It's a conundrum, isn't it? You'd like your place to feel cleaner, but you're also too lazy to vacuum. What to do?
For one thing, you could "hire" a robot vacuum that will take away the tiresome chore of actually moving your vacuum around. Now, robot vacuums aren't perfect. They sometimes don't quite get to those hard-to-reach places that only a human touch can take care of. Also, you're not entirely off the hook for physical labor, as you're going to need to remove cords you have lying around, pick up any water dishes your pets utilize off the floor (you really want to keep these things dry) and, in order to get the best results, move your furniture around so the device can move around unobstructed. If you have kids, you'll also want to do a floor inspection for Legos, dice, and any other tiny items that would be sucked up and disappear in the vacuum.
That said, if you make a small effort, robot vacuums can save you a lot of cleaning time. It's easy to turn on your Roomba or other robot vac a few times a week, and thus make deeper cleaning a more occasional endeavor. Many of these devices come with timers, so they can run while you are at work or doing errands, and you can return to a freshly vacuumed house.
Best overall: iRobot Roomba s9+ (9550) Robot Vacuum
Editor's pick: Shark ION Robot Vacuum
Best for smart home integration: Samsung Electronics R7065 Robot Vacuum
Basic, low cost: Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11s
Integrates with Alexa controls: 360 S7 Robot Vacuum
Best Robot Vacuum for Pets: Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum Cleaner & Mop System
How to pick the best robot vacuum for your home
Before you figure out which robot you'd like to clean your place, here's some advice to get the most out of your device, courtesy of Bailey Carson, Head of Cleaning at Handy, the New-York based online marketplace for home services.
- When you’re buying a robot vacuum, think about your home — and, specifically, the spaces you’re expecting it to clean. Do you have a lot of corners and crevices that might be hard to reach with a circular-shaped robot vacuum? Is your furniture high off the ground or closer to the floor? Do you have different flooring throughout the house? Based on your home, you’ll want to look for a robot vacuum that meets your needs. Or, perhaps, you'll realize that a robot vacuum doesn't really work for your space.
- Some robot vacuum cleaners are certified to remove allergens while cleaning. If you or someone else in your home has allergies, look at the features of each robot vacuum and find one that is certified by a reputable organization, like the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, to help clean the air while it’s cleaning the floors.
- Robot vacuums can sense large obstacles, but things like curtain strings or small toys can get in the way. Before you run your robot vacuum, be sure to clear the area from any small objects that might get caught in the vacuum so you don’t have to worry about it getting jammed.
- Look closely at the warranty that comes with your vacuum, in case anything goes wrong and it needs to be repaired.
It's important to clean your robot vacuum regularly so that it can roam around your place for years. Haniya Rae, an editor at Consumer Reports, says, "You want to make sure you empty the dustbin frequently and wipe off its sensors so it can keep cleaning well. They're pretty sturdy and likely won't get broken by bumping into things."
Rae adds that you should "do your best to keep it from vacuuming up stuff like pet waste or spilled strawberry jam, which requires a lot more cleaning and could damage its internal hardware." Factor in some added expenses if you plan to keep your robot vacuum for the long haul. "These typically run on lithium ion batteries, and you might have to buy one every couple of years to keep it running well," Rae says.
With all of this in mind, here are suggestions for the best robotic vacuums, according to cleaning experts.
Best Roomba and other robot vacuums
1. Best overall: iRobot Roomba s9+ (9550) Robot Vacuum
Roomba is the best-known robovac brand, especially if you're a Parks & Recreation fan. Like many well-known names, it costs more in general, but you can still buy iRobot Roomba models for around $300, or even less than $250.
Still, David Cusick, the Durham-based executive editor of the online home resource House Method, says, "If you (or a loved one) simply must have a name-brand Roomba, then go for the best. Yes, the s9+ is pricey, but for the expense, you get self-emptying capabilities and some of the best cleaning results available on the consumer market.
2. Editor's pick: Shark ION Robot Vacuum
Even if you're trying to save money, you can still get a fancy robot vacuum with all kinds of features. Robin Brown is the San Francisco-based CEO at the customize coins and pins company Vivipins, and with her experience in the e-commerce industry, she likes the Shark Ion Robot Vacuum.
"Shark ION Robotic vacuum has three powerful brushes for cleaning. These three brushes are known as tri-brushes, including multi-surface brush, channel brushes, and side brushes. These brushes clean all kinds of trash on the surfaces," she says. "The sensor in this vacuum enables it to avoid any kind of damage, such as hitting walls, stairs, or furniture."
Brown says that unlike some cheaper models, this one is smartphone ready. "There is an app called SharkClean for Shark ION Robotic vacuum. This app controls the cleaning process according to the assigned schedule. The vacuum is easily cleaned through Google Assistant and Alexa."
3. Best for smart home integration: Samsung Electronics R7065 Robot Vacuum
If you're willing to throw down some cash for a that really gets in there and does come with the bells and whistles, then Rae says, "On the higher end, Samsung POWERbot R7065 is much more powerful, and can pick up fine grains of sand off bare floors, and can be scheduled with Samsung's Smart Things app."
4. Basic, low cost: Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11s
Courtesy of Amazon
Some robot vacuums can be controlled by smartphone apps. But if you're not into the bells and whistles and just want a basic, low-cost robot vacuum, then Rae says that Eufy RoboVac will get the job done. "On the low end, Eufy 11S can clean bare floors well, but you can't use an app to program—it's not WiFi enabled."
5. Integrates with Alexa controls: 360 S7 Robot Vacuum
So don't want to spend a great deal of money but you still want a robovac you can control with your phone? Cusick understands. "Controlling your robot vacuum via the app is addicting, and far simpler than using magnetic tape like with cheaper models," he says. "360 makes a wide range of lesser-known vacuums that can really impress with their power and ease-of-use capabilities, like Alexa integration." What's more, we've seen the 360 S7 available at Amazon with a $100 off coupon.
Best Robot Vacuum for Pets
6. For pet owners: Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum Cleaner & Mop System
Pets bring joy, companionship, snuggles and lots and lots of fur. If you're constantly having to clean-up after your pooch or kitty, then John Cho, the London-based Founder of My Pet Child, an online "resource for pet owners struggling due to COVID-19," has a robovac suggestion, especially if one of your little adorables has an anxious disposition.
"I am an avid pet lover and foster many animals at a time, so hair and kitty litter are always an issue around the house. But, I need a vacuum that is super quiet so my dog doesn't freak out. It was an investment, but I purchased the Roborock S6 vacuum because it had great reviews and it truly is as good if not better than a Roomba," he says. "It has enough suction to get those stubborn dog and cat hairs but is quiet enough that my dog just ignores it entirely. It's also half the price of a Roomba, so though expensive, it's a great deal for a robo vac."