A robot vacuum won’t mean you never have to lift a regular vac again but it will take over your usual run around the high-traffic areas of a room. You can schedule it to clean while you’re out, so you can return home to a spotless floor and time to relax.
However, if you have to pick up half your belongings, move a heap of cables and chivvy your pets out of the room before you can use your robot cleaner, you’re going to lose a lot of its time-saving magic. Robot vacs work best in a reasonably clutter-free environment, where you won’t have to repeatedly rescue them if they get trapped in a nest of wires.
But there are features you can look out for that’ll help you to manage the interactions between your robot vac and your life. If clutter is an issue, some robot vacs create maps that allow you to zone no-go areas for your robot vac. You can also look out for a model that can identify and avoid obstacles, including wires and shoes.
There are many more considerations when buying, which is why our full reviews accompanying every robot vac in the following chart will give you all the details you need to find the right one for you.
If you’d like more information on features to look out for, skip past the chart and start off by reading our robot vacuum cleaner buying advice before checking out our top ten.
And if you’re in the market for a traditional cleaner, check out our round-up of the best regular vacuum cleaners.
Best robot vacuum cleaners
1. Eufy RoboVac 30C - Most for your money
As with any robot vacuum cleaner the RoboVac 30C will not eliminate the need for a traditional vacuum every so often, but it has sufficient suction power (1500Pa) to keep your floors and carpets tidy on the days you'd rather put your feet up and chill.
The ability to connect it to your home Wi-Fi network for remote operation is cool, although nothing new, but we love the voice assistant integration for proper lazy boy cleaning.
Read our full Eufy RoboVac 30C review
2. Neato Botvac D7 – Best cleaning performance
While a robot vacuum cleaner is still a luxurious purchase, the Neato Botvac D7 Connected is one of the best you can buy.
It was expensive when we first reviewed it, but it has now come down to a much more tempting price. Besides, we felt that the performance and convenience were enough to justify the RRP – despite the frustrations we found with the app.
Read our full Neato Botvac D7 Connected review
3. Roborock S6 Max V – Best for pet owners
The S6 Max V is far from budget but it eclipses some of the more expensive robot cleaners in terms of features, as well as cleaning power.
It identifies and avoids obstacles (including pet poop), has an excellent mapping system that easily allows for the creation of exclusion zones and will even allow you to schedule the cleaning of your rooms in a specific order at specific times.
It's also got something extra in the form of the camera, which you can view remotely from your phone, turning it into a secondary home security device. You can check up on its progress or see how your pets are getting on while you're out.
Read our full Roborock S6 Max V review
4. Roborock S6 – Great value all-rounder
A very smart vacuum cleaner. It does a great job of cleaning hard floors and carpets, and has plenty of battery power and suction for the task.
It isn't very good at mopping up ground-in or dried up dirt, so don't buy it and think it will replace that job as well: it won't.
Spares are readily available and inexpensive, which is good. The app lets you control the S6 and even choose specific rooms to clean, although we'd love the Alexa skill to be updated so it supports this feature too.
Given that it's cheaper than a few key rivals and does a better job of vacuuming than most, it's easy to recommend.
Read our full Roborock S6 review
5. Dyson 360 Heurist - Most stylish
The 360 Heurist is a stylish and powerful robot vacuum that's instantly recognisable as a Dyson. As is its price tag.
Via Dyson's Link app, you can schedule vacuuming, as well as map and zone your home for different levels of cleaning.
It has a decent 75 minute running time before it needs to trundle back to its dock and recharge, but this is somewhat offset by its very small bin (0.33 litres).
It doesn't take up much floor space, which is handy when it's not in use. However, its height means that it won't fit under as many piece of furniture as most other robot vacuums. Measure up if you're considering buying.
Read our full Dyson 360 Heurist review
6. iLife Shinebot – Dedicated robot mop
A luxury item that takes us one step closer to the fully automated home, the Shinebot W400 iLife can support a robot vacuum with automated mopping of your hard floors.
Performance is very good, even without being able to add disinfectant or bleaching agents, and the W400 can comfortably clean around 50 square metres from a single charge. It leaves flat floors almost entirely dry, collecting the dirty water as it passes over an area.
Though it's not an entirely set-and-forget solution, the iLife Shinebot W400 is certainly a handy gadget to have around - if you can afford it.
Read our full iLife Shinebot W400 review
7. Ecovacs Deebot N795 – Most affordable
The N79S is your quintessential robot vacuum cleaner in both design and features.
It's middle of the road in almost all areas so while it's cheaper than many rivals, it just has a basic level of performance and perks. It can cope with both carpet and hard floor but bounces around rooms fairly aimlessly.
On the plus side it has a remote control and support for Alexa. If you just want a robot to do a bit of surface cleaning, the N79S is a good choice.
Read our full Ecovacs Deebot N79S review
8. iRobot Roomba 980 – With HEPA filter protection
Between seriously powerful suction, a HEPA filter, and the two-hour battery the iRobot Roomba 980 is one of the best robot vacuums around for sheer cleaning - except in the corners where the round design won’t reach.
The problem is simply that it’s lagging behind slightly in smart features - no manual controls, and no ability to digitally block off areas of your house - while simultaneously omitting a remote control and most of the on-device displays and buttons other robots still offer.
Throw in the fact that it sounds a bit like a jet engine taking off, and it means this is a powerful robot vacuum that's just difficult to justify at the high price.
Read our full iRobot Roomba 980 review
Robot vacuum buying advice
Robot vacuum cleaners aren’t the cheapest appliance around but the tech is improving all the time, which means that as newer models gain fresh functionality, some really great models that are only a year old will have dropped significantly in price.
If you’re planning to buy, it’s a good idea to get an idea of what features are important to you and find the cleaner that best fits your profile.
Robot vacs will be controlled by a free to download and use app, a remote control or your home assistant. Most have at least two of these options.
But you should also bear in mind that the robot vac will also need to communicate with you. Some will have a display that brings up error messages, while others will speak to let you know that they’re starting to clean, returning to the dock, or have had to pause because they’ve ingested a sock.
If there’s a compatible app, you’ll also get messages and alerts via that, so if you’re away from home, you’ll know if your cleaner got tangled up with a cable or if it made it back to the dock to charge.
One of the most important features of a robot vacuum cleaner is the ability to map boundaries. Less expensive cleaners may come with magnetic strips or battery-operated towers you can use to keep your robot vac away from the top of the stairs or block off a room you don’t want cleaned (for example, if you don’t have time to pick up your floordrobe but you'd still like to give the sitting room a once-over).
Other, more expensive robots – typically those that use Lidar – create a map of your home. The very good cleaners will have space for more than one map, so you can save maps of each floor. You’ll be able to go into your app and add exclusion zones which they’ll then avoid. Very advanced cleaners with mop capabilities will also let you zone areas for mopping as well.
The best robot cleaners will also use cameras to help them identify obstacles. The Roborock S6 Max V can identify and avoid shoes, cables and even pet poop.
Some cleaners with cameras will also let you use them remotely, via your app. This means you can use your robot vac as an additional home security device. And if you use it in conjunction with your app’s remote control, you can drive your vac around to check up on your pets while you're out.
Suction power (measured in Pascals – Pa) is getting better all the time. If you have hard flooring, a less expensive cleaner will do the job but if you have thicker carpets, it’s worth your while investing in something with very good cleaning power.
As well as giving you updates and allowing you to schedule cleaning, a good app will give you information on how long parts, including brushes and filters, will last before they need to be replaced.
Before you invest in a robot vac, it’s a good idea to measure the distance from the floor to the underside of your sofa and other key pieces of furniture.
Robot vacuums can vary in height between 7cm (very low profile), 10cm (medium profile) and 12cm (high – the Dyson machines tend to be the tallest). If your robot vac can’t get under your sofa and bed, it can make a big difference to its overall usefulness in your life.
Other things to look out for
The cheapest robot cleaners may not have a rotating brush, which means they won’t be brilliant at cleaning carpets but they'll do a decent job on a hard floor. A really good one will have a full-length rotating brush, making it ideal for picking up hair and fluff on carpets.
You’ll also want to look out for the size of the bin. Most have a similar dustbin capacity, but some will empty themselves into a larger bin when they dock.
The most expensive cleaners will have cylindrical (or cyclonic) drums that offer very good suction no matter how full the dustbin is.