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Life with kids and animals is messy. Pet hair, general dirt and food crumbs mean that you are probably constantly reaching for your best vacuum cleaner (or your best carpet cleaner, if things get really mucky).
But you don’t need a back-breaking contraption to keep your house clean. In fact, you don’t even have to get up off the sofa.
But how do these intelligent little gadgets actually work? Robot vacuums are equipped with sensors, cameras and lasers to navigate your home unaided without banging into obstacles or toppling down stairs. Some even charge (and empty!) themselves, ingeniously knowing when they need to return to their charging dock for a boost.
You can set a schedule for it to whizz around the house when you’re out. They’re also invaluable if vacuuming is physically difficult for you to do.
From Roomba to eufy to Dyson, here are the best robot vacuum cleaners to buy, as tried and tested by families and MNHQ.
Great at picking up pet hair
Quiet running volume
Works on hard floors and carpets
Can set cleaning schedules using smart home technology
No sensor to alert you when the bin needs emptying
Weight: 2.7kg | Capacity: 0.6 litres | Runtime: 100 minutes on hard floors, 60 minutes on carpets | Charging time: 5-6 hours | Wi-Fi-compatible: Yes | Mapping technology: Yes
Tested by MNHQ: Read our in-depth eufy BoostIQ Robovac 15C Max review
Well, what can we say...Mumsnetters love a Eufy! Going through the forums, it's clear that many have a soft spot for these innovative robot vacuums, which can independently navigate around your home to produce an efficient and effective clean across all surfaces, from carpets to hard floors. The Eufy RoboVac 15C Max utilises two spinning brushes to clean corners and has innovative sensors to prevent it from bashing into walls or toppling down your stairs. Three suction settings – Standard, Boost IQ and Max –make light work of crumbs, dirt, dust and pet hair.
Offering accurate edge cleaning and an 100-minute runtime, the RoboVac can be controlled via an easy-to-use remote, or for the more tech-savvy amongst us, using the app or Alexa smart home devices.
Great at picking up pet hair
Works on hard floors and carpets
No sensor to alert you when the bin needs emptying
Weight: 2.6 kg | Capacity: 0.6 litres | Runtime: 100 minutes on hard floors; 60 minutes on carpets | Charging time: 240 minutes | Wi-Fi-compatible: No | Mapping technology: No – uses ‘bounce navigation technology’ instead
A brilliant budget buy, the Eufy RoboVac 11S Max offers accurate edge cleaning and a 100-minute runtime, making light work of crumbs, dirt and even pet hair. Easy to set up and use, you just press the button on the remote control and it’ll zoom off across your floors. Handling hard floors, carpets, rugs and door mats equally effectively, its sensors prevent it from bashing into walls or toppling down stairs.
Unlike more expensive models, there isn’t a related app so, sadly, you can’t programme it from afar or check exactly where it’s cleaned. That said, for the price, you’re getting a brilliantly performing little cleaning machine and, if you have furry pets who shed all over the place, you should notice a real difference.
Ecovacs Robotics N79S Robot Vacuum Cleaner, £208
Good value for money
Great for hard floors
Doesn’t always give the most thorough clean on deep pile carpet
Weight: 4.3kg | Capacity: 520ml | Runtime: 120 minutes | Charging time: 300 minutes | Wi-Fi compatible: Yes | Mapping technology: No
This entry-level robot vacuum cleaner rates pretty well with independent reviewers, despite being at the lower end of the price scale. This nifty gadget is really simple to operate, making it ideal for first-time owners of a robot vacuum. Using the straightforward remote control, you can set the Ecovacs Robotics N79S to clean particular spots on your floor to ensure that nothing is missed. It can also be connected up to your smartphone or your Alexa, so you operate it with voice commands. It will clean for a full 100 minutes before heading home back to its charging dock for an energy boost.
As expected from a lower-priced machine, it doesn’t scan the room using lasers in order to clean a room methodically. Instead, it uses infrared sensors and bumpers to avoid obstacles – not always 100 per cent successfully, it has to be said, so you will need to minimise clutter. It can miss dirt and dust and may also end up covering the same spots repeatedly as well as floundering on deep pile carpets. That said, if you’re only using it on hard floors, you may find that it’s effective enough for your requirements.
Neato Robotics D701, £350
Compatible with Alexa
Unusual D shape to fit into corners
The tech side of things can be complicated to set up
Weight: 3.4kg | Capacity: 0.7 litres | Runtime: 120 minutes | Charging time: 180 minutes | Wi-Fi-compatible: Yes | Mapping technology: Yes
This robot vacuum cleaner is one for the techies. You can fiddle about to your heart’s content on the corresponding app, devising cleaning routines and even creating virtual no-go lines if there are spots where you don’t want the Neato to venture. The manufacturer claims that the unique D-shape design mimics corners of your home for the sort of precise clean that round robotic vacuums can’t achieve. Reviewers say it performs just as well on carpets as it does on hard floors, which makes a refreshing change considering that many robot vacs struggle on carpeted areas.
There are two suction options – energy-saving Eco and power-cleaning Turo – and the Neato Robotics D701 will work away on your floors for up to 120 minutes before heading back to its base to recharge. If it has to recharge mid-clean, it will go back and pick up directly where it left off until the job is finished.
iRobot Roomba s9+, £899
Self-emptying - one less job to worry about
Quick charging time
Noisy on wooden flooring
Expensive - although some Mumsnetters say the IRobot Roomba s9+ is worth the investment
Weight: 418g | Capacity: 0.45 litres | Runtime: 120 minutes | Charging time: 180 minutes | Wi-Fi-compatible: Yes | Mapping technology: Yes
There is little doubt that the Roomba is the daddy of all robot vacuum cleaners. And if you're looking for a quality robot vac that comes with all the bells and whistles, then the iRobot Roomba is the one for you.
This beast of a machine boasts PerfectEdge Technology with advanced sensors for thorough cleaning deep into corners and along edges, while the 3-Stage Cleaning System lifts, loosens, and eliminates dirt and dust, with up to 40 times the suction compared to the Roomba 600 series. And if that wasn’t enough to tempt you to part with £900, the Roomba s9+ comes with Smart Mapping so you can tell the vacuum exactly where to clean and when, plus smart navigation to clean messes the minute they happen. Just ask Alexa to send the Roomba under the kitchen table to deal with the fallout from any breakfast-time dramas. Easy peasy.
Very easy to set-up
Controlled by easy-to-use app
Excellent object detection
Superior drop detection
A bit on the noisy side
No self-emptying bin
Large docking station
Type of vacuum cleaner: Robot and mop | Weight: 26lbs | Capacity: 0.41 litres / dustbox capacity 410ml | Runtime: 180min (vacuum only), 120min (vacuum and mop) | Charge time: 4-5 hours | Suction: 5,500 Pa | Dimensions: 16.61 x 16.38 x 17.44 inches (auto clean station) | Warranty: 12 months
Tested by Mumsnet: Read our full review of the Eufy X9 Pro Robotic Vacuum and Mop
The maker of some of the best robot vacuums around has come up trumps once again with the Eufy X9 Pro robotic vacuum and mop. This hybrid unit has a powerful suction and AI.See™ smart obstacle avoidance, to detect and dodge obstacles with ease. As well as being a powerful vacuum cleaner, the X9 Pro mops hard floors effectively and even returns to base to clean and dry its own mops once the task is complete. Which is considerate.
On the downside, the base unit is rather heavy and large (which isn’t surprising as there are two water tanks inside) and the bin isn’t self-emptying. However, in exchange for the overall labour-saving service provided by the X9 Pro, the occasional trip to the bin is no real hardship.
Faff-free self-emptying bin
Easy-to-control app for remote cleaning
Cleans thoroughly for a robot vacuum cleaner (although the process takes a while)
Quiet when in use
Excellent at trapping fine dust
Really effective object detection
Large unit struggles to fit under some furniture
You’ll need to replace dust bags every 1-3 months
The docking station is on the chunky side
Type of vacuum cleaner: Robot | Weight: 9.5kg (unit 4.4kg) | Capacity: 0.2 litres | Runtime: 90 minutes | Charge time: 210 minutes | Suction: 30W | Dimensions: 53 x 31 x 45 cm | Warranty: Two years
Tested by Mumsnet: Read our full review of the Samsung JetBot AI+
Featuring excellent navigation skills, object detection and a self-emptying bin, this high-end, high-tech robot vacuum cleaner is sleek and powerful, and it’s probably one of the only household appliances that your kids will want to introduce to their friends.
On the flip side, it’s eye-wateringly expensive and you need a specific kind of set up at home for it to work well - the unit needs to return to a pretty chunky docking station to empty and recharge, so you’ll need to leave it out rather than being able to stash it away in a cupboard, or store it in an accessible area like a utility room.
If you’ve got the money and the space, it’s an excellent buy. It’s undoubtedly one of the best robot vacuum cleaners you can get your hands on, and it comes with loads of genuinely useful features. When testing the JetBot AI+, I felt like I was nailing daily housework and that feeling of being on top of things at home is priceless.
Are robot vacuums worth it?
A robot vacuum cleaner is absolutely worth it if you lead a busy life and need some help with your household chores. If you have messy kids or pets who shed a lot of hair, you may want to vacuum every day but struggle to find the time. A robot vacuum cleaner can be programmed to fulfil daily cleaning duties, saving you time, hassle and stress.
Here are some pros and cons of robot vacuums:
Saves time: Your robot cleaner will do all the hard work for you, leaving you time for other jobs or to enjoy some well-earned rest. It can be scheduled to clean when you’re out, meaning you can come home after work to clean, sparkling floors.
Dual purpose: Some of the latest robot cleaning machines can vacuum and mop too, saving you double the time and trouble.
Saves space: Robot vacuums are compact, making them lighter, smaller and must less hassle to store than traditional vacuum cleaners.
Tech-enabled: With many new robot vacuums compatible with smartphone apps and voice control devices, including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, you can programme them with ease.
Reaches difficult spots: Robot vacuums can whizz into tight spaces, such as under furniture, that you wouldn’t usually be able to reach with a manual vacuum cleaner.
Higher price: Robot vacs are becoming ever more affordable as technology develops, but they’re still an investment buy and tend to be priced at a higher level than traditional vacuum cleaners.
Can’t handle clutter: Obstacles can be an issue for some robot vacuum cleaners, which can tend to get stuck on certain objects or under low furniture. You’ll need to clear the floor before your new cleaning gadget gets to work.
Stairs and corners: Robot vacuum cleaners can’t handle stairs, although they should stop before they go toppling down a flight of stairs thanks to navigational lasers which can detect ‘cliff edges’ (bit dramatic). For that reason, you’ll still need another vacuum to clean your stairs or any other tricky areas, such as corners, that the robot will struggle with.
Short battery life: Generally, robot vacuums can only clean for short stints (generally around 100 minutes, depending on model and power mode) before they need to head back to their docking base for more juice.
Small bin capacity: As they’re smaller than traditional vacuum cleaners, it figures that robot vacs have much smaller capacity to collect dust. You’ll need to empty the robot after most cleaning sessions.
What should I look for when buying a robot vacuum?
Price: Some models cost around £200 while top names and models can set you back £1000 or more.
Bin capacity: Check how much dust and dirt the vac can carry before it needs to be emptied.
Running time: Most models can clean for around 100 minutes before needing to be recharged.
Charging and charging time: Some robot vacuum cleaners automatically head back to their charging dock. Others may require you to hook them up to their energy source. Always check charging time before you buy.
What surfaces you are looking to clean: Some models work best on hard floors while others can also tackle rugs and deep pile carpets.
Controls and settings: The latest robot vacs come with apps you can download to your smartphone, allowing you to programme and track it from there. Some can even be operated by voice control.
Mapping technology: More expensive models use a plethora of lasers, cameras and infrared sensors to map out the layout of your flooring and map an optimal route. Cheaper models may operate in a more random fashion, which means that they may clean the same spot more than once.
2-in-1: Some robot vacuums can also do your mopping for you – all you need to do is fit the water tank before they start and programme a dry and wet clean.
Which robot vacuum is the best?
The best overall robot vacuum is the Eufy RoboVac 15C Max. A popular choice among Mumsnet users, not only does this nifty little vac get the job done, but for a fraction of the price of some of its competitors.
How we chose our recommendations
Recommendations from real Mumsnet users
First up, we sought out the trusted opinions of Mumsnet users, to get their advice on their favourite robot vacuum cleaners, including feedback on the vacuums that they rate, recommend and use in their own homes.
We also looked out for any negative reviews, where Mumsnetters highlighted products that they felt were poor quality, difficult to programme, or simply struggled to tackle dirt and stubborn pet hair.
Next up, we considered reviews and feedback from trusted industry experts. We want to be confident that the products we recommend are fit for purpose, so we looked out for award-winning products or those that were well regarded in the marketplace, including those recommended by cleaning experts and consumer champions such as Which?.
Authentic consumer reviews
Finally, to bring you our definitive list of the best robot vacuum cleaners on the market, we thoroughly investigated genuine, in-depth customer reviews on retailer sites such as Amazon, Currys and Argos to get wider consumer experiences regarding the products on our shortlist.
About the author
Laura Cooke is a Content Editor at Mumsnet, with a special focus on home care content.
Laura started writing Swears By articles for Mumsnet in 2021 and has recently taken over responsibility for floor care and laundry content. She writes buyers guides, including what to consider when buying a robot vacuum cleaner, cleaning articles and tests products, including the Henry Quick vacuum and the Beldray 60m Rotary Airer, to help Mumsnetters make informed choices when it comes to parting with their pennies.
Laura has also written articles for publications including the Daily Mirror, the i, Metro, Stylist and Happiful magazine.
Why you should trust us
Mumsnet has been helping parents make their lives easier since 2000 and, in those years, we’ve seen, tried and reviewed thousands of products.
We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.
Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.