Robot vacuums are impressive devices that will clean your floors well without complaining (much). As prices have dropped, these busy little bots have become less of a luxury and more of a necessity. They can reach places most standup vacs never see (under beds and sofas) and, thanks to better batteries and robot brains, rarely get tired of cleaning.
I’ve been testing robot vacuums for five years and have run close to 50 robot vacuums all over my house in my quest to find the best. There’s been a lot of innovation in this space, which is slowly getting us closer to that Rosie the Robot dream. Robot vacuums that can actually mop are now a thing, auto-empty docks take a lot of the hassle out of cleaning your robot (although you do still need to do this), and better mapping and obstacle avoidance skills mean robot vacuums largely do get the job done. But we’re still far from a robot that can handle all your housework.
As for price: everyone and their uncle is making robot vacs now, so the market is completely oversaturated. This means you should only be paying the list price if you really want the newest model — and you want it right now. Otherwise, please don’t buy a robot vacuum unless it’s on sale.
You can expect to get a decent basic floor sweeper for under $300, a mapping auto-emptying model for $400 to $600, and a top-of-the-line bot for $800 to $900. For those who want to do the least work, you’re looking at over $1,000 for one that sweeps, mops, and cleans itself while also avoiding smearing pet poop all over your floors. (Yes, this happens. Yes, it’s happened to me).
The good news is that there are a lot of options, and whether you have a 3,000-square-foot home and three shaggy dogs or a small, stylish apartment you share with a goldfish, there’s a robot vacuum to suit your needs.
Best robot vacuum overall
The Roomba j7 is an AI-powered robot vacuum that detects and avoids common robot traps, such as cords, cables, and pet waste. It works with a stylish clean base that will clean the dirt out of its bin so you don’t have to. Read our review.
Dustbin capacity: 419ml / Auto-empty dock option: yes / Mapping: yes / AI obstacle avoidance: yes / Remote check-in: yes / Keep-out zones: yes, virtual / Brush style: dual, rubber / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Siri Shortcuts
iRobot’s Roomba j7 is the best of the best, offering excellent cleaning power, an impressive app, plenty of extra features, easy repairability, and a stylish design for under $600. Its dual rubber roller brush system is the best out there for actually getting dirt off your floors. Most other bots use single brushes and don’t get everything up the first time. If you have pets, children, or just lots of foot traffic and find it hard to keep up with your floors, the j7 will do the dirty work for you.
While this is a pricey bot, it’s the first Roomba with AI obstacle avoidance. This means it uses both a camera and some processor-powered smarts to see and avoid potential obstacles, such as power cables, shoes, socks, and pet waste. The real benefit here is that you don’t have to tidy up before you run your vacuum (although cluttered floors won’t get as clean). It also means that it rarely gets stuck during a job, so you won’t come home to a beached bot and a half-clean house. I’ve tested a number of “AI” bots, and the j7 avoids debris the most reliably.
A 2023 update added the option to use the AI camera as a home security camera, letting you check in on your home through the app when you’re away. Remote Check In is optional, live stream only, and there’s no audio. This is a feature on a few high-end vacuums, and I find it useful for checking if I left a door open or finding where my cat is hanging out for the day. I wish I could use it to check if I left the stove on, but the angle means you can only see knee-high.
For about $200 more, you can take away the chore of emptying its decent-sized bin by investing in the j7 Plus, the j7 robot vac with an auto-empty dock. This is one of the most reliable (it doesn’t get clogged), nicest-looking auto-empty docks I’ve tested. The design is compact, with some welcome aesthetic touches, such as ribbed matte black plastic casing and a leather pull tab to access the bin area, so it doesn’t look too alien in your home. It also includes a cubby to store an extra bag, though I wish you could fit more than one in there. (If you already have the j7, you can buy the dock separately for about $250.)
The Roomba j7 is a mapping robot that can learn your home’s floor plan and identify the furniture and appliances in it. So I can ask it to clean specific areas, such as in front of the fridge or behind the couch. I find this really helpful when there’s a spill mid-food prep or for a quick clean-up after a meal: “Hey Alexa, ask Roomba to clean up around the dining table.”
While most mapping robots allow you to create virtual keep-out zones — areas the robot shouldn’t venture into — this Roomba uses its AI smarts to suggest trouble spots, making creating keep-out zones a one-tap job.
I like that you can link the robot to other smart devices in your house. For example, you can set it to clean when you lock your front door or close your garage. Using the geofencing feature in the iRobot app, I had the j7 start running when I leave the house and stop when I arrive home. This works well, with the robot generally docking as I walked into the house.
The biggest downside is that Roombas are noisy. The j7 is one of the loudest vacuums I’ve tested, and you can’t adjust suction power for a quieter run as you can with almost every other robot vacuum.
A big reason I recommend Roombas is how easy they are to repair, a crucial factor for an expensive gadget you’d like to use for many years. My in-laws still have a Roomba they bought in 2007, and it works great. While parts are costly, they are readily available, including mechanical bits like wheels and the entire cleaning module. This is not the case for many of the other bots I tested. Roborock, for example, doesn’t sell spare parts beyond bags, bins, and brushes on its accessories site; you have to ship the robot to the company for any repairs.
If you are looking for the best clean for your buck and want to avoid the possibility that the robot won’t finish its run because of stray clutter, the Roomba j7 is the one to go with. Its cleaning prowess is largely unmatched thanks to the decades of experience iRobot has in this space, and it’s one of the easiest robot vacuums to use. The app is simple and uncluttered, with new features added frequently.
If you are looking for a robot that vacuums and mops, one of Roborock’s mopping robots will suit you better than iRobot’s j7 Combo, which is a j7 with a mopping pad. It doesn’t do enough with its mopping feature to justify the extra price. However, if you have a lot of high-pile rugs, the j7 tackles these better than Roborocks. In that case, I’d recommend getting the j7 and a separate mopping bot for your non-carpeted floors. iRobot’s Braava Jet m6 is a good option that can be programmed to mop after the Roomba vacuum is done. It’s often sold in a bundle. But beware, Braava Jets can’t handle high transitions at all.
Best budget robot vacuum
Dustbin capacity: 419ml / Brush style: dual rubber / Auto-empty dock option: yes / Mapping: yes / AI obstacle avoidance: no / Remote check-in: no / Keep-out zones: physical only / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Siri Shortcuts
While the Roomba j7 is the best bot if you want all the bells and whistles, the Roomba i3 Evo is the best pick for a more affordable robot vacuum. There’s no AI obstacle avoidance or app-enabled clean or keep-out zones, but it does have smart mapping (so you can control exactly which rooms it cleans and when) and a physical spot-cleaning button for doing small areas on the fly. It’s almost as powerful as the j7 and just as repairable, so it should last you longer than a cheaper vacuum from another company.
The mapping feature allows you to set a schedule for cleaning certain rooms or send it off at any time to clean just the kitchen or living room. This makes it less intrusive since it doesn’t try to clean the whole house on every run — so I didn’t find it dead in a corner as often after an annoyed family member shut it off.
For several hundred dollars less than the j7, the i3 has similar software features, the same suction level, and a slightly smaller battery. You can get it with an auto-empty dock for a list price of $550 (i.e., probably lower). The physical design is also very similar to the j7 under the hood, with two multi-surface rubber roller brushes to get more dirt up. These rubber brushes don’t get tangled by long hair the way bristle brushes can.
However, the i3 tends to bump into things more often than the j7, resulting in a few toppled chairs during testing. It isn’t the right bot for you if you have delicate items like vases on pedestals. It is a beast, however, and can tackle any floor surface you throw at it, managing most transitions with ease.
But there’s no option to add keep-out zones in the app; you’ll need to buy iRobot’s virtual walls if there are places you don’t want the robot to go. These are little towers that emit a 10-foot barrier or a four-foot circle. They cost $99 for two, so if you need more than a couple of keep-out zones (and closing a door won’t work), it’s worth going for the j7 instead.
The i3 has an attractive woven plastic gray top — a nice change from most of the shiny black plastic you find in this category (a magnet for dust, fingerprints, and scratches). It still gets stuck on common robot traps such as phone charging cables, cat toys, and the skinny feet of a lounger chair in my house. You need to tidy up a bit before setting it free, but it does better with large cables and rug tassels than many other robots. (iRobot has anti-tangle tech that makes the bot reverse course if it starts to get tangled.) This works pretty well for bigger items but, sadly, not phone charging cords.
It’s worth noting that the Roomba i4 is the same robot vacuum as the i3 Evo, so pick up whichever offers the best price.
Best midrange robot vacuum/mop
The price is high, but this is the first sub-$1,000 bot that can do everything, just not quite as well as the top-of-the-line options. It vacuums, mops, self-empties, fills its mop reservoir, and cleans and dries its oscillating mops, plus it looks nice. It can map, has virtual keep-out zones, and works with voice assistants. But there’s no AI-powered obstacle avoidance, so you have to clean up your clutter, and its single roller brush isn’t as effective as the double ones on the j7 and S8.
Dustbin capacity: 350ml / Auto-empty dock option: yes / Mapping: yes / AI obstacle avoidance: no / Remote check-in: no / Keep-out zones: yes, virtual / Brush style: single rubber / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Siri Shortcuts
The Roborock Q Revo is an excellent bot that does everything you could ask for, but not quite as well as its top-of-the-line sibling, the Roborock S8. Which is sort of the definition of a “mid-range.” But if you want a good robot vacuum and mop that gets the job done but still leaves a bit of work for you (you’ll need to pick up those socks), the Q Revo is a great choice.
It’s cheaper than the Roomba j7 that can mop (the $1,100 J7 Combo) and is better at mopping. It also does more (including cleaning its mop and refilling the tank), and unlike the i3 Evo Plus, it has keep-out zones. So, if those features are important to you, the Q Revo is a good option. It’s expensive for a mid-range bot but has features only found on much more expensive bots, making it an overall bargain.
These include a big battery, two spinning mops that can lift up over carpet (so you don’t have to remove them to vacuum the whole house), and an auto-empty, wash and fill dock for a list price of under $900. This means it will empty the vacuum’s bin, fill its mopping reservoir, and wash the mops. Most other models that do all this cost over $1,000.
The Q Revo uses the Roborock app, which is easy to use and mostly reliable. I’ve only needed to rebuild my map once while using it in the last year, and there’s now a backup option to restore maps. You can set no-go zones, clean per room, and create specific zones to clean. I like that you can create multiple zones for one job and tell the robot to go over each as many as three times.
The main thing you’re sacrificing for the lower price of this bot is less effective vacuuming. The Q Revo uses one rubber brush compared to the S8’s dual roller brushes and requires multiple passes to get everything up compared to just one or two with the S8 or J7.
There’s also no AI obstacle avoidance, so a cable or rogue sock will derail the clean. It uses what Roborock calls Reactive Tech Obstacle avoidance, so it won’t mow down big items, but it’s not intelligent enough to avoid pet poop. But this bot is a good buy if you’re fine with cleaning up before your robot runs and giving it extra time to get the job done.
As a mop, the Q Revo is almost as good as its S8 sibling, deploying spinning oscillating mops rather than the wide flat pad. The S8’s downward pressure does a slightly better job of getting out the ground-in dirt, but the Q Revo’s oscillating action tackled my ketchup test admirably. The Q Revo also washes and air dries its mops, so you don’t have to mess with that.
A feature I love on the Q Revo, which I’ve not seen on any other dock that washes mops, is a removable mop-washing area. You can pop it out and rinse it in the sink. All the other models make you get down on your hands and knees and scrub in there to get the gunk out (it gets nasty in there quickly, so you need to do this weekly).
The Q Revo dock also has a nice slimline appearance — packing the dust bag and a clean and dirty water tank into one compact tower that’s tidier looking and smaller than most docks with similar capabilities without sacrificing capacity.
A cheaper auto-empty bot
My previous pick, the Shark AI, is a cheaper auto-emptying option. It’s a loud bot that’s long on features (including mapping) and short on style but comes at a bargain. It doesn’t use bags, but can only avoid objects if they’re over four inches tall. There’s a mopping version, the Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1, or you can buy it as a stand-alone bot.
Best robot vacuum under $300
A true budget bot with no bells and whistles, just a determination to get the job done. With a 2-hour runtime, decent-sized bin, and tank-like wheels that can get over most large obstacles, the Shark is a good workhorse for a low price. It’s loud and will get tangled on cables, but the app is easy to use, and it works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home for voice and smart home control.
Dustbin capacity: 425ml / Auto-empty dock option: no / Mapping: no / AI obstacle avoidance: no / Remote check-in: no / Keep-out zones: no / Brush style: single bristle / rubber hybrid / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home
The Shark Ion is one of the best budget bots I’ve tested. It has a big bin (although not as big as I’d like), a simple app experience, and a decent battery for a very good price. It’s not fancy but it gets the job done.
The Shark is a good bot to stick under a bed or desk and set to run when you’re not home, as it’s loud and rattly and will bang into everything in its track. But its bullish nature and 120-minute runtime mean it’s less prone to getting stuck (although cables and socks will throw a wrench in its efforts as there’s no obstacle avoidance).
Unlike a lot of budget bots, it uses a hybrid roller brush that’s bristle and plastic and doesn’t get as tangled as standard bristle brushes. Its short, squat side brushes are surprisingly effective at getting debris into the robot’s path, and because they’re short, they’re less prone to getting tangled in stray cords.
But the best thing ‘bout this bot is its tank-like wheels that will roll right over anything in its path, including high transitions between rooms and obstacles like lounger chair legs and other furniture traps that regularly stump other bots. That’s a good thing, as there’s no way to set keep-out zones here; there’s no mapping or any advanced features. This bot just goes. Another bonus: replacement parts are easily available, making this more repairable than most.
Shark doesn’t share suction power specs, but it ably handled all my tests, including the toughest: oatmeal. Those little flakes are hard to pick up, and side brushes will spin them out all over the floor. It did a good job on pet hair, too, although, like most robots I tested, it required at least two runs to get everything up effectively.
The app is super basic: just on / off and a choice of three power levels (they’re all loud, though), plus you can schedule it to run. Disappointingly, you can only schedule it once a day. Higher-end robots will let you program a bot to do 2 to 3 passes, but in lieu of that, I like the option to schedule it to go out twice to make sure it gets the job done. I couldn’t do that with the Shark. Still, you can press its button or use the app to send it out again if needed.
A cheaper, quieter option
Best robot vacuum / mop with obstacle avoidance
The S8 mops and vacuums very well, and the addition of AI-obstacle avoidance and dual rubber roller brushes make it a good upgrade from the S7. Its mop-lifting trick means it can vacuum and mop your whole house in one go and it works with an auto-empty charging base, though you have to fill its water tank manually.
Dustbin capacity: 350ml / Auto-empty dock option: yes / Mapping: yes / AI obstacle avoidance: yes / Remote check-in: no / Keep-out zones: yes, virtual / Brush style: single rubber / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Siri Shortcuts
The Roborock S8 is the upgrade to my previous top pick for a robot vacuum/mop hybrid – the Roborock S7. The S7 was the first hybrid vacuum / mop that actually did a good job, and the S8 keeps that great performance and adds some impressive improvements, including AI obstacle avoidance and a dual roller brush system.
Its killer feature is the mop that vibrates 3,000 times a second to simulate some good old-fashioned scrubbing. This is paired with an extra-large water tank so the mop can actually get wet enough to be effective and the ability to lift up the mop so it doesn’t get your carpets wet. Unlike the S7, the S8 also lifts up its wheels, letting it clean up messes like ketchup without getting its brushes sticky.
The S8 is a very big bot, packing a big battery that adds power, an extra long 180-minute runtime, and a wide mopping plate. But it’s low enough to get under furniture. As it’s also a mopping bot with a big water reservoir, it has a smaller dust bin at 400 ml. Unless you get the auto-empty dock model (S8 Plus) for an extra couple of hundred dollars, you will be emptying this after every run.
I do recommend the new dock if you have the room. While the S7’s dock was finicky, this one is much improved. It has a nicer design, a slimmer profile, and a more efficient evacuation system that didn’t get clogged once in testing, unlike the S7 dock.
But it’s the new dual rollers that really up the cleaning game here, and this is a big reason why you might want an S8 over the Q Revo. That said, it’s still not as good as the Roomba’s, which are much wider and cover more ground.
Roborock pioneered the “VibraRise’’ feature that lifts the mop a few millimeters when it senses carpet, meaning you don’t get a damp rag dragged over your living room rug. The real benefit here is less manual intervention. With many mopping bots, you have to swap out the mop pads when you want them to go vacuum the carpet. But the VibraRise feature can only clear low-pile rugs, so I had to set no-mopping zones around my plush floor coverings.
The S8 still requires some hands-on effort since you have to refill the reservoir (it doesn’t warn you when it’s empty) and wash the mopping pads (you can throw them in the washing machine), unlike the Q Revo, which does all that for you.
The S8 is slightly more effective at mopping than the Q Revo’s oscillating mops, but I didn’t like having to remove the mop pad for cleaning. However, it’s worth noting that all the robots that wash their mops take longer to clean your house — as they head back to the mop station every 20 minutes or so to clean themselves. The downside is those that don’t self-clean do drag an increasingly gross mop pad across your floor.
A feature I love with the S8 is that you can use it as two separate robots — a vacuum and a mop. It has a mop-only mode that moves in a tighter “Z” pattern and goes over the floors twice. You can also set it to move more slowly for a more thorough and quieter clean. I liked to send it out to vacuum everywhere first, then recharge and go out again to mop, which resulted in sparklingly clean floors. It does take a long time, though.
The S8’s obstacle avoidance is good; it rarely got derailed or trapped, but it’s not as consistent as Roborock’s S7 MaxV Ultra or Roomba j7 and did suck up the occasional cable. The S8 is a powerful, capable vacuum and mop and a good option with or without the auto-empty base.
The (still good) older model
Best self-cleaning robot vacuum / mop
Dustbin capacity: 400ml / Auto-empty dock option: yes / Mapping: yes / AI obstacle avoidance: yes / Remote check-in: yes / Keep-out zones: yes, virtual / Brush style: single rubber / Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Siri Shortcuts
As mentioned, there are a lot of new self-cleaning robot vacs out there, but right now, the original is still the best. That’s the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra — not to be confused with the S7 Max Ultra or the S8 Pro Ultra. If you want a robot that vacuums, mops, empties its own dust bin and dirty water tank, refills its own clean water tank, and cleans itself, while also avoiding cables and pet waste, the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra is the best of a small but growing category of self-cleaning robots.
The S7 MaxV Ultra has the same sonic VibraRise mopping action as the S8, so it mops very well. Its AI-powered obstacle recognition is a different AI tech than the S8, and it works better; this bot never gets caught on cables and successfully avoids pet waste. You can also use the onboard camera as a security camera, which you can’t do on the S8. Unlike this feature on the Roomba j7, there is two-way talk built-in. (It’s livestream only — there’s no recording).
The downside is that the charging/cleaning dock is huge and unattractive. And while it is well-designed — it’s easy to fill the fresh water and empty the dirty water tank — it does get a bit smelly. You also need to clean the mopping station periodically, and there is no hot air drying. Instead, it lifts the mop up to let it air dry.
The mop cleaning and drying process is efficient; theoretically, you don’t need to remove the pad after every run. But I recommend throwing it in the washing machine when emptying the dirty water tank.
One downside of this type of hybrid vacuum is that it needs to go back to its base every 20 minutes to refill and wash its mop. This process is quite loud and takes two or three minutes to complete as the little brush in the base runs back and forth across the mop and scrubs it. This extends the time it will take to completely clean your home (although you can tweak the timing in the app). But you do get much cleaner floors as a result.
I’ve tested several models in this category now, and the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra is still my favorite. The Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni (which has a built-in voice assistant and oscillating mops like the Q Revo) is also good, but the Roborock can vacuum carpets and mop simultaneously. In contrast, you have to choose your cleaning preference with the Ecovacs model each time you send it out. The newer Ecovacs T20 Omni can lift its mops, but in early testing, its obstacle avoidance was not as good as the Roborock’s.
The new Roborock S7 Max Ultra (without the V) is $100 cheaper and also comes in white, plus it adds warm air mop drying and slightly more power. However, I didn’t find the warm air made much difference at all, and this bot doesn’t use the same AI obstacle avoidance tech as the MaxV, so it isn’t as good at dodging debris.
Then there’s the S8 Pro Ultra with a cleaner-looking dock, the option of white, the mop drying feature, and the new dual roller brushes. Plus, Roborock ditched the red racing stripe design (which was a big nono in my book). But for $1,600, these upgrades aren’t worth the extra price.
The S8 also doesn’t offer the live video feature (something some people may see as a bonus, but I have found useful) or have any removable parts. Unlike the standard S8, you can’t remove the mop pad or the water reservoir, which could present repairability issues down the road. At $1,400, the MaxV Ultra is an excellent robot vacuum; if you can find it on sale, you’ll be extra happy.
Read my full review of the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra.
Photos by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge
Updated July 1, 2023: After testing several new robot vacuums, I’ve updated my recommendations and made tweaks throughout.