Best robot vacuums for smarter, speedier cleaning
Vacuuming is one of those Marmite chores, but even the keenest of cleaners struggle to get the stick out after a long and tiring day.
Enter robot vacs. These smart appliances can gobble up dust, breadcrumbs and pet hair with one click of 'go' on your smartphone or remote control.
If that still sounds like too much effort (hey, no judgement here), every model in our roundup is compatible with Alexa or Google Home.
How do robot vacuums work?
These compact, increasingly advanced gadgets connect to your smart home. Once instructed to start cleaning, they use sensors to navigate your floor plan, avoiding furniture. It's also easy to create no-go zones, either through the accompanying app or by using magnetic strips.
Many models map out where they clean, ensuring they cover every nook and cranny. They can sense dirt, allowing them to focus on particularly grubby patches.
The iRobot Roomba Series j7+ goes one step further, taking pictures of areas it couldn’t tackle fully. These then appear in the app, ready for you to return to with a standard vac.
Are robot vacuums worth it?
Though not yet a replacement for more powerful regular models, robot vacs are impressively convenient machines. Their ever-improving capabilities make them handy for speeding up your cleaning regime – use them for mid-weekly refreshes and your fuller Sunday vacuums will be quicker.
Unsurprisingly, robot vacs tend to have small dust canisters, so be prepared to empty yours regularly.
That said, high-end cleaners like the iRobot Roomba s9+ come with docking stations that allow the vac to auto-empty into a disposable bag during or after cleaning. iRobot claims that theirs can store up to 60 days' worth of dust. Just note that auto-emptying is a quick but noisy process, so keep your Roomba turned off during Zoom calls.
How we test robot vacuums
Our expert homes tester put a range of robot vacuums to work on hard floors and carpets. Firstly, they assessed each model's cleaning performance by measuring how much dust it picked up in a set number of sweeps.
Next, they ground pet hair from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home (yes, really!) into the carpet and judged how well it coped with this worst-case scenario.
They let the vac loose in a test room full of obstacles, corners and crevices to see how well it navigated, mapped and cleaned. They also timed how long it took.
Finally, they tested its compatible app and voice control capabilities, assessing how easy they were to set up and how responsive they were to use.
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