Best robot vacuum 2022: to keep dust and dirt at bay

Our guide to the best robot vacuum in 2022, featuring Dyson, iRobot Roomba, and Ecovacs
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  • If there’s one thing you need to stay on top of daily dust and dirt, it’s the best robot vacuum. They offer app-compatiblity, smart mapping, and even mop attachments to take on all floor types, and they’ll clean your home even if you’re not there. These hands-free cleaning heroes are only getting smarter, too, and some of the top picks in our guide even feature self-emptying dustbins to keep your cleaning routine even more hands-free.

    While they don’t quite compete with the best vacuum cleaners in targeting every last crumb, the best robot vacuum cleaners can pick up pet hair, crumbs, dust, dirt, and anything else that just can’t wait for your weekend deep-clean. You can schedule a robot vacuum to do a daily sweep when you’re out of the house, so if you’re at the office and want to come home to a mess-free space, a robot vacuum is the perfect choice.

    Below you’ll find six of our top robot vacuum picks, many of which have been tried and tested by the Ideal Home team. We’ve listed our complete pros and cons for every model, so whether it’s Dyson or iRobot Roomba, your new live-in assistant is only a few clicks away.

    How much does a robot vacuum cost?

    Best pet vacuum

    Image credit: iRobot

    Initial models could be found stranded on the doormat or bumping repeatedly into a door, but our robot vacuum reviews put the latest and greatest to the test, with options for under £200 and some recent releases that are crammed with added features such as self-emptying bins and the ability to avoid obstacles.

    Best robot vacuums 2022

    1. eufy [BoostIQ] RoboVac 15C MAX

    Best robot vacuum for your money

    Eufy RoboVac 15c Max

    Dimensions: ‎‎32.5 x 32.5 x 7.25 cm
    Control:
    App and on-board
    Reasons to buy:

    • Comes with a remote control
    • Compact design
    • Automatically adjusts to different floors

    Reasons to avoid:

    • It won’t map your floors

    With both a remote control and app sync available, the Eufy RoboVac 15c Max is a great option for both the tech-averse and those who want to customise every element of their vacuum. Pair it with your smart speaker, or simply press a button to set your Eufy RoboVac 15c Max around your floors.

    Boost IQ is Eufy’s answer to homes with a variety of floors. Switching from carpet to hard floors will be no issue thanks to its automatic adjustments. It will adjust between standard and max cleaning modes, although you can manually choose your preference, too.

    While it is neither the smartest nor the cheapest robot vacuum in our guide, the Eufy RoboVac 15c Max gets the balance right for most families. It’s a great value pick that has the perfect amount of power for most homes.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

    2. iRobot Roomba S9+

    Best luxury robot vacuum

    iRobot Roomba S9+ Ideal Home approved

    Dimensions: ‎‎52.2 x 43.4 x 41 cm
    Dust bin:
    0.44 litres, with self-emptying base
    Control:
    App, on-board
    Reasons to buy:

    • Amazing design for corners
    • Self-emptying design is very handy
    • Self-mapping is the best we’ve seen
    Reasons to avoid:

    • It’s as expensive as a robot vacuum can get
    • Noisy self-emptying

    The iRobot Roomba S9+ is one of the most expensive options on the market, but if you’re willing to spend over a grand on a robot vac, it’s a seriously smart choice. The squared front is perfectly shaped to reach into corners and run along skirting boards to pick up every hidden piece of dust or pet hair. iRobot’s 3-stage cleaning system was designed to clean very deep into your floors, with rubber treads to reach into the fibre of your carpets and loosen any rooted-in hair or dirt.

    What we really love about this robot vac is how simple it is to use. Despite it’s tech-y design it looks very smart in any hallway and can be operated using the iRobot app. This will map out your home using Imprint Smart Map, which will then allow you to set certain rooms to be cleaned as well as create no-clean zones where you may have concerns about rug fringes or kids’ toys getting in the way. When it returns to the dock, the S9+ will begin to empty its own dustbin into the storage tower. This will go into a bag which will mean there is no chance for dust to escape back to your home once it’s been cleaned up, but this process is a little noisy.

    Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

    3. Ecovacs Deebot N79S

    Best budget-friendly robot vacuum

    Dimensions: ‎33 x 33 x 7.8 cm
    Dust bin:
    520ml
    Control:
    App, on-board
    Reasons to buy:

    • Reasonably priced
    • Wide reach for more efficient cleaning
    • Large bin

    Reasons to avoid:

    • The brush is prone to tangling

    An Amazon favourite due to the low cost and easy use, we were impressed by just how powerful the Ecovacs Deebot N79S is on both hardwood and carpet. It’s got a Wide Reach bristle on either side of the front of the vacuum, both of which do an excellent job of sweeping debris in the path of the vacuum as it goes around the room. Its battery holds true to the 100-minute battery life promised by Ecovacs, but we did find that after about six months of use this had depleted to around 45 minutes. Still, that’s above average for many robot vacuums.

    Not everyone will be drawn to a robot vacuum that requires lots of complicated controls and syncing to a phone, and one of the best things about the Ecovacs Deebot N79S is that you can simply press a button on the top of the machine and off it goes in Auto mode. Unlike some smarter vacuums such as the Roborock S6 it does move around more randomly instead of mapping a clear path around the room, but keep in mind that it does so for only a fraction of the price. Other modes include spot cleaning and edge mode, that targets skirting boards and corners very well.

    Suction is powerful and the bin is large. The issues we encountered weren’t unique to the Ecovacs Deebot N79S. For example, the side bristles can get tangled easily if (well, when) they encounter long hair. When it comes to the top of the stairs it does detect an imminent drop, but we found that we needed to rescue it from the cliff before it would continue cleaning, despite the claim that it does this automatically.

    Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

    4. iRobot Roomba 980

    Best robot vacuum for total performance

    best-robot-vacuums-irobot-roomba-approved

    Dimensions: ‎50dia x H91mm
    Control:
    App and on-board
    Reasons to buy:

    •  Consistent cleaning
    •  Great value for money
    •  Great on rugs
    Reasons to avoid:

    •  The docking system is a faff

    iRobot, the company behind Roomba, actually started out making bomb disposal robots for the American military. The company has been selling robotic vacuums in the US for decades. The Roomba 980 is their top-of-the-range Wi-Fi connected design that costs less than the Dyson. In our opinion, it outperforms it.

    The 350dia x H91mm lozenge can sneak under all but the lowest sofa, detects when it moves from hard floors to rugs and carpet. It boosts the motor speed for better cleaning results. It has a clever twin rubber brush bar. This is easy to clean and untangle and seriously good at picking up pet hair. The brush bars don’t extend right to the edge of the vacuum. However, the two spinning brushes sweep dust into the bars, so it can clean right up to the skirting boards.

    It comes with two battery powered digital fencing devices that prevent the Roomba going where it shouldn’t. Away from a tangle of wires, or outside onto the decking for instance. But we’ve not found much of a need for them. It’s excellent across all sorts of terrain. It can climb onto thick piled rugs and hasn’t fallen down stairs once.

    While not as simple to empty as the Dyson, the 980 has a HEPA filter to reduce allergens escaping back into the room. The consistency of the cleaning is the best we’ve come across. That’s both in terms of the amount of dust it picks up, and how well it navigates around the room. We rarely come home to find it tangled or trapped, just docked and recharging.

    One word on the docking system though. Irritatingly, it can only be plugged in from one side, which limits where you can position it. We resorted to using Blu-Tack to keep it in the right position. It was a struggle to rest it flush against a wall.

    Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

    5. Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S

    Best quiet robot vacuum

    eufy by Anker, BoostIQ RoboVac 11S

    Dimensions: ‎32.5 x 32.5 x 7.25 cm
    Dust bin:
    0.6 litres
    Control:
    Remote
    Reasons to buy:

    • It’s quiet
    • Affordable price point
    • A good pick for those who want a remote

    Reasons to avoid:

    •  You can’t pair it with an app

    Robot vacuums are pretty smart, but that doesn’t mean you need to get one with all the bells and whistles. If you’re a bit scared of setting up new apps, or you don’t get along with Alexa, the Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S could be a good choice for you.

    It has a good old-fashioned remote control that allows you to select a cleaning style (spot clean, edge clean etc) and how deep you would like your clean to be. The vacuum also automatically adjusts to carpets, which means you’ll get custom cleaning no matter what room it’s in.

    One other thing we love is the size. It’s only 7.25 cm tall, so plenty small enough to reach under the sofa. The Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S is quiet, too. It reaches only 55bD when testing.

    6. Dyson 360 Heurist

    Best robot vacuum for reliability

    Dimensions: ‎240 x 230mm
    Dust bin:
    0.33 litres
    Control:
    App and on-board
    Reasons to buy:

    • Excellent suction
    • Easy to empty
    •  Seriously easy to use

    Reasons to avoid:

    •  The dust bin is tiny
    •  It’s prone to getting stuck

    Instantly recognisable as a Dyson product, the Dyson 360 Heurist is gorgeous. Well made, it has the same feeling of dependability (and usability) as their other vacuum cleaners. It might only measure 240 x 230mm, but it boasts of having ‘twice the suction of any other robot vacuum’. It also has the ability to look 360° around a room. And it has a high-quality carbon fibre brush bar (like the one found on the excellent Dyson V8 Handheld).

    With one simple button – and a comprehensive smartphone app – it’s a breeze to use. Easy to set timers, it’ll even draw you a map to show how much cleaning it does while you’re at work. It isn’t the simplest device to link to your Wi-Fi, requiring long passwords and a fair amount of faffing. The transparent dust collector is easy to empty without creating a mess. The filters can be rinsed under the tap and the docking station sits flush with the wall.

    The cord can be plugged in either on the right or left hand, depending on the nearest socket is. Watching the 360 Eye work is slow going but give it time – you’re at work after all. The excellent mapping cameras and sensors will cover the open ground with ease. The short 45min battery life and slow recharge rate mean it took over three hours to cover a large living room.

    The small size means it can get through chair legs more easily than the rest. At 12cm tall it might struggle under very low sofas, but we didn’t have an issue. The first time we used it, we were embarrassed by how much dust and dirt it collected.

    It was hugely impressive, with the living room looking and feeling cleaner. Over time though, we did get frustrated by its tendency to get stuck on the fireplace hearth (The Roomba or Miele had no issues with this). It became a bit of a joke as to where Dyson would be when we got home.

    Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

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    Can a robot vacuum replace a regular vacuum?

    Anyone who has ever paid for a cleaner will know the joy of returning home to a spotless house. Even the most hi-tech of robotic vacuums can’t yet compete with that just-polished look. But they can keep on top of the daily once-around. And all without you lifting a finger. Sure, we all know people who manage to vacuum virtually every day. But if you’re busy working and hate the idea of losing free time to chores, a robotic vacuum could be for you. Especially if you have pets.

    Where they struggle is with getting up and down the stairs (but if we find one that can levitate, we’ll let you know!) and hopping on and off rugs. You can zone your home to avoid these obstacles, but they do prove tricky for those who want to replace a vacuum cleaner altogether. Plus, we all need to whip out the vac every now and again to pick up a little spill, which is often best done by hand. We love our robot vacuums for keeping on track with day-to-day dirt, but we do still run around our classic vacuum to get more stuck in with the weekly clean.

    How to buy the best robot vacuum for you

    best-robot-vacuums-02 -iRobot Roomba 980 awful lifestyle

    Image credit: Roomba

    How does a robot vacuum cleaner work?

    Basic robot cleaners generally clean in straight lines, running until they bump into something. They turn around and head back the way they came. Some work by spinning in a spiral from the middle of the room until they hit the edges. However, the latest designs boast NASA style sensor. This helps them map out any room and prevents them from toppling down the stairs.

    All robot vacuums have drop sensors to avoid falling, and most have bump sensors in case they do run into things. A combination of cameras and even lasers help guide the top-of-the-range designs. These robots track what has been cleaned and what is left to clean until they’ve finished that particular section of your home. It might look like they work randomly, but trust us, it’s anything but!

    Some can also tell if they change surfaces – from carpet to hard floor for instance. They can decrease motor power in that instance. Some can even sense if there’s more dirt and pass over the area more frequently.

    How much should I spend on a robot vacuum cleaner?

    A good robot vacuum isn’t cheap, and you should budget around £200 at the very least. Anything less and you’re looking at more of an automated floor sweeper than an intelligent appliance. Our best buys cost around £700 which is a lot, especially given you’ll still need to occasionally run around with a regular cleaner, but if you’re a pet owner sick of hairballs blowing across the room, the daily clean of a robotic vacuum will be worth every penny.

    3. How well does a robot vacuum really clean?

    We were horrified by how much dust, dirt, and pet hair was collected by the robot vacuums. Remember to pick obstacles off the floor before leaving the house. This way you will come back to much cleaner floors. And the beauty is, it will clean every day, without complaining. Admittedly the quality of cleaning is dependent on the vacuum’s ability to clean unobstructed.

    If you have stuff everywhere you should expect it to get stuck from time to time. Also, it can’t get right into the corners, no matter what the blurb on the box says. It also can’t climb stairs. So if you want to clean bedrooms or bathrooms you’ll need to take it up and turn it on. If you ask us, it’s still better than doing it yourself.

    What features should I look for when choosing a robot vacuum cleaner?

    best-robot-vacuums-07 - iRobot_Braava_320_livingroom MOP

    Image credit: Braava

    1. Timers: An absolute must, there’s little point having a robot cleaner if it can’t do the housework while you’re not there. The easiest to program is the connected app-controlled models, but even basic design will have digital clock-style timers.
    2. App control: If your robot vacuum comes with a smartphone app you’ll be able to control it remotely. Turn on from work for instance if you’ve got an unexpected visit from the in-laws. Plus, you can now track your vacuum’s progress and see how much of the room it has cleaned. This is useful to see if there are areas the robot can’t access.
    3. Filters: The vast majority of cleaners have built-in air filters to trap unwanted particles and stop them from being pumped back into the room. Look for washable designs for longevity, although all brands sell replacements.
    4. Docking station: All vacuums need recharging at some stage and being able to take themselves home for a refuel is a huge bonus. However, battery life isn’t that significant assuming you’re in no rush to get the floors cleaned. If you’re out at work, you can let the cleaner work all day – charging up as it goes. Positioning the dock however can be an issue, so check if you have a well-located spot against a wall, in close proximity to a plug. 

    Get the most from your robot vacuum

    best-robot-vacuums-01-dyson-360eye_NKBL_12A4_CMYK.jpg

    Image credit: Dyson

    Robot vacuum cleaners aren’t perfect yet, but you can help them perform better with these easy tips:

    1. Tidy up

    Even the most hi-tech sensors can’t navigate around piles of Lego or dirty laundry, so to give the vacuum the best chance of a success, have a quick tidy before you leave.

    2. Don’t get rid of the old vacuum

    Robots can’t clean stairs, curtains or upholstery (yet!).  Therefore you will still need a proper vacuum, or a decent cordless handheld with a nozzle and crevice attachments.

    3. Use the timers

    Robot vacuums work best if they clean every day. Learn how to use the schedule and set it to clean when you know you’ll be out the house.

    4. Clean it regularly

    As with a regular vacuum, make sure you clean the filters regularly. Get rid of any tangles as soon as you discover them.

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