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7 best robot vacuum cleaners to mop floors and get rid of dust and pet hair

We tried and tested these clever machines in our homes, to see if they could get the chores done

Steve Hogarty
Friday 16 February 2024 14:50
<p>We sent top robo-vacuums from the likes of Roomba and eufy to do our dirty work</p>

We sent top robo-vacuums from the likes of Roomba and eufy to do our dirty work

Although they’ve improved a lot in recent years, even the best robot vacuum cleaners won’t beat a good zip around with a traditional cordless vacuum.

But what these little robo-helpers excel at is maintaining a baseline level of tidiness between more thorough cleans, meaning you can enjoy dirt-free carpets and hair-free floors for longer.

More advanced models come with a mopping attachment, which lets the robot tackle kitchen and bathroom floors more effectively. Depending on the robot vacuum you choose, you might have to swap the mop attachment in and out, or it could be fully autonomous, switching modes on the fly as it detects the floor type it’s on.

Pretty much every robot vacuum will connect to Google, Alexa or Apple’s smart home platforms, so you can build a cleaning schedule or trigger the vacuum from your phone while you’re out and about.

Many can also “learn” the layout of your home and plan more efficient routes. Some can avoid obstacles, others wander aimlessly, a few can even empty their own bins, and some are able to detect and navigate around hazards such as loose charging cables, shoe laces and dog poop (you can imagine the mess that would make).

How we tested the best robot vacuum cleaners

A selection of the robot vacuum cleaners we tested for this review

We tested each robot vacuum cleaner over many months and in different homes (some with pets), paying close attention to how each robot performed in new surroundings. As well as allowing the robots to clean routinely, we subjected them to some more rigorous tests, too: spilling cornflour and rice in their path to measure their effectiveness at dealing with different types of mess.

As well as testing their hoovering skills, we rated each robot’s app and how easy they were to set up and maintain. We also considered the costs of any replacement parts – all robot vacuums wear out over time and require fresh filters, brushes, dust bags and rollers.

The best robot vacuum cleaners for 2024 are:

  • Best robot vacuum cleaner overall – iRobot roomba combo j7+: £729,
  • Best budget robot vacuum cleaner – eufy robovac 15C max: £239.99,
  • Best robot vacuum cleaner for pet hair – iRobot roomba s9+: £1,015.22,

iRobot roomba combo j7+

irobot roomba combo j7+
  • Best: Robot vacuum cleaner overall
  • Battery life: 110 minutes
  • Bin capacity: 400ml (plus 2.5l in charging base)
  • Suction power: Unspecified
  • Noise level: 66.2dB
  • Voice control: Google Assistant, Alexa
  • Onboard camera: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Fully autonomous
    • Excellent object detection
  • Take note
    • Small water tank

The best roomba iRobot makes, the combo j7+ is a self-emptying robot vacuum cleaner with an intelligent mopping function that switches modes automatically when it moves from hard floors to rugs and carpets.

Roomba’s best-in-class obstacle detection can spot and avoid common household hazards such as dangling cables, shoelaces, stray socks, toys and pet mess, meaning you can confidently set it going without having to “pre-tidy” – exceptionally handy in busy homes. The robot even sends you pictures of anything it’s avoided, so you can clear the space and send it around again (or, if you’re lazy, like us, dismiss the notification and promise you’ll get round to it later).

We would recommend choosing the version with the self-emptying charging base. It sounds like a jet engine when it’s emptying, but the bin holds weeks’ worth of dust and makes the robot basically fully autonomous.

The mopping tank is small, so you’ll need to refill with detergent fairly frequently if you use it routinely. The app lets you reduce the amount of water being used, to help extend the mopping function further between refills.

Read the full iRobot roomba combo j7+ review

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Eufy robovac 15C max

eufy 15c max
  • Best: Budget robot vacuum cleaner
  • Battery life: 100 minutes
  • Bin capacity: 600ml
  • Suction power: 2,000Pa
  • Noise level: 55dB
  • Voice control: Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Onboard camera: No
  • Why we love it
    • Great battery life
    • Small profile lets it get under furniture
  • Take note
    • No mapping function

A great and relatively cheap robot vacuum cleaner, the eufy robovac 15C max does, however, lack the ability to map out and remember your home’s floorplan. This means it takes a little longer to clean, as the robot can’t learn the most efficient routes around rooms, but the decent battery life means it eventually gets everywhere it needs to go. A lack of a mapping function also means you can’t set no-go zones, so you’ll have to remember to close doors to prevent the robot getting up to mischief.

The robovac 15C max has good suction for the price, and handles dirt and dust on hardwood floors and medium-pile rugs with ease. The sensors can tell when the robot moves from carpet to hard floors and adjusts the suction strength to suit the situation.

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Tapo RV30 plus robot vacuum cleaner

tapo rv30 robot vacuum cleaner
  • Best: Quiet robot vacuum cleaner
  • Battery life: 5 hours
  • Bin capacity: 4l (with self-emptying bin)
  • Suction power: 4,200Pa
  • Noise level: 55dB
  • Voice control: Yes
  • Onboard camera: No
  • Why we love it
    • Affordable for a self-emptying vacuum
    • Useful and unique app features
  • Take note
    • Mopping mode needs manual attention

This mopping, self-emptying robot vacuum comes from networking giant TP-Link – probably best known for its internet routers rather than its home appliances. The Tapo RV30 plus has the clean and fussless appearance of a wifi hub, but the performance and features of a top-end robot vacuum.

Lidar navigation powers some competent obstacle avoidance. During our tests, the RV30 could navigate without bumping mindlessly into furniture, building a detailed map of your floorplan as it goes, to help it clean more efficiently on future runs.

The mopping function is basic enough. You need to manually swap in the attachment any time you want to mop, and it will happily try to mop your carpets and rugs given half the chance. That said, the app lets you easily designate rooms, so assigning the vacuum to mop just the kitchen or the bathroom is straightforward.

The app also adds convenient features not seen in other robot vacuums in our list. You can tell it to only use the self-emptying bin during certain hours of the day (self-emptying is loud), and you can disable the physical button on the vacuum itself, so mischievous kids and dextrous pets can’t set it going.

The Tapo RV30 is also quieter than most, particularly on its weakest setting. Noise isn’t a concern if you set your vacuum to do its thing while you’re out of the house, but a less cacophonous vacuum should benefit those who spend more time at home.

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Eufy robovac G30 hybrid

robovac g30 hybrid
  • Best: Budget mopping robot vacuum cleaner
  • Battery life: Up to 110 minutes
  • Bin capacity: 450ml
  • Suction power: 2,500Pa
  • Voice control: Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Onboard camera: No
  • Why we love it
    • Great value for a hybrid
  • Take note
    • Requires strips for no-go zones

Slightly more advanced than the entry-level robovac 15C max, the robovac G30 hybrid adds a mopping function along with improved navigation and route planning, so it’s faster and more efficient.

The mopping mode is more basic than the roomba combo j7+, which costs three to four times as much. Switching to this mode requires that you replace the dust bin with a water tank and reusable microfibre cloth, so you don’t get the fully autonomous mode of the pricier rival.

It’s worth mentioning that none of these hybrid robots does a particularly good job of mopping, because they lack any scrubbing action. Dried-in stains are beyond them, but the cloth can easily tackle puddles and small splashes. They’re particularly effective at keeping tiles looking tidy and staying on top of bathroom spills.

Another small drawback is the robot’s lack of app-based no-go zones. To control which areas of the home you don’t want cleaned, you have to attach special magnetic boundary strips to the floor. That’s not ideal, but otherwise the robovac G30 hybrid is an excellent and dependable cleaner with great suction power and advanced features for the price.

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Eufy robovac X8 robot vacuum cleaner

eufy x8 hybrid
  • Best: Robot vacuum cleaner for easy controls
  • Battery life: 180 mins
  • Bin capacity: 600ml
  • Suction power: 2 x 2000Pa (twin turbines)
  • Noise level: 60dB
  • Voice control: Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Onboard camera: No
  • Why we love it
    • Great, easy-to-use app
    • Can do spot cleaning in busy areas
  • Take note
    • Water tank needs regular refills

We found the app and mapping function of the eufys we tried to be among 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 the trail of where it’s been in real-time.

As you would hope, you can set up regular cleaning schedules to suit your life. However, we realised that if you want to do multifloor cleaning with the X8, you need two docking stations, because the robot gets confused. You can buy additional docking stations, but with other RVCs, you don’t have to do this. However, this is the only real quibble we have about this vacuum.

Very quiet when operating, it adapts the suction levels automatically based on the flooring type it’s working with – you can also change this manually if you want. We found it fared better on hard flooring rather than carpets, but it still did a fair job on the latter. Corners, under radiators and all those awkward spaces didn’t seem to phase the X8, and it even picked up tiny bits of dirt. It also swerved all the obstacles we left in its way.

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Samsung jet bot AI robot vacuum cleaner

  • Best: Robot vacuum cleaner for remote operation
  • 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
  • Why we love it
    • Powerful suction
    • Works well on carpets and hard floors
  • Take note
    • Charging base needs lots of space

We were intrigued to see how the Samsung robot vacuum would fare, because it’s designed slightly differently from 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 vacuum we tried, which did mean it picked up plenty of dirt and debris around the home.

After it has 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, because 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 the 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 has 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 accordingly. It did a brilliant job both with hardwood and carpeted floors, getting all but a few scraps.

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Dyson 360 vis nav

dyson 360 vis nav robot vacuum cleaner
  • Best: Dyson robot vacuum cleaner
  • Battery life: 65 mins
  • Bin capacity: 500ml
  • Suction power: 65AW
  • Noise level: 60dB - 75dB
  • Voice control: Google Assistant, Alexa
  • Onboard camera: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Super-powerful suction
    • Unbeatable edge cleaning
    • Full-width brush gets into corners
  • Take note
    • Expensive

Whereas most robot vacuum cleaners start out with a robot body before adding a vacuum, Dyson seems to do things the other way around. It’s effectively a properly powerful, full-size Dyson, shrunk down to the size of a robot.

That means you get superior suction and cleaning, thanks to those chunky, full-width roller brushes, and that signature “cyclone” dust bin design. It comes in a shocking shade of blue you’ll either love or hate – we think it looks great, especially the sci-fi, 360-degree “eye” that sits atop the robot body.

This isn’t Dyson’s first robot vacuum cleaner but, because the brand is a relative newcomer to the scene, it lags behind the competition with a higher price tag, fewer features and less adept navigation skills.

There’s no mopping attachment, no cable avoidance and no self-emptying bin – all things the cheaper iRobot roomba combo j7+ offers – but it does have a few unique advantages. It can extend a little edge cleaner to tidy along skirting boards. The maximum-power boost mode lasts a paltry 12 minutes before needing to recharge, but it is practical enough to use if you’re away from home for most of the day. Dyson claims the 360 viz nav is six times more powerful than any other robot vacuum, and the results from our home tests seem to back that up.

If you absolutely must have a full set of Dyson gear for your home or really need that extra suction power, the Dyson 360 vis nav is a competent enough robovac. For those who aren’t brand loyal, however, we’d recommend opting for a more purse-friendly hoover in this list.

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Robot vacuum cleaners FAQs

Robot vacuum cleaner pros

  • Time-saving: Assuming you don’t hang around watching your new robot vacuum in action, the biggest benefit to using one is freeing up your time to do something else besides vacuuming the floors.
  • Hoover less often: You’ll still need to give your floors a manual clean every now and then, but robot vacuum cleaners can maintain a baseline level of tidiness around the home, which means you can hoover a lot less often.
  • Cleans while you’re out: Schedule your robot vacuum cleaner, or trigger it from the app, and you can come home to a freshly cleaned floor. If you plan on not being in the house while the vacuum works though, it’s worth choosing a model that has obstacle detection. Particularly if you have pets who aren’t fully house-trained.
  • Better reach: Because they’re only a few inches tall, robot vacuum cleaners can clean difficult-to-reach areas, such as under beds, sofas and the TV.
  • 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.
  • ​Spot-cleaning: Dropped a pack of lentils in the kitchen? Pop your robot vacuum on the mess and set it going. More advanced models can even remember the names and locations of rooms, and respond to voice commands like “clean around my desk” or even “vacuum underneath the Christmas tree”.

Robot vacuum cleaner cons

  • Small bin capacity: Robot vacuum cleaners are much smaller than traditional vacuums, which means they have a much smaller bin capacity. Some models come with self-emptying charging stations but, for most, you’ll need to empty the robot’s dustbin once every hour or so.
  • They get dirty: Robot vacuum cleaners clean our floors, but who cleans them? Well, you do. Brushes need removing and cleaning on a semi-regular basis, to keep the robot operating at its best, which can be unpleasant, but the best robot vacuum cleaners are simple to maintain.
  • 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. Parts such as filters, brush heads and rollers all need replacing eventually, too.
  • Obstacles: While our top pick of robot vacuums is able to avoid obstacles, most are little idiots and can get stuck on objects or under furniture. You need to ensure the room is reasonably clear before the robot is scheduled to clean, so don’t leave socks and loose cables lying about.
  • Stairs and corners: Robot vacuum cleaners can’t climb stairs, but they’ll avoid falling down them by detecting when they’re near a steep edge. Corners are also difficult for them to reach, so some spots around the home might need a bit of specific human attention.
  • 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 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 furniture placement, so 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 you can then set it up to start cleaning. You’ll need to connect the robot to your wifi, and most cleaners have 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 emptying or 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, 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 it’s charged. However, robot vacs don’t have the ability to climb stairs, so they 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 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 a hard floor to a carpet.

The verdict: Robot vacuum cleaners

For homes with a mix of hard floors and rugs or carpets, we recommend the iRobot roomba combo j7+ for its clever two-in-one mopping system. By deploying the mopping cloth from a little compartment on top of the robot, it enables truly hands-free cleaning: you can feel confident about leaving it to do its thing and not coming back to a disaster scene.

We also rate the eufy robovac X8 and robovac 15C max as decent budget options. They’re basic when it comes to fancy features such as room mapping and obstacle detection, but offer great performance for the price.

Make even lighter work of your spring cleaning with these cordless vacuum cleaners

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