Who wants to waste their life away doing lots of manual chores? With one of our best robot vacuum cleaners, you can take the hard work out of keeping your house tidy, with some models even mopping hard floors as they go.
There are lots of models to choose from, with an influx of cheaper brands on Amazon. Not all cleaners are built equally and you need a cleaner with some degree of intelligence to make sure that every area of your home is covered. Fortunately, we’ve tested pretty much every model that you can buy to bring you the definitive list of the best robots currently available.
We’ve reviewed all of the main robot vacuum cleaners on the market, but we’ve narrowed down the choice to those listed in this article. You can read the full review of each by scrolling down and clicking on the links.
- Best for power: Dyson 360 Heurist
- Best for hard floors & mopping: Roborock S5 Max
- Best technology: Neato Botvac D7 Connected
- Best for budget: Ecovacs Deebot N79S
The benefit of these maintenance cleaners, is your house will be tidier, you’ll have less (but not zero) hoovering to do, and a full vacuum will take far less time to complete. These are programmable, automatic and smart enough not to fall down the stairs or kill the dog when sweeping up the dirt, although they do have some limitations you will need to be aware of, which we’ve listed below.
1. Dyson 360 Heurist
The most powerful robot vacuum cleaner and now smarter than its predecessor
The original Dyson robot vacuum cleaner was the most powerful for years, and now the Dyson 360 Heurist takes its crown and throws in additional smarts. Externally, this model looks very much like the old one: its narrow but tall, so can fit through gaps but can’t get under all furniture.
As with the original model, the robot uses a camera to see where it’s going, although this time around the robot can map your home, letting you split it into zones. This lets you clean one room only, or set smart schedules that let the robot clean different rooms at different times, using different power settings for each one. As the robot cleans, it learns your home and improves its routing and cleaning patterns over time.
You need to place the 360 Heurist carefully to make sure it can navigate your home and map properly; if you don’t, it can get stuck. Fortunately, this effort is worth it, as this robot vacuum cleaner is the most powerful that we’ve tested. With its brush bar that runs the full width of the body, edge pick-up is excellent, and the vacuum managed all of our tests pretty much perfectly.
It’s an expensive vacuum cleaner but if you want a robot that can deliver a cleaning performance similar to using a manual cleaner, the Dyson 360 Heurist is for you. Our only minor criticism is that there’s no Google Assistant support, only Amazon Alexa.
Vacuum cleaner type: Robot vacuum cleaner, Size: 120 x 230 x 240mm, Brushes: 1x rotating brush bar, Bin capacity: 0.33-litres, Mop option: None, Run time: 75-minutes, Smart assistants: Amazon Echo
Read our full Dyson 360 Heurist review
2. Roborock S5 Max
A powerful and smart vacuum cleaner that doubles as a mop
Roborock is one of our favourite vacuum cleaner manufacturers. It has a wide-range of vacuum cleaners, with models blending into each other, but it’s the Roborock S5 Max that is our current top choice. This model has many of the features of the older S6 model, plus an improved system for mopping floors.
This is also one of the most intelligent vacuum cleaners that we’ve tested. Once this cleaner has mapped your home, you can split it into rooms, set no-go areas, and no-mop areas. The latter is particularly clever, as the S5 Max can vacuum dry areas first and then turn on its water tank to mop.
Mopping is basic (you select the water flow level, and the robot drips water onto a microfibre cloth) but it can be effective. Testing, we found that the mop could remove stains that vacuuming alone couldn’t touch. Vacuuming performance is excellent, too, and this powerful robot manages to pick up dirt well on hard floors and carpets, with its excellent navigation making sure that no areas are missed.
With Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant rounding off the features list, the Roborock S5 Max is currently the best all-rounder and great for those that have predominantly hard floors.
Vacuum cleaner type: Robot vacuum cleaner and mop, Size: 350 x 350 x 97mm, Brushes: 1x side brush, 1x floor brush, Bin capacity: 0.46-litres, Mop option: Microfibre, Run time: Up to 180-minutes, Smart assistants: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Read our full Roborock S5 Max review
3. 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.
It’s worth pointing out that the Vorwerk Kobold VR300 is effectively the same product, following Vorwerk’s aquisition of Neato. There are a couple of differences, though. First, the VR300’s bin has a hole shaped for the Kobold VK200 plug-in cleaner’s nozzle attachment, so you can just suck out the dust. That’s a handy feature if you have a Vorwerk cleaner already and want a quick way to empty the bin.
Secondly, the app and features are different. While the app gives you largely the same range of options as the Neato one, you don’t get Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant support, which is a real shame. We find it far easier to start a clean using a voice command than turning to the app. Given that the VR300 is also more expensive, the Neato Botvac D7 Connected is better value, or you could choose one of the other products from our list.
Vacuum cleaner type: Vacuum, Size: 319 x 336 x 100mm, Brushes: 1x side brush, 1x floor brush, Bin capacity: 0.7-litres, Mop option: No, Run time: 120 minutes, Smart assistants: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Read our full Neato Botvac D7 Connected review
4. Ecovacs Deebot N79s
A low-cost robot vacuum for those on a tight budget
If you don’t have a huge budget, the Ecovacs Deebot N79S could be the model for you. Available at a great price, this model connects to the excellent app, giving you remote control, plus Amazon Echo and Google Assistant integration.
You don’t get smart navigation with this model. Instead, it moves around and bounces off of furniture. This means that a cleaning cycle takes a comparatively long time, compared to more impressive cleaners on this list. However, what it lacks in intelligence, the Ecovacs Deebot N79S makes up with cleaning quality. At the end of our tests, we found that our hard floor and carpet were both exceptionally clean, with the majority of dust picked up.
Excellent build quality and a bundled remote control round off the experience. If you’re after a cheap robot vacuum cleaner, then this is the model to buy.
Vacuum cleaner type: Vacuum, Size: 330 x 330 x 78mm, Brushes: 2x side brushes, 1x floor brush, Bin capacity: 0.3-litres, Mop option: No, Run time: 90-minutes, Smart assistants: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
Read our full Ecovacs Deebot N79S review
How do I buy the right robot vacuum cleaner?
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.
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.
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.
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.
What about mopping?
A few robot vacuum cleaners also offer a mopping feature, squirting water out onto the floor, then using a microfibre cloth to wipe up dirt. These can be a great option on hard floors, where trodden-in dirt stains tend to stand out more. We find ours useful for keeping a relatively light kitchen floor clean after cats have walked on it. The downside is that with the mop attached, you can’t vacuum carpets. So, if you’ve got lots of hard floors, look for a model with a mop for cleaning; if you’ve mostly got carpet, then the mopping feature probably won’t be a lot of use.
Do I have to move anything?
As good as robot vacuum cleaners are and as powerful as their navigation has become, they can still run into problems around your home that will stop them. Dining chairs placed close together can make it hard for robots to navigate, while rugs with tassels or dangling cables can get tangled up in the robot’s brush. All of these are problems common to all vacuum cleaners, so before you start a clean, you need to make sure that you’ve picked up items on the floor. If you want the vacuum to get under a dining table, then you’ll have to move the chairs out of the way to give it access.
Ultimately, robot vacuum cleaners are a great way to maintain your home but they’re not miracle workers and need help to get around. And, you’ll need to get a regular vacuum cleaner out from time to time in order to keep your home looking its best.
Are there any consumables?
Most robot vacuum cleaners have parts that will need to be replaced, typically around every six months or so, although the app should keep track. You’ll need to replace side brushes, main floor brushes and the filters to keep your vacuum cleaner operating in its best condition. If you’ve got a vacuum that can also mop, you’ll need to clean the microfibre cloths from time to time: don’t use fabric conditioner as this clogs up the microfibres and prevents the cloth from picking up dirt as effectively.
How we chose the above robot vacuums
- We know their limitations: 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.
- Test with a range of substances: 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.
- Test its performance: 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.
- Testing a range of surfaces: 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.