up or get ground in.
Another benefit is that these vacuums clean under the bed, behind furniture, along the walls and in the corners that you might often skip or your regular vacuum can’t reach. (All of the vacuums we tested have brush rollers to lift away pet hair, were slim enough to clean under furniture at least four inches high, and most featured side brushes to help scoop dirt from deep corners and edges.) They’ll clean just the kitchen floor after dinner while you catch your favorite show or an entire floor of your home while you’re out of the house. Can you get it done faster with your regular vacuum? Sure. But the real question is, do you want to?
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