Best robot vacuums to keep your house clean in 2022

Modern robot vacuum cleaners can sweep your floors quickly and efficiently, and many of them can also mop.  (Images: iHome, iRobot, Roborock)

Modern robot vacuum cleaners can sweep your floors quickly and efficiently, and many of them can also mop. (Images: iHome, iRobot, Roborock)

You’ve heard the old expression, “It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.” If the job in question is vacuuming the house or mopping the floor, then guess what: No one has to do it! Not if you put a robot to work on those floor jobs.

More good news: Robot vacuums have improved significantly in recent years, offering more suction, smarter navigation and even mopping capabilities. Some can even empty their own trash cans. (Admittedly, it’s a short step between that and a full-on robot rebellion, but I’m willing to risk it if it means I can stay on the couch longer.)

But how do you choose a robovac that is suitable for your home? These things range in price from around $200 all the way up to $1,400. Will a cheap one get the job done? Are the more advanced features worth the extra money? Having tested a number of these things over the years and several newer models recently, I have an answer for you.

First things first: If you tried a robot vacuum 10 years ago and came away disappointed, I don’t blame you. Early iterations were, well, super dumb, able to navigate floors just by bumping into anything and everything. Getting caught in cords and curtains was the norm. They lacked any smart-home connectivity to speak of, and they barely had enough power to suck up a Cheerio.

Newer models rely on LiDAR-powered guidance systems and app-based mapping. They can respond to Alexa and Google’s voice commands (“Alexa, tell the robot to mop the kitchen floor!”). And they are much smarter, in some cases able to detect extra dirty areas and focus more on them.

What’s left is to decide which features matter most and how much you’re willing to spend. Even at the lower end of the price spectrum, you’ll find surprisingly capable vacuum cleaners – all far more cooperative than the cranky teenager you can’t get to pick up a shirt, let alone clean the carpet.

Here are my picks for the best robot vacuums in 2022, starting with the most affordable.

On paper, the iHome AutoVac Nova sounds almost too good to be true. With features that rival models costing hundreds more, it definitely comes across as a bargain to beat.

First, unlike many sub-$300 vacs, it’s legitimately “smart,” able to pair with iHome’s app for mapping, zone setup, scheduling, and the like. It can also connect to Alexa and Google Assistant devices for voice-activated activation.

For navigation, the AutoVac Nova uses sophisticated LiDAR instead of the “bump-and-go” technology traditionally found in cheaper models. And with 2700 Pa suction power, it should be more than up to the task of cleaning both carpets and hard floors.

But the biggest surprise here is the self-emptying base, where the vacuum cleaner empties the bin automatically when docked. It’s a feature usually found in models costing at least $100 more. Equally surprising: AutoVac Nova can also mop.

Again, this all sounds good on paper; how is the floor? By most accounts, it’s a solid vacuum and an uneven mop. At both Amazon and Walmart, user reviews are decidedly mixed, averaging 4.1 and 3.8 stars, respectively. Most dents are related to less than stellar mopping results.

But even if you take mopping out of the equation, $299 for a smart, self-draining robot vacuum is hard to beat.

Dreametech’s D10 Plus ticks just about all the important boxes, offering one of the highest suction ratings (4000 Pa) of any vacuum cleaner I’ve tried along with a self-emptying canister and optional mopping. (It’s also one of the surprisingly few models available in white.) It usually retails for $500, but you can often find a Lightning sale or coupon to bring the price down to $400. And at that price, I have to rate this as one of the best robot vac values ​​on the market.

I tested this at my sister’s house, where she has a large main floor that is mostly hardwood, but with a rug here and there. One small criticism I have: Dreametech’s app setup process takes much longer than it should. First, you need to create an account, which actually requires verification via a phone number. Then you have to choose your vacuum cleaner from one long list of products, many of which look very similar — and the app is formatted in such a way that some of the names are actually cut off. Finally, there is the need to connect the D10 Plus to your Wi-Fi network, another multi-step procedure. None of this is terribly complicated; it just felt like one a lot of steps, some of them unnecessarily confusing.

The good news is that once everything was set up, the D10 Plus worked like a champ. Named “Rosie” (in honor of the Jetsons) by my sister, she completed the entire floor without needing to recharge and without ever needing a rescue. My often barefoot brother-in-law noticed a “significant improvement” in the overall cleanliness of the floor. Their final verdict: “A++ wins!”

roborock

S7 Robot vacuum cleaner and mop

Roborock

$650 at Amazon

One of the first vacuum cleaners with an automatically retracting mop pad, the Roborock S7 has been cleaning my floor effectively for over a year. Prices fluctuate, so remember to wait for a sale.

Whether you live in a house or apartment, chances are you have hard floors in the kitchen area and carpet elsewhere. Therefore, you may be interested in a robot vacuum cleaner that can also mop. Just one problem: Most models can’t handle both tasks in one, uh, swoop. If you want it to mop, you need to install the cleaning pad. If you want it to vacuum, remove the pad so the carpet doesn’t get wet. It’s a whole thing.

Enter the Roborock S7, which intelligently detects whether it is on carpet or a hard floor and raises or lowers the mop pad accordingly. And when it has finished mopping, the pad is retracted in the same way so that it does not drag dirt around on its way back to the dock. Smart!

Admittedly, the S7 doesn’t match the suction power of the Dreametech D10 Plus, nor does it have self-draining capabilities. This despite selling at a higher price (even if you look for sales; it sometimes drops as low as $500). I’m including it here because it’s the vacuum I’ve used on my floors for over a year, and it’s been admirably reliable and efficient.

If the Roomba name rings a bell, it’s because this brand has been around longer than just about anything else. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Roomba J7+ is one of the more advanced models on the market, able to detect and avoid not only objects such as strings and socks, but also pet waste.

Let’s pause to consider the gross implications of the latter: A robo-vac that can not doing this has the potential to roll over an accident and then smear it all over your floor or carpet—not to mention you’ve scratched up the vacuum, possibly beyond repair. (Hey, I said it was gross!)

In fact, iRobot is so confident in Roomba’s camera and AI-powered navigation capabilities that it’s backing it with an official pet owner (or “POOP,” lol) promise: The company will replace the vacuum if it can’t, er, bypass poop. (For the record, the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra can also detect pet waste, but it costs almost twice as much and doesn’t come with any sort of warranty.)

The front-mounted camera that powers the J7+’s pet sense also provides robust obstacle avoidance. Out of the box, it already knows to avoid things like cords and curtains, but as it navigates your home, it will take pictures of objects and later ask you to rate them. Anything that is a permanent obstacle you can mark as such, and you can also set Keep-Out zones for areas that should be avoided entirely.

Although the J7+ does not mop, it automatically empties the litter box into an allergen-proof bag placed in the charging dock. And it uses two rubber brush rollers underneath instead of just one, the idea being to better agitate – and then soak up – floor debris. According to iRobot, only Roombas have the second roller.

So how much does this, um, suck? iRobot does not provide a suction rating; a company representative says such numbers can be misleading because there is currently no standardized suction testing for robot vacuum cleaners.

If there is such a thing as the Rolls Royce of robot vacuum cleaners, the S7 MaxV Ultra is it. But with the superlative-heavy nomenclature comes a correspondingly high price: Roborock’s machine sells for a hefty $1,400, far more than most other models.

But where a Rolls Royce is still just a car, the S7 MaxV Ultra is more than a traditional robo-vacus that can empty its own bin; there is also a mop that can empty their own water tank. I watched a lot The Jetsons when I was a kid and I never saw Rosie the Robot do that. Meanwhile, it has camera-driven obstacle avoidance (like the Roomba J7+) and an almost unprecedented suction power of 5100 Pa.

Just be warned: In addition to a big budget, you’ll need a large space to accommodate the dock. It is huge, standing about 16 inches tall and extending a good 20 inches from the wall. Admittedly, there’s a lot going on in this thing: In addition to garage-style parking for the vacuum itself, the dock houses a clean water tank, dirty water tank, and garbage can. Equally remarkable, the dock can actually wash the mop pad also, which means one less task for you to do compared to other vacuums that can mop.

MaxV Ultra is only available in black and really combines all the best elements from other vacuum cleaners. It’s powerful, versatile and rarely needs your involvement. Even if you drive it daily, you won’t need to empty or refill the water tanks for about a week.

  • Suction: 5100 Pa

  • Guidance system: LiDAR and camera

  • Self-emptying: Yes

  • Mop features: Yes

  • Smart Assistant Compatible: Yes

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