Keeping your floors clean can be a lot of work. Portable and maneuverable tools like cordless vacuums can make the task a bit easier, but even those require time and effort. Robot vacuums, however, don’t.
Once set up, robot vacuums clean your space automatically, without any physical labor on your part. “Robot vacuums have come a long way since their introduction,” said Carl Prouty, a product specialist at Abt Electronics. “They are more powerful, more efficient and more capable of cleaning different floor types than ever before.”
We spoke with cleaning and electronics experts to learn more about robot vacuums: their features, their flaws and top brands. We combined their recommendations with Select staff picks to collect the best robot vacuums available now.
SKIP AHEAD The best robot vacuums in 2023 | How to shop for robot vacuums
Our top picks
- Best overall: iRobot Roomba i3 EVO (3150)
- Best budget pick: Eufy 11S
- Best premium and mop combo: Roborock S7
How we picked the best robot vacuums
To pick the best robot vacuums, we choose from a mix of expert recommendations, staff recommendations and top-rated options. For each product, we paid special attention to the following:
- Capacity: We only selected models with a dustbin capacity of at least 400 milliliters, or those with an included, self-emptying base station.
- Mapping: We included a mix of robot vacuums with and without mapping technology. While Prouty highly recommends robots with mapping technology, it does increase price.
- Ratings: For products that were not recommended by experts or Select staff, we only considered top-rated models with thousands of positive ratings.
- Price: We chose products across a wide range of price points.
The best robot vacuums in 2023
The best robot vacuums came from a wide variety of cleaning brands, including iRobot, Eufy, Shark, Bissell and Roborock. Each brand has its own strengths and weaknesses, highlighted in our recommendations below.
Best overall: iRobot
iRobot Roomba i3 EVO (3150)
What we like: Intelligent mapping software, good value
This is a top-rated robot vacuum with middle-of-the-pack pricing in Roomba’s lineup. It is more affordable than most premium robot vacuums, but still has intelligent mapping and navigation. The machine automatically maps your space on its first startup. Using the iRobot Home app, you can see how the robot has mapped out your space, set no-go zones around spaces that may be complicated to navigate (or that you simply want the vacuum to avoid) and create a cleaning schedule for the robot to follow. Underneath it uses one corner sweeping brush and two long central rolling brushes to vacuum.
This model is also available bundled with a self-emptying docking station, available new or refurbished directly from the brand.
Capacity: 419ml | Mapping: Yes | No-go zones: Yes | AI obstacle avoidance: No | Run time: 75 minutes | App: Yes | Auto-emptying: With separate add-on base station
Best budget: Eufy
Eufy RoboVac 11S
What we like: An affordable entry-point into robot vacuums
CNBC Select reporter Ana Staples bought this robot vacuum over a year ago on sale. “For the price, it does the job,” she says. It is smaller than most other robot vacuums, meaning it is better suited to going under couches and beds. Underneath, you’ll find two corner sweeping brushes and one central rolling brush.
The Eufy 11S isn't all that smart — it doesn’t use intelligent mapping technology like some of our other top picks. Staples notes that it bumps into furniture, cannot handle rugs and gets “lost” from time to time. But at about $200, it is much cheaper than most of the competition.
Capacity: 600ml | Mapping: No | No-go zones: No | AI obstacle avoidance: No | Run time: Up to 100 minutes | App: No | Auto-emptying: No
Best budget self-emptying: Shark
Shark IQ XL (AV1010AE)
What we like: Good value for a robot with an included base station
Select updates editor Mili Godio uses this self-emptying Shark robot vacuum to help reduce the amount of manual cleaning she has to do in her small apartment. Setup was easy, with the vacuum navigating and mapping out her space with a click of the “clean” button.
Godio particularly likes this vacuum’s self-emptying and charging base station. The robot will go back to its base station whenever it's full and empty debris into the base station’s larger canister. The base can hold up to 45 days worth of dirt and debris, according to the brand, but Godio empties it twice a month, “just to be safe.”
Using the SharkClean app, you can set up specific no-go zones, create a cleaning schedule, and see the robot’s map of your space.
Capacity: 160ml robot, 1845ml base station | Mapping: Yes | No-go zones: Yes | AI obstacle avoidance: No | Run time: Up to 90 minutes | App: Yes | Auto-emptying: Yes, with included base station
Best budget vacuum and mop combo: Bissell
Bissell SpinWave Wet and Dry Robot Vacuum (3115)
What we like: A more affordable vacuum and mop combo
Kathy Turley, the director of marketing at Home Clean Heroes, says this vacuum and mop robot from Bissell is one of the “best for hardwood floors.” It comes with two tanks: one for vacuuming and one for mopping. To switch between vacuuming and mopping, you have to physically swap the tanks on the robot.
The mopping mode uses microfiber mop pads that are machine washable. In mopping mod, the machine will avoid soft surfaces like rugs, according to the brand.
One thing to note: Turley says that the navigation on this Bissell is not perfect. “In some cases, you may find it cleaning the same area of your floor several times,” she says.
Capacity: 400ml | Mapping: No | No-go zones: No | AI obstacle avoidance: No | Run time: 100 minutes | App: Yes | Auto-emptying: No
Best premium vacuum and mop combo: Roborock
What we like: Vacuums and mops, long battery life
The S7 is a premium, top-rated vacuum and mop combo. It has both vacuum and mopping tools built-in, and can quickly switch between the two tasks. Underneath, you’ll find a large mop pad, a central rolling brush, and a corner sweeping brush. When the robot detects carpet, the mop underneath lifts up out of the way, according to the brand.
Using the app, you can create no-go zones as well as no-mop zones. You can also pair it with a S7 base-station to add auto-emptying and charging functionality.
Capacity: 470ml | Mapping: Yes | No-go zones: Yes | AI obstacle avoidance: No | Run time: 180 minutes | App: Yes | Auto-emptying: With separate add-on base station
How to shop for robot vacuums
Robot vacuums are designed to make cleaning simple, but the machines themselves can be complicated to shop for, with confusing model names and lots of marketing-speech attached. Our experts highlighted a few factors to keep in mind as you shop:
Consider the size of your living space
Depending on the size and layout of your living space, you may need a larger or multiple robot vacuums. If you live in a multi-floor space, having a second robot vacuum can be helpful so you don’t have to carry one up and down the stairs, Prouty says.
Turley says that the size of your space is important too. Cleaning a medium size space can take a robot vacuum around two hours of battery. If you are looking to clean an even larger space, Turley recommends something with even longer battery life, or charging mid-routine. If you live in a large space, consider a robot vacuum with a charging base station like the Shark IQ XL to avoid potential battery life problems.
Special features for pet owners
Pet owners should prioritize a few features. “Pet owners whose pets occasionally have an accident in the house will want to look for a model that can avoid pet waste,” says Prouty. From our top picks, the iRobot Roomba J7+ is the best at object detection and avoidance.
Both Prouty and Turley note that if you have a household with multiple people and pets, you’ll want to run your robot vacuum daily. This may make a robot vacuum with an auto-emptying base station a worthwhile investment, “[A base station] lets the robot empty its contents into a larger container so you aren't constantly having to clean out the dust bin,” says Prouty.
Set reasonable expectation
Robot vacuums are extremely convenient, and can keep your space cleaner. They are not a replacement for hand vacuuming, mopping and cleaning, our experts note. Even the most advanced robot vacuums have limitations. “Some are limited in getting under low furniture because of their height,” says Prouty. “Stairs or steep drop offs are still problematic. And they are not as powerful as full sized vacuums.”
Turley also says that robot vacuums will often clean in irregular patterns, not the usual straight lines of a human-operated vacuum. “If irregular vacuum marks will drive you crazy, you might be better off sticking to a traditional vacuum,” says Turley.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Kathy Turley is the director of marketing at Home Clean Heroes, a customizable home cleaning service company with locations in six states.
- Carl Prouty is a product specialist at Abt Electronics, a US electronics, appliance and furniture retailer.
Why trust Select?
Harry Rabinowitz is a reporter at Select who has covered consumer tech for over three years. For this piece, he spoke with experts in both the cleaning and electronics industry to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of robot vacuums. He also spoke with members of the Select team who own their own robot vacuums.
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