A great robot vacuum can feel like a lifesaver -- especially if you live in a house with pets or children who tend toward making messes. Robot vacuums have come a long way in recent years: many are now smart enough to empty and charge themselves, avoid pet waste and obstacles in your home, and can get in hard-to-reach places like under beds and couches. Others include a built-in mop and can easily move between vacuuming and mopping depending on the floor they encounter.
If you're like me and need a lifeline to help keep your home just slightly more put together than normal, the holiday shopping season always brings out some of the best deals of the year on robot vacuums. There really is no better time to invest in your home's cleanliness, and your sanity, than now.
Also: Best early Black Friday deals: Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and more
I've tested dozens of robot vacuums in my home where my son, German Shepherd, German Shorthaired Pointer, and cat do an incredible job of dirtying the floors, evaluating factors like floor mapping abilities, battery life, and price.
My pick for the best robot vacuum overall is the Roomba j7+, thanks to it's self-emptying capabilities, its ability to move across carpet, tile, and hardwood floors, and its easy-to-use app. It's the robot I go back to time and time again after testing others and is one that is never rotated out of my lineup. It has a permanent spot in my home, and more dramatically, my heart.
Also: The best robot vacuum and mop combos
Read on for the rest of my picks for the best robot vacuums.
The best robot vacuums of 2023
- Auto-empty base
- Easy-to-use app
- Unimpressive battery life
Roomba j7+ features: PrecisionVision Navigation | P.O.O.P. guarantee | Easy robot integration
The Roomba j7+ is one of my favorite robot vacuums to use throughout my house, whether on carpet, tile, or rugs. After a few initial runs, the j7+ can map a home's layout. Next, you can go to the iRobot app and choose your cleaning method. You can select which rooms you want to be cleaned, in what order, and how many times you want each room cleaned.
There aren't many robot vacuums that I trust to remove ingrained pet hair from my carpet, but the j7+ is an exception to that rule. It gets a full run of my house, and it does a great job on different floor surfaces. What sets Roomba vacuums apart from others is intelligence. The j7+ uses PrecisionVision Navigation to recognize and avoid common household objects like socks, cords, shoes, and pet waste.
Review: Roomba j7+ review: A life-changing robot vacuum
If you're a new pet owner, iRobot's P.O.O.P. (Pet Owner Official Promise) guarantee will make you feel comfortable enough to leave your Roomba j7+ and pet in the same area. I love knowing that, no matter what my house looks like, I can send the j7+ out to clean and it won't suck up something that it shouldn't. The peace of mind is worth every single penny.
The Roomba j7+ doesn't have mopping capabilities, but it does pair beautifully with the Braava Jet m6. The two iRobot products use the same technology to tag team your vacuuming and mopping needs. I tested both of these robots out, so be sure to check out my full reviews.
Review: Braava Jet m6 review: A must-have robot mop
- 6,000 Pa suction
- Reactive 3D Obstacle Avoidance
- Stress-free system
- Only empties the dust bin at the end of the job
Roborock S8 Pro Ultra features: Reactive 3D Obstacle Avoidance | 6000Pa suction power | Empty wash fill dock
The Roborock S8 Pro Ultra is a two-in-one device where you get what you pay for, and with a hefty price tag I can assure you that your floors will shine after every use with this robot. Once you receive your S8 Pro Ultra, you'll assemble the hefty docking station and begin letting the robot understand your home's layout. The Roborock will develop a 2D, 3D, or matrix layout so you can tell the robot specifically which rooms or areas you want cleaned. Because it is a two-in-one machine, you may be worried about your rugs or carpets, but the S8 Pro Ultra is an impressive piece of equipment. The VibraRise 2.0 Mopping System lifts the mop head up completely to keep your rugs and carpet dry.
I mentioned that hefty docking station earlier, but there's a reason it's large. Not only does the Empty Wash Fill dock charge the S8 Pro Ultra, but it auto empties the robot after vacuuming, washes the mop pad in the middle of a cleaning job and after a job is completed, and even refills the water tank during cleanup for a mopping range of up to 3230 square feet. Once the robot leaves the docking station, the vacuum has a 6000Pa suction power to vacuum up all of your dog hair, dirt, and more while the VibraRise 2.0 sonic vibration technology scrubs your floor up to 3,000 times per minute. The vibration technology is what sets this two-in-one machine apart from others. It truly scrubs your floors clean just like you would with a manual mop.
Review: Roborock's new 2-in-1 vacuum is expensive, but my floors tell me it's worth every penny
- Strong mopping capability
- Convenient carrying handle
- 4,300PA suction
Yeedi Cube features: Two-in-one vacuum and mop | 4,300Pa suction power
If your home is primarily hardwood/tile/laminate as opposed to carpet/several rugs, the Yeedi Cube is going to be an excellent buy for your home. This two-in-one machine touts 4,300Pa suction power and its mop pad vibrates 2,500 times per minute, working to completely clean your floors. Its self-emptying dustbin empties after every job and its UFO clean water tank has a nice handle on top to make adding water and carrying the robot itself a breeze.
For around $500, you have to be wondering what compromises you're going to have to settle for if you're getting all of those previously mentioned powerful features. First, and most notably, it lacks object avoidance so you'll need to pick up the rooms you want cleaned so that the robot isn't accidentally suctioning up cords or small toys. If your house is less chaotic than mine, this likely won't be a big deal for you. Next, we've noticed during testing that sometimes the clean base seems to struggle suctioning all of the debris out of the clean base. Is this a deal breaker? Probably not, just more of a slight annoyance more than anything.
When purchasing a robot vacuum, you always need to think of your specific home's needs. If you can live without object avoidance and the occasional suction mishap with the clean base, you're getting a very capable mid-ranged robot vacuum and mop. Going into the holiday season, we're already seeing deals, making the price tag even more attractive.
Review: Yeedi's newest robot vacuum/mop is still $140 off following October Prime Day
- D-shaped design to clean corners
- Incredible suction power
- Auto empty base
Roomba s9+ features: 30% wider dual multi-surface rubber brushes | Delivers 40x power-lifting suction | Dirt Detect technology
If you're like me and have a lot of dog hair laying around, I promise if you invest in the Roomba s9+ you won't be disappointed. This is Roomba's most powerful robot vacuum to date and comes in a D-shaped design, allowing the robot to fit in the corners of your home. Once the s9+ gets going, the dual multi-surface brushes suck up everything in their paths. Even on carpet, the ingrained dog hair and dirt get sucked away and into the robot. As an iRobot vacuum, you can rest assured knowing the AI inside the s9+ can recognize shoes, socks, cords, and more. And Roomba does a great job keeping your devices up to date, so they're always learning and getting smarter through continued software updates.
The s9+ comes with an auto-empty base that doubles as a charging station, so once the robot picks up all of your dirt and debris, it's sucked right into an enclosed bag so it stays trapped away. The s9+'s auto-empty base is much smaller than the j7+'s, making it easier to be tucked away and blend in with your home decor.
Because this is an iRobot device, the Roomba s9+ will pair with the Braava jet m6 to completely clean your floors.
- Great suction power
- 120 minute run time
- No mapping ability
- Doesn't alert when full
Shark ION AV751 features: Tri-brush system | Stair/cliff edge detection | Alexa and Google Assistant integrated
If you're someone who is overwhelmed by all of the technology and features that come with several of the new robot vacuums, this Shark ION is a great option for you. You don't even need the app to get this robot vac going, you can simply press the Clean button and it's off. The tech inside is minimal -- this Shark doesn't map where it's been or have the AI capabilities to avoid cables or shoes, but it makes up for it with its suction power. You'll want to keep in mind by not having mapping capabilities, it quite literally just drives around and may clean the same room over and over. From my experience, though, running the AV751 daily kept my entire house clean. One day it may clean my kitchen and living room and the next day it may clean my laundry room and bathroom. The important thing was the Shark was able to keep up with my two dogs and cat, which is a massive task.
The Shark ION Av751 does not come with an auto-empty base, so you will manually have to dump the dirt and debris into the trash can. But, that means the charging station is significantly smaller than a lot of other robot vacs on the market. Shark is a brand name most know and trust in the cleaning industry, so you can rest assured that this budget-friendly option will be a safe one.
Review: Shark ION Robot Vacuum AV751 review: Great suction for a cheap vac
The Roomba j7+ is far and away the smartest, most advanced robot vacuum on the market that I have tested. Its PrecisionVision navigation ensures that it's cleaning the rooms you want cleaned and gathering an accurate map of your house. The ability to add Cleaning zones for particularly dirty areas or Keep Out zones where you may not want the robot to go is an added bonus. Pet parents everywhere can agree that the P.O.O.P. guarantee will help them sleep easier at night, knowing their home will get vacuumed without smearing through any accidents. And of course, being a Roomba device, you know that the robots are always getting new software updates so your robot vacuum is always getting smarter.
After testing numerous robot vacuums, the one feature that separates the devices the most is how intelligent they are. Some individuals are looking for a hands-off approach, they want to set a schedule in the app and not have to worry or think about the robot for weeks at a time. Others may not be that comfortable with tech or simply want to have more control of where and when the robot is running. Both are reasonable expectations, but you'll be buying two different vacuums.
Choose this robot vacuum…
If you need…
A highly intelligent, AI-driven vacuum. With its ability to recognize up to 80 household objects, your home will get cleaned while your cords and shoes aren't bothered.
Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra
The ability to vacuum every surface type in your home, while mopping hardwood/tile/laminate flooring. It's truly an all-in-one machine that will keep your home clean with the touch of a button in the app.
Mapping capability but aren't worried about object detection. This robot would work well in a home that's always tidy.
A vacuum to tackle excessive pet hair, dirt, and debris. It's Roomba's best suctioning robot on the market.
Shark ION AV751
A simple robot vacuum without all of the bells and whistles. This can be a very underwhelming option for individuals who aren't needing a lot of technology.
Here at ZDNET, I've been reviewing and putting robot vacuums through real-world tests. I don't run the devices through a lab and do simulated dirt testing, instead, I bring these robots into my home and see how they hold up in everyday, real-life situations. I evaluate each robot vacuum on factors including:
- Battery: A robot vacuum is of little use when it is constantly dead, so we look for those with a longer battery life so they spend more time cleaning and less time charging.
- Mapping: Robot vacuums can use a special mapping feature to create a blueprint of each floor. It helps to avoid unnecessary collisions with furniture and other objects that can serve as obstructions.
- 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.
- Cost: Budget is always a concern, so we look for models that fit a variety of different budgets, offering something for everyone.
Before you choose the best robot vacuum, be sure to carefully review the specs and features of each candidate, so you can be sure to choose the best robot vacuum for your home.
The technology has come a long way since auto-emptying bases were first introduced. That being said, they all have seemingly worked out the kinks and work well. In my testing experience, I haven't had auto-empty base issues. The only thing I would keep in mind is to make sure your self-emptying base is equipped with disposable bags to capture and hold all of the dirt and debris. It makes cleaning up that much easier and ensures that once the dirt is vacuumed up, it isn't being let back out into your home. Once the bag is full, you'll simply pull it away, throw it in the trash, and put in a brand new bag.
In my testing experience, you get what you pay for with two-in-one machines. I don't like robot mops that don't use a cleaning solution. My floors are dirty enough that simply pushing around water doesn't get anything cleaned. When looking at purchasing a two-in-one machine, be sure to see what the recommended cleaning solution is. If the manufacturer only wants you to use water, I personally would steer clear.
You also want to make sure the robot comes with the AI technology that can differentiate carpet from hardwood flooring. It is not worth guarding your favorite rugs every time you use the machine to keep the robot from ruining them. Both Roomba and Roborock do an excellent job of this.
Also: The best robot vacuum mops you can buy
If you have a lot of carpet and rugs in your home, you're going to want to look for a robot vacuum that has a higher suction power, or Pa (Pascal Pressure Unit). The higher the Pa, the better the suction power is. For example, the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra has a 5,100 Pa while the DreameBot D10 Plus has a 4,000Pa.
There are hundreds of robot vacuums on the market, so naturally, I couldn't include all of the top performers. Here are a few standouts:
Roborock Q5+ - A name-brand, cheaper option
You really can't go wrong with any device from Roborock, and that includes the Q5+. With its auto dust emptying base and 2700Pa suction, you can get a lot of the higher-end robot vacuum features for a cheaper price.
A robot mop companion
Braava Jet m6
If you've bought a robot vacuum and can't believe the difference it's made, you may want to consider adding a robot mop to your home. The Braava Jet m6 pairs beautifully with any Roomba robot, but could work very well independently as well. The Precision Jet Spray ensures your floor is soaked in plenty of cleaning solution while the vSLAM navigation keeps the robot from going over your rugs or carpet.