The 6 Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuums of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Plus, expert advice on maintaining your robot vacuum for years to come.

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.

best self-emptying robot vacuums

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

A self-emptying robot vacuum is a step up from a traditional robot vacuum, since it makes the vacuuming process almost completely hands-free. Instead of having to manually empty your vacuum, the robot vacuum automatically releases the contents of the dustbin directly into its docking station.

“Self-emptying is a very good feature and allows the customer to empty the dust container once a week,” says Steve Dodge, CEO of SoCal Robot Repair. (For context, regular robot vacuums often need to be emptied after every use.)

To find the best self-emptying robot vacuums, we tested 17 models and evaluated them on factors like ease of emptying, effectiveness, maneuverability, noise level, and more. We also received expert tips from Dodge, as well as Airbnb cleaning specialist Whitney White, for expert tips on how to choose the best robot vacuum for your household’s needs.

Our Top Picks
Best Overall Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum:
iRobot Roomba j7+ Robot Vacuum at Amazon
Best Budget Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum:
Yeedi Vac Station 3000Pa at Amazon
Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum for Carpet:
Ecovacs Deebot T10 Omni Robot Vacuum Mop Combo at Amazon
Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum for Hardwood:
Roborock S8 Pro Ultra at Amazon
Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum for Pet Hair:
Ecovacs Deebot T9+ at Amazon
Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum/Mop Combo:
Shark AI Ultra Robot Vacuum & Mop at Amazon

Best Overall Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum

iRobot Roomba j7+ Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum

5
iRobot Roomba j7+ Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Effectiveness
    5/5
  • Noise Level
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Features
    5/5
  • Ease of Emptying
    5/5
What Stands Out
  • It’ll send you photos of obstacles so it can learn what to avoid and what to clean around.

What Could Be Improved
  • We wish it came with more disposal bags (it comes with two).

For an excellent self-emptying robot vacuum that will never let you down, look no further than this great option from iRobot. It’s a highly powerful and effective vacuum cleaner that can be used on hardwood floors, carpets, and rugs with equal efficiency. Out of all the robot vacuums we tested, this one has the easiest and most efficient self-emptying feature. It self-empties into an enclosed bag for up to 60 days, so you never have to touch the dustbin contents or release them back into the air, and the robot knows when it’s full and empties on its own. It only comes with two bags, so you’ll have to buy more, but a 10-pack currently costs $30 (which should last you for well over a year).

What really sets it apart, though, is the fact that you can use the iRobot app to schedule cleanings in different rooms of your home, as well as have the vacuum map out your home’s overall area to get a strong sense of where it can and can’t go. Unlike other robot vacuums, we found that it learned the areas very quickly and needed very little adjusting. Plus, setting up the app is a fast and painless process, and it comes with very useful features—the robot will take pictures of obstacles and send them to you, so you can tell it to avoid the area or clean around it.

Additionally, we found that this lightweight and quiet vacuum is very effective at picking up pet hair, thanks to an edge-sweeping brush that gets under table legs and by baseboards with ease. Unfortunately, there are no other extra attachments, as well as no power or speed settings, but with a vacuum this top-notch, we promise that you won’t be missing out. 

Price at time of publish: $800

Dimensions: 13.34 x 3.4 inches | Dustbin Capacity: N/A | Battery Life: Approx. 75 minutes | Wi-Fi Connectivity: Yes | Smart Home Connectivity: Amazon Echo, Google Home

Best Budget Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum

Yeedi Vac Station 3000Pa

4.2
Yeedi Vac Station 3000Pa

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Effectiveness
    3.3/5
  • Noise Level
    4/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Features
    3/5
  • Ease of Emptying
    5/5
What Stands Out
  • It also has mopping capabilities, which is very impressive for the price.

What Could Be Improved
  • It doesn’t handle hair very well, so pet owners should look elsewhere.

This model from Yeedi costs several hundred dollars less than our best overall pick, making it a great option for people who don’t want to spend upwards of $1,000 on a self-emptying robot vacuum. Its price is especially great considering the Yeedi Vac Station’s extra features. We loved the self-emptying bin for its ease of use (it empties automatically when entering the docking station) and lack of mess when removing the dust bag from the docking station. Plus, you can leave the dust bag in the docking station for up to 30 days, preventing you from having to replace it very often.

In terms of performance, we found that you do get what you pay for. This robot vacuum took a few tries to pick up debris, and when it did pick up hair, it got tangled in the brush roll and wheels. With that in mind, we don’t recommend this robot vacuum for people who live with animals who really shed—especially since the dustbin fills very quickly, especially when there’s a lot of hair to pick up. And after six months of consistent use, the self-emptying feature started to get finicky, and sometimes wouldn’t completely empty. 

On the other hand, this robot was able to maneuver around our home quite well and easily avoided obstacles. This vacuum comes with a built-in mop feature that also had varied results in our tests. It was able to wipe up coffee easily but left a sticky residue after cleaning up the syrup. Overall, we think the Yeedi Vac Station worked well enough for the price point, since it did manage to clean our floors—though it took some time.

Price at time of publish: $500

Dimensions: 13.8 x 3 inches | Dustbin Capacity: 0.42 liters | Battery Life: 3.3 hours | Wi-Fi Connectivity: No | Smart Home Connectivity: No

Yeedi Vac Station Robot Vacuum and Mop, Self-Emptying 3 in 1

Better Homes & Gardens / Henry Wortock

Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum for Carpet

Ecovacs Deebot T10 Omni Robot Vacuum and Mop Combo

4.8
Ecovacs Deebot T10 Omni Robot Vacuum and Mop Combo

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Effectiveness
    5/5
  • Noise Level
    4/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Features
    4.8/5
  • Ease of Emptying
    4.8/5
What Stands Out
  • It comes with its own built-in voice control system.

What Could Be Improved
  • You’ll need to refill the water tank fairly often if you want to use the mopping feature.

If keeping carpets clean is your main concern, we’ve got the robot vacuum for you. This model from Ecovacs is a combination vacuum and mop, making it ultra effective at picking up debris and leaving floors looking fresh. We were surprised at how intuitive it was to use, and we were impressed at how it navigated easily around chairs, tables, and tight spaces thanks to its mapping technology.

Setting up the vacuum is simple, and you can schedule cleanings and start the mapping process via the brand’s app. It may take some time to get everything figured out, but once you do, you’ll be thrilled with the results. Not only can the vacuum hold a large amount of debris and require infrequent emptying, but its mopping feature is notably effective, cleaning pretty much every mess we threw at it.

On the downside, you’ll need to refill the water tank fairly often, which can be frustrating, since mopping can’t continue until you refill. But as long as you stay on top of that, you’ll be totally set. “Our home is so much cleaner and brighter with this in it,” said our testers, adding that the vacuum has “given me easily at least 30 minutes of my day back.”

Price at time of publish: $1,200

Dimensions: 14.25 x 4.07 inches | Dustbin Capacity: 3 liters | Battery Life: 150-260 minutes | Wi-Fi Connectivity: Yes | Smart Home Connectivity: Amazon Echo, Google Home

Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum for Hardwood

Roborock S8 Pro Ultra

4.8
Roborock S8 Pro Ultra

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Effectiveness
    5/5
  • Noise Level
    4/5
  • Maneuverability
    4.8/5
  • Features
    4.5/5
  • Ease of Emptying
    4.8/5
What Stands Out
  • You can choose between many different modes for power and noise level.

What Could Be Improved
  • It has a hefty price tag, even for a robot vacuum.

Need a self-emptying robot vacuum that’s ideal for use on hardwood floors? Check out this option from Roborock, which is a seriously high-powered and versatile cleaning tool that vacuums, mops, self-dries, and more with little effort on your end required.

You can choose from several modes when operating this robot, like simultaneous vacuuming/mopping and vacuum-only, so you can get the exact clean you want. It also comes with a variety of features, like self-drying and even self-refilling, as well as modes that control the noise level so you can keep the machine running while you hold a conversation or watch TV. 

The vacuum works equally well on rugs and tiles as it does hardwood, and on messes of all sizes. Plus, the spacious debris bag only needs to be emptied infrequently, and the app will tell you when it’s time, in addition to letting you schedule cleanings. We love that you can even activate it when you’re out of the house so you can come home to clean floors—and one less chore on your to-do list. 

This is a pretty expensive vacuum, however, so it won’t be the right pick for everyone. But if you can swing the cost, you’ll be so glad you did, because this vacuum is a true game-changer.

Price at time of publish: $1,600

Dimensions: 13.9 x 3.8 inches | Dustbin Capacity: N/A | Battery Life: 180 minutes | Wi-Fi Connectivity: Yes | Smart Home Connectivity: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Siri Shortcuts

Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum for Pet Hair

Ecovacs Deebot T9+

4.9
Ecovacs Deebot T9+

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Effectiveness
    5/5
  • Noise Level
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    5/5
  • Features
    5/5
  • Ease of Emptying
    5/5
What Stands Out
  • It has a powerful suction that easily picks up hair and other small debris.

What Could Be Improved
  • It doesn’t feature smart home connectivity.

Without the right cleaning tools, it’s easy for pet hair to feel like it’s everywhere in your home. Rest assured that with the Ecovacs Deebot T9+, that simply won’t happen. During testing, this robot vacuum was able to pick up hair and other debris with ease—in fact, we found that our socks even had less on them after walking around the house. The vacuum’s self-emptying mechanism also made cleaning up pet hair even more hassle-free, and we loved that it has a built-in air freshener to help clear the air of pet smells.

In addition to sucking up pesky pet hair, we found that this vacuum was able to quickly pick up nearly everything off the floor—including surprising objects like screws and zip ties. We also found it to be incredibly quiet compared to other robot vacuums, so it can be used during the day without causing distractions. It’s so quiet, in fact, that we sometimes didn’t even realize it had entered the room. 

This vacuum is extremely impressive at moving around obstacles. According to one tester: “My dog detested my old robot vacuum because it kept running into him until it turned around. This is no longer a problem with this robot vacuum. There are times when my dog will lay directly in the path that the robot vacuum would normally travel to come back home, and the vacuum will reroute around him.” If that’s not pet-friendly, we’re not sure what is.

Price at time of publish: $800

Dimensions: 13.9 x 3.7 inches | Dustbin Capacity: 0.42 mL | Battery Life: 175 minutes | Wi-Fi Connectivity: Yes | Smart Home Connectivity: No

Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum/Mop Combo

Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot Vacuum & Mop

4.2
Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot Vacuum & Mop

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Effectiveness
    5/5
  • Noise Level
    5/5
  • Maneuverability
    4.9/5
  • Features
    5/5
  • Ease of Emptying
    4.5/5
What Stands Out
  • It has a very powerful suction and can even clean grout.

What Could Be Improved
  • We wish it came with a storage spot for the mop attachment.

If you really want to save on time and effort when it comes to cleaning your home, we suggest picking up a vacuum and mop combo like this excellent option from Shark. The 2-in-1 device will powerfully and efficiently tackle every room of your home, sucking up debris, scrubbing floors, and leaving shine in its wake. Plus, it has a HEPA filter, so it traps in allergens without releasing them back into the air.

You can control the vacuum/mop via a simple-to-use app, and set up the mapping function so it can get the lay of the land. We found that it takes some time to get the hang of the space, and requires a few cleanings to really understand where it should and shouldn’t go. You can choose between several power modes (eco, normal, and max). The device, which is particularly good at picking up pet hair, transitions extremely well between hardwood, carpets, and rugs, so you can feel good about using it on all surfaces. 

Switching between the vacuum and mop modes is a breeze, as long as you remember to take off the mop attachment for carpeted areas and clean out the filters on occasion. The machine comes with mopping pads and a side brush, too, for extra help. We were deeply impressed with this robot’s mopping capabilities, and even found that it could reach and clean white grout with no problem. In terms of cons, we wish that there was a spot on the base for storing the mop attachment, and it would be great if it could know when to stop mopping if it reaches the carpet. 

Price at time of publish: $700

Dimensions: 14.96 x 5.69 inches | Dustbin Capacity: N/A | Battery Life: N/A | Wi-Fi Connectivity: Yes | Smart Home Connectivity: Amazon Echo

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a truly hands-free robot vacuum that self-empties with ease, we highly recommend the iRobot Roomba j7+ Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum. It’s powerful, effective, and very smart, and will even send you photos of obstacles so it knows what to avoid and go around. We also love that you can schedule cleanings in specific rooms and areas, and that the app is so easy to use.

Our Testing Process

We tested 17 self-emptying robot vacuums in our Lab and assessed them based on setup, effectiveness, noise level, maneuverability, features, ease of emptying, and overall value. Our first test involved taking the robot vacuums out of their boxes and evaluating how quickly and easily we could assemble the product.

Next, our testers evaluated the effectiveness of the robot vacuum by putting debris—wig hair, faux fur hair, Cheerios, and sand—on the hard floor and rug to see if it could completely suck up those materials in a two-minute time period. If the vacuum couldn’t, we noted how many additional passes it took and if any of the debris got stuck in the machine, like in the wheels and brush roll.

For the robot vacuums that had a mopping feature, we tested each model’s effectiveness by putting coffee and syrup on the floor and seeing how well it was able to clean the mess in a two-minute time period. We noted if it took multiple passes and if there was any smearing or leftover sticky residue. We also judged the maneuverability of these machines by seeing if they could easily slide under furniture, go between chair legs, and transition from the rug to the floor (and vice versa) without any issues. We also left out a USB cable, a sock, and chocolate pudding (to simulate pet waste) to see if the robot vacuums could detect them and successfully avoid them.

Finally, we evaluated the ease of emptying each robot vacuum. We noted if the robot vacuum successfully emptied its own contents by itself without any errors or malfunctioning. We also considered the size of the dustbin and bag, how many days you could leave the dust bag in the docking station, and if emptying the dust bag made any mess.

Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuums

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

For the robot vacuums that have a mopping feature, we tested each model’s effectiveness by putting coffee and syrup on our floor and seeing how well it was able to clean the mess in a two-minute time period. We noted if it took multiple passes and if there was any smearing or leftover sticky residue. Our testers also judged the maneuverability of these machines by seeing if they could easily slide under furniture, go between chair legs, and transition from the rug to the floor (and vice versa) without any issues. We also left out a USB cable, a sock, and chocolate pudding (to simulate pet waste) to see if the robot vacuums could detect them and successfully avoid them.

Finally, our testers evaluated the ease of emptying each robot vacuum. We noted if the robot vacuum successfully emptied its own contents by itself without any errors or malfunctioning. We also considered the size of the dustbin and bag, how many days you could leave the dust bag in the docking station, and if emptying the dust bag made any mess.

How to Shop for Self-Emptying Robot Vacuums

Capacity

Capacity is an important factor to consider when shopping for robot vacuums because it determines how much debris it can hold and how much can be stored in a dust bag before it needs to be replaced. Because of their very small size, robot vacuums can only hold so much (upwards of two cups). Before you buy one, assess how much debris would need to be picked up from your floors. If your floors are more likely to be riddled with frequent little messes, such as those from kids or pets, then it’s best to go with a robot vacuum with a larger dustbin. But according to Steve Dodge, CEO of SoCal Robot Repair, there isn’t a large range of dustbin capacity between robot vacuums, so don’t spend too much time searching for the largest. The dustbin capacities of the models on our list range from 0.2 to 0.42 liters.

Another thing to consider is how often you want to change the dust bag. The dust bag, located in the docking station, is usually able to hold a lot more, so you don’t need to empty it frequently. In fact, most manufacturers specify how many days you can leave the dust bag in the docking station before it needs to be emptied. If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy having to empty dust and debris, get a robot vacuum with a docking station that only needs to be emptied every couple of months. However, Dodge says that households with furry friends shouldn’t wait too long to empty the dust bag, as pet messes can quickly cause a smell.

Best Self-Emptying Robot Vaccums

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Battery Life

The average battery life of a robot vacuum on one charge is between 1.5 to 2 hours, according to Dodge, although it depends on the vacuuming mode you’re using, the type of floor, and the condition of the battery. If you want your robot vacuum to clean the entirety of your apartment or home, choose one with a longer battery life. But if you’re only programming it to run in dirtier areas of your home, such as your dining area or kitchen floors where bits of food are bound to fall on the floor, you may not need a robot vacuum with a very long battery life.

Wi-Fi and Smart Home Connectivity

While it’s not essential for a self-emptying robot vacuum to have Wi-Fi and smart home connectivity, both features are undoubtedly helpful. Many self-emptying robot vacuums are able to be connected to Wi-Fi, which can be hugely convenient since you can use that to set up “automatic/set run times, a mapping feature, mop/vacuum switching features,” and more, says Whitney White, Airbnb cleaning specialist. 

It’s also highly convenient for a robot vacuum to have smart home connectivity, which enables you to easily control it via devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, even if you’re not in the same room—or even in the house at all.

Noise

When choosing a self-emptying robot vacuum, it’s important to consider how noisy it may be during use. Most robot vacuums produce between 70 and 80 decibels, which is about equivalent to a lawn mower or garbage disposal. Also, “most robot vacuums are a little noisier while they self-empty, but luckily the feature is a quick process,” adds White. If you’re concerned about the noise level, opt for a robot vacuum that features a Quiet Mode, and/or try to schedule your cleanings for when you’ll be out of the home and away from the sound.

Price

Self-emptying robot vacuums vary greatly in price, with most models costing anywhere from $500 to $1,500. The more expensive devices tend to boast helpful features like mapping and scheduling capabilities, quiet modes, long battery lives, and attachments like side roller brushes. When figuring out your price cap, think first about which features, if any, are most important to you, and then you’ll be able to determine what types of robot vacuums are going to fit your bill.

More Self-Emptying Robot Vacuums to Consider

iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum: There’s a lot to like about this robot vacuum from iRobot, including its skill at navigating corners and above-average mapping abilities. Still, it’s not great with picking up larger debris, and its suction isn’t as powerful as others we tested.

Roborock S7+ Robot Vacuum with Auto-Empty Dock: As for this robot vacuum, it’s quite good at mopping and cleaning carpet, and it’s also pretty quiet as compared to other models. That said, it tends to require cleanup before and after use to make sure it doesn’t get stuck on any debris, and we feel it’s not worth the high price.

Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuums

Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Questions You Might Ask

How does a self-emptying robot vacuum work?

These types of robot vacuums automatically empty the dustbins into their docking stations. Within the docking station is a dust bag that collects all the debris. Instead of emptying the dustbin every time you vacuum, all you have to do is simply remove the docking station’s bag when it’s full and replace it. This feature is usually designed to filter out and trap fine dust particles that would otherwise release into your home’s air, making it a great option for people with household allergies.

What is the lifespan of a self-emptying robot vacuum?

“The typical lifespan is four years,” according to White, which means you should be able to get plenty of use out of your vacuum, as long as you maintain it regularly. Luckily, “the self-emptying feature on a robot vacuum typically only needs attention every six months,” White adds, and most robot vacuums will alert you when they need a new emptying bag.

Are self-emptying robot vacuums worth the price?

It depends on your household and how much time you want to spend cleaning. “The most important advantage of a vacuum robot is the absence of a human being in the cleaning process,” says Dodge.

That said, we think self-emptying robot vacuums are worthwhile investments for people who want to minimize the amount of time spent cleaning. They would also work well for households that experience frequent small messes to the point where someone would have to pull out a regular vacuum nearly every day to clean them up.

Dodge says that a robot vacuum’s power is equivalent to a medium-sized regular vacuum, so it is best used to get rid of the short hair and regular dust that accumulate around the house. So if you’re looking to chuck your regular vacuum in lieu of a robot vacuum, don’t. In fact, the biggest mistake Dodge sees people make with robot vacuums is not knowing that there are limits to their cleaning abilities.

“A robot vacuum isn’t an industrial vacuum. It can support cleanliness in your home but can’t clean up a big mess, like after some renovation or big party,” he says. “If you purchase a robot vacuum, first clean the house with regular means then start to regularly use the robot.” As such, investing in a self-emptying robot vacuum is great for homes with children and pets, as well as high-mess areas, such as kitchens and dining rooms, that would otherwise be hard to keep clean.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Rachel Center, a product reviews home writer for Real Simple, and Rachel Simon, a writer for Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, The New York Times, and many other publications. We researched the best self-emptying robot vacuums and tested 17 of the most popular options, evaluating them on ease of use, value, effectiveness, noise level, and more. We also spoke to Steve Dodge, CEO of SoCal Robot Repair, as well as Whitney White, Airbnb cleaning specialist, for expert tips on how to choose a self-emptying robot vacuum.

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. All products go through the same rigorous process, whether they are purchased or sent by the company.

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

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles