Good news, everyone! The best robot vacuum cleaners are now way better at navigation than they used to be, in some cases they're cheaper, and robot vacs are also now somewhat better at sucking stuff up. They're definitely not just for early adopters anymore. 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 ones are an effective way to stay on top of dust and maintain your floors and carpets.
The improvement in the overall standard of robot vacs has only really happened over the last year or two – I was genuinely surprised when I came to test a more recent batch of robots, as in the past they have driven me round the bend with their uselessness. Still, the question remains: which robot vac is the best?
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 i7+ and Roomba s9+ – 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 i7 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 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.
The best robot vacuum cleaners right now
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.
Anker sub-division Eufy's 30C is another great example of how much robot vacuum cleaners have improved in recent times. Just a few years ago, a sub-£300 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. There are a few complaints online about it falling downstairs, but I tried it on a table and it steered clear of the edge so perhaps those people were just unlucky.
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 £300 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. It's also more affordable and more widely available than the new and improved S9+ immediately below.
This is probably the most advanced – and expensive – robot vac around at the moment and a veritable stonker it is too. 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 housework.
Well, like the older and more affordable i7+ reviewed above, iRobot’s addressed this inconvenience with an amazing automatic bin-emptying function that is truly hands off. It does this with the aid of a large bagged bin container that’s attached to the charging dock. When the s9+ detects that its 400-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 s9+ 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.
As with all robovacs you must leave the s9+ to its own devices, no matter how random its vacuuming pattern may seem. After about day two or three it will have accurately mapped your entire floorspace and from thereon in it will pretty much cover every corner and crevice on a regular basis, depending on the frequency of its work schedule, which you can set on the superb iRobot app.
The iRobot Roomba s9+ costs about £600 more than the i7+, so what are the main differences? Well the s9+ has much more powerful suction for a start (2,200 Pascals against 1,700) and that means it's better on carpets where it really excels; it automatically detects the floor surface and ramps up or lowers the suction accordingly. The s9 Plus’s Advanced vSLAM + Imprint Smart Mapping technology is an improvement too, as we discovered on day three when it started completing its tasks in a much more logical way. Being D-shaped rather than circular, the s9+ is much better at edge cleaning, while the slower spinning side bristle doesn’t seem to fling hard floor matter around as much. The battery is also a lot more powerful (3,300mAh vs 1,800 mAh) which means the s9+ can run for up to phenomenal 120 minutes at a time which makes it a perfect choice for large homes. It also comes with an anti-allergen system for those with household pets.
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 regular basis. However, this bot isn’t stupid so it switches the rollers off and slowly works its way over the ruffled edge before switching the rollers back on again. The system is so good that, after three weeks of use, it hasn't once tangled itself up in anything.
In our test, the s9+’s initial wi-fi setup was an absolute breeze – indeed, it’s one of the few robot vacs to happily sync with a 5GHz network, a major plus for anyone with a MESH-style system that can confuse many 2.4Ghz devices. The iRobot app, too, is one of the best we’ve ever used – aside from its simplicity, it also provides the wherewithal to divide rooms into different maps, empty the bin remotely if required and set schedules.
So, should you buy this model or the cheaper, similarly styled i7+? If you have a larger home where hairy pets reside, then absolutely. It performs better than the i7+ and is more efficient on carpet than many other robot vacs on the market. But if cost is a barrier, the cheaper i7+ will perform the same set of tasks almost as well. Choice, choices.
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 D7 Connected 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 Botvac D7 Connected was great. It bursts out of its starting blocks (okay, dock), races 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 Botvac'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 Botvac D7 Connected. The only thing that seems to stop it is it will occasionally get 'lost' under sofas.
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.
Until recently you had to pay top dollar for the best robot vacuum cleaners but this can usually be had for under £400, 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.
This robot vac has a slightly more, ahem, 'nostalgic' feel to it compared to the 4 rivals above it in this list. That's because, while it cleans well and is a generally solid performer, it has a long list of 'quirks' that are a little maddening. Foremost among these is a tendency to get stuck for no apparent reason, but the buggy app is also annoying as hell. It's supposed to let you map and name rooms in the same way as the i7 but at present, that just doesn't work.
However, it's an industrious little cleaner, which actually powers up when it senses it's moved from hard floors onto rugs. It generally navigates quite well – the curious and frustrating thing is that it will avoid some obstacles with aplomb, but then grind to a halt entirely because it doesn't like the look of something. Oh, and it also seemingly considers any bit of floor that's not wider than itself by 10cm or so to not really be floor at all – as a result, it struggles to get down the side of beds, for instance.
You can also buy a 'Home Vision' version of this robot, which sends a live camera feed to your phone – the standard Scout RX2 has cameras as well, but only uses them to navigate. So if you've ever wanted to see your home from the point of view of a rat wearing very grubby spectacles, this is your chance. The premium you have to pay for this dubious pleasure is outrageously high, however.
This D-shaped cleaner preceded the very similarly-named, and similar-looking D7 Connected, above, and it's still a decent option if you find it going cheap, which you should because in gadget terms it is well old.
If used every day or every few days, it's at least as effective as its even pricer, admittedly better-looking rivals and has less of a tendency to plough through breakable objects than the cheaper of the iRobots.
The Neato Botvac moves methodically and fairly rapidly to clear hard floors and carpets. Cleaning performance overall is good, and it can deal with hair and tricky floor surfaces. It doesn't have caterpillar tracks, and its drive doesn't appear particularly powerful, but this Neato can get over most household bumps.
Because of its low profile, the Neato Botvac Connected can get under practically anything, and because it navigates with lasers and sensors rather than a camera, being underneath furniture doesn't 'blind' it.
Sure, it gets stuck now and then, and emits a plaintive bleep to let you know, like a trapped owl. Edge and corner cleaning is not amazing, but it has a go and frankly, it's no worse than the pricier models here.
The only 'problem' with the Botvac Connected is Neato's insistence on making it connected. Although by the time it made the D7 Connected it had worked out a number of the issues around making a network-connected vac, this one feels more like a beta product. It loses connection to your router regularly, and the firmware has to be updated via a download transferred to USB key and then plugged into a special cable. What, is it 1998 in here or something?
The good news is, you can just ignore all the connected functionality and use the "start" button. On the occasions the connected stuff does work, it allows Alexa and Google Home control and the ability to see a map of where it has (and, perhaps, hasn't) cleaned. I don't think that's very useful anyway.
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.
This budget model from AOSO is a very decent performer for the price and comes with basic navigation skills – including cliff sensing and anti collision – and a very decent suction rating of 2000Pa. Uniquely, it comes with bristle sweepers on both sides of the unit and they make a very fair fist of gathering dust and debris from the edges and corners of rooms, and around table legs. Aside from the optional app, it also comes with a remote control which is handier than you think. However, it only works on a 2.4GHz wi-fi network so you may need to fiddle with your router’s settings.
For the low price, this robot vac really surprised us. Yes, its navigation skills aren’t as well dialled as others but it only got caught on a rug once and it always found its way back to the dock, even from another room. It’s also one of the shallowest models around so it should get under more low furnishings than its competitors. Although it wasn’t especially great on carpet, the AOSO swept the hard floor as well as the majority of models on this page.