A robotic vacuum cleaner might be hard to resist, with its ability to relieve us of an oft-dreaded household chore. But for those who live with a lot of carpet, the autonomous machine might not be the best choice for keeping floors clean—at least as your primary vacuum.
While a robotic vac may do an acceptable job cleaning low- or medium-pile floor coverings, thicker rugs will prevent the machine from effectively picking up debris. The bottom line: Regardless of how thick or thin your carpet is, a robotic vacuum cleaner won’t handle the job as well as an upright or canister vacuum. Can it help maintain clean floors between full vacuuming sessions? Yep.
In our labs, we evaluate robotic vacuum cleaners for their ability to pick up surface litter (such as cereal, rice, and peas) and embedded dust from medium-pile carpets. Here, listed in alphabetical order, are the standouts in our robotic vacuum carpet-cleaning test. All but one are from iRobot Roomba. For complete test results and even more options, CR members can view our robotic vacuum ratings, and anyone can check out our vacuum cleaner buying guide to find out how robotic vacuums compare with other types of vacuum cleaners overall.
And check out the best robotic vacuums for hardwood floors.