What began as a semi-functional novelty has matured into a legitimate home appliance. Modern robot vacuums require minimal setup, don’t get stuck (easily), can move between hard wood and carpet, and will leave your house conspicuously cleaner, especially if you have a schedule that allows you to run it multiple times a week. In our experience, even after some dedicated cleaning with an upright or canister vacuum, you will still find dust and hair in a robot vacuum's bin.
That said, they don’t work on carpet that’s taller than 0.5 inches, and you’ll have to keep cables and laundry off the floor, because they can trip up the robot. If you have animal excrement or other spills on the floor, the robot will smear it everywhere. But for most people those are avoidable hazards. Besides, that will keep your house cleaner anyway.
If all of that sounds appealing, here are the models we recommend.
Eufy’s lineup of robot vacuums are excellent. They’re slim enough to fit under furniture, have strong suction, use sensors to avoid falling down stairs, and can be set for scheduled cleaning. For pet owners, tenants with neighbors who like to complain, or anyone who wants to be able to run their robot while at home, Eufy’s models are exceptionally quiet. The sound is closer to an oscillating fan than a full-on vacuum cleaner.
Most of us will be happy with the $220 11S, but we like the 30C’s slightly stronger suction, and that it comes with magnetic strips that you use to mark off sections of your house that you don’t want the vacuum to go to. It also comes with Wi-Fi connectivity, which lets you turn it on remotely via smartphone or even Alexa or Google Assistant. If your routine changes frequently enough that you might come home to a scheduled cleaning, this is a great feature.
The Jet is designed to wet-clean any space under 200 square feet with an uncarpeted surface like hardwood or tile. On the Wet Mop cleaning mode, this bot shoots a bit of cleaning liquid in front of it, then crawls over with a vibrating cleaning head. You can also mount cleaning pads ($8 for a pack of ten) that specifically tell the Jet to do a dry clean, or a damp clean. It’s also nimble enough to get into corners, like behind a toilet or sink.
Noise is minimal, mostly when it shoots water in its path before cleaning, and quiet enough to run while you’re at home.
Among the most popular (and cheap) robot vacuums on Amazon, the N79S is unusual for typically selling for under $250, and having Wi-Fi connectivity that allows you to start it from outside the house. It also will give push alerts in case it gets stuck, and is compatible with Alexa commands.
However, the N79S is louder than the quiet Eufy robot vacuums, and slightly taller, which means it will not fit under as much furniture.
If you’ve got a lot of square footage to clean, and need intense suction and peak convenience, this is the most futuristic robot vacuum cleaner you can buy. It automatically empties the junk it vacuums up into the large tower where it docks for recharging. That means you can go for weeks without ever touching the robot or the charge station.
The navigation systems on high-end iRobot models (like the Roomba 960) are far more sophisticated than the random patterns that Eufy and other models use. Unlike other robots that navigate without knowledge about prior cleanings, the i7 (and other Roombas) map interiors and retain information. You can even tell them to clean specific rooms.
Most people don’t need this level of cleaning power, and as with other iRobot vacuums, the i7+ is loud. But if you want the most convenient, most powerful robot vacuum you can buy, this is it.
Samsung’s line of robot vacuums have exceptional suction. The squared front design also allows it to get into corners that circle models can’t quite reach, and it will deploy an extra brush to reach into corners. It also has crazy customization features for different cleaning modes and Wi-Fi connectivity via app. It’s also exceptionally good at not getting caught in rug tassels or charging cables.
Drawbacks are that it’s louder, more expensive, heavier, and more complicated to set up than other robot vacuums. Its battery also lasts for only about an hour, compared to the 100 minutes or so that most others run. However, for customization and features, it’s at the top. There’s even models.
The S87’s selling point is an integrated vacuum. Meaning, you get both a handheld vacuum and a robot vacuum when you purchase an S87. It’s also among the few robots from established vacuum brands that we can recommend. Besides Alexa and Google Assistant integration, the S87 has Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to control it from your phone. Downsides are short battery life compared to others and that the charging dock has nowhere to hold the handheld vacuum’s accessory tips.
Otherwise, so long as it’s on sale for around $350, it’s a solid deal. Any more expensive and you’re better off buying a cheaper robot vacuum and dedicated handheld vacuum separately.