Best robot vacuum cleaners 2018: Clean your home automatically

Vacuuming 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 all of the main 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 is 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.

We measure the performance of a cleaner after it has completed the clean and returned to base, but time the operation. We’ve had some cheaper cleaners that bounce around for a long period, and eventually pick up everything. However, this runs down their batteries and reduces the area that they can clean. A proper robot vacuum cleaner should methodically tackle a room, taking the most efficient path, so it can clean well and manage larger areas.

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.

1. Dyson 360 Eye

The most powerful robot vacuum cleaner

Dyson 360 Eye 5

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.

2. Ecovacs Deebot Slim2

A low-cost robot vacuum for those on a tight budget

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.

3. RoboRock S5

High-end features, mid-range price.

Roborock S5 hero

Who said that powerful robot vacuum cleaners have to be expensive? The RoboRock S5 proves that you can get proper features without having to pay a fortune. This model has laser navigation, programmable no-go areas, and Amazon Alexa support, plus it can even mop.

As a vacuum cleaner, the RoboRock S5 performed well, picking up the majority of dirt in our hard floor and carpet tests. The mopping feature is less succesful, and struggled to clean our floor. Plus, you have to remove the mop when done, to prevent water spillage.

The app is a little clunky at times and gives far too many options for cleaning power. It could do with a bit of streamlining. That all said, the RoboRock S5 gets the basics right and provides features usually seen on much more expensive models.

4. Neato Botvac D6 Connected

A supremely powerful and feature-packed cleaner

Neato Botvac D6 Connected hero

Slotting in just underneath the Botvac D7 Connected (featured just below on this list), the Neato Botvac D6 Connected nets you a similar range of features for a chunk less cash.

Short yet wide, the D6 Connected can slip under most sofas for a thorough clean, but its wide body means that narrow gaps are a little harder to navigate. A single button on the top lets you start a quick clean, but you get more control with the app.

Once the robot has made a mapping clean, you can use the app to set virtual no-go areas, keeping the D6 Connected where you want it. Up to three maps can be stored, so you can set no-go areas for different floors in your home. The D7 Connected will soon get area cleaning, letting you clean a specific room in your house, but that’s the only difference.

Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT support make this a well-connected robot vacuum cleaner, too.

Cleaning was excellent, with the D6 Connected picking up our spilt powder brilliantly on hard floors and carpets alike. The D7 Connected remains the pinnacle of Neato’s line-up, but the D6 is a close second and the lower price may just tempt you.

5. Neato Botvac D7 Connected

The pinnacle of robot vacuum technology.

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.

5. Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 930

The robot for keeping hard floors well mopped.

Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 930 hero

Despite its mid-range price, the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 930 has some high-end features, including programmable no-go areas on the map, so you can protect an area from being cleaned. It’s the inclusion of a mop that makes this robot really stand out.

Thanks to its water reservoir and microfibre cloth, the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 930 can keep your hard floors shiny and clean. Performance from the combination of vacuum were very good, picking up the worst martks on our kitchen floor. Compared to a vacuum-only device, the Ozmo 930 did better overall.

Vacuum performance is solidly mid-range, with the vacuum missing some bigger chunks of our test dirt. For carpet cleaning, then, you’re better off looking elsewhere. If you’ve got mostly hard floors, the ability to vacuum and clean in one go is very enticing.

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.