Robot vacuum cleaners can really help to reduce your cleaning regime. These appliances are designed to automatically lend a hand with the vacuuming, picking up everything from dust and crumbs to pet hair — some can mop as well! They offer an abundance of features including mapping, object detection and even self-emptying dustbins. We naturally assume that such tech is going to be expensive, but that’s not to say there are no best cheap robot vacuums.
Some of the lower-end models cost less than $300 and perform just as well, if not better, than the premium designs. While the latest tech may not be available for this price point, there’s still some impressive features to look out for as well, such as Wi-Fi control. To help you find the best for your budget, we’ve rounded up a list of the best cheap robot vacuums. These come at a great price, but are still just as effective at cleaning.
- Best robot vacuums
- Check out our guide to the best Roombas
- The best robot mops for hardwood and kitchen floors
Editor's Note: The Tom's Guide Awards 2021 for smart home devices have been announced, and the Roborock S4 Max has won the Best robot vacuum overall award! Head to the smart home devices awards page to see all the winners and recommended runners-up.
What are the best cheap robot vacuums?
The best cheap robot vacuum is the highly affordable $128 iLife V3s Pro. What it lacks in bells and whistles it makes up for with excellent cleaning performance on bare floors and thinner rugs. The V3s Pro’s pet hair performance is especially notable, though if a robot vacuum can be described as “low tech,” then the V3s Pro fits the bill. This bump-and-clean robot is controlled via the onboard buttons or via remote control. If you need a very basic vacuum to get the job done, the iLife V3s Pro is a great choice. It’s an especially good choice if you have four-legged friends: The V3s Pro sits atop our list of best robot vacuums for pet hair.
Want something smarter? The $249 iRobot Roomba 675 is a bump-and-clean robot vacuum but is Wi-Fi-connected. The accompanying iRobot Home app adds geofence-triggered cleaning and seasonal cleaning recommendations.
Curious about mopping? The $159 iLife V5s Pro hybrid robot will vacuum and mop your floors (but not at the same time). It includes a removable water tank and microfiber pad to give your floors a once over after vacuuming. But if you’re looking for mopping alone, the $179 iRobot Braava jet 240 is a compact robot mop that uses cleaner-infused disposable pads to brighten your floors.
Read on for all of the best cheap robot vacuums.
The best cheap robot vacuums you can buy today
The best cheap robot vacuum overall, the iLife V3s Pro has been around for a few years, but it’s still one of our top picks due to its unique combination of excellent pet hair cleaning performance and affordability. It’s especially good on bare surfaces, such as hardwood floors and tile, but works well on thinner rugs, too. Unlike most robot vacuums we’ve seen, the V3s Pro collects debris using a 3-inch suction opening instead of a brush roll.
This bump-and-clean robot vacuum isn’t Wi-Fi-connected, which means the only way to control it is via the included remote control or the onboard buttons. If you’re skittish about internet-connected home devices and security, this is the robot vacuum for you. The random cleaning pattern of the V3s Pro means it might miss a few spots, but if you’re willing to keep an eye on this bot while it’s cleaning, the iLife V3s Pro is an incredible value that will keep your floors fur free.
Read our full iLife V3s Pro review.
The iRobot Roomba 675 serves as the company’s entry level robot vacuum, but offers some of the same features as the company’s pricier bots. This WiFi-connected bump-and-clean robot is controlled through the iRobot Home app which gives this budget vacuum fancy features, such as geofence-triggered vacuum runs and seasonal cleaning recommendations. Though it doesn’t follow a predictable serpentine cleaning pattern, we did observe it methodically making its way along baseboards and around chair legs.
In our iRobot Roomba 675 review, we praised its automatic dirt detection. When the robot vacuum decides an area has excessive dirt or debris, it’ll spin around and clean that section more thoroughly. It also proved to be a capable performer in our lab tests, where it earned an overall average pickup score of 89.7. The Roomba 675’s one weak spot was pet hair pick up, so if you’ve got furry friends, the iLife V3s Pro is a better option.
The Roomba 675 is being phased out by iRobot. If you can’t find it, check out its replacement, the Roomba 694, which offers nearly identical performance, but lacks a carrying handle.
Read our full iRobot Roomba 675 review
Want a cheap champ that can clean up cat hair and give your kitchen floor a once over? Look no further than the iLife V5s Pro, a hybrid robot that has a water tank and microfiber pad attachment for very light floor mopping. Much like its sibling, the V3s Pro, the iLife V5s Pro excels at quietly picking up after furry family members. It’s a no-frills bump-and-clean bot that works by bouncing off walls and other obstacles, but in our review we found that it did so gently, slowing down just before impact. In our lab tests, the V5s Pro earned high marks, earning an average score of 99.1 on our cereal test and 97.3 on our pet hair test.
Unlike some more expensive hybrids, you can’t vacuum and mop at the same time. Instead, you have to switch out the dustbin for a water reservoir and snap on a microfiber pad to the robot’s underside. While the V5s Pro’s mopping ability won’t have you tossing your manual mop in the trash, its water-only cleaning is just enough to make the floors look presentable before company arrives.
Read our full iLife V5s Pro review
The Eufy RoboVac G30 Edge stands out as a Wi-Fi-connected robot vacuum that offers basic mapping capability paired with a slew of useful features, including Auto-return cleaning – a feature usually found on more expensive models. Should the G30 Edge run out of power before its job is complete, it will recharge itself on the dock, then head back to work where it left off. Via the EufyHome app you can even choose the suction power and initiate a spot cleaning. Though it doesn’t offer no-go zones like the Roborock S4 Max, the mapping on the G30 Edge will show where the vacuum is currently cleaning or – should the G30 Edge lose its way under a couch – where it got stuck.
One of the Eufy RoboVac G30 Edge’s biggest surprises was its exceptionally quiet vacuuming. We were able to hold a conversation at normal volume the whole time the bot was in the room with us. Like other mapping robots, the G30 Edge cleans in an orderly back and forth pattern, a welcome relief from unpredictable bump-and-clean bots. In our lab tests, this methodical cleaner earned an overall score of 88.94. Though it struggled a little with smaller particles on carpet, it was adept at picking up cereal, earning an average score of 98.7.
Read our full Eufy RoboVac G30 Edge review
How about that? The best robot vacuum overall is also one of the most budget-friendly bots you can buy. Normally priced at around $429, the Roborock S4 Max can occasionally be found for just $309 – a great deal for a robot vacuum that combines excellent performance with a wealth of features. This Wi-Fi-connected bot uses LiDAR navigation to quickly and accurately map your home, just like more expensive bots. It’ll take its best guess at room divisions, but you can fine tune them in the Roborock app along with adding no-go zones and invisible walls. Want to clean around the kitchen sink? Draw a box around the area in the map and the S4 Max goes to work. Though the bot will automatically detect carpet, you can adjust the suction and the number of cleaning passes directly in the app.
It’s not just a wealth of features that sets the Roborock S4 Max apart, but also its cleaning prowess. It earned an overall score of 96.25 in our lab tests and notched an impressive average score of 94 on our pet hair tests and 96.38 in our kitty litter tests.
The Roborock S4 Max supports up to four maps, so you can use it reliably on multiple floors of your home. When the vacuum is cleaning, you can follow its path on your phone, letting you know exactly what it’s up to. Though enabling map saving in the app isn’t the most intuitive and sometimes room divisions are tricky, the Roborock S4 Max is one of the best robot vacuum values around.
Read our full Roborock S4 Max review
How to choose the best cheap robot vacuum
When choosing the best cheap robot vacuum for your home, price is obviously a concern. While value is paramount, you should also consider the terrain of your home. Do you have mostly bare floors or is there wall-to-wall carpet in every room except the kitchen? What about pets? How willing are you (or your family) to pick up stray toys and shoes before setting a robot vacuum loose?
Another consideration is connectivity. Do you want to use an app or a voice assistant like Alexa to control the vacuum or would you prefer a remote control? While Wi-Fi-connected robot vacuums have come down in price, they still cost more than non-connected ones.
Lastly, don’t forget that no matter which robot vacuum you choose, it will require some regular maintenance to continue to clean effectively. Typically, that means emptying the dustbin after every run and cleaning or replacing the filter on a regular basis. Don’t forget to remove hair and other debris that gets wrapped around the brush roll, side brushes and wheels from time to time, too. Here are six robot vacuum tips and tricks for keeping your home clean.
How to clean a robot vacuum
Your robot vacuum is constantly collecting dirt, dust and pet hair, so it will need to be inspected and cleaned regularly. The dustbins are smaller than you would think, with some holding less than 400ml, so they will need emptying after every run, unless you happen to own one of the more expensive self-emptying models! When you empty out the bin, check the rotating brush at the same time for any tangled hair — cut this free rather than pulling at it. You also need to inspect and clean the filter occasionally as well, following the manual’s instructions. These will also need replacing after a period of time, refer to your manual once again for specifics including where to buy. Some brands, including Eufy, iLife, Neato, and Roborock, will also supply a cleaning tool to help with regular maintenance.
If you don’t regularly clean your robot vacuum, it will start to affect its performance. In fact, it will stop working altogether and be counterproductive once the dustbin is full. Dirt will be dragged around your floors rather than collected.
If you’re lucky enough to own an app-connected robot vacuum, it might offer maintenance tips and guidelines as well as reminders. Some will even schedule in when it’s time to buy replacement filters.
|Overall||Cereal||Kitty Litter||Dog Hair|
|iLife V3s Pro*||97||99.7||91.75||99.5|
|Roborock S4 Max||96.25||98.38||96.38||94|
|iRobot Roomba 675||89.7||99.88||94.93||74.25|
|iLife V5s Pro*||94.8||99.1||88.2||97.3|
|Eufy RoboVac G30 Edge||88.94||98.7||80.85||87.25|
*Same test performed in a larger 15’ x 15’ area
How we tested the best cheap robot vacuums
All of the robot vacuums we review are subjected to both our lab tests and in-home, real world use over several days. The test results, user experience, price, and features relative to competing models weigh into our overall rating.
Our lab tests are three separate tests run twice – once on hardwood and once on low pile carpet. In a 5-foot-by-5-foot area, we measure how effective each vacuum is at picking up 2 grams of dog hair (primarily sourced from an English Cream Golden Retriever), 20 grams of kitty litter, and 20 grams of Cheerios cereal. As long as the dog hair is collected by some part of the robot vacuum, such as the side brush or main brush roll, it’s counted. Older models were subject to the same tests, but in a larger 15-foot-by-15-foot area.
Real world testing isn’t as rigid as our lab tests, though we test all of the features in each vacuum. Most commonly, this includes mapping out the first floor of the reviewer’s home and evaluating it for accuracy. This also includes how easy or hard it is to make map adjustments, such as room divisions and drawing no-go zones. We also look at the dustbin: Is it hard to access? How much force is needed to open the dustbin? Does dust go flying everywhere? How easy is it to clean the brush roll, side brush, and wheels?
Household terrain is also considered. Does the robot vacuum get caught up on small rugs? Is it able to cross a common threshold? Does it get stuck in a maze of dining room chairs? How about under the couch? These are just some of the questions we answer when evaluating each robot vacuum.