Best robot vacuum cleaners: Six models that clean automatically

Vaccuuming is not a fun job, so why not hand the hard work off to a robot? With one of our best robot vacuum cleaners, you can clean your home more regularly. With these maintenance cleans, your house will be tidier and a full vacuum will take far less time.

We’ve reviewed 13 robot vacuum cleaners, but we’ve narrowed down the choice to the six we’ve listed here. Of these, two stand out. For excellent cleaning performance and nimble navigation, the Dyson 360 Eye is the best robot vacuum cleaner you can buy. If you’re on a tight budget and want something simple, the Ecovacs Deebot Slim2 offers excellent value.

How we pick the best robot vacuum cleaners

Robot vacuum cleaners are ‘maintenance’ cleaners. That is, they do a good job of picking up daily dirt on a regular basis, but you’ll need to turn to a full vacuum cleaner for a deeper clean. As such, these smart vacs can’t be expected to perform as well as their full-sized counterparts, but cleaning performance is still important when it comes to finding the best robot vacuum cleaner.

To test the devices, we use a mixture of talc, flour and carpet cleaner. We spread ‘X’ patterns around a room, both on hard surfaces, against the wall and on carpet, and leave the robot vacuum cleaner to do its job. Our tests reveal two things: the cleaning power, and the robot vacuum’s ability to navigate. A good cleaner will hit every spot, picking up the majority of dirt. A poor cleaner will leave dirt behind or avoid it completely as a result of poor navigation.

Usability is important, too, so we test how easy it is to programme each robot, using any on-device controls, smartphone apps and – where available – integration with smart assistants such as Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant.

We test how well robots cope with different surfaces – including thick rugs – and whether they can tackle stairs without falling to their doom. We also assess their ability to clean under and around sofas and various other furniture, and whether they’re able to manoeuvre between chair legs.

Dyson 360 Eye 5

1. Dyson 360 Eye: The Best Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Pros:

  • Outstanding cleaning
  • Methodical navigation
  • Small footprint
  • Discreet dock

Cons:

  • Too tall for some furniture
  • Can’t control cleaning zones
  • Spotty app reliability

Designed to offer the suction of a normal vacuum cleaner, the Dyson 360 Eye is an exceptionally powerful robot vacuum cleaner. Smaller – yet taller – than its rivals, the 360 Eye’s advantage is that it can squeeze through tighter gaps; but it can struggle to get under sofas.

Dyson has fitted the 360 Eye with tank tracks, which means that it can cope with pretty much any surface, from thick rugs and beyond. The Eye 360 gets its name from the camera on top, which lets the robot see where it’s going, planning intelligent routes that will enable the robot to tackle the majority of your rooms. Note that the vacuum does need natural light to work properly, however.

Methodical movements let the robot cover most of your home, although it can struggle on occasion to remove all dirt close to a skirting board.

During a clean, the 360 Eye can return to its charger to top up the battery, so it will cope with large houses easily. With the app now supporting Alexa, you can even set off a clean using your voice. If it’s a powerful clean without any effort that you’re after, the Dyson 360 Eye is the machine to buy.

Buy Now: Dyson 360 Eye at Amazon from £1,099 / $915 

2. Ecovacs Deebot Slim2: The Best-Value Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Pros:

  • Good floor-mop attachment
  • Okay cleaning on hard floors
  • Goes under low furniture
  • Excellent smart controls

Cons:

  • Questionable random navigation
  • So-so carpet cleaning
  • Lightweight dock needs securing

If you’re desperate for a robot vacuum but don’t have oodles of cash to burn then the Ecovacs Deebot Slim2 is a reasonable option.

The inexpensive app-controlled robot vacuum cleaner works fine on hard floors, sporting an unassuming low-profile design that helps it get under most bits of furniture and into corners with zero fuss.

A supplied mop pad will prove handy for times when you want to do more than simply pick up stray dust. Its only flaw is that it doesn’t work quite so well in carpeted rooms. This is unfortunate, since the issue could easily have been addressed with the addition of a brush bar.

Awkward steps, cables and rugs are also troublesome for this affordable robot, whose collision detection powers are a little hit and miss.

But, as ever, you get what you pay for – and you’ll struggle to find a better-value robot vacuum cleaner than the Deebot Slim2.

Buy Now: Ecovacs Deebot Slim2 at Amazon from £139 / $177

3. Neato Botvac D7 Connected

Pros:

  • Excellent navigation and cleaning performance
  • Low profile
  • Brilliant connectivity
  • Good battery life
  • Programmable no-go areas

Cons:

  • No-go areas only active when the app is used
  • Large footprint makes narrow gaps hard to navigate
  • Default navigation mode can be rough

With the Botvac D7 Connected, Neato has made just about the smartest robot vacuum cleaner you can buy. New to this model is a smart mapping system that lets you plot no-go areas for the cleaner, enabling the device to keep the part of the house that you want to use tidy, while ignoring the other areas.

Once the cleaner has mapped out your home after its first clean, you can draw the areas it can’t go. While you can block off an entire room, protecting a valuable rug might prove too fiddly. Fortunately, you can use the magnetic tape to mask other no-go areas more precisely.

Smart navigation lets the Botvac D7 get around easily, covering most of a home with ease. We found that its cleaning was powerful, picking up most of our test dust in the middle of the room and against a wall.

Its low-profile body means the D7 can get under furniture, but it’s wide and so may not fit between all gaps; we found it became stuck trying to navigate through chair legs. And, on the default mode, the Botvac D7 Connected can be a bit rough, charging into furniture.

A smart app lets you control everything, from an initial clean to a schedule. Plus, there’s Alexa support too, so you can start a clean using your voice. An IFTTT channel means you can do smart things, such as pause cleaning when you receive a phone call. With its clever navigation and powerful cleaning, the Botvac D7 Connected is the smartest robot vacuum cleaner we’ve tested and one of the best.

Buy Now: Neato Botvac D7 Connected at Amazon from £700 / $799

4. Ecovacs Deebot R95

Pros:

  • Excellent mapping and navigation
  • Outstanding, easy-to-use app
  • Good on hard floors

Cons:

  • So-so carpet cleaning
  • Limited mopping abilities
  • Poor complex cliff detection

If you have a home with a lot of hard floors, the Ecovacs Deebot R95 could well be the robot vacuum cleaner for you. As well as a vacuum, this model can also mop hard floors. Considering the price, that makes this robot vacuum cleaner excellent value.

In our tests, mopping on smooth hard floors proved to be good. Likewise, hard-floor vacuuming was also very good, making the Ecovacs Deebot R95 a great choice for keeping a kitchen or bathroom in tip-top condition. Performance on carpets wasn’t so good, and the vacuum gave more of a light dusting in our tests.

Navigation is generally very good, although a couple of smaller steps managed to confuse the robot; it works better on flatter floors. Control is via an app, but there’s also an Alexa skill, so that you can set the Deebot R95 off with just your voice.

For homes with hard floors where you want to mop as well as vacuum, this is a good choice, but there are other products on this list that will more thoroughly vacuum your floors, particularly where you have carpet.

Buy Now: Ecovacs Deebot R95 at Amazon from £499 

Neato Botvac Connected

5. Neato Botvac Connected

Pros:

  • Great for hard floors
  • Low profile
  • Good battery life
  • Excellent app
  • Effective smart features

Cons:

  • Doesn’t love thicker carpets
  • Large footprint means smaller gaps are a struggle

The concept of robot vacuums may be old news, but every effort has been made to make the Neato Botvac Connected a standout futuristic cleaning bot with some impressive features.

Alongside laser-mapping, boundary-sensing and the usual robot vacuum fare sits a Wi-Fi brain, letting you control the Botvac Connected not only via an app, but your voice too. Thanks to Amazon Echo compatibility, you can command the Botvac Connected to perform a clean by simply speaking to Alexa.

For finer control, you can use the app to direct the robot across floors like a toy car, or resort to the touch controls on the screen aboard the robot itself to toggle settings and schedule cleaning. There are also two physical buttons to initiate spot cleaning or full home cleaning.

With its unique D-shaped design, the Botvac Connected is a dream for cleaning hard-to-reach corners and right up to skirting boards. While it’s wider than some robot vacuums, depth-wise it’s thinner, so it can shimmy under the average sofa with ease. It cleans with a mix of suction and brush power, making light work of hard floors, short-pile carpets and pet hair.

It isn’t as effective on plush thick carpets, and it does tend to confuse the edges of thick rugs with walls and avoid them altogether – but it’s an effective and incredibly smart robot vacuum for hard-floored households.

Buy Now: Neato Botvac Connected at Amazon from £535 / $410

Samsung Powerbot VR9300

6. Samsung Powerbot VR9300

The Samsung Powerbot VR9300 is a huge, unwieldy beast, but what it lacks in design subtlety it makes up for in smart, efficient cleaning. It’s wirelessly networked, letting you select the areas you want cleaned from an app on your phone. It comes with a separate remote control to set it to Auto, Spot or Manual cleaning, which some people might prefer over full app control.

Pressing the down/back key on the remote emits a laser-pointer target for spot-cleaning. Point this at an area you want cleaned and the VR9300 will tootle over to suck up the mess. That fun little feature never gets old.

The VR9300 uses camera tracking to find its way around a room – a feature that’s vastly improved since the previous VR900 model. It uses an upward-facing digital camera that maps your ceiling before choosing the most efficient floor-cleaning route, aided by obstacle-detecting sensors that now help the technology detect and avoid objects such as thin chair legs.

Run-time is no object given the VR9300’s ability to automatically scoot back over to its charging dock to power up and then resume cleaning where it left off, but the machine’s energy-saving cleaning method is impressive. In fully automatic mode, it runs on low power and ramps up the suction only when it detects additional dirt in its airflow.

Add to that a square front-end design that tackles corners and edges well, and sturdy wheels that can glide over rugs without issue, and you have a powerful – if pricey – robot vacuum for use on all kinds of floors and carpets.

Buy Now: Samsung Powerbot VR9300 at Amazon from £535 / $619

7. Vorwerk Kobold VR200

Pros:

  • Excellent navigation and cleaning performance
  • Low profile
  • On-device controls

Cons:

  • More expensive than the Neato equivalent
  • Large footprint makes narrow gaps hard to navigate

If you think the Vorwerk Kobold VR200 looks familiar, you’re not going mad. Vorwerk bought Neato, so the VR200 is very similar to the Neato Botvac Connected, featured higher up this list. The same quality cleaning and excellent navigation are in evidence here.

There are some subtle changes, though. First, the VR200 can be controlled entirely by the front panel, although as of a recent firmware update, there’s no app control. Secondly, open the cover and you’ll see that the dust tray has a small notch in it, that’s designed to fit a nozzle from a Kobold upright vacuum cleaner. If you have one of these, you get dust-free emptying of your robot.

If you’re buying a Kobold vacuum, the VR200 is a good companion; if you’re not, you may want to look elsewhere, as the VR200 is more expensive than the Botvac connected and doesn’t have Alexa support.

Those are our top picks of the best robot vacuum cleaners. If you want to know more about choosing the right model, keep reading.

Robot vacuum cleaner buying guide

Best robot vacuum cleaners – Does size matter?

Robot vacuum cleaners tend to be short and wide, or tall and thin. The former is good for getting under furniture; the latter is ideal for getting through narrow gaps. Ultimately, design is a choice that revolves around compromise and there will be areas a cleaner can’t reach, so choose the shape that best suits the type of space and furniture you have.

Best robot vacuum cleaners – What kind of battery life do I need?

Battery life is important to a degree: the longer the battery life, the more of your home a robot can clean. Typically, robots will last around 45 minutes, which is good enough for a floor of an average-sized house. However, the best cleaners will make their way back to their charging station, top-up and then carry on.

Best robot vacuum cleaners – What bin size do I need?

Robot vacuum cleaners have far smaller bins than traditional cleaners – typically, 0.3 to 0.7 litres. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you’re using a robot regularly, there’s less dust to pick up. Ultimately, you’ll most likely have to empty a vacuum cleaner after each clean.

Best robot vacuum cleaners – Are smart features important?

Unless you’re going ultra-budget, a robot vacuum cleaner with an app is a must. Smartphone apps make scheduling and control far easier, and you can start a clean without having to be right by your robot. Look for Alexa or Google Assistant support if you’d like to start a clean without having to stand up first.