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Are Robot Vacuums Worth It? Here’s What You Should Know

Written by James Hall |

A guide to whether robot vacuums are worth buying

Are robot vacuums worth buying for their cleaning performance? Or are they just an expensive gimmick? Keep reading to find out.

A robot that automatically cleans your floors is a dream for many of us. After all, most people don’t vacuum for fun!

But with some robot vacuum cleaners costing thousands of pounds, are they really worth the money? And how effective are they at cleaning carpets and hard floors? Let’s find out.

Have Realistic Expectations of a Robot Vacuum

Before we go any further, let’s start with a key point:

No matter how much you spend, a robot vacuum cleaner can’t (yet) replace a regular vacuum.

Robot vacuums can’t clean stairs, furniture, or car interiors. They also don’t provide the same deep clean of carpets, crevices, or awkward to reach areas that’s possible with a regular vacuum.

This doesn’t necessarily mean they should be avoided. Modern robot vacuum cleaners have improved in almost every area, including suction power, battery run-time, and navigation. The top models can even map out your home, allowing you to use their apps to control when and where they clean.

So, while they can’t match a full-size vacuum when it comes to cleaning performance or versatility, robot vacs can still be a useful timesaving tool.

What Type of Floors Do You Have?

Robot vacuum on carpet

Before you buy a robot vacuum cleaner, it’s important to consider your home’s flooring and whether it’s suitable for a robot vacuum cleaner.

Robot vacuums tend to perform best on hard surfaces. If your home has large areas of tile, laminate, or vinyl, then a robot vacuum could be a great choice.

Even the best robot vacuums struggle more with carpets, although the latest models are more effective than those from a few years ago. If you have lots of carpets in your home, then you’ll need the highest quality robot vacuum to get a decent clean (and you’ll still need to perform regular deep cleaning with a standard vacuum.)

There are certain types of floor that will cause more serious issues. Thick shag rugs, for example, are unlikely to be effectively cleaned by a robot vacuum and may cause it to get stuck. These rugs could even be damaged by a robot vacuum’s wheels.

If your home has high threshold bars then this could also cause an issue with moving between rooms. Make sure you check the vacuum’s specifications before you buy.

Are Your Floors Usually Clear or Cluttered?

Clutter makes it more difficult for a robot vacuum to navigate and prevents it cleaning all areas of the floor. And, while modern robot vacuums are pretty good at navigating around obstacles, it’s still common for them to get stuck on unexpected objects.

For this reason, consider whether your flooring is often cluttered with children’s toys, pet toys, or other objects. If so, you’ll need to do a “pre tidy” before the vacuum runs, which reduces the automated benefits.

Still, you would need to tidy away clutter before using a regular vacuum cleaner too. And, once it’s done, a robot vacuum can clean without your input.

Robot Vacuums Don’t Avoid Cords and Power Cables

Robot vacuums suck up whatever is in their path – and that includes power cables. While this probably won’t damage your vacuum, you’ll need to manually free the vac before it can continue. Some of the top models allow you to set specific areas of the home to avoid, which can prevent this. For cheaper models, you’ll need to remove any cables before cleaning.

Do You Have Any Pets?

Robot vacuums can be good or bad news for pet owners.

On the one hand, having a robot vacuum cleaning your home on an automated schedule can help with controlling pet hair. If your dog or cat sheds continuously, then your floors will be much cleaner between regular deep cleans.

The downside is that many pets are scared of robot vacuums – especially when they start cleaning on a schedule. This isn’t surprising, as robot vacuums move unpredictably and are noisy. If your dog is scared of the vacuum, for example, you’ll need to spend some time creating positive associations.

What is Your Home’s Layout?

Home layout

One of the biggest downsides of a robot vacuum is that they can only clean floors. Upholstery, skirting boards, and pet beds are all inaccessible to robot vacuums.

They also can’t clean stairs. Unless you live in a single-floored flat, you’ll always need to use your regular vacuum to clean staircases.

Additionally, as robot vacuums tend to work best in large rooms, it’s worth considering your home’s layout:

  • If your home is often cluttered, has a layout that’s awkward to navigate, or has small rooms, then a robot vacuum may be more hassle than it’s worth. Many models will get stuck and need to be freed continuously.
  • If your home has large floors with big rooms, then a robot could be an efficient choice.

Robot Vacuums Need to be Emptied Regularly

Something that’s often forgotten is that robot vacuums need to be manually emptied. They aren’t a completely automated solution to cleaning your home.

Cheap models often have tiny dust capacities, so they need to be frequently emptied. Higher priced machines sometimes have storage at their “home base,” so you don’t need to empty them as often.

Are Robot Vacuum Cleaners Worth Buying?

To summarise, we think that the best robot vacuums are worth the money – but only for certain households.

  • If you can afford to buy one of the top models, then the best robot vacuums can do a decent job of keeping your floors clean between regular cleaning sessions.
  • If you have pets, then a robot vacuum can help to keep pet hair under control (although not every pet will tolerate a robot in their home.)
  • If you’re a busy person who doesn’t have time for regular vacuuming, then a robot vac could be an effective way to keep your floors clear between deep cleans.
  • If you’re someone who has mobility issues and struggles to use a regular vacuum cleaner, then a robot vacuum could be a convenient alternative. You’ll still need to bend down to empty them, but there’s no need to push them around.

With that said, robot vacuums aren’t for everyone and they aren’t a replacement for a main vacuum. You’ll still need to manually vacuum when your home needs a deep clean, and this is unlikely to change in the near future.

They also aren’t a great choice for homes with lots of clutter, as this makes it difficult for the vacuum to navigate and may cause it to get stuck. Homes with multiple staircases, thick shag rugs, or high threshold bars may also not be suitable.

It’s also important to choose a high-quality robot vacuum. The majority of robot vacuums on the market provide poor cleaning performance, so only the top models are worth buying.

Do you have any questions about robot vacuum cleaners or whether they are worth buying? Please use the comments section below.

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