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The best Roomba vacuums: Expert tested

We tested the most popular Roomba models to help you choose the best iRobot vacuum for you.
Written by Elizabeth Mauder, Editor and  Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
iRobot Roomba j7+ | Best iRobot vacuum overall
Roomba j7+ vacuuming on tile.
iRobot Roomba j7+
Best iRobot vacuum overall
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iRobot Roomba s9+ | Best iRobot vacuum for pet hair
Roomba s9+ vacuuming on carpet.
iRobot Roomba s9+
Best iRobot vacuum for pet hair
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iRobot Roomba Combo j9+ | Best two-in-one iRobot vacuum mop
Roomba Combo j9+ from the front
iRobot Roomba Combo j9+
Best two-in-one iRobot vacuum mop
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Roomba Combo Essential | Best budget iRobot vacuum
Roomba Combo Essential robot vacuum and mop
Roomba Combo Essential
Best budget iRobot vacuum
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A robot vacuum is certainly a worthwhile investment, but it is still a large chunk of change to drop on a household product. For the hefty price tag you may pay, you want to be certain you're getting a quality device that can tackle all of your floor's cleaning needs. Luckily, iRobot has been around the block for a while, and has several reputable robot vacuums you can buy. Here at ZDNET, we've spent a lot of time testing and reviewing machines made by iRobot and other manufacturers to help you make the right purchase. 

What is the best Roomba vacuum right now? 

We've done hands-on testing with and reviewed several Roomba vacuums, evaluating each for design, mapping, self-emptying capabilities, pet waste avoidance skills, smart technology, and cost to help you find the best iRobot vacuum for your home. Based on our testing, the iRobot Roomba j7+ is our pick for the best iRobot vacuum overall, thanks to its smart navigation and self-emptying features. Read on for the rest of our picks for the best Roomba vacuums. 

The best iRobot vacuums of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • Self-emptying
  • Intelligent
  • Smart Mapping technology
  • User-friendly app
  • Loud when it self-empties
  • Unimpressive battery life
More Details

The iRobot Roomba j7+ is our pick for the best overall iRobot vacuum. With PrecisionVision Navigation, the j7+ beautifully navigates your home without vacuuming cords, shoes, and other common household objects. Its three-stage cleaning system is suitable for a dirty home, successfully cleaning up pet hair and everyday dirt and grime. 

Review: The Roomba j7+: A life-changing robot vacuum

The unsung hero of the j7+ is the Clean Base: The vacuum knows when its dustbin is full, pausing in the middle of a job to go self-empty into the Clean Base as often as it takes to get your house clean. Amazon customers also love this feature, maybe even as much as we do. One customer said in a review, "The self-emptying feature is revolutionary; it [also] demonstrates cutting-edge technology by detecting and avoiding obstructions such as cords and pet waste."

The j7+ is one of the few robot vacuums you can trust to clean your home while away. It won't get stuck, will self-empty as needed, and will do a great job overall. 

iRobot Roomba j7+ features: Price: $344 | P.O.O.P - pet accident avoidance guarantee | PrecisionVision Navigation | 3-stage cleaning system | Clean Base automatic dirt disposal

Pros & Cons
  • High suction power
  • Auto-emptying
  • Easy-to-use app
  • Noisy when self-emptying
More Details

The Roomba s9+ is iRobot's most powerful robot vacuum. It has the highest suction power of all iRobot units and, thanks to its D-shaped design, is made to fit easily into tight corners. The design is one of my favorite features because it easily removes dust bunnies and dog hair clumps from their hiding places. 

Also: The best robot vacuums for 2024: Expert tested and reviewed

The Clean Base on the s9+ is smaller than the one on the j7+, featuring a skinny and tall design that can fit into your home well. The three-stage cleaning system navigates easily from tile to carpet without skipping a beat. As iRobot's most powerful robot vacuum, you can rest assured it will successfully tackle any mess you throw its way. Amazon customers appreciate how much time the s9+ saves them, with one saying, "All in all, we are very happy with ours and have had no issues after six months. It's saved us hours of vacuuming time and keeps the house naturally clean. In fact, we are considering a second one dedicated to the 2nd floor."

iRobot Roomba s9+ features: Price: $700 | D-shaped design | iRobot's most-powerful robot vacuum | 3-stage cleaning system | Clean Base automatic dirt disposal 

Pros & Cons
  • Reliable self-emptying
  • Intelligently avoids items and obstacles
  • Clean base refills the water tank
  • Mop pad can be bigger
More Details

The iRobot Roomba Combo j9+ is a two-in-one vacuum and mop with a retractable mop head. It will vacuum and mop until it reaches a carpet or rug. At that point, it will lift its retractable mop head to sit on top of the robot and only vacuum on carpeted surfaces. Once it reaches a flooring surface that needs mopping, it'll drop its mop head back down behind it and begin the two-in-one cleaning once again. 

As the name implies, the Combo j9+ uses the same technology as the j9+, so you can rest assured you're getting an intelligent and capable robot. The retractable arm technology is impressive -- we ran this in the dark, during the day, in weird shadows, and in all kinds of other scenarios, and it never mopped over carpet or rugs. It's truly an intelligent machine.

Review: How Roomba's $1,000 robot vacuum handled my house of children and pets

The improvements made to the Combo j9+ from its predecessor were major ones and ones that make this such a desirable robot. My absolute favorite feature is how quiet it is self-emptying. To date, it may be the quietest self-emptying robot we've tested. The next best feature is also related to Clean Base: the robot's ability to automatically refill the cleaning solution. These features make this Combo machine attractive if you need a reliable two-in-one robot vacuum from iRobot.

A reliable, quality two-in-one machine will change your life, and the Combo j9+ falls into that category. One Amazon customer said, "This Roomba Combo has improved my life. I'm a happier, less stressed person because I have a Roomba Angel who whisks away dirt, dust, and paw prints so I can focus on other things."

iRobot Roomba Combo j9+ features: Price: $999 | Vacuums and mops simultaneously | Guarantees to avoid pet accidents | Auto-Retract mopping system | Four-stage cleaning system

Pros & Cons
  • Robot OS
  • Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility
  • Vacuum and mop combo
  • Doesn't self-empty
More Details

The iRobot Roomba Combo Essential is our pick for the best budget vacuum, thanks to its lower price and smart technology. Despite the $220 price tag, the Roomba Combo Essential still intelligently maps your home and cleans in neat, organized rows like high-end robot vacuums. It also has a removable microfiber mop pad to mop your floors as it cleans. 

Also: The best robot vacuum deals right now: Save on iRobot, Roborock, and more

It's hard to emphasize how helpful a quality robot vacuum is. They keep your floors clean and help eliminate some of the dust that scatters throughout your home if you're running it frequently enough. One Amazon customer raved about how beneficial the Roomba Combo Essential has been in their home, saying, "It's a compelling option for those seeking an affordable, efficient, and versatile robot vacuum and mop. Its combination of advanced cleaning technology, smart home integration, and user-friendly features make it a worthy consideration for simplification of a cleaning routine."

iRobot Roomba Combo Essential features: Price: $220 | Cleans in rows | V-shaped brush roller | Up to 120 minutes runtime | Google Assistant and Alexa capable

What is the best iRobot vacuum?

Users and I love the Roomba j7+ -- and for good reason. It's intelligent, capable, and perhaps most importantly, self-emptying. What good is a robot vacuum if it doesn't understand when its dust bin is full in the middle of a job? No matter how much there is, I need a robot vacuum to suction up all of my dirt and debris. Several other iRobots have a self-emptying base as well.

Best iRobot vacuumCostClean Base
iRobot Roomba j7+$574Yes
iRobot Roomba s9+$790Yes
iRobot Roomba Combo j9+$999Yes
iRobot Roomba Combo Essential$220No

Which is the best iRobot vacuum for you?

Even the best iRobot vacuums begin to blend together after a while. These are our expert recommendations to help you find the best vacuum for your needs.

Choose this best iRobot vacuum...

If you need...

iRobot Roomba j7+

iRobot's most intelligent robot vacuum on the market. It's perfect for people who have pets and don't always have time to pick up their home before they vacuum.

iRobot Roomba s9+

A premium iRobot vacuum that tackles pet hair. It also features automatic emptying so you never have to worry about the vacuum unit getting clogged.

iRobot Roomba Combo j9+

A combination robot vacuum and mop. This 2-in-1 model is capable of cleaning up just about any mess from just about any surface.

iRobot Roomba Combo Essential

A budget-friendly iRobot vacuum. It retails under $300 and still offers great features like Alexa voice controls and cleaning schedules.

Factors to consider when choosing an iRobot vacuum

While trying to determine the best Roomba vacuum, we kept several factors at the forefront of our testing and research that can also aid in your search: 

  • Floor types: Some robot vacuums are equipped to work with certain floor types, like carpet or hardwood. Others may be able to accommodate other floor types, like stone or marble. Before you buy, consider the types of flooring in your home and which vacuum is most appropriate.

  • Mapping: For full automation, your robot vacuum must have a mapping feature to navigate each room. You also want to consider an obstacle avoidance feature that can avoid things like furniture, wires, and even pet waste. This feature is a must-have in my home with strewn about.

  • Battery: An iRobot vacuum is hardly worth it if it doesn't have the battery to keep it going. Consider the battery time before choosing the best robot vacuum to ensure it has enough power to clean your home. If you select a robot vacuum with the technical capability to pause its job, return to the charging base to refill its battery, and then resume the job where it left off, this may not be as big of a factor as others on this list. Most Roomba vacuums have this capability, but it's worth double-checking.

  • Connectivity: Many of the best robot vacuums offer voice control, some even with Alexa. Others may feature an app that allows you to control your robot from afar, setting schedules, tracking progress, and controlling the machine's efforts. If you're hoping for voice activation rather than using an app, check and see if the machine is compatible with the home assistant of your choice. 

How did we test these iRobot vacuums?

ZDNET has several robot vacuum reviewers who have tested over 50 units thus far. We conduct tests in real homes with real challenges, and in a controlled lab environment for comparison.

Also: How we test robot vacuums at ZDNET in 2024

Here's what we consider when testing robot vacuums and mops at ZDNET:

  • Determine evaluation criteria: For our key evaluation criteria, we consider how robots perform by assessing their suction power, navigation, mapping, and battery life. We also assess the user experience, the robot's versatility, longevity, and whether it delivers on its specifications.
  • Unboxing: During this process, we assess the packaging and setup experience and note any accessories and unique features.
  • Testing environments: We test the robot vacuums on different floor types (like carpet and hardwood) and see how they navigate various obstacles to test performance.
  • Performance metrics: We test suction power with various debris types and assess obstacle navigation and mapping accuracy.
  • Extra features: When testing robot vacuum and mop combinations, we evaluate their effectiveness at removing stains and overall cleaning quality. We also check how unique features work, like obstacle avoidance and recognition, extendable mop pads, etc.

To top it all off, we gauge the device's longevity and long-term performance by using it over the course of a few months. Our review timelines vary, but we typically test robot vacuums for about a month before reviewing and keep our reviews updated while the device is available.

How long does an iRobot vacuum session last?

iRobot vacuums vary in runtime, ranging anywhere from 90 minutes to 120 minutes on a single charge. iRobot vacuums are some of the few on the market that can recognize their dust bins are full in the middle of a job, pause, self-empty, and then return to their job without you ever having to lift a finger. All of this to say, I fully excuse the lack of runtime capabilities some of the iRobots offer thanks to this incredible feature.

Are iRobot vacuums worth it?

Yes, especially for those busier households. iRobot vacuums require an upfront investment, but they are cost-effective machines that can save you a ton of labor and stress. These are self-sufficient machines you can turn on and forget about, greatly simplifying life and reducing cleaning costs. The ROI (return on investment) I've gained from having extra time with my family is worth the cost of even the priciest Roomba.

How much do the best iRobot vacuums cost?

iRobot Roombas can range from a few hundred dollars to more than a thousand. The best iRobot Roombas run between $200 and $1,400, depending on your chosen model.

Are there alternative best iRobot vacuums worth considering?

Here's some other options we found in our research for the best iRobot vacuum for your home.

View at AmazonView at AmazonView at Amazon
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