Let's face it, ever since you saw one cleaning up Jesse's house in Breaking Bad, you've wanted to buy a top robot vacuum cleaner to sort out your home. But you haven't stumped up the cash yet because of that nagging voice in your head, the one that doubts that a robot cleaner would actually work or be able to navigate around your home without damaging your furniture.
Well, that nagging voice would be right β a few years ago, that is. The first-generation of robot vacuums were, indeed, a bit naff. Actually, they were more than a bit naff; they were clumsy, noisy, ineffective wastes of time, and the concept is still finding it hard to shake off all of that negative stigma.
However, we're here to tell you that the very best robot vacuum cleaners are now awesome. We promise. There are some top options out there.
Sure, they are mostly as expensive as heck, get themselves stuck or lost quite a bit and are in no way a replacement for an upright vacuum cleaner, but they are capable of keeping your house clean with minimal effort, often just with a voice command from your digital assistant.
In this guide, we'll go through our picks of the best robot vacuum cleaners for all types of houses. Best for hardwood, best for carpet, top budget option, top option for pet hair and the ones that work best with Google Assistant and Alexa - the whole shebang.
In fact, you can jump right to those top picks right now:
- The best robot vacuum cleaner overall
- The best robot cleaner for hardwood
- The best robot cleaner for carpet
- The best robot vacuum for pet hair
- The best robot cleaner on a budget
- The best iRobot Roomba model
- The best Neato robo cleaner
- The best Roborock vacuum
However, it's worth reading a bit about what you're getting yourself in for, when it comes to installing a robot vacuum cleaner in your house first...
Robot vacuum cleaners: Considerations before buying
Robot vacuum cleaners now come in an array of shapes and sizes across a multitude of different brands β some well known vacuum cleaner specialists, and some tech companies jumping on the bandwagon.
In our selection of the best robot vacuum cleaners, detailed below, you'll find circular vacuum cleaners, ones with squared off edges, tall ones, skinny ones, ones with cameras and ones laden with sensors β different manufacturers have different approaches to getting tricky-to-clean areas like corners and under furniture spick-and-span. Don't get too bogged down with the technicalities, though, as we'll explain exactly what methods and approaches each robot we tested use, and how effective these prove to be.
You'll also notice that different robot vacuum cleaners have different strategies when it comes to room navigation β some use those cameras and sensors we mentioned, some come with accessories you place around your home to tell it where to go. Some even let you map out a cleaning area within a connected smart home app (it's 2020; of course robot vacuum cleaners pack in Wi-Fi). Those apps also have a plethora of different features, from tracking to schedules, and integrations with other smart home products, too.
We've whittled down our selection to a handful of robot vacuum cleaners and you can rest assured that they all do their basic job β of cleaning up general dust and dirt β with no issues.
However, don't go thinking you can simply chuck a robot vacuum cleaner into a dirty house and then have it spotless once it's done a cycle. It doesn't work like that. Robot vacuum cleaners are excellent for maintaining a clean house, but they need a good starting-off point.
Finally, and this is probably an obvious one: robot vacuum cleaners can't climb stairs (at least, not yet). They are capable of detecting stairs β and thus not falling down them β and they are getting better at climbing up different levels (think rugs, room dividers and the like), but if you have a two-story abode, you'll either need to carry your robot to the floor you want cleanedβ¦ or buy more than one.
Anyway β enough of that, let's get on with the main event. Here are The Ambient's picks of the best robot vacuum cleaners that you can buy right now.
The Roborock S6 picks up from where the S5 left off, and - on performance alone - is our pick for the single best robot vacuum cleaner out there.
There are a total of 14 sensors packed into the S6, a couple more than you'll find on either the S4 and S5. Packing sensors in that that do clever stuff in terms of mapping rooms and routes is where Roborock really excels.
There's also a quad-core processor (just like a smartphone), for the simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) movement algorithm, combined with the laser distance sensor (LSD); a small disc you can actually see spinning up top.
The S6 has a 2,000Pa suction rating - on a par with the flagship devices of other vacuum brands - and there's also a Carpet Mode that increases suction power when it detects it's gone from hard floor to a carpeted area, or over a rug.
The app is feature-rich (either the Xiaomi Mi Home app, or the Roborock app) and the mopping option will appeal to some. Simply fill the little water tank up, stick the mop pad on, and click it in place. It's then ready for mopping up for around 50 minutes - obviously while vacuuming up the path as it's mopping.
Key features: 2000 Pa, 5200mAh battery.
The best Roborock on the market and also a top pick for hardwood floors due to its mopping skills, it boasts Alexa and Google Assistant integration, virtual room mapping and 150 minutes of cleaning on a full charge.
Also consider: Roborock newest cleaner, the S4 is superb value for money, only missing out on a couple of the features that make the S6 the standout model.
Buy now: Amazon | $299
Eufy's RoboVac 35C is the most affordable option on this list, and a lot of that has to do with it not having the same smarts as some of the higher-end options here. That's because Eufy is purely concentrating on good suction performance, and, for the most part, it does that.
As well as the standard mode there's a BoostIQ mode that'll change up suction power based on the surface. You'll get just under two hours with that standard mode, but that drops to 40 minutes with BoostIQ. There's also a Max mode that'll ramp up suction for deeper cleans, but battery life takes another huge hit.
Cleaning performance is pretty good, though one big disadvantage is the cleaning up you'll be asked to do. It's got a large bin, one of the largest of all the vacs on this list, but it also opts for brushes and bristles rather than plastic or rubber cleaners. This means that hair and dust get entangled in the brush, which requires extensive cleaning.
One of the biggest advantages of the 35C's design is its slimness. It's 2.85 inches tall, which is just under an inch shorter than the rest of the options on this list. This means it's able to clean areas other robo vacs can't get to. Though, be warned, it can get stuck if you're not careful.
The companion app is one of the best we've used. It's easy to navigate and fast. You can even control the 35C yourself like a little robot drone. This is good to get it to spots you want to vacuum, or trying to get it out of a tough spot. There's also a remote you can use to control the functions, making it easy to share control with other members of your household.
In addition to the touch controls on the robot, the companion app and the remote, there's also Alexa and Google Assistant support. All of this makes the 35C one of the most versatile robots in terms of control.
Key features: 1500 Pa, 2600mAh battery.
The suction is just short of the 1,700Pa suction power on the much more pricey Roomba i7+, but the BoostIQ tech can change it up based on whether it's on carpet or wood floors.
Also consider: The Roborock S4 is a bit more expensive, but is still considered a fairly cheap option in the robot vacuum cleaner world. There are also a ton of Eufy variants of this model if you want to trim even more money off, such as the 30C. And should you want something even cheaper, the Eufy RoboVac 11S Max offers impressive power for just $200.
Buy now: Amazon | From $1,099
The S Series is the top dog of the Roomba range and comprises of two models: the S9 and the S9+. The key difference is also the most obvious here: the disposal tower that comes with the S9+, which means you no longer have to worry about emptying your Roomba (but you will eventually have to empty the tower, obviously).
Runtime on both is around 75 minutes and both have a new D-shape design (Roomba devices have historically been round) that makes them more effective at getting into corners. Should it run out of power, it will return to its charging station to power up before automatically resuming work β a feature also found on the I Series below.
The other key difference? The price. $1,099.99 for the "base" S9 model and $1,399.99 for the tower of terror.
The S9 takes the i7's smart mapping feature and bin emptying tricks and ups the stakes - a lot. This might be the closest thing to an actual Rosie the Robot. The key addition here is a new sensor on the front of the bot, which uses two infrared beams to constantly scan the area around it, creating a 3D space for the robot to react to.
After a few cleans (you can also send it on some training runs to speed up the process), the S9 produces a map of your floor space, which you can tweak if it hasn't got it quite right and then label.
This tech - part of iRobot's vSLAM navigation system - means once you've labeled your rooms you can have your robot clean only certain ones. For anyone who has ever just wanted a clean hallway and found themselves endlessly chasing their robot and putting it back where they want it to clean.
Thanks to the dust-sucking base, you only need to touch your Roomba for general maintenance, which is important to keep it working well. Giving it a once over every couple of weeks would be good - once a month would probably suffice.
Key features: 2500 Pa, 3300mAh battery.
The best Roomba on the market, but by far the priciest model in this buyers guide, it features Clean Base, which charges the robot and empties the bin. Pair it with a Braava Jet Mop for those hard floors - use the new Imprint Link feature to pair up and automatically have the mop bot do its thing after the vacuum has finished - and you can kiss goodbye to floor-related chores for good.
Also consider:The i7+ is the next best Roomba, which also has the ability to empty out its own bin.
Buy now: Amazon | $829
Another D-shaped entry, the latest Neato flagship is a busy box of tricks that offers up more modes than its rivals. The shape is down to the fact that Neato thinks it's the perfect shape for a spotless clean, getting within 14mm of walls and corners β compared to an alleged 98mm from circular robot vacuums.
The D7's shape allows for a front-brush design, with the main brush teaming up with a smaller, spinning edge brush that rotates at 90 degrees, helping to kick up dust and dirt that might be hiding in your cracks and crevices.
Using Neato's LaserSmart tech to find its way around your abode (with the lasers in the turret up top) the D7 divides rooms up into 15 x 15-inch segments and tackles the area based on what it determines to be the most efficient path.
There are eco and turbo modes, with an impressive two hour battery life on the former and around 45-50 minutes on the latter. Cleans can be started manually from the D7 itself, or from within the app.
But it was the MyFloorPlan mode that really set the D7 apart from the rest initially, though newer models on this list have now caught up.
On its first run-out, the Botvac will learn the layout of the land β where walls are, where furniture is, and so on β and then you're presented with a plan in the app. You can then draw virtual No-Go lines around any areas within this learned layout, to create areas in your house you never want the D7 to venture into.
If you've been put off getting a robot cleaner because you are wary of areas that are bound to cause them trouble, this feature is perfect. A software update also added the ability for the D7 to learn the layout of multiple floors as well, with a maximum of three.
Another great feature is the D7's new Quick Boost Charging feature, which analyses how much juice it needs to complete its clean, returning to the charging station and charging just enough to finish the job.
The Neato is a our favourite D-shaped robot and, if you buy into the science that the shape means better cleaned corners, then it could be the model for you
Key features: 2000 Pa, 4200mAh battery.
The best Neato you can buy - with Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT all on board - the My Floor Plan mode is a feature many people have been crying out for on robot vacuum cleaners for years.
Also consider: Neato's D6 Connected offers up 90% of what you get from the D7, but at around $100 less.
Buy now: Amazon | $549
Once upon a time, this was the king of the Roomba clan. Even now, the 980 is still a superb performer at a much more attractive price point than when it first launched.
If your home is a bit of a gauntlet for robot vacuums, switching from hardwood to thin rug to thick rug to standard-length carpet in the rooms, the 980 could be just the model for you - and is especially highly regarded when it comes to sucking up pet hair.
Its Auto-Adjust Cleaning mode detects that it's on carpet it'll boost its power to start working harder and sucking in more air. You'll hear it because the fan will pretty much triple in volume.
It's pretty frills-free, compared to some of its newer rivals in this list, but is well worth considering. If you want top-end sucking performance and an easy to use app - with both Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility - the 980 should definitely be on your list.
Key features: 1670 Pa, 3300mAh battery.
Quite an ageing model from the iRobot family, the Auto-Adjust Cleaning mode detects that it's on carpet and will boost its power to start working harder and sucking in more air.
Also consider: Both the Roborock S6 and the Roomba S9+ have great carpet cleaning booster modes, as well.