Whether you’re looking to mop the floor or lift pet hair from the carpet, there are robot vacuum cleaners that help tackle a multitude of household cleaning jobs. However, when it comes to new technology like a robot vacuum, there can be a lot of options.
Roomba robot vacuums, made by iRobot, are a well-known name in hands-free cleaners. The Roomba product line comes in a variety of small but effective robot vacuums with smart features such as household mapping, as well as control integrations through app, Wi-Fi, and voice.
Since iRobot has several models, it can be difficult to choose the best Roomba to suit your needs. Sometimes a hands-on test is a helpful way to truly know what works in a home, so we tested some of the most popular models in a home environment to find out which ones are the best. Keep reading to learn about some of the key considerations when choosing a Roomba, and see our hands-on evaluation results later in this article.
- BEST OVERALL: iRobot Roomba i7+ (7550)
- RUNNER-UP: iRobot Roomba i3 (3150)
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: iRobot Roomba 694
- BEST FOR SMART MAPPING: iRobot Roomba 981
- BEST FOR PET HAIR: iRobot Roomba s9+ (s955020)
- BEST FOR MOPPING: iRobot Braava Jet M6 (6110)
How We Chose the Best Roombas
We tested many of the newest Roomba products from iRobot, including six robot vacuums and one robot mop. We used real-life situations to test the robots’ cycles and monitored their ability to navigate common obstacles, from cords to furniture.
To create additional metrics, we tested each against simulated “dust” in the form of sprinkled flour and “crumbs” by way of uncooked rice on hard floors. We also tested the ease of setup, charging, and operation to determine how easy or difficult each product is to use. While we rated each robot in the same category of usability, we considered how they stacked up against the old methods of manual cleaning as well.
Our Top Picks
The best Roomba robot vacuums offer enough suction power and smart capabilities to meet the needs of the users. Whether you’re looking for a crumb finder or a pet-hair attacker, the hands-on testing results of these robot vacuums can help shoppers pick the best Roomba for their needs. We tested these models in a home to see how they dealt with real dirt, pet hair, and debris as well as simulated dust (in the form of flour) and heavy crumbs (rice) to put the robot vacuums through their paces. Here’s how they did in real-life situations.
The first robotic vacuum that ranked high in our testing has standard features such as iRobot’s three-stage cleaning system and dirt detector sensors paired with advanced suction power and smart navigation. Compared with earlier models, such as the 600 series, the Roomba i7+ has 10 times the suction power and it can hold up to 60 days’ worth of contents. Once it’s empty and charged, it will head out to clean some more until the job is done.
The smart navigation system on this Roomba i7+ learns the layout of a home, coordinates no-go zones, and builds smart maps so users can create and automate their cleaning schedule. Programming preferences can be done through the iRobot Home app and through voice prompts with Alexa or Google Assistant. We could see a map generated almost immediately, even after just a 5-minute test run.
For homes with pet dander and shedded fur, a dual multisurface rubber brush allows for easy release of hair to avoid tangling, while a high-efficiency filter traps 99 percent of dander and other common allergens. A recharge and resume feature automatically activates this Roomba i7+ after about 90 minutes of battery use. It comes loaded with filters and dust bags for the base, plus replacements for each. It also has extra brushes.
- Size: 13.34 inches long by 13.26 inches wide by 3.63 inches high
- Weight: 7.44 pounds
- Battery Life: 90 minutes (recharge and resume feature)
- Floor Type Compatibility: Carpets and hard flooring
- Unique Features: Multisurface rubber brush, self-emptying dustbin
- 10 times more suction power than 600 series
- Compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa
- Suitable for homes with cat and/or dog hair
- Extra filter, bag, and replacement brushes included
- Does not include specialized corner cleaning
- Some users have reported difficulties with the charging dock
- Additional cost of dustbin disposal bags
Get the iRobot Roomba i7+ vacuum at Amazon.
Like the i7, the Roomba i3 has 10 times the power of the 600 series and coordinates with the iRobot app. The main difference is that this unit doesn’t map specific areas, so it won’t be able to recognize different zones. We found that it still takes orders via the app, and will clean (or return to home base) with the touch of a button.
Users can set a schedule through the app and track where the Roomba i3 has cleaned or use voice control to turn it on or off. Sensor technology helps the Roomba avoid getting stuck, and dirt-detector sensors simplify cleaning up messes. This Roomba i3 is also great for removing cat and dog hair, thanks to its multisurface rubber brush and high-efficiency filter. In testing, we found it did a good job handling obstacles like chair legs and ottomans.
Through the company’s Imprint Link technology, the iRobot Roomba i3 coordinates with the Braava Jet M6 robot mop so users can vacuum and then mop in sequence. When it’s running low on battery—after about 75 minutes of battery life—the Roomba i3 will automatically recharge and then resume cleaning.
- Size: 13.34 inches long by 13.26 inches wide by 3.63 inches high
- Weight: 11 pounds
- Battery Life: 75 minutes (recharge and resume feature)
- Floor Type Compatibility: Carpet and hard flooring
- Unique Features: Imprint Link technology, compatible with Braava Jet M6 robot mop
- 10 times the suction power of 600 series
- High-efficiency filter and multisurface rubber brush included
- Voice controlled and app controlled
- Less battery life compared to most robot vacuums from Roomba
- Does not map specific areas; may not be ideal for some users’ preferences
Get the iRobot Roomba i3 vacuum at Amazon.
Coordination with the iRobot app allows users some typically higher-end features such as online scheduling and voice activation with Alexa or Google Assistant. Though the 694 has lower suction than other more advanced models, it is one of the most affordable robot vacuums. Its three-stage cleaning system and multisurface brush lift dirt efficiently, while an edge-sweeping brush tackles corners and edges.
This pick for the best budget robotic vacuum doesn’t come with mapping capabilities, although adaptive navigation keeps it from bumping into furniture or falling down stairs. Dirt-detecting sensors allow for more thorough cleaning. A quieter runner than others we tested, it might be a great pick for spaces or situations where a not-so-loud robot cleaner is needed.
The 694 is ideal for smaller areas and will work best in rooms without clutter. An auto-adjust cleaning head helps the unit transition easily between low-pile carpet, medium-pile carpet, hardwood floors, and bare floors. It can run for up to 90 minutes before automatically recharging, but it will need to be reset before its next run.
- Size: 13.4 inches long by 13.4 inches wide by 3.54 inches high
- Weight: 6.8 pounds
- Battery Life: 90 minutes
- Floor Type Compatibility: Carpet and hardwood floors
- Unique Features: Edge-sweeping brush
- Suitable for small homes or spaces; has multiple cleaning cycles
- Multisurface lift brush included for added cleaning power and effectiveness
- Quieter run volume than other models tested
- Affordable price point compared to most robot vacuums on this list
- Requires resetting before cleaning cycles
- Less suction power than other robotic vacuums
- No mapping capabilities included; may not be ideal for some users’ preferences
Get the iRobot Roomba 694 vacuum at Amazon and Best Buy.
This Roomba isn’t going to win any awards for quiet operation, but it sure can clean up dirt! It cleaned our flour “dust” on the first pass and easily sucked up flour out of crevices between floorboards, where other robot vacuums left it. It has the power to vault over raised thresholds and automatically finds high traffic/high dirt areas where it should spend more time.
This unit actively captures thousands of measurements in order to identify different rooms and areas of the home. Once the home is mapped, users can use the app, Google Assistant, Alexa, or voice control to guide the unit to specific areas and cleaning tasks while also avoiding keep-out zones. It vacuums in neat rows using floor-tracking sensors to navigate and dirt-detecting sensors to clean up dust and debris. To accomplish this, the Roomba uses Adapt 2.0 Navigation with visual localization.
The suction on this unit is 10 times higher than models in the 600 series and can be automatically increased to clean deep into carpets. The 981 Roomba robotic vacuum cleans with pet-friendly features, including multisurface brushes and power-lifting suction with five times the air power of traditional vacuums. It will run for about 75 minutes before returning to the charging dock to power up and then resume cleaning. It will also link up with a Braava Jet M6 robot mop and tell it to go mop once it’s done vacuuming.
- Size: 13.9 inches long by 13.9 inches wide by 3.58 inches high
- Weight: 12.03 pounds
- Battery Life: 75 minutes
- Floor Type Compatibility: Carpets and hard floor types
- Unique Features: Adapt 2.0 Navigation and visual localization
- Comes with multisurface brushes and power-lifting suction
- Offers recharge and resume function when low on battery
- Compatible with voice control, Google Assistant, and Alexa
- Can automatically pair with Braava Jet M6 robot mop
- Some users have reported issues with the battery life
- Louder vacuum operation than other models tested
Get the iRobot Roomba 981 vacuum at Best Buy.
If daily pet-hair vacuuming is a hassle, consider this option we tested in a house with dogs. The iRobot Roomba s9+ is one of the newest models from the brand and among the priciest, but its upgrades make it extremely efficient for pet-loving households. A three-stage cleaning system delivers 40 times the suction rate of the Roomba 600 series, and its new D-shaped body optimizes cleaning edges and corners. For deep carpet cleaning, it will automatically increase its suction. When the dustbin is full, the unit will dispose of its contents in the included automatic dirt disposal base. Its hands-off, corner cleaning, self-emptying features make it a prime pick if doing one more pass for dog and cat hair tumbleweeds brings tears.
This robot features the company’s smart mapping technology and sensors that are made to scan ahead at a rate of 25 times per second to detect obstacles in its path. This bundle comes with an extra edge-sweeping brush and a filter to keep up in homes with the most pet hair. Avoid letting the Roomba jostle the water bowls in the corner (and create more mess) by designating a “keep-out zone” for areas that don’t need to be tackled. Or tell it to make sure to do extra cleaning with a bonus cycle to grab tracked-in grass and dirt in the foyer using a voice-activated cycle via the app.
- Size: 15 inches long by 15 inches wide by 15 inches high
- Weight: 20 pounds
- Battery Life: 120 minutes max (recharge and resume feature)
- Floor Type Compatibility: Carpets and hardwood floors
- Unique Features: Self-emptying dustbin, D-shaped body, and edge-sweep brush
- 3-stage cleaning system; 40 times more powerful than others
- Smart mapping technology; scans 25 times per second
- Extra filter, bag, and replacement brushes included
- Recommended for homes with pets; cleans up dander and hair well
- Expensive price point compared with similar models
Get the iRobot Roomba s9+ vacuum at Best Buy.
Photo: amazon.com For those who want automatic mopping on demand, the Braava Jet M6 features a jet spray that can easily tackle messy floors.
While this one isn’t exactly a Roomba, it’s certainly in the family and it pairs well with certain smart models from iRobot’s stable of vacuum robots. Meant for use on hardwood, tile, or stone floors, the M6 is perfect for cleaning spills, pet waste, and other messes. Similar to iRobot’s vacuums, the automated M6 mop features smart mapping and coordinated app control. Users can pair the app to voice-control devices in order to direct the bot to quickly clean up specified areas. Sensors allow it to easily navigate obstacles and avoid stairs.
In testing we found this mop did a lot of overlapping rows to clean across floors (taking up a lot of time and battery life), and there was some streaking left behind by the fluid (and little robot mop treads). Since iRobot’s cleaning fluid and cleaner pads need to be purchased regularly, these items need to factor into the budget.
For a true hands-off cleaning experience, this bot can connect to select Roomba models to automatically trigger mopping after a vacuum cycle. It comes with dry- sweeping as well as wet-mopping pads. The robot will automatically adjust its cleaning cycles to whichever type pad is attached.
- Size: 10 inches long by 10.6 inches wide by 3.5 inches high
- Weight: 4.85 pounds
- Battery Life: 150 minutes
- Floor Type Compatibility: Hardwood, tile, and/or stone floors
- Unique Features: Mop and dry-sweeping functionality
- Comes with several types of pads for various functions
- Can clean pet waste, mud, and spills
- Smart mapping and Roomba app-control included
- Long battery life compared to other iRobot models available
- May require vacuuming before use
- High price point for services provided
- Streaking and tire marks from robot visible after mopping
- Requires Roomba-brand cleaning cloths and floor cleaner to operate
Get the iRobot Braava Jet M6 vacuum at Amazon and Best Buy.
What to Consider When Choosing a Roomba
One great thing about Roomba vacuumss is that there’s a model to suit almost every size home and budget. Because of the range, options will vary in each product’s smart features, suction power, battery life, and cleaning capabilities. When selecting the best Roomba for your needs, consider your cleaning goals and review these common shopping considerations.
Navigation and Mapping
All Roombas include obstacle sensors, and they can detect areas with dirt and debris. Higher-end models will have more advanced navigation and mapping systems and some can map an entire home, which can then be used to specify cleaning areas through a downloadable app. While all of them have the ability to respond to virtual wall barriers, the company offers an additional device called the Dual Mode Virtual Wall that can create the virtual barriers to fence in a Roomba.
Users can give specific areas names such as “living room” or “kitchen” for custom schedules and voice activation. For instance, if there are crumbs under the kitchen table, users can tell their Roomba to “clean under the kitchen table.” Areas of the home where children or pets might be playing can be set as “off-limits” areas. The vacuum’s “clean map reports” allow the user to see where the Roomba cleaned and for how long.
Mapping is just one of the Roomba’s many smart capabilities. The iRobot Home app lets owners have complete control over their cleaning schedule and preferences directly from their smartphone or tablet. Users can activate their Roomba while away from home or schedule it to start cleaning at a specified time.
The Roomba app will also log the machine’s cleaning history so users can keep track of which areas have been vacuumed. To use the convenient voice-activation feature, most models are compatible with Alexa or Google Home. As a bonus, some models can also be linked with iRobot’s smart mops for coordinated cleaning.
Roombas all come equipped with a self-charging feature, so when they are low on battery power, these smart devices will return to their charging stations. Some include a “recharge and resume” feature so that the device can continue cleaning where it left off, but others will have to be reset to cleaning mode.
The most advanced models may include automatic dirt disposal. The company’s “clean base” feature captures the contents of the dustbin when the Roomba returns to the charging dock.
All iRobot robot vacuums use a three-stage cleaning system to loosen, lift, and suction dirt and debris; however, the power will vary depending on the Roomba. Higher-end models have the greatest amount of suction power. For instance, the i7 has 10 times the suction power of the 600 series; therefore, users looking for a heftier clean may want to choose a model with this in mind.
A Roomba, however, won’t match the power of or replace a standard vacuum. The suction power doesn’t stand up to these larger devices, and the collected debris is pulled into a small internal bin with limited dustbin capacity.
Since most rooms have furniture and objects scattered throughout, the best robot vacuums are able to internally map and adjust the cleaning pattern accordingly. Roombas that include cameras and mapping will get to know the environment and potential obstacles, then utilize that data to create adaptive cleaning patterns. Those without cameras and smart mapping rely on sensors to feel their way around, moving in neat rows for cleaning.
Roombas use “dirt detect” technology to focus their cleaning efforts, so a unit may spend longer in one area until the sensors detect fewer particles. Models will have varying placement of the sensors and will therefore move differently. Robots that have the sensors in the rear will move back and forth when detecting dirt, while those with only front ones may move in a more circular pattern.
Most robot vacuums are equipped with multiroom cleaning features, which allow the device to clean in zones versus one room at a time. An “edge cleaning” mode makes sure dust and debris are picked up along the perimeter and around furniture. Some machines will also include app-controlled custom cleaning preferences, which allow the user to adjust cleaning modes, power settings, number of cleaning passes, and edge cleaning.
Most robot vacuums are made to suit certain surfaces better than others. Overall, however, Roomba robot vacuums tend to be most effective in uncluttered areas on solid surfacing or on low- to medium-pile carpeting.
Shag and other high-pile rugs may have too high a threshold for the robot to pass over, or the fibers could clog the brush. Many Roombas will easily transition from carpeting to solid flooring such as hardwoods or tile; however, shoppers who have thicker carpet may want to choose options with higher suction, a larger dustbin, and a longer battery life. Some models will even feature an automated higher suction setting for deep cleaning carpets.
Some models will work more effectively with darker floors, most likely due to the cliff sensors mistaking the dark for a drop-off. For hard surfaces, the company also manufactures mopping robots that also include smart features to work in conjunction with their vacuuming counterparts.
Similar to other cordless vacuums, the best robot vacuums have varying runtimes that depend on the battery life. The battery life will generally range from 60 minutes with more basic versions to about 120 minutes at the higher end. Those who want their Roomba to cover more square footage may prefer a model with a longer battery life, or perhaps two robots to cover different zones or floors.
The self-charging feature makes it easy to recharge the battery once it gets low. For the ultimate hands-off experience, consider a model with a “recharge and resume” feature.
There are some bonus features to consider when selecting the model best suited to your cleaning needs. A tangle-free roller is especially handy for those with pets, as its extractors lift pet hair and other debris without it getting caught in the Roomba’s brushes. Another beneficial extra for families with pets or those sensitive to allergens is a high-efficiency filter that can capture dander, pollen, dust bunnies, and other tiny particles.
Most robot vacuums also have the perk of the compact size and low height for picking up debris underneath furniture. For those sensitive to noise, Roombas are generally quieter to operate than most standard vacuums. The loudest models top out around 70 decibels, which is just slightly louder than the average conversation.
To get the best of both robot worlds, there are bundles of vacuum and mopping robot devices that can talk to each other. Set the robot vacuum to remove all the dust and dirt (and pet hair), then a robot mop can wash the floor. It may take a while to complete both steps, but it’s manageable either on a scheduled clean or with the push of a few buttons on the app.
Some of the higher-end Roombas also include intelligent features that allow the vacuum to “talk” to the robot mop, allowing a tag-team approach to cleaning. Simply use your voice (such as with Alexa or Google Assistant) or the app to arrange the cleaning duo.
Many homes have areas that aren’t always ready for a vacuum to roll through. Roombas have customizable keep-out zones, so users can create spots where the robot vacuum knows not to venture. This might mean staying clear of an area of tangled cords under a desk, a playroom’s toy zone, or the dog’s water bowl.
After setting up a keep-out zone with the iRobot app, the robot will steer clear of these rectangular areas no matter what cleaning cycle is chosen. The brand’s additional device (called the Dual Mode Virtual Wall) can also create virtual barriers to fence in a Roomba.
Now that you’ve learned the differences among a variety of Roomba models, you may be wondering if you can run two at the same time or if your robot vacuum can work in the dark. Find out the answers to these and other commonly asked robot vacuum FAQs below.
Q: How do Roombas work with rugs?
Roombas work well with low- to medium-pile carpeting. The higher the suction power, the more efficient the Roomba will be on rugs. Keep in mind that deep carpet cleaning may also drain the battery faster than use on solid surfaces.
Q: Can I use two Roombas at the same time?
Using two Roombas at the same time is not only possible but can be very handy when cleaning two floor areas. For use on the same floor, smart mapping will make it easier to send your robots to different zones. Users can connect up to 10 robots in the iRobot Home app.
Q: Can Roombas go over thresholds?
The maximum height of a threshold that all Roomba models can transition over while cleaning is ⅝-inch or 1.6 centimeters. Higher thresholds may create unpredictable routes and could upset robot operation reliability if the machine is stuck.
Q: Can Roombas work in the dark?
Roombas with cameras will not work efficiently in the dark. Certain models that use sensors instead of cameras to get around (like the i3) can navigate without any light.
Q: How do I reset a Roomba?
To reset a Roomba i and 900 series, press and hold the “clean” button on the robot for 10 to 20 seconds depending on the model. For the 600 and e series, press and hold the “home” and “spot clean” buttons for 10 seconds.
Q: What are some disadvantages when using Roombas?
Hands-off cleaning can create problems when a Roomba encounters something it shouldn’t roll over, like cords or animal waste. In addition, besides the initial cost, some Roombas require ongoing cost in the form of cleaning pads and fluid for the mops and dustbin evacuation bags for the + models.
Q: How do you clean a Roomba?
The owner’s manual for each device clearly outlines how to perform regular maintenance like cleaning cameras and emptying dustbins. Via the app, Roombas also will inform users when and how to perform other maintenance such as removing, cleaning, or replacing rollers or brushes.
Q: Can Roombas clean corners?
Yes, with the help of the sweeping brush on the edge of a Roomba, the round devices can get dirt out of corners. One of the newest designs, the i9 Roomba, comes in a D-shape with a flat edge that smartly tracks into corners to get even more dirt.
Q: Are Roombas loud?
Still a vacuum, a Roomba can be considered loud. They can be great to operate while you’re away from home. In some situations, you may be able to run the machine without disturbing sleep if you’re not near the device (like on another floor).
Q: How do you properly recycle an old Roomba?
At the end of its life, a Roomba battery or the entire machine can be safely recycled through local electronics/battery recycling programs or through Roomba’s recycling partners in the U.S. and around the world.
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