I tested the Roomba J9+ robot vacuum and mop for 2 weeks to see if it’s worth it

This powerful 2-in-1 mops and vacuums at the same time with a retractable mop that folds up to protect your carpets

Roomba J9+ Combo robot vacuum and mop shown on floor
(Image: © iRobot)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Roomba’s J9+ Combo is pricey but vacuums and mops thoroughly while also avoiding obstacles. Its retractable mop design is best for homes with carpets as it can completely avoid getting a drop of water on them — but it requires you to manually remove and clean it after each job.

Pros

  • +

    Cleans carpets and mops floors well

  • +

    Multifunctional dock

  • +

    Smart obstacle avoidance

  • +

    Easy-to-use iRobot app

Cons

  • -

    Need to manually remove and clean mop pad after each use

  • -

    Expensive

  • -

    Loud

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Roomba J9+: Specs

Size: 13.7 x 13.7 x 3.4 inches
Dust cup capacity: 60 days
Weight: 9 pounds
Smart home compatibility: Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant

I’ve spent the past two weeks using iRobot’s Roomba J9+ Combo hybrid robot vacuum and mop to clean my home. My mixed living space is this robot’s ideal layout since it consists of hardwood with area rugs throughout my main floor and a fully carpeted basement. Its impressive motor has been powerful enough to suck up the most granular of debris while simultaneously polishing my hardwood flooring with a mop that the J9+ drags along its back. Once this Roomba detects carpet it lifts and folds the mop upward on top of itself like the roof of a convertible car to protect rugs from water. 

At $1,399 ($999 on sale) this pricey robot vacuum and mop needs to compete with the versatility and wealth of smart features of premium rival options. While the J9+ is loaded with cleaning modes, iRobot made some questionable design decisions like requiring you to detach and wash the reusable mop pad after each job. Does the J9+’s jack-of-all-trades approach provide an effective cleaning performance that has what it takes to be one of the best robot vacuums we tested? Or does its pursuit to be an all-in-one machine make it a master of none? Read on to find out what I thought of it after using it for two weeks.

iRobot Roomba J9+ Combo review: Price and availability

The Roomba J9+ Combo robot vacuum I tested comes bundled with the Clean Base and costs $1,399 on Amazon.com but it can often be found for $999 or less on sale. The dock automatically refills the robot’s onboard water tank with clean water while also extracting the dirt and debris from its onboard dustbin into a bag.

iRobot Roomba J9+ Combo review: Cheat sheet

Who is the iRobot Roomba J9+ for? Homes with a mix of hard and carpeted floors that can benefit from advanced obstacle avoidance and automatic cleaning optimizations.

What does it cost? $1,399 (or as low as $999 on sale) for the robot and auto-emptying base.

What do we like? Impressively thorough cleaning performance that adjusts power levels and passes automatically to ensure your floors are spotless with a retractable mop.

What do we not like? Can’t set and forget it since the mop pad requires you to manually remove and wash it after each cleaning session.

Bottom line: Other premium robot vacuums will have a hard time beating the J9+’s versatility across surfaces and performance. However, it could be smarter with a self-washing mop.

iRobot Roomba J9+ Combo review: Design

The Roomba J9+ arrives in a hefty 30-pound box that includes both the vacuum as well as its Clean Base docking and refill station. Since everything comes fully assembled I simply slid out the docking station, plugged it in a few inches off my living room wall, and rolled the bot onto its station to begin using it. iRobot’s smartphone app streamlines the setup process down to just two minutes by using Bluetooth to discover the bot and connect it to your Wi-Fi network. With this cloud connection established, you can control the robot and receive cleaning updates from anywhere you have internet or mobile data access.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This round robot vacuum is 17.2 x 18.1 inches and 9 pounds — chunkier than slimmer bots I’ve used in the past from Shark and RoboRock. Still, the beefy J9+ glides smoothly like a hockey puck under the couch or even the tight underhang along kitchen cabinets with ease. It navigates your space using sensors in addition to a camera with an LED headlight to locate and avoid potential obstacles. It had no problem curving around power strips, shoes, and even rubber dog poop in its way.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

On the top of the robot, you’ll find a single button to kick off cleaning jobs, a wall follow sensor, and the mopping pad plate which rests atop a swinging arm. Flip the J9+ over and you’ll see the rubber multi-surface roller brush for long hairs in the center, the edge-sweeping brush that pushes the debris inwards towards the vacuum, and wheels. Also dotted along the bottom are sensors that track your floor in the space and look out for cliffs. On the back right side of the bot is a button that releases the onboard water tank and dust bin combined into a compact crescent shape.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The robot’s auto-filling Clean Base stands at a tall 13.3 inches high with a high-end aesthetic complete with a lined panel design and a wooden top surface. You can use this space to display decorations like photo frames and plants which gives the station added functionality and a unique style that doesn’t stick out as obnoxiously as the plasticky base on the Shark IQ or Roborock’s notoriously oversized docking stations.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Clean Base functions as a storage cabinet — you pull open the front door and slide out the refill tank to fill it with up to one month’s worth of water or cleaning solution. Below this tank is a bag system that stores your debris for up to 60 days so you just pull out the bag when it's full and replace it.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

iRobot Roomba J9+ Combo review: App

The iRobot app is simplified to two tabs which makes it easy to navigate. From the My Products tab (essentially your main menu) you can send the bot out, schedule cleanings at certain times, or create automations to clean in specific conditions like when you leave home for work. You can also connect it to the best smart home devices like an August Smart lock, Ecobee smart thermostat, or MyQ Garage Opener to detect when you unlock the door, aren't occupying your space, or open your garage door so these actions serve as cleaning triggers.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

You can see the live status of every action your J9+ takes from dampening up the mop pad to when it returns to its base. iRobot will send you notifications as it cleans and recommends optimal cleaning times. Although it looked a bit lost at first, it took the bot just under 10 minutes to learn and map out the length of an 800-square-foot single-floor living space, which is fast and a third of the time it took the Shark IQ.

It took the J9+ just under 10 minutes to learn and map out the length of an 800-square-foot living space, which is fast and a third of the time for the Shark IQ.

Once your home is mapped you can switch to the My Home tab to create room labels as well as keep out or no mop zones to send the J9+ to specific areas. I experienced no hiccups telling Alexa to send the Roomba out to clean my kitchen or living room. The vacuum’s Dirt Detective feature learns from each cleaning job to automatically prioritize the dirtiest rooms and selects the ideal suction and cleaning passes for each.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I was impressed with the J9+’s onboard object recognition. Throughout sessions, this robot vacuum takes pictures of out-of-place objects for Obstacle Image Review. This system has you swipe through images to confirm if the robot accurately identified and avoided a hazard or made a mistake to help it clean smarter over time. Obstacle Image Review registered things like the Roku Streambar power cable running across my living room, the base of a stool and a power strip. I marked the Roku power cable as a temporary object and picked it up which resulted in the Roomba going back and getting deeper into the corner of my living room where the wire was on the following passthrough.

iRobot Roomba J9+ Combo review: Performance and test results

Like the Shark IQ I tested earlier in the year, the Roomba J9+ Combo cleans floors in a tight row pattern and finishes along wall edges. It effortlessly avoided stairs even in the dark, which can be terrifying when you’re investing well over $1,000 on a device. Plus, it easily climbs over saddles like the ones that divide my bedroom and bathroom from my hallway which other robots can struggle with.

Roomba J9+ Combo Hardwood test results (out of 100)

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Cheerios Kitty Litter Pet Hair
Roomba Combo J9+ 95.7 97 81
Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra 99.6 94.8 98.5

Roomba’s J9+ Combo has two cleaning modes; vacuum and mop or vacuum only. When vacuuming hardwood floors the mopping pad drags along the backside of the robot so it sucks and mops as it moves around. When the sensors detect carpeted flooring the J9+ lifts the swing arm mop over the top of itself in one smooth motion. In our 5x5 hardwood test space the J9+ easily cleaned a majority of the Cheerios and most granular pebbles of kitty litter with impressive scores in the high 90s.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

However, the J9+’s middle-of-the-road pet hair cleaning score on hardwood came as a surprise. Instead of swallowing up the strands it pushed and clumped the pet hair along its front bumper down to the edge of the space and then would do a 180-degree turn. This would be fine if it returned and sucked it back up. Unfortunately, this just corralled much of the pet hair to the outside while leaving nearly a full quarter of the starting amount behind. I would say this is still decent from a budget robot vacuum but this performance is mediocre for the four-figure price.

I put the J9+ Combo’s mopping capabilities through the ringer by spilling a variety of substances on my kitchen’s wood floor. The mop pad slips over a set of compact plastic rails that clips it in place so you just pull it off to wash it once you're done. From pasta sauce to the melted chocolate shell of a Magnum ice cream bar the J9+ had no issue cleaning light messes on default settings using its wet mop and in a single pass without streaking. You can use the app to adjust liquid levels and cleaning passes by room or zone for a lighter or more thorough cleaning.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Now a heavy pour of Smucker's caramel sundae sauce proved to be a bit thick and sticky and required me to activate the J9+’s SmartScrub feature. This sends the J9+ back and forth for a deeper clean with added pressure that eliminates grime and gets a majority of caked-on stuff. The robot blasted through the sundae sauce cleaning well over 90 percent of the mess. I could still smell caramel and found faint streaks on a paper towel but not enough to make my sneakers stick to the floor. For the future, I’d manually mop up sticky messes before sending this out. A self-cleaning spinning mop would be nice but Roomba’s flat pad system is still plenty effective.

Roomba J9+ Combo Hardwood test results (out of 100)

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Cheerios Kitty Litter Pet Hair
Roomba Combo J9+ 98 99.9 93
Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra 100 96.65 58

The J9+ mops your hard floors within millimeters of the edges where carpet or rugs start without bringing the wet mop onto them. Once it ensures the hardwood floors are fully clean it retracts its mop overhead and begins to vacuum rugs and carpets while adjusting the power to reach the necessary amount of force for a deep clean.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Carpet cleaning performance is thorough as you can see from those crisp rows of suction in the thick shag test area in the picture above. Like on hardwood, Cheerios proved to be a give-me for the robot which sucked them up gently without running them over and crushing them into sand. Even if it had, the vacuum would still be incredibly thorough as shown by how it sucked up virtually all the kitty litter intertwined into the carpet. I had to swipe my hand across it with force to shake out a few loose specks. That’s because it passes once and then back and forth with adjusted power on carpet a handful of times which nets that overall deeper clean than budget models.

The Roomba did much better at pet hair on carpet which is strange considering the texture usually clings on to fur more than a flat hard floor. My guess is that it's more uneven surface slightly raised the bumper so that the vacuum could run over and suck up the hairs. These hairs were also intertwined within the carpet’s fiber which held them in place and made it easier to grab since they didn’t glide around.

iRobot Roomba J9+ review: Verdict

If you can stomach its price tag then iRobot’s J9+ Combo is an intelligent hybrid robot vacuum that can do it all — mop, clean, and effectively map out your space so all the heavy lifting is off of your shoulders. It has strong suction performance, especially on notoriously difficult carpets where it automatically optimizes its settings for the deepest clean. It would get a perfect score if you could set and forget the bot instead of having to worry about manually removing and washing its mop pad each time. 

If you have hardwood floors or tile throughout your home then the impressive carpet cleaning and retractable mop doesn’t carry nearly as much weight. You can save a few bucks with even cheaper hybrid vacuum options, and we suggest checking out the Roborock S7 Max Ultra ($1,099, Amazon). Not only does it wash and dry its own mop but also has live view through a built-in security camera to patrol your home. But if you want to ensure your floors are spotless with meticulous pass-throughs — and don’t want to deal with emptying out the vacuum for up to two months at a time — you’d be hard-pressed to find a better performer than the J9+ combo.

Hunter Fenollol
Senior Editor, Smart Home

Hunter Fenollol is a Senior Editor for Tom’s Guide. He specializes in smart home gadgets and appliances. Prior to joining the team, Hunter reviewed computers, wearables, and mixed reality gear for publications that include CNN Underscored, Popular Mechanics, and Laptop Magazine. When he’s not testing out the latest cooking gadgets, you can likely find him playing a round of golf or out with friends feeding his paycheck to a QuickHit slot machine.

Hunter started his career as an intern at Tom’s Guide back in 2019 while in college. He graduated from Long Island University Post with a degree in Communications and minor in Advertising. He has been vlogging ever since the iPhone 4 took front-facing cameras mainstream.