Best robot vacuums: We name the most effective cleaners

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Vacuuming is one of the most loathed household chores. While it doesn’t come with the ick factor of cleaning the toilet or the tedium of dusting, pushing and dragging a noisy, cumbersome vacuum is its own kind of torture. No wonder most of us only break it out the bare-minimum-recommended once a week.

It’s no shocker, then, that robot vacuums are all the rage. There are no unwieldy cords or hoses to contend with, and they require little effort from you: You can run one from your couch using a physical remote or smartphone app. They easily dispose of the most common household detritus—food crumbs, pet hair, dust—making them ideal for routine maintenance and quick cleanings when you’re expecting company.

Our top pick isn’t the most expensive model on the market, though it’s price tag is up there. If you’re working with a more modest budget, we have a strong recommendation in that category as well. 

Updated July 10, 2018 with an in-depth look at Shark’s first entry in the robot vacuum market, the Shark Ion Robot 750. It’s inexpensive enough, being street priced less than $300, and it navigates obstacles well, but we just weren’t all that impressed with its ability to keep our floors clean.  

Latest robot vacuum news

TechHive contributor Michael Ansaldo has written a great article explaining how robot vacuums work: How they navigate from one room in your home to another, and how they know where they’ve cleaned and which areas they still need to get to. 

Best all-around robot vacuum

iRobot’s Roomba brand has become as synonymous with robot vacuum as Q-tips is with cotton swabs. The Wi-Fi-enabled Roomba 960 is ample evidence why. It turns a tiresome chore into something you can almost look forward to. With three cleaning modes and dirt-detecting sensors, it kept all the floor surfaces in our testing immaculate, and its camera-driven navigation and mapping were superb. Its easy-to-use app provides alerts and detailed cleaning reports. The ability to control it with Amazon Alexa and Google Home voice commands are just the cherry on top.

Runner-up

The Botvac D7 is almost pricey as as the Roomba 960 above, but it’s a strong value. Its excellent navigation and mapping system includes the ability to set up virtual barriers on its detailed floor maps, so it doesn’t tread into areas you don’t want it to. Its elegantly designed companion app makes it easy to manage multiple cleaning modes, a pair of suction settings, and detailed maps and histories of your last 20 cleanings. And it works with Amazon Alexa, Google Home and IFTTT. If that’s not enough, its unique D-shape design lets it get into corners and along wall edges better than most circular robot vacuums.

Best budget robot vacuum

If higher-priced botvacs are beyond your budget—or just your needs—the Eufy RoboVac 11 is a great option. It lacks such advanced features as mapping and Wi-Fi, but it’s multiple cleaning modes performed as well as some premium robot vacuums in our tests. It also had one of the flattest profiles, allowing it to easily reach tight spots such as under cabinets and low-clearance furniture. Its physical remote control made it so easy to change modes and schedule cleaning times, we didn’t even miss a smartphone app.

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