Keeping your floors and carpets clean is no easy task. It gets dirty, pretty fast, after all, as it comes in direct contact with shoes and feet all day, all while serving as the eventual destination for every speck of dust, dirt, and debris that falls down from anywhere within the confines of your home.
While the robo-butlers sci-fi promised have not quite made their way to our version of the future yet, robovacs have, at least, brought that automated convenience to the act of keeping our floors clean. All modern robot vacuums can do most basic tasks capably, from initiating cleaning schedules and mapping your home to navigating homes autonomously and picking up every speck of dirt in their path. However, you’ll want a more advanced model if you want a device that can even empty itself after vacuuming, use a mop pad for hybrid dry and wet cleaning, and even recognize smaller obstacles than most robovacs will just unwittingly drive over, such as socks, cables, and… um… pet poop. Yes, that happens.
These are the best robot vacuums you can put in charge of cleaning your floors today.
iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO
Being the pioneer in the category, iRobot’s robotic vacuums come with some of the best mapping, navigation, and overall cleaning capabilities. If you want most of those features in a relatively affordable package, this is the model to get, as it’s able to match the performance of more expensive Roombas, albeit with slightly less capabilities here or there (e.g. it doesn’t let you customize with a virtual geofence). It’s also the cheapest Roomba with a self-emptying dust bin, sparing you from the frequent maintenance manually cleaning out its dust bin will require. In case you don’t need that, you can also opt for the i3 EVO, which gets you all the same things for $100 cheaper.
This robovac comes with a self-emptying dust bin, which it dumps into a 2.5-liter dust bag on the dock, which should take several weeks of cleaning to get full, allowing you to simply clean it out once a month for minimum maintenance (according to the outfit, you can go up to seven weeks before it fills up). You know how some self-emptying robot vacuums don’t do a very good job at that particular task? Not the case here, as the self-emptying feature is both very effective and easy to use.
Outside of the self-cleaning capability, it is a very capable cleaning machine, able to properly map most home layouts in one to two runs, complete with the ability to save up to four different maps at a time, so you can use it to vacuum up to four different floors without having to build a map each time out. It navigates adeptly around walls, furniture, and other obstacles, while the maximum 2700Pa of suction power is able to siphon up everything from dirt and dust to dog hair and all sorts of small debris on hard floors and carpets alike. Features include 3,230 square feet of range, a 180-minute maximum runtime, customizable maps (you can set up to 10 no-access zones and 10 virtual walls), and a 470ml onboard dustbin.
Equipped with arguably the best obstacle avoidance among robot vacuums, it does the best job of steering clear of everyday items that other robovacs simply drive over (and, occasionally, attempt to vacuum), such as socks, cables, and pet poop. If you’ve been frustrated by models that fail to identify those common obstacles (especially the last one), you’ll definitely want to switch to this one. It comes with all of iRoomba’s excellent mapping and navigation tools, complete with a new Genius feature that makes it easier to customize the small details of the cleaning process, as opposed to manually programming everything.
It’s self-emptying, automatically offloading all the dust into a larger bag on the dock, which, the outfit claims, will only need replacing every two months on average. Features include the ability to automatically adjust suction level based on how dirty it senses the area, relatively quiet operation (except when its self-emptying on the dock), and plenty of smart features (e.g. if you come home while it’s cleaning, it will send a phone notification of whether to continue) that make it as hands-off as a robotic vacuum gets.
If you’ve tried a bunch of robovacs only to find that they have a hard time thoroughly cleaning certain spots in your home (especially some tricky corners), there’s a good chance this model will get the job done. While it uses the same three-stage cleaning system (lift, loosen, eliminate) as other Roomba models, it’s the only one with five angled arms on the brush that allow it to really reach those difficult corners and recessed sections along walls. It’s got powerful suction that cleans up small specks of dirt and bigger food debris alike, with the Power Boost feature allowing it to adjust suction levels on the fly as detects the need for it (e.g. when it’s cleaning carpets or a particularly dirty spot). Of course, all that power leaves it pretty noisy, but still pretty acceptable, considering how well it cleans your floors. Features include a self-emptying design, voice assistant support (Alexa and Google Assistant), and custom mapping options.
It looks more like a miniature battle tank than a robot vacuum. Seriously, it’s funny-looking. It’s so tall, in fact, there’s a good chance this robovac won’t fit under some of your furniture. If you’re willing to put up with that, however, you get a robovac that can map out your home in one or two runs, with the option to add custom geofencing as your individual needs require. The overall navigation system is better than most vacuums we’ve seen (we think it’s even better than iRobot’s), all while cleaning with a fast and powerful suction that’s surprisingly quiet. However, the size makes thorough cleaning untenable, as it’s not able to clean around edges and corners very well (there’s always a couple inches of clearance left untouched). Other features include an onboard camera (for home monitoring), a self-emptying dust bin, and a 90-minute runtime.
Shortly after the first commercially-successful robovac came out (the Roomba in 2002), iRobot followed it up with one that mopped hard floors. Nowadays, there are robots that can perform both vacuuming and mopping tasks – this model is one of them. The combo cleaning robot is powerful at both functions, ably sucking up dirt as a vacuum (5,100Pa of suction power) and scrubbing out caked-off stains on floors using its two spinning mops with ease. It even self-empties the dust bag once it’s docked, apart from cleaning its pads and drying them off with hot air, so they don’t develop an odor. Oh yeah, there’s also a large water tank in the dock where the robot fills up, keeping any manual maintenance to the bare minimum.
On the slightly weird side, it comes with onboard cameras, speakers, and a mic, which allows it to be used as a roving robot for your home security. Yeah, you’ll probably want to turn those off from the app. Features include a massive docking station (it comes with a large dust bag, a large water tank, and even a dirty water tank), improved obstacle detection (it still occasionally runs over cables and socks, but avoids them for the most part), and a rated runtime of up to 260 minutes.