9 best robot vacuum cleaners that will clean your floors and carpets effortlessly

·21-min read
We spent six weeks testing them, every single day (The Independent)
We spent six weeks testing them, every single day (The Independent)

It’s doubtful there are many people who relish the endless job that is keeping floors clean. In most families, it seems to be the case that as soon as you’ve finished vacuuming you need to start again. Well, robot vacuum cleaners are here to take care of the floors so you never have to think about them again. Some even mop for you too.

Robot vacuums have come a long way since their inception, and are intelligent little fellows these days. Many map your house, dodge obstacles, and can tell where stairs are – some even let you view your house via onboard cameras. You can set schedules, so they clean when you’re out or in bed. They learn which parts of your house are the messiest and tackle them with gusto.

Most robot vacuums are controlled remotely via apps, and you can see where they’ve been and if they’ve got stuck and need help. They do have buttons on them too, and some have remotes – handy if you aren’t keen on having yet another app.

When looking at robot vacuums (sometimes called RVCs) you want to make sure it’s going to do a good job. Look for decent suction power. Along with this, consider the noise levels – better suction often means you won’t be able to hear the TV over them. Bin capacity is also something you want to be aware of, as some will fill up very quickly and create yet another job for you.

And if you’ve got a large home, you want one with decent battery life. Although most robots will return to charge when they’re low on juice and then go back out again once they’re powered up, it does make the whole thing a bit of a faff.

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How we tested

To find the best robot vacuum we spent six weeks testing them, every single day. We ran them all in a very busy, family house with a mix of rugs, carpets and hardwood floors. We left the detritus of normal life lying around, to see how the robots coped.

We wanted to see how much dirt they picked up, how noisy they were and how easy they were to operate. We were also impressed by extra features such as accurate mapping, onboard cameras, and mopping – these are often called “hybrid” robot vacuums. After extensive testing, these were the ones that swept us off our feet.

The best robot vacuum cleaners for 2022 are:

  • Best overall robot vacuum cleaner – iRobot roomba s9+ robot vacuum cleaner: £999, Irobot.co.uk

  • Best for smaller homes – Miele scout RX3 robot vacuum cleaner: £859, Miele.co.uk

  • Best entry-level robot vacuum cleaner – Eufy robovac G20 robot vacuum cleaner: £259.99, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for easy controls – Eufy robovac X8 robot vacuum cleaner: £499.99, Eufylife.com

  • Best for cleaning corners – AEG RX9.2 bagless robot vacuum cleaner: £689.99, Aeg.co.uk

  • Best for busy families – iRobot roomba j7+ self-emptying robot vacuum: £669, Irobot.co.uk

  • Best hybrid robot vacuum cleaner – Proscenic M8 pro robot vacuum cleaner: £499, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for remote operation – Samsung jet bot AI robot vacuum cleaner: £1,149, Samsung.com

  • Best for large homes – Neato D10 intelligent robot vacuum: £545.85, Amazon.co.uk

iRobot roomba s9+ robot vacuum cleaner

Best: Overall robot vacuum cleaner

Rating: 9/10

  • Battery life: 120 mins

  • Bin capacity: 400ml + 1.7l clean base

  • Suction power: 2,200Pa

  • Noise level: 68dB

  • Voice control: Alexa, Google Assistant

  • Onboard camera: No

If you’re fastidiously clean, then the roomba s9+ is for you. It got every floor in our house spotlessly clean – from thick-pile carpets to hardwood. It even left satisfying track marks in our carpet. We loved that this robot learned where the dirtiest parts of our house were and focused on giving them a thorough clean. It also didn’t struggle with long hair as much as some other robots we tried – we were so impressed as even our regular non-robot vacuum struggles with our shed hair. As the suction power isn’t as strong as some others we tried, we put this down to the clever design of brushes and rollers.

We’d say it is on the noisier side, and certainly the stats above back that up, but we think it’s a fair trade for the quality of the clean. It’s especially loud when it returns to the clean base, which sucks all the dirt out of the robot. But this only lasts for a couple of seconds. The clean base meant we didn’t have to faff with emptying the bin on the robot very often, and it kept all nasties trapped inside the closed system. Allergy sufferers will also appreciate the Hepa filter. The app is easy to use, and you can set no-go zones and ask it to just clean certain rooms of the house, which is a function we found ourselves using a lot.

Buy now £999.00, Irobot.co.uk

Miele scout RX3 robot vacuum cleaner

Best: For smaller homes

Rating: 7/10

  • Battery life: 60 mins

  • Bin capacity: 400ml

  • Suction power: Unknown

  • Noise level: 71dB

  • Voice controls: Alexa

  • On-board camera: Yes

Miele is the Rolls Royce of domestic appliance brands. German engineered and built to last, they’re reliable and highly efficient. The scout RX3 is no different. It feels sturdy and is pretty easy to set up. You can control this robot vacuum using a remote or app, or manually using the buttons on the robot. We found the app slightly more basic than others we tried, but the mapping function is fairly accurate and it’s easy to set up schedules. The scout has cameras on it, so you can see what your robot sees via the app – this could be useful if you’re away from home and your robot gets stuck, so you check and see what’s going on. The scout has a silent function (which isn’t particularly silent), as well as turbo, spot-cleaning and auto options.

We found the Scout performed really well on hard floors – thanks to longer brushes, it gets right into the corners and under radiators. It did struggle with going between hard floors and rugs though, and long hair became clogged in it pretty quickly. On carpets the scout fared well – it did a decent job, and although the carpet wasn’t spotless afterwards it was noticeably cleaner. We found emptying the bag-free scout really easy, and it has a decent capacity – we ran it daily for several weeks, and it still had space to fill.

Buy now £859.00, Miele.co.uk

Eufy robovac G20 robot vacuum cleaner

Best: Entry-level robot vacuum cleaner

Rating: 8/10

  • Battery life: 90 mins (hardwood floors), 70 mins (carpets)

  • Bin capacity: 600ml

  • Suction power: 2,500 Pa

  • Noise level: 55dB

  • Voice controls: Alexa and Google Assistant

  • Onboard camera: No

Eufy has made the perfect entry-level robot vacuum cleaner. The price point is decent, and for that you get a good little robot. Set p via the app takes a matter of minutes, and then the G20 can be set to work vacuuming. It’s different to other robot vacuums that we tried in that it doesn’t map your home. It just goes about vacuuming until it concludes the job is done and then it bimbles home to its charging dock.

The G20 has up to 2500 Pa suction strength for carpeted floors, and 1,500pa on hard floors. It autodetected where was carpeted and where was hardwood. It effectively minimised crunch underfoot, and it got into the corners well. What’s also good about the G20 is it has a low profile – both in stature and noise. The G20 is slim, so could slide under sofas and beds with ease. And it’s amazingly quiet – we noticed it was on, but it didn’t distract from conversations or watching TV. Sure, with the G20 you can’t tell it to go vacuum under the table, but you can put it in a location and hit spot clean and it oscillates around the area until it judges the mess is gone. You can’t set no-go zones, or the other fancy things that some other robot vacuums can do, but it is solid, dependable and gets the job done with very little fuss.

Buy now £259.99, Amazon.co.uk

Eufy robovac X8 robot vacuum cleaner

Best: For easy controls

Rating: 8/10

  • Battery life: 180 mins

  • Bin capacity: 600ml

  • Suction power: 2 x 2000Pa (twin turbines)

  • Noise level: 60 dB

  • Voice control: Alexa, Google Assistant

  • Onboard camera: No

We found the app and mapping function on both Eufys we tried to be one of the best on the market. It’s fast and accurate, you can set no-go zones and spot cleaning areas if you just want it to clean under your kitchen table after dinner, say. It also lets you see in real time the trail of where it’s been. As you would hope, you can also set up regular cleaning schedules to suit your life. However, we realised that if you want to do multi-floor cleaning with the X8 you need two docking stations, otherwise the robot gets confused. You can buy additional docking stations, but with other RVCs you don’t have to do this.

This, however, is the only real quibble we have about this vacuum. It is very quiet when operating. And it adapts the suction levels automatically based on the flooring type its working with – you can also change this manually if you want. We found it fared better on hard flooring rather than carpets, but still did a fair job on the latter. Corners and under radiators and all those awkward spaces didn’t seem to phase the X8, and it got even very small bits of dirt. It also swerved all the obstacles we left in its way.

Buy now £499.99, Eufylife.com

AEG RX9.2 bagless robot vacuum cleaner

Best: For cleaning corners

Rating: 7/10

  • Battery life: 30 mins

  • Bin capacity: 700ml

  • Suction power: N/A

  • Noise level: 75dB

  • Voice control: No

  • Onboard camera: No

AEG’s robot vacuum is designed in a triangle shape to allow it to get into corners. We found this worked really well, and it attempted much tighter spots than other RVCs we tried – under dining chairs, for example. The longer brush on this model also meant it gathered dirt effectively and gobbled it down into its large-capacity dirt bin.

The app used to control the AEG RX9.2 is a bit more basic than the others we tried. It creates a simple map of where it’s been, but it’s not the most accurate or sophisticated. We did geekily enjoy the stats the app creates, however, telling you the surface area that’s been cleaned, how long that took and so on. Is it essential to have these stats? No. Does it add much to our lives? Also no, but we still felt the house was reassuring clean when looking at them. Well, the floor at least. You can also control how loud this robot is while cleaning – if on the most powerful suction there’s no denying it is loud, but the quiet mode is more tolerable.

Buy now £689.99, Aeg.co.uk

iRobot roomba j7+ self-emptying robot vacuum

Best: For busy families

Rating: 8/10

  • Battery life: 75mins

  • Bin capacity: 400ml + 1.7l clean base

  • Suction power:Unknown

  • Noise level: 68dB

  • Voice control: Alexa, Google Assistant

  • Onboard Camera: Yes

We love how easy the iRobots are to set up, and the j7+ is no different. The app makes it so simple to control your robot too – it takes two cleans for it to map your home, but it has some nifty features. If the j7+ detects a new object in its path, it sends you a photo of it via the app and you can tell it whether to vacuum around it or avoid it entirely. This is hugely handy if you have messy kids who leave their toys and clothes everywhere. It also has a guarantee that it will avoid pet waste, which no other robot vacuum we came across promised. You can also mark out no-go zones for the robot to avoid, and it suggests personalised cleaning routines, room by room. We found it kept our hardwood floors spotless, and it didn’t struggle to climb up onto our thick rugs and give them a good vacuum too.

The j7+ comes with a clean base – a charging dock that automatically sucks the dirt out of your vacuum and stows it away. This meant we didn’t need to worry about remembering to empty it, and also if you suffer from dust allergies it keeps you protected. The clean base looks really attractive – not a sentence we ever thought we’d say, but here we are. It has a low profile, and has clearly been designed, along with the robot itself, to blend into sleek, modern homes. It was definitely the most attractive robot we tried.

Buy now £669.00, Irobot.co.uk

Proscenic M8 pro robot vacuum cleaner

Best: Hybrid robot cleaner

Rating: 8/10

  • Battery life: 200 mins

  • Bin capacity: 4.3l

  • Suction power: 3000Pa

  • Noise level: 63dB

  • Voice control: Alexa, Google Assistant

  • Onboard Camera: No

With a 200 min battery life, the M8 pro is ideal for larger homes. Having said that, it still fared well in our more modest house too. It has a charge base with 4.3l capacity for dirt, which means it can go ages without needing any maintenance, and is good for allergy sufferers too, as they don’t need to be emptying out dust from the dirt bin. The pièce de résistance is that this robot vacuum also mops, and you can teach it where not to, too. And it’s happy to do a run of only mopping, or only vacuuming, which we found really useful. When mopping it does so in a Y pattern, which provides a better clean than other some other robots do.

The app isn’t the slickest we tried, but it created an accurate map of our house quickly. It also shows you a trail of where the robot has been in real-time so you can see how far through the job it is. We also liked that you could set different cleaning schedules for different rooms – so we could set it to vacuum and mop in the kitchen after breakfast, and then vacuum the rest of the house once everyone was soundly asleep in bed.

Buy now £499.00, Amazon.co.uk

Samsung jet bot AI robot vacuum cleaner

Best: For remote operation

Rating: 8/10

  • Battery life: 90 mins

  • Bin capacity: 200ml (plus slean station capacity)

  • Suction power: 30W (adjustable on hard floors)

  • Noise level: 74dB

  • Voice control: Alexa, Google Assistant

  • Onboard camera: Yes

We were intrigued to see how the Samsung robot vacuum would fare, as it’s designed slightly differently to all the other models. It’s chunkier for a start, and has a flat front and no spinning brushes at the side. It also has the most powerful suction of any robot vacuums we tried, which did mean it got up plenty of dirt and debris around our home. After it’s finished its cleaning cycle, the jet bot returns to the clean station dock, which then sucks the dirt out of the robot and stores it in a tower. You’ll need some dedicated space for this tower, as it does take up a fair amount of room. But this means you have to empty it a lot less often, and it traps dust particles in the system rather than releasing them back into the air – great for allergy sufferers.

The gadget is controlled via the Samsung SmartThings app, and once set up our vacuum got to work scanning and mapping our house with a good degree of accuracy. The object recognition function meant it successfully avoided toys, piles of laundry and whatever else was left out on the floor. It mounted thick rugs with ease too. You can also use the app to access the camera on the vacuum, and see where it is in real-time – handy if it’s got stuck or you want to check up on your pet (you can guide it remotely, too). We were impressed with how clear this image was. The jet bot senses what kind of surface it is cleaning, and adapts its suction. It did a brilliant job both with hardwood and carpeted floors, getting all but a few scraps.

Buy now £1149.00, Samsung.com

Neato D10 intelligent robot vacuum cleaner

Best: For large homes

Rating: 7/10

  • Battery life: 300 mins

  • Bin capacity: 700ml

  • Suction power: 2500Pa

  • Noise level: 69dB

  • Voice control: Alexa, Google Assistant

  • Onboard camera: No

With the longest battery life of any robot we tested, and a huge 700ml dirt bin, the D10 is capable of cleaning even the largest of houses. The D-shape design of the Neato lets it get into corners with ease, and scraped up even those bits that are hard to reach by hand. While it’s not the most powerful in terms of suction, we did like that it has a Hepa filter.

We found the app really easy to use, and set up was easy. In the app you can see the maps it has made of your floorplan, and set no-go zones. You can also set schedules, and tailor these down to how strong you want the suction to be, and which room you want cleaning. We liked that this robot wasn’t too noisy – we had it running once we were tucked up in bed and it didn’t wake us. The Neato D10 doesn’t have an onboard camera or mic, which is great if you have privacy concerns. The eco function, which uses energy more efficiently, is a really nice touch too.

Buy now £545.85, Amazon.co.uk

Robot vacuum cleaners FAQs

Robot vacuum cleaner pros

  • Time saving: The best aspect of a robot vacuum cleaner is the fact that it cleans your home all by itself, saving you valuable time and leaving you one less chore to do yourself.

  • Cleans while you’re out: You can schedule the robot to clean on specific days and at specific times. Schedule cleaning for when you’re out at work and enjoy the feeling of coming home to a clean house.

  • Better reach: Thanks to their small size, robots can get under heavy furniture that you wouldn’t usually be able to clean yourself.

  • Vacuum and mopping: Many of the newer robot cleaners are dual function, with mopping capabilities as well as vacuuming.

  • Space saving: The compact and minimalistic design means robot cleaners take up much less space in your home than a traditional vacuum cleaner, plus they look a lot nicer, too.

  • Control remotely: Wifi-enabled robot vacuums can be operated and controlled via a smartphone app, and many of these models feature voice control, which is normally compatible with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

  • ​Spot cleaning: Crumbs under the dining room table? Simply pick up the robot vacuum and put it next to the mess for a quick and easy spot clean.

Robot vacuum cleaner cons

  • Price: Although they are becoming more affordable as the technology develops, robot vacs are more expensive than regular vacuum cleaners, making them a serious investment in your cleaning routine.

  • Obstacles: Depending on the size of the model, robot vacuums can get stuck on objects or under furniture. You need to make sure the room is reasonably clear before the robot is scheduled to clean – don’t leave socks and cables lying about.

  • Stairs and corners: Robot vacuum cleaners cannot navigate stairs, but they will stop short of a flight when cleaning, so you don’t have to worry about it falling down them. Most models cannot get into corners either, so you’ll still need another vacuum cleaner to clean these areas.

  • Battery life: Most models last for at least 60 minutes, which won’t be enough time for a full clean if you have a large home. However, the robot will go back to the charging base when the battery is low and will then return to the area to resume cleaning once adequately charged.

Can robot vacuums be set to clean multiple rooms?

Basic robot vacuum cleaners will clean any area available to them – so if you leave the sitting room door open, it will navigate its way through and start cleaning the room. More advanced robot vacuums come with mapping technology. This means the robot can map your home layout using built-in cameras and smart sensor technology, remembering the different areas using its memory bank. The maps the robot creates will then show on your app, and you can usually change the boundaries of the map and assign each map a name – for example, “main bedroom”, “office”, or “dining room”. The robot will also note the placement of furniture so that it won’t bump into any of it when it next cleans.

Is it difficult to program a robot vacuum cleaner?

This of course varies depending on the model, but robot vacuums are generally designed to be as simple as possible to set up. All robot cleaners come with a charging stand or “home”, and the robot will need to be left to charge for a short while so that you can then set it up to start cleaning. You’ll need to connect the robot to your wifi, and most cleaners come with an app that you need to download to create a cleaning schedule for your vacuum. Here you can track your robot’s cleaning progress, and some apps will give you more in-depth information, such as the time it took for the robot to vacuum and the areas it successfully cleaned. Some will also send alerts to your phone if the bin needs to be emptied or if the robot is stuck in a corner and needs your attention.

Are robot vacuum cleaners worth it?

While a rather costly purchase, a robot vacuum cleaner is a great addition to your home as it can complete day-to-day cleaning tasks without you having to pick up a vac yourself, saving you both time and energy. Plus, if you’re short on space, thanks to its compact size, it won’t take up too much room in your home.

Can a robot vacuum replace a normal vacuum?

If your living space is all on one level, a robot vacuum cleaner can clean your home for as long as its got charge. However, robot vacs don’t have the ability to climb stairs so can’t (yet) replace a normal vacuum for a multi-floor home... unless you get two.

How do robot vacuum cleaners work?

There are two different ways for a robot vacuum cleaner to work. High-end models tend to use infrared lasers while the more basic options use physical boundary stripes. Both mechanisms allow it to map your home, navigate around your space on its own, dodge obstacles, and even know where your stairs are. Similarly, the sensors mean it can identify areas that it’s already cleaned and those it needs to move onto, as well as detect when it moves from hard floor to carpet.

The verdict: Robot vacuum cleaners

We find it hard to fault the iRobot roomba s9+. It’s powerful and gets the job done brilliantly. Perhaps the app isn’t quite as slick as some of the other models, but getting the floor clean is a more important factor in testing and the s9+ performed the best. But we do acknowledge that it is expensive, and probably won’t suit all budgets.

If you’re looking for something that’s less of hit to the wallet, the Proscenic M8 pro and the Eufy X8 are decent options. The Proscenic will mop for you too.

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