We Tested 31 of the Best Robot Vacuums, and These 9 Models Are Actually Worth Buying

The iRobot Roomba 694 impressed our testers because it’s effective, easy to use, and reasonably priced.

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Robot Vacuum Testing
Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Robot vacuums take the hard work out of cleaning your floors, so you have more time to check off other tasks from your to-do list. Whether you're a pet owner, an allergy sufferer, or simply someone who wants to spend less time vacuuming, investing in a robot vacuum will seriously upgrade your cleaning routine.

But given the increased demand for robot vacuums, the market has become increasingly cluttered, making it hard to decipher which are the best. That's why we tested 31 robot vacuums, both in our Lab and at home, and evaluated them on ease of setup, effectiveness, noise level, maneuverability, overall value, and more. For expert insight, we spoke with Minming Gu, co-founder of GenHigh Tech (which carries Neabot), as well as Brent Hild, director of product management at iRobot.

"Today, customers not only rely on a robot vacuum to regularly clean their floors, [but they] also prefer the added benefit of having a chore removed from their to-do list," says Hild. "Newer robot vacuums offer more powerful, more effective dirt pickup performance than previous generation robot vacuums."

Our top pick is the iRobot Roomba 694 because of its ability to lift dirt and debris from all different surface types. Plus, it's not overly complicated to use—a downfall of many modern robot vacuums—and it's very moderately priced.

Here are the best robot vacuums.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Robot Vacuum: iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum

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Who it's for: People who want a basic robot vacuum that's effective at lifting dirt and hair.

Who it isn't for: People who want a robot vacuum with smart mapping capabilities.

The iRobot Roomba 600 series—which includes this particular model—consists of affordable, durable robot vacuums that do exactly what vacuums are supposed to: Pick up debris from carpets and hard floors. This is thanks largely to the two counter-rotating brush rolls—a unique feature for a vacuum in this price range.

In our testing, the iRobot Roomba 694 did a great job cleaning up all the debris we spread on the floor—whether it was sand, hair, or cereal. It maneuvered well around furniture, including small chair legs, although it did have some trouble when going around the edges of the rug and transferring to/from the hard floor.

This robot vacuum is not as smart as some of its competitors—it doesn't come with smart mapping or object avoidance, features that typically come at a much higher price point. (It did "eat" two socks during our testing.) Instead, it travels around your home in no particular order and then heads back to its dock once the battery begins to run low. While some might prefer the more predictable coverage you get from mapping robot vacuum cleaners, this less-expensive pick achieves the same goal at the end of the day, albeit a bit more chaotically. Testers found that this basic model didn't have any trouble finding its dock at the end of a cleaning cycle and that it hardly got stuck at all.

You can connect this device to your WiFi network and use the accompanying app to turn it on or off and set a schedule. It's also compatible with voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Our tester found it easy to set up and use the app right away: "I felt like an expert using this robot vacuum within the first couple of times."

The dustbin is easy to remove and empty, but we recommend cleaning the brush rolls at least once a month, as hair can build up and affect the vacuum's performance. One tester was so impressed with the amount of hair and dirt this robot picked up that it is replacing their existing vacuum cleaner: "I decided to get rid of my cheap stick vacuum and just use the Roomba because it picks up way more dirt/hair on its own than the stick vacuum did."

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 13.4 x 3.5 inches
  • Weight: 6.8 pounds
  • Bin Capacity: 0.35 liters
  • Battery Life: 90 minutes
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Smart-Home Connectivity: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
Robot Vacuum Testing
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Best Budget Robot Vacuum: iLife V3s Pro Robot Vacuum Cleaner

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Who it's for: People who want an affordable robot vacuum that's intuitive to use and set up.

Who it isn't for: People who want a WiFi-enabled vacuum.

In a world of smart devices and WiFi-connected, well, everything, the iLife V3s Pro stands out for not being WiFi-compatible. In fact, it's the only robot vacuum on our list that is not able to connect to the internet. This may sound like a disadvantage, but if you're looking for a return to the simple on/off switch, then this model will be just right. It took just two minutes for testers to set up and begin using this robot vacuum. And since it comes with a remote, you can control it without ever leaving your couch.

Given its price point, this vacuum's ability to suck up pet hair from hard-to-reach places impressed our testers, thanks in part to the vacuum's slim, 3-inch profile. "While we were fostering a dog, it was a lifesaver in sucking up dog hair, especially under the bed where it's hard to reach with a traditional vacuum," says one tester.

We did find this vacuum to have some difficulty going over the raised trim between carpeted areas and hard floors, but it was able to muster up the strength to do so after two to three attempts. Testers found that it made its way around obstacles with ease. One even went as far as to say, "I think this was the best vacuum I tested."

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 11.8 x 3.2 inches
  • Weight: 4.9 pounds
  • Bin Capacity: 0.3 liters
  • Battery Life: 90 minutes
  • WiFi Connectivity: No
  • Smart-Home Connectivity: No
Robot Vacuum Testing
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Best Robot Vacuum for Pet Hair: Neato D9 Intelligent Robot Vacuum

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Who it's for: People who want a robot vacuum with a large dustbin and long battery life, especially anyone with pets that shed a lot.

Who it isn't for: People who want a slim, round robot vacuum that easily slides under furniture.

Our testers found the Neato D9 to be very effective all around, especially when it came to capturing fur and debris from carpeted surfaces. "Every time I run the D9, I find it picks up a substantial amount of pet hair and dust, so much so that I rarely reach for my traditional vacuum these days," says one tester.

This robot vacuum is one of just two on our list with a D-shape design, which helps it to better reach corners and clean right up against walls and furniture. Getting it setup was a breeze, but note that the Neato app—from which you can start and stop the cleaning, set a schedule, and designate no-go zones—is required to run the robot vacuum.

The bot did struggle to find its way back to the dock on the first few runs, but it got much more familiar with the space over time. That's because the vacuum creates a map after each clean, so it gets smarter with each run. However, keep in mind that if a piece of furniture is moved too close to the docking station, it can confuse the vacuum—so be sure to set up the docking station away from furniture or cluttered areas. It occasionally gets stuck on things like cables or other loose objects, so it is important to pick up clutter from the floor before cleaning. Fortunately, if the vacuum does get stuck or is unable to find its dock, the app sends a notification to your phone, so you can reposition it or return it to the docking station yourself.

The large dustbin and 200-minute runtime mean the Neato D9 is well-suited for larger spaces. At 4 inches tall, this is not the slimmest vacuum of those we tested, so it may not be able to slide under low-sitting furniture. We tested the D9, but Neato has since released a newer model, the D10, which features a longer battery life and stronger suction power, but is otherwise fairly similar to the previous model.

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 12.7 x 13.2 x 4 inches
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • Bin Capacity: 0.7 liters
  • Battery Life: 200 minutes
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Smart-Home Connectivity: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
Robot Vacuum Testing
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Best Robot Vacuum and Mop: Ecovacs Deebot N8+

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Who it's for: People who want to be able to vacuum and mop with the same appliance.

Who it isn't for: People who live in a primarily carpeted space.

Many of the latest robot vacuums double as mops—but they're less like traditional mops and more like dust mops (such as those made by Swiffer). With that in mind, our favorite robot vacuum-mop hybrid is the Ecovacs Deebot N8+ because it was the most effective at cleaning up messes, including coffee and syrup, using its mop pad. To enable the mopping function, simply clip the water tank on the vacuum and attach the mop pad behind the vacuum intake, and you can mop and vacuum simultaneously. While this function is useful for wiping up light messes like dust and light spills, it's not necessarily going to tackle sticky residue or stuck-on stains.

In our testing, the setup of this model was simple, and it was able to pick up nearly all the debris during our two-minute trial period. This robot can even detect the floor type it's on, which helps it avoid carpet when mopping hard floors and increase the suction power when vacuuming. The floor mapping function was very efficient as well. "The product did the perimeter of the room first before working methodically around furniture," says one tester. "After it was done, it docked itself easily on the first try and self-emptied."

Although the Deebot N8+ has object avoidance technology, we did find that it got stuck on a few cords along the way, so testers recommend cleaning up a bit before use. And when the cleaning cycle is finished, the vacuum returns to the dock and empties itself into the dustbag, which, according to the brand, can go up to 30 days without needing to be emptied.

Keep in mind that with most mopping robot vacuums, including the Deebot N8+, you can only use water in the tank—not a cleaning solution. This is yet another reason why these hybrid models generally won't make a sufficient replacement for regular mops. (It's worth noting that one of our testers did have success soaking the mop pad in a cleaning solution before running the device.)

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 13.8 x 3.7 inches
  • Weight: 7.8 pounds
  • Bin Capacity: 0.42 liters for vacuum, 2.5 liters for base
  • Battery Life: 110 minutes
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Smart-Home Connectivity: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

RELATED: The 7 Best Robot Mops, According to Editor Testing

Robot Vacuum Testing
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Best Robot Vacuum for Hard Floors: Eufy RoboVac G30 Edge

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Who it's for: People with primarily hard surfaces in their home who want a slim model that can slide under low-sitting furniture.

Who it isn't for: People who want a robot vacuum cleaner with smart mapping capabilities.

Our testers found the Eufy RoboVac G30 Edge to perform particularly well when cleaning hard surfaces and navigating around corners and edges. One of our favorite features of this robot vacuum is its spot-cleaning function, which allows you to direct the vacuum to a specific spot it may have missed or an area that needs some extra cleaning. And the ultra-slim body is the shortest of all those on our list at 2.85 inches, making it great for sliding under low-sitting furniture that traditional vacuums usually can't get under.

This model does not have smart mapping, so to designate certain areas as "off limits," you have to lay down magnetic boundary strips, which come included with the vacuum. Our testers found that this robot vacuum generally doesn't avoid smaller objects like socks or cords, so you'll need to do some light cleanup before you run it. And for those who want the option to use an app, this robot vacuum is WiFi-compatible and comes with a remote, so you can control it whichever way you please.

Overall, we think this is a very efficient vacuum for the price, even though it doesn't have some of the advanced features of more expensive models.

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 13 x 2.9 inches
  • Weight: 6 pounds
  • Bin Capacity: 0.6 liters
  • Battery Life: 110 minutes
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Smart-Home Connectivity: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
Robot Vacuum Testing
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Best Robot Vacuum for Carpet: iRobot Roomba j7 Robot Vacuum

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Who it's for: People who want a robot vacuum that works well on carpets and avoids obstacles and hazards.

Who it isn't for: People who are sensitive to noise might find this vacuum too loud.

Our testers found the iRobot Roomba j7 to be particularly adept at cleaning carpets. During our evaluations, this model was able to get right up against the edges of the wall and transition from carpet to hard floors (and vice versa) with ease. One tester particularly appreciated how the vacuum cleaned in an orderly pattern instead of randomly moving all over the place. It picked up all the debris we left on both the carpet and hard floors.

And if you're concerned about your vacuum running over loose objects and getting stuck, you'll appreciate that this model has advanced object avoidance. In our testing, it easily steered around small objects. There's also a front camera that takes pictures of obstacles so you can tell the robot to avoid them in the future. The robot vacuum also comes with a special guarantee that it will avoid solid pet waste—if not, iRobot will replace your device for free within a year of purchase.

Our one complaint was that it was a bit louder than its competitors, hovering around 70 decibels. We also think this vacuum is probably better suited for smaller spaces because it has the shortest battery life of all the vacuums on our list, as well as a relatively small dustbin.

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 13.3 x 3.4 inches
  • Weight: 7.5 pounds
  • Bin Capacity: 0.4 liters
  • Battery Life: 75 minutes
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Smart-Home Connectivity: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

RELATED: The 6 Best Carpet Cleaners, According to Our Testing

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Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum: Neabot NoMo Q11 3-in-1 Robot Vacuum Cleaner

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Who it's for: People with allergies or anyone who wants a low-maintenance robot vacuum.

Who it isn't for: People who want to rely on the mop function to sufficiently clean their hard floors.

According to Hild, self-emptying robot vacuums are great for people with allergies because they help prevent dust, dirt, and other debris from reentering the air when you empty the dustbin into your trash can. This is because self-emptying robot vacuums, like the Neabot NoMo Q11, automatically transfer the contents of the dustbin into a sealed, disposable bag once they return to their docking station. This model can go up to 30 days without needing to be emptied, and when it's time to do so, the bag can be tossed without worrying about any dust or allergens making their way back into the air.

In our Lab tests, we found this vacuum to move a little slower than others, only cleaning about 50 percent of the area during the two-minute trial period. However, it was able to suck up all the debris in the areas it focused on. The good news is that this vacuum has an impressive battery life of 150 minutes, so it can afford to take its time.

Unfortunately, the built-in mop function was not as effective as some of the others we tested, and it wasn't able to clean up the coffee and syrup spills. It's worth noting that the object avoidance and smart mapping technology functioned well, so it can make its way around objects and allow you to set up cleaning areas and no-go zones from the app.

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 13.7 x 3.4 inches (not including base)
  • Weight: 7.3 pounds (not including base)
  • Bin Capacity: 0.25 liters for vacuum, 2.5 liters for base
  • Battery Life: 150 minutes
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Smart-Home Connectivity: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
Robot Vacuum Testing
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Best Quiet Robot Vacuum: Eufy RoboVac X8 Hybrid

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Who it's for: People who want a quiet robot vacuum with mopping functionality.

Who it isn't for: People who are not in a position to spend a lot on a robot vacuum.

Our testers found that the Eufy RoboVac X8 Hybrid did a great job sucking up debris, hair, and dirt from all different surfaces—including tile, wood, carpet, and area rugs. In fact, one tester said the vacuum did a better job maneuvering over area rugs than their traditional vacuum does.

Where this robot vacuum really stood out was its noise level—testers say it makes hardly any sound. Our long-term tester prefers to use this model over their regular vacuum for spot cleaning because it's much quieter and can be programmed to clean specific areas on the app. Like some of the other robot vacuum cleaners we tested, this one gets smarter with use. It also creates a map in the app that allows you to designate no-go zones, select a specific room to clean, and schedule your next cleaning.

This is a hybrid model, meaning it also works as a mop for hard floors. We found it to be proficient at mopping up spills without leaving much residue behind. But as is the case with most robot vacuums, it's not going to be able to tackle super sticky, stuck-on messes as well as a traditional household mop.

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 13.6 x 3.9 inches
  • Weight: 7.7 pounds
  • Bin Capacity: 0.4 liters
  • Battery Life: 180 minutes
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Smart-Home Connectivity: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

RELATED: The 8 Best White Noise Machines for Bedrooms and Home Offices

Robot Vacuum Testing
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Best Splurge Robot Vacuum: Samsung Jet Bot AI+ Robot Vacuum

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Who it's for: People who don't want to have to pick up clutter before running their robot vacuum.

Who it isn't for: People with limited floor space or people not in a position to spend a lot on a robot vacuum.

If you're looking for a robot with all the bells and whistles, look no further. During our testing, the Samsung Jet Bot AI+ had no issues maneuvering around furniture, socks, cables, and chocolate pudding (the latter was meant to simulate pet waste). This is thanks to its 3D camera and sensors that can identify objects and avoid them as needed—meaning you don't have to worry about picking up clutter from the floor before running the vacuum. This model can even send you real-time video via the front camera by connecting it to Samsung's SmartThings app. It can also identify the type of surface that it's cleaning and adjust the suction power accordingly. Plus, this vacuum features smart mapping, so you can choose where it should clean (and where it shouldn't).

In our testing, the robot vacuum picked up all the debris we scattered on the floor and did well transitioning across different surface types. Testers described the noise level as "quiet and soothing," and it didn't rise above 64 decibels in our Lab evaluations.

When the cleaning cycle is up, the vacuum returns to the docking station and the dustbin empties into the dust bag, preventing dust and debris from releasing into the air. Another unique feature is the self-cleaning extractors, which grind up hairs around the brush roll to avoid tangling. If you can swing the steep price and have the space for the docking station, the Jet Bot AI+ will leave you wanting for nothing.

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 12.6 x 4.8 inches (not including docking station)
  • Weight: 9.6 pounds (not including docking station)
  • Bin Capacity: 0.2 liters for vacuum, 2.5 liters for base
  • Battery Life: 90 minutes
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Smart-Home Connectivity: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Bixby

RELATED: The 5 Best Cordless Vacuums, According to Our Tests

Robot Vacuum Testing
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Final Verdict

Our top pick is the iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum because it's very effective at lifting dirt from a variety of surfaces, thanks to its two counter-rotating brush rolls. Plus, it's easy to use, WiFi-compatible, and reasonably priced.

For a more budget-friendly pick, the iLife V3s Pro Robot Vacuum Cleaner is great for those who prefer the simplicity of a device with a remote rather than WiFi connectivity. It gave an impressive performance in our testing, especially when it came to cleaning pet hair, and it has a slim profile that can easily slide under furniture.

Our Testing Process

We acquired 31 of the best robot vacuum cleaners and tested them in our Lab before sending them home with our testers for at-home use. In our Lab tests, we started by evaluating the setup of each robot vacuum, following the instructions for basic assembly, and connecting to WiFi to test the app function on smart models.

Our testers also evaluated the robot vacuum's effectiveness at both vacuuming and mopping (when applicable). In our vacuum testing, we scattered a pinch of wig hair, a tablespoon of Cheerios, and a tablespoon of sand onto a hard floor and rug, and assessed how well each vacuum cleaned the mess in two minutes. To test each vacuum's mopping capabilities, we spilled a tablespoon of coffee and a drizzle of sticky syrup on the hard floor and again evaluated how well it cleaned the mess in two minutes. We also used a decibel meter to measure the noise level of each robot vacuum while running it in a small room with the door closed.

Throughout the testing process, we tried out all available features on each vacuum—including smart mapping, voice command, object avoidance, and more—and evaluated how intuitive they were to use and whether they work as advertised.

Robot Vacuum Testing
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One of the most important factors when choosing a robot vacuum is maneuverability, or the ability to get around obstacles and across different surfaces without interference. To test this, we set up an area with a medium-pile rug, couch, coffee table, and dining table. Our testers then ran the robot vacuum and took note of how well it slid under furniture, navigated around chair and table legs, and transferred from a carpeted surface to a non-carpeted one. For robot vacuums with object-avoidance technology, we placed chocolate pudding (to simulate pet waste) in the path of the vacuum to see whether it avoids it or not. We also repeated this test with a USB cable and a baby sock. (The iRobot Roomba j7 was able to maneuver around small objects very well in our testing.)

After completing our tests, we evaluated the ease of emptying each robot vacuum by preparing it for use the next use, which may include switching out the bag, dumping out the debris in the dustbin, swapping out mop pads, or, for self-emptying vacuums, directing the product to empty itself.

Finally, our testers received the price of each robot vacuum and were asked to score its overall value, taking into account its performance in the above tests. Once the Lab portion was complete, we sent the vacuums home with our testers and had them give their honest feedback after one month of use, including whether the device has become a part of their new cleaning routine. We plan to follow up with testers again after three and six months of at-home use.

How to Shop for Robot Vacuums Like a Pro

Size and Shape

The size and shape of a robot vacuum can have a substantial impact on its performance. A bulkier model will have a hard time sliding under furniture or around tight corners, after all. Be sure to pay attention to the height of the vacuum, especially if your furniture sits low to the ground. You should also take into account the size of the charging dock, as this will become a permanent fixture in your home. The major trade-off of self-emptying robot vacuums is that they come with a bulkier base to accommodate their large dustbins.

Additionally, most robot vacuums come in one of two shapes—round or D-shaped. Today's robot vacuums are mostly round, as these tend to get stuck less often, moving in and out of tight spaces with ease. D-shaped robot vacuums have the advantage when it comes to getting as close to the walls as possible because they have a flat side—but they can be clunkier to navigate. All of the models on our list are round, except for the Samsung Jet Bot AI+ and the Neato D9, both of which were able to get right up to the edge of the wall during our testing.

Battery Life

A robot vacuum's battery life directly correlates to how much area it can cover in a single cleaning. Most have a battery life of about 90 minutes, which equates to roughly 1,000 square feet of coverage. If the battery gets too low while cleaning, the robot vacuum will return to the docking station on its own, so you won't need to worry about recharging it yourself. However, longer battery life never hurts, especially when you have a large space that you want to be cleaned in a single session.

Floor Compatibility

Most robot vacuums nowadays (including all the models on our list) are designed to clean all floor types. What really distinguishes one robot vacuum from the next is its ability to transfer from carpeted to non-carpeted surfaces without getting stuck: "Robot vacuums have advanced over the years to perfect the transitions between hardwood, tile, carpet, and linoleum," says Hild.

If you have a lot of hardwood floors in your home, you may also want to consider a robot vacuum-mop hybrid (see our Special Features section below for more on this).

WiFi and Smart-Home Connectivity

Many robot vacuums on the market today are WiFi-connected and compatible with smart-home devices or voice assistants, most commonly Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Some robot vacuums require that you connect to WiFi and download an app to use them. But as it goes with technology, users often run into glitches when connecting their device to the internet—which is why we made sure to test the WiFi setup process.

The various apps hold many of the advanced features that are signature to robot vacuums, including smart mapping, scheduled cleanings, and more. "Robots that use AI and machine learning provide a more thoughtful, personalized cleaning experience by learning and knowing exactly where, when, and how a user wants their house cleaned," says Hild. "They quite literally understand the rules of the home."

However, we know that some people would rather avoid these smart features altogether. So if you're looking to avoid a smart device altogether, the iLife V3s Pro is the only product on our list that's not WiFi-connected—instead, it can be controlled via remote.

Robot Vacuum Testing
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Noise

One of the major advantages of robot vacuums is that they can run in the background while you work from home or tackle other chores. If you're one to schedule cleanings while you're out of the house, then the noise level won't matter. But if you are home while your vacuum is cleaning, you'll want to pay attention to it—especially considering they run for much longer than traditional vacuums.

Robot vacuums can range anywhere from 50 to 80 decibels. (For reference, 80 decibels is equivalent to the volume of city traffic while inside a car.) Our quietest pick, the Eufy RoboVac X8 Hybrid, measured as low as 60 decibels during our testing, which is about the volume of a normal conversation between two people.

Price

There's no getting around it: Robot vacuums are expensive. The median price of all the models we tested was $550. But considering the advanced functionality of many of them (and the fact that traditional upright and cordless vacuums can cost about the same), the price may be worth it if you're looking to spend less time vacuuming. The good news is that our best overall pick, the iRobot Roomba 694, is about half the median price of all those we tested—proving you don't necessarily need to spend more to get a good robot vacuum.

Special Features to Look For

These are extra features that, while certainly not necessary, can enhance your cleaning experience:

Smart Mapping: Manyrobot vacuums can pair with an app that allows you to control which rooms or sections of a room to clean—and which to avoid. "Those with larger spaces or open layout floor plans should consider a robot vacuum with smart mapping capabilities to ensure the robot can cover the entire level of their home," says Hild. "Smart mapping robots can seamlessly and efficiently navigate from room to room, keeping track of its location."

Hybrid Models: Some robot vacuums double as mops, with a clip-on water reservoir and a microfiber pad that will wipe the floors as you go. This can be helpful for hardwood floor maintenance, but it's not likely going to replace regular mopping, particularly for extra-tough messes.

Self-Emptying: Most people won't mind emptying their robot vacuum's dustbin after every use or so. However, if you buy a self-emptying robot vacuum, you can go anywhere from 30 to 60 days before you have to empty the base. And perhaps more importantly, self-emptying vacuums keep the dirt and other contaminants sealed, making them well-suited for people with allergies.

"Self-emptying robot vacuums trap and lock dirt, debris, and pet hair into an enclosed bag, preventing the contents from reentering the home's environment when emptying the debris into the trash," says Hild.

Just keep in mind that self-emptying vacuums will come with a larger charging dock that is used to store the debris that gets sucked out of the dustbin after each use.

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Object Avoidance: Generally, you'll need to tidy up a bit before running a robot vacuum so it doesn't run into any obstacles or get stuck on small items. But if you miss a sock or two, many robot vacuums feature object-avoidance technology, which helps steer the vacuum clear of clutter on the floor.

"New generation robot vacuums are starting to employ AI and machine learning in order to avoid common floor hazards, like cords, shoes, and socks," says Hild. "Some can even detect and avoid pet waste…imperative for those with busy, cluttered households or those with pets."

More Robot Vacuums to Consider

Yeedi Vac Station: This is another vacuum-and-mop hybrid that did a good job cleaning up the coffee and syrup and avoiding the carpet while the mop function was running. We particularly appreciated the self-emptying feature—removing the dust bag without releasing dust into the air was a cinch. However, testers found that it left behind some sticky residue after mopping.

iRobot Roomba i3 EVO: This robot is very similar to our best overall pick, but features smart mapping and a more orderly grid-line movement. It is priced slightly higher than the 694, but this may be well worth it for those who prefer more predictable coverage.

Questions You Might Ask

Are robot vacuums worth it?

When robot vacuums first hit the market, there was a lot of skepticism that these devices could be an actual floorcare system. They've since become a staple in many households, and some people rely solely on robot vacuums to keep their floors—including hardwood and carpet—clean. Robot vacuums are especially great for frequent travelers, pet owners, or anyone who wants to cut out one more chore.

A few things to keep in mind: While robot vacuums are effective on most surfaces, including low- to medium-pile carpets and hard floors, they're not as strong as traditional vacuums and can struggle with high-pile rugs or carpeting that has deeply embedded debris. They also don't climb stairs or come with attachments for cleaning upholstery, and they tend to get trapped or tangled from time to time.

However, there are some advantages to robot vacuums, too (beyond the obvious convenience factor). "Robot vacuums can also reach places a traditional vacuum cannot, like under beds and couches, and between tight spaces, like table and chair legs," says Hild.

In short, most people would benefit from a robot vacuum, but don't toss your upright vacuum just yet—especially if you have high-pile carpeting or lots of stairs.

How do you keep your robot vacuum from getting stuck?

There's no point in having a robot vacuum if you can't rely on it to move around without getting stuck. "The most important feature is how well it navigates your house," says Gu. "Having an app to manage it makes life so much easier."

Despite advanced navigational features like object avoidance or smart mapping, there is always a risk that your device will end up lodged under a piece of furniture, stuck in a tight corner, or caught on a cord. Unfortunately, this just comes with the territory, but you can help mediate this by choosing a robot vacuum with a low-profile design that will slide under most furniture. Even better? Whenever possible, pick up loose objects and tuck away loose cords before running your vacuum.

How do you clean and maintain your robot vacuum?

While robot vacuums generally require less maintenance than traditional vacuums, you should still do some regular cleaning to keep them performing at their absolute best. This includes regularly emptying the dustbin (and wiping it down as needed), gently brushing the filter, cleaning the roller and side brushes, and removing debris from the wheels. Always refer to the manufacturer for specific cleaning and care instructions.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Melanie Fincher, associate commerce editor for Real Simple with three years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content. To compile this list, we tested 31 robot vacuums in our Lab and evaluated them on setup, effectiveness, noise level, features, maneuverability, ease of emptying, and overall value. After evaluating these robot vacuums in our Lab, testers took them home and used them over the course of a month, providing feedback based on their experience. Melanie also served as one of the long-term testers for this piece, and now uses the Neato D9 almost daily to tackle the never-ending influx of cat hair into her carpet. For expert tips, she spoke with Minming Gu, co-founder of GenHigh Tech (which carries Neabot), as well as Brent Hild, director of product management at iRobot.

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. If that's the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible.

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

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