In this article:
- Best robot vacuums of 2023
- How we test robot vacuums
- Other robot vacuums we've tested
- Robot vacuum FAQs
A good robot vacuum makes it easy to keep your floors clean at home, but finding the right robot for the job is easier said than done. Shop around, and you'll find an abundance of options, including well-designed budget picks as well as models with tempting upgrades like self-emptying bins, built-in mopping capabilities, and advanced AI image recognition for elite-level obstacle avoidance.
Every home is different, so the best robot vacuums are versatile enough to handle a variety of housecleaning scenarios. They can keep hardwood, tile, carpet and rugs spick and span. They can handle pet hair and navigate intelligently around furniture or other obstacles. They can find their way from room to room to clean exactly where you want, when you want. Some have powerful suction that even rivals that of. You'll need to keep an eye on your budget, though, because robot vacs can set you back more than a . Some higher-end models cost upwards of four figures; fortunately, we can recommend plenty of perfectly capable cleaners that cost a lot less.
Factors to consider
- Overall performanceConsider how efficient the robot vacuum is at removing dirt and debris.
- Type of flooring you haveNote the type of flooring you have as some robot vacuums perform better on hardwood floors while others are optimized for carpet.
- Pets or no pets?Some robot vacuums are more proficient at removing pet hair and some can even detect and avoid pet waste.
- Size and powerConsider the size of your home and individual rooms before choosing a robot vacuum, and pick one with enough power to handle the area.
- PriceEstablish how much have to spend on a robot vacuum since they're available in a wide range of prices.
To find the best bots for your buck, we've spent the last several years torture-testing the top robotic vacuums in our lab and in our homes. With a variety of controlled tests at our disposal, we evaluate them for their suction power, navigation smarts, ease of use and their ability to clean different kinds of messes from carpets and hardwood floors alike. And yes, we even put them through the poop test.
Among those top models are flagship cleaners from companies like iRobot, Roborock and Neato, as well as compelling picks from lesser-known upstart brands. CNET will continue to test robot vacuums and update this best robot vacuum list periodically as new models become available -- for now, let's get right to the top models we'd currently point you toward.
Best robot vacuums of 2023
I'll admit that I was initially skeptical of the DreameBot D10 Plus. At a retail price of $400, it offers features like a self-emptying dustbin and a built-in mopping pad, while costing hundreds less than comparably equipped cleaners. Too good to be true? A dream, you might say?
Turns out, no! Though it wasn't the best at any of the skills in our slate of tests, it was powerful and versatile enough to keep up with the competition at just about every turn. It's right on par with the top robot vacuums we test on low-pile and midpile carpets, and it outperformed every other cleaner on hardwood floors except for the $1,100 Roomba Combo J7 Plus. Its lidar, laser-aided navigation was sharp and consistent, and right on par with what we'd expect from other top brands that put that technique to work, including Neato and Roborock. With built-in Wi-Fi, it supports voice-activated cleaning via Alexa or the Google Assistant. I also appreciated that the self-emptying dock holds up to 2.5L of dust and debris -- good enough for 45 days of uninterrupted cleaning, DreameTech says -- while still being less bulky (and less ugly) than some other tank-like self-emptying cleaners.
All of that is well worth the $500 or more that you'd spend for a comparable, self-emptying, mopping-ready model from the likes of Roomba, Roborock, or any other top brand -- but again, the DreameBot D10 Plus is available for less than $400. That makes this highly-versatile floor-cleaner a top value pick, and an easy recommendation for the very top of our list.
It doesn't come with a self-emptying bin, but that's pretty much where my criticism of the Neato D8 ends. A top-performing model from years past that still holds up well against its newest competitors, the D-shaped robot vacuum is currently down to $229 on Amazon and at Best Buy. That's simply an outstanding value given that this thing cleans floors just about as well as you could expect from a robot vacuum.
How well? Let's summarize: It's our fourth-ranked cleaner, overall, on hardwood floors. Make that third on thick, plushy midpile carpets. Its ranking fell slightly on low-pile carpet, where I like to see cleaners that can pick up at least 50% of the sand we use to simulate fine particles -- the D8 finished with 48% in that test. Overall, that's a better batting average than most, and again, you're getting that level of performance for just $229. It's a great pick for pet owners, too, with an optional set of accessories designed to help maximize pet hair pickup. Did I mention that Neato boasts highly consistent navigation chops thanks to the company's lidar mastery, and that it supports Alexa and Google voice commands?
I'd probably shop around a bit if that cost shot back up to the full retail price of $400, but given that this model is a few years old, your odds of finding it on sale are pretty high. Bottom line: If you can live without a built-in mop or a self-emptying bin, this is one of the best robot vacuum values currently running.
Anti-Allergy Filter (HEPA)
With a competitive price plus rock-solid performance and intelligent navigation, the Roborock S7 is a clear top-pick among midrange robot vacuums. It's our overall top-rated cleaner on low-pile carpet, and it boasts competitive averages on hardwood floors and midpile carpet, too. On top of that, it features a built-in mopping pad, which is great to have on hand in the kitchen. It isn't inexpensive at $650, but it's regularly on sale (including right now, where you can knock a whopping $240 off of the price via Amazon coupon).
Aided by multiple sensors and lasers, efficient navigation is the S7's other strong suit. The vacuum cleaner covered the entire floor of our test room without missing any spots across multiple runs in an average of just 16 minutes. That's a full 9 minutes shorter than the Roomba S9 Plus required for the same job.
The lack of a self-emptying bin is a bit of a bummer here, but you've got other good options if that's what matters most (and you can always step up to the Roborock S7 Plus, which adds it in). Apart from that, there's not much that you're missing here, making this an excellent midrange pick, especially for homes with an abundance of area rugs and other low-pile carpets. No other cleaner we've tested cleans carpets like those better than the S7.
And here's the big boy, both in size and in price. At $1,400, the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra offers a bona fide battle station against messy floors, with both a self-emptying bin for vacuumed dust and debris as well as dual water tanks, one for fresh cleaning solution and another for dirty water. It even washes itself after each mopping run. Add in the lidar navigation smarts plus 3D-mapping cameras capable of object recognition for top-tier obstacle avoidance, as well as a mopping pad that lifts up into the cleaner whenever carpets are detected below, and you're looking at one of the most luxurious, fully automated floor-cleaners on the market.
Wouldn't you know it, the thing cleans pretty well, too. It's our no. 4-ranked cleaner on low-pile carpets, and it was able to suck an impressive 56% of sand from more plush, midpile carpets. It's less of a standout when it vacuums hardwood floors, but Roborock makes up for it with the fully automated mopping, which is aided in turn by the best-in-class navigation capabilities (good navigation is essential for successful mopping runs). Roborock also offers one of the most comprehensive control apps you'll find, offering room-by-room cleaning smarts, Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri Shortcut voice support, and even the option to review the precise path your cleaner took on its most recent run.
Yes, the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra is a major splurge at $1,400, but it's also the robotic cleaner that felt the most like an upgrade pick during our tests. If you're looking to spend big on a hypercapable floor-cleaner, this one fits the bill.
Anti-Allergy Filter (HEPA)
We made some major upgrades to our lab's robot vacuum test setup a few years ago, so the data from the tests that came before aren't directly comparable to our most recent models. That's a shame, because the iRobot Roomba S9 Plus was a major standout from that earlier era -- particularly for its eye-popping performance on thick, plush carpets.
The biggest challenge in those midpile carpet tests is picking up sand, which has an excess of fabric and fibers to cling to as the vacuum tries to suck it up. I mentioned that 50% is a good benchmark in that test, and the best cleaner in that challenge from our last two years of tests is the Neato D9, which returned an average of 62%. That's a great score, but the Roomba scoffs at it, because in our previous test setup, the Roomba S9 Plus sucked up 71%, which was significantly better than any other cleaner we had ever tested. Like I said, the two figures aren't technically comparable to each other, thanks to subtle changes in our test setup over the years, but still, if we reran the tests now, I'm highly confident that the S9 Plus would retain the top spot.
On top of that, the S9 Plus aced our pet hair pickup tests, where we scatter clumps of actual pet hair donated from a friendly local groomer across all of our test floors. The Roomba S9 Plus didn't miss a single clump. It isn't as much of a standout on hardwood floors, and it doesn't include a mop at all, but if your home is filled with plush carpets and your pets are having a field day shedding fur across them, then the self-emptying Roomba S9 Plus is a perfect pick for your home.
While we're talking about pets, let's stop for a moment to consider the robo vac's mortal enemy: pet waste. If your dog makes a mess and your robot vac stumbles across it before you do, you might end up with a poo-pocalypse all over your floors (that link is safe to click, by the way, and worth it if only to read a hall-of-fame-worthy CNET lede from David Katzmaier).
Fortunately, iRobot scrambled to come up with a solution. The answer? AI-powered cameras capable of recognizing and avoiding obstacles -- including piles of dog poop -- as it cleans. Its first feces-defying flagship was the Roomba J7 Plus, and sure enough, when we tested it out against an armada of unnervingly convincing fake dog poop samples, it steered clear at every turn. Meanwhile, the Samsung JetBot AI Plus promises the same poop-detecting smarts but failed to dodge the doo-doo in our tests. Advantage, iRobot.
Aside from not pushing poop across your floors, the Roomba J7 Plus excels at other things, too. It doesn't feature a built-in mop, but it's a semi-affordable self-emptying option, and an exceedingly well-rounded cleaner, boasting top three averages on both hardwood floor and low-pile carpets. It fell short on plush, midpile carpets, so go with the Roomba S9 Plus if your dog is well-trained and you're more worried about its fur than its waste, but that's really the only weak spot here.
So, I mentioned that the otherwise excellent Roomba J7 Plus doesn't include mopping capabilities. Enter the Roomba Combo J7 Plus (emphasis mine), which adds that talent to its skillset. Rather than just slapping a mopping pad onto the bottom of the thing, iRobot did a very clever thing and designed a motorized mopping pad with arms that lift it out from the bottom of the cleaner and relocate it to the top whenever it detects it's traveling over carpets. That way, it'll never drag a wet, dirty mopping pad across your otherwise freshly vacuumed floors as it cleans.
To test that out, I took the Roomba Combo J7 Plus home, where I have a mix of carpets and hardwood floors. It did a great job of identifying carpeted areas during its initial mapping run -- from there, I never caught it vacuuming those carpeted areas without lifting the mop up and out of the way first. It's just a better, more high-end approach to automated mopping, and one you won't need to think about quite as much.
It's a capable vacuum, too, and a top-five finisher on all three flooring types we test, which is something that only one other robot vacuum we've tested can claim (the also-excellent Neato D10). I didn't find it to be quite as sharp a navigator as lidar-based cleaners from names like Dreametech, Neato and Roborock, and I wish it included a water tank in the dock so you didn't need to fill the reservoir before each mopping run -- but apart from that, this motorized mopping machine checks all the boxes that I'd want from a combo cleaner in my own home.
You might not expect sufficient cleaning power from a budget-priced robot vacuum, but that's precisely what the Anker Eufy RoboVac 25C delivers. For instance, its ability to scour sand from hardwood floors (78.9%) wasn't too far below that of the Roborock S7, our top midrange pick. It's a decent performer on low-pile and midpile carpets as well, sucking up averages of 54% and 52% of sand from them, respectively. The current asking price? Just $96 at Walmart. $96!
So how did Anker cut down on costs here, anyway? The answer is navigation. Instead of relying on cameras or lasers to map out its environment, the machine bumps around the floor like a slow-motion ping-pong ball, changing direction when it encounters an object or obstacle. As a result, it took an excessive 91 minutes to finish its cleaning cycle in our test room, so don't expect it to cover your house in anything close to efficient fashion. Still, that's more than a fair tradeoff at this bargain-bin price, especially considering what a surprisingly competitive cleaner the thing is.
How we test robot vacuums
Each robot vacuum we consider for recommendation gets put through its paces in our test lab in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to test floors where we run our controlled pickup tests, we monitor each robot vacuum in a special test room filled with mock furniture to gauge how well it navigates around common obstacles. Past that, we check each robot vacuum's ability to gobble up pet hair without getting clogged or leaving loose strands behind, we take mopping capabilities into consideration, and we check to see how well it navigates against fake dog messes, too.
Let's dive a little deeper into the main considerations, starting with our performance tests.
Robot vacuum pickup power
When it comes to vacuuming prowess, we want to know how effective each robot is against common crumbs and other debris, and also how it fares against much smaller particles like dust, dirt and sand. To find out, we use dry, uncooked black rice as a stand-in for the crumbs, and sand as an analogue for finer particles.
In each case, we scatter a controlled amount across three test floors: low-pile carpet, midpile carpet and hardwood floors. Then, we take the robot vacuum, thoroughly empty its dust bin, send it to clean the affected area, and finally measure the weight of whatever it managed to pick up. That gives us a pickup percentage of the full amount -- from there, we repeat each run two more times and average the results.
Speaking of results, the graph above shows you how each cleaner we've tested over the past few years stacks up on hardwood floors. The iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus is our top-tested cleaner on that surface, picking up averages of 98% of crumbs and an extra-impressive 100% of sand. Right behind it is our top recommendation, the Dreametech DreameBot D10 Plus, which earned a close second place finish on hardwood floors despite retailing for less than half as much as the top-finishing Roomba Combo J7 Plus.
Next up is low-pile carpet. Along with the fact that the orange bars are a lot shorter (vacuuming sand is a bigger challenge on carpets than on hardwood floors because of all the fibers the sand can cling to), note that the order of cleaners is different, with our top midrange pick, the Roborock S7, now leading the way. Different robot vacuums will have different strengths and weaknesses based on their designs, so our variety of tests help us make recommendations that are as informed and well-rounded as possible.
Finally, our midpile carpet results. Neato cleaned up in this test, with the Neato D9 leading all of our CNET-tested cleaners overall and the less-expensive Neato D8 coming in third overall. In between them is the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus in second place. As with the low-pile tests, note that most of the cleaners in the top half of the graph are all relatively close to one another -- it isn't until you get to the bottom of the pack that those bars really start to shrink. That's good for you as a consumer, because it means that you've got a good variety of robot vacuums to choose from that all offer comparable cleaning capabilities across various price points.
One other reminder: These graphs cover the robot vacuums we've tested in the past few years. Robot vacuums we tested prior to that span used a slightly different test setup, so the data from those tests isn't directly comparable. I've made sure to point out the past performers that are still good buys, most notably the iRobot Roomba S9 Plus, which did particularly well on midpile carpets and remains one of our top recommendations.
Robot vacuum navigation skills
Your robot vacuum will only clean your home as thoroughly as it's capable of navigating it. The ideal cleaner will make easy work of finding its way from room to room and automatically avoiding obstacles along the way, all of which makes for proper, low-maintenance automated cleaning.
We make sure to observe each robot vacuum as it cleans in order to get a good sense of how well it navigates, but to get the best comparison from cleaner to cleaner, we take overhead long exposure shots of each one as it cleans our darkened test room, with glowsticks attached to the top of each one directly above the vacuum intake. The images that result show us light trails that reveal the robot's path as it navigates the room and cleans around our mock furniture. The GIF above shows you a quick succession of three of these images for our top splurge pick, the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra. As you can clearly see, it's incredibly thorough and consistent from run to run, and an expert at running circles around the legs of our test furniture.
Now, compare that to this next GIF, which shows you three runs from our top mopping pick, the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus. Notice the difference? The Roomba was less effective at covering the entire room, missing the bottom-left corner in two out of three runs, and it had plenty of difficulty providing adequate coverage around the legs of that mock dining table, too.
So, what gives? In large part, it comes down to the tech at play. Over the years, we've consistently noted that robot vacuums that use laser-guided lidar navigation tend to be very good at mapping their environment and finding their way around. Meanwhile, 3D-mapping cameras with object recognition smarts can give robot vacuums an extra ability to identify and adapt to obstacles in their path. The Roborock S7 MaxV uses both technologies, which helps explain why it performs so well here. Meanwhile, the Roomba relies on cameras and sensors alone, with lasers left out of the mix.
Still, those cameras definitely come in handy. Just watch the above GIF, which shows what happened when we put the iRobot Roomba J7 Plus to the test -- specifically, its promise of identifying and avoiding pet waste. With a variety of (I assure you, fake) dog poop scattered about a small, enclosed test floor, the Roomba did its best to vacuum the area without touching any of them. It succeeded, never bumping into any of our disgusting-looking test turds at all.
Now, compare that with the Samsung JetBot AI Plus, which also promises to use its cameras to spot and avoid pet droppings. The result was, well, not great -- in each test run, it would eventually bump into one of our test piles. Thank goodness they weren't real.
Other robot vacuums we've tested
You've seen our top picks and our test data -- now, here's a quick rundown of the rest of the robot vacuums we've tested in recent years, some of which are still worthy of consideration for some shoppers:
- : Available at Walmart for just $120, the AirRobo P20 is aimed directly at budget shoppers with a very basic design and few features of note. It finished at or near the bottom of all of our cleaning tests, so go with the even-less-expensive Eufy RoboVac 25C if you're looking for something cheap.
- : A souped-up Dreametech model that typically costs at least $1,000, the DreameBot L10S Ultra adds in a king-size, 3L self-emptying bin and self-filling water tanks that let the thing make multiple mopping runs before needing a refill. It was a surprisingly so-so performer in our cleaning tests, getting regularly out-performed by its smaller sibling, the top-rated DreameBot D10 Plus. That model doesn't have the self-filling water tank, but at several hundred less than the L10S Ultra, it's the much better buy.
- : Priced at $280, the Deebot 500 is a basic but competent robot vacuum that offers app controls and voice compatibility with Alexa and Google. It wasn't a strong performer in our carpet tests and is priced too high to count as a budget pick.
- : Available at Walmart and other retailers for about $150, the Deebot 600 offers a slight uptick in performance over the Deebot 500, but it still sucked up less than 50% of the sand in both our low-pile and midpile carpet cleaning tests, which stops us short of recommending it.
- : With a retail price of $800 and, as of writing this, a Best Buy clearance price of $400, the Ozmo 950 adds mopping functionality into the Deebot mix. As with other Deebots, the cleaning power didn't blow us away. Meanwhile, our top-recommended cleaner, the Dreametech DreameBot D10 Plus, is a superior performer that's less expensive than that clearance price, and it features a mop of its own and adds in a self-emptying bin.
- : This cleaner features a unique, triangular design, and it incorporates 3D-mapping cameras into the mix for smarter navigation. It's still available direct from Electrolux for $500, but it was an underachiever in our cleaning tests, so we'd recommend shopping around.
- : One of dozens of cheap, no-name robot vacuums available from Amazon and other online retailers, the IonVac Smart Clean 2000 was near-competent in our cleaning tests, but always just a little below average. Nothing about it stands out enough for us to recommend it.
- : This budget-priced Roomba can be yours for just $179, and it does a decent enough job at cleaning carpets and hardwood floors alike. It's extremely close to the Eufy RoboVac 25C in terms of performance, so if that model isn't available, give this Roomba a look as an alternative budget pick.
- : At $550 or less, this is an entry-level option among self-emptying Roombas, so if you just want something from iRobot that empties its own bin for as little cash as possible, give it a look. It was a middle-of-the-pack performer in all of our cleaning tests, never disappointing us but never really wowing us, either.
- : This is another entry-level Roomba with self-emptying smarts, and you can currently get it for a little under $500 on Amazon, though stock appears to be limited. It wasn't able to suck up much more than 25% of sand in our carpet tests, which suggests some limitations to its cleaning power.
- : Nearly identical in appearance to the D8 and the D10, the Neato D9 is a powerful vacuum, particularly on thick carpets, where it leads the way in our cleaning tests among all of the cleaners we've tested in the past two years. You won't get a self-emptying bin or a mop, but if you just want something to keep crumbs and pet hair out of your carpets, it's well worth a look as an alternative to the Roomba S9 Plus, especially at its current sale price of $279.
- : One of the latest D-shaped cleaners from Neato, the D10 promises powerful suction and room-by-room navigation smarts via the Neato app. It was a relatively strong performer in our tests, but we didn't see enough of an edge over the D8 or the D9 to justify the extra expense.
- : A self-emptying cleaner that's available for less than $500 if you catch it on sale, the Shark IQ RV1001AE is worth a look as an affordable option that empties its own bin. It gathered a respectable 84% of sand from hardwood floors in our cleaning tests, but failed to pick up more than 35% of the stuff in any of our carpet tests, which isn't as strong as some of our top recommendations.
Robot vacuum FAQs
How do robot vacuums work?
Designed to navigate your home and clean your floors automatically, robot vacuum cleaners are made to tackle this chore so you don't have to. They can clean on demand, on a schedule and even when you're not home. Powered by rechargeable batteries, the robot typically sits on a charging dock to top off its energy supply. Premium models come with docking stations that can also empty the robot's dustbin when it's full.
How long do robot vacuums last?
Robot vacuums are complex machines with more moving parts, electronics and software than ordinary vacuums. Still, with regular maintenance and replacement parts such as batteries, brushes and filters, these devices can last just as long as traditional vacuums. This should translate to multiple years of use.
How well do robot vacuums work?
How well a robot vacuum cleans your home depends on many factors. Floors cluttered with obstacles like wires, charging cords, toys, shoes and clothing can stop robots in their tracks. The less overall clutter the better a robot will operate. Some robot vacuum models clean tile, wood flooring and different types of carpet better than others.