The Best Robot Vacuums for Pet Hair of 2019By Jonathan Chan, Updated May 10, 2019
Dogs and cats shed. It's a fact of life—like how the sky is blue, or that Wednesday is the longest day of the week.
If you're plagued by stray pet hair, maybe it's time to get a robot vacuum. These automated cleaners can be set to run on a schedule so the only thing you have to do is empty the bin once in a while.
The only problem is the choice. The number of robot vacuums on the market has exploded over the past few years, as has the number of features they offer. Nowadays, there are robots that respond to voice commands and even one that doubles as a wet mop.
We were confused, too—which is why we've tested dozens of robot vacuums since 2014. In our tests, we learned that dealing with pet hair is about three things: navigation, agitation, and power. The best robot vacuums can find their way around a room, root pet hair out of carpet fibers, and vacuum it up. If you own a pet, these are the robot vacuums you should consider.
Here are the best robot vacuums for pet owners ranked, in order:
- iRobot Roomba 980
- Neato Botvac D7 Connected
- Dyson 360 Eye
- Eufy Robovac 11S
- LG Hom-Bot Turbo+ CR5765GD
Neato Botvac D7 Connected
Neato Botvac D7 ConnectedBest Overall
The Neato Botvac D7 Connected stands as a milestone in robot vacuums. It's the first robot vacuum you can tell when, how, and where to clean–all from your smartphone.
With its innovative No-go lines feature, you can draw lines on virtual maps, that the D7 creates, to prevent the unit from going near sensitive areas like pet bowls and beds.
While the No-go feature is cool, Neato also made a robot vacuum that cleans well, where you want it. The D7’s large wheels and D-shaped design allow it to climb high-pile carpet and get flush against walls. On average, the Neato picked up 9.6 grams of dirt per run. To put that in perspective, if you set the D7 to run automatically every day, that equals 67 grams of dirt a week–on par with light cleaning from a full-sized vacuum.
iRobot Roomba 980
iRobot Roomba 980Best For Cat Owners
When it comes to robot vacuums, iRobot is really the king of the hill. The cream of the crop on that hill is the iRobot 980. Like the Neato, it's Alexa-enabled, Wi-Fi connected, and designed to clean multiple rooms while still finding its way back to its charger. For pet hair specifically, the 980 has tangle-free brushes, so you won't have clean it as often as other models.
This iRobot didn't get the top spot on this list because, unlike the BotVac, it sometimes had trouble transitioning from bare floors to a tall rug. However, it does have one huge advantage that many cat owners are going to appreciate: omnidirectional virtual walls.
Basically, the 980 comes with two virtual walls that can be set to Halo Mode, which creates a no-go circle four feet in diameter. We suggest you put one near the water and food bowl and one near the litter box, two places you never want an accident. If you already own an iRobot, the Dual Mode virtual barriers work with most models and can be purchased separately.
How We Tested
Hey, I'm Jon Chan, the Senior Lab Technician at Reviewed. If you clean with it—whether it’s laundry detergents or dishwashers—I oversee its testing. This expertise extends to vacuums: upright, canister, handheld, and robotic.
I've been testing robot vacuums for years and have seen them change a lot. In my belief, the term robot vacuum is a misnomer. Robot vacuums are designed to help maintain your floors in between manual cleanings. When it comes to pet hair, that's a big deal because you need to let your machine run cleaning cycles every day to keep the loose fur at bay. I also think that virtual barriers are very important to help keep your robot away from areas that are sensitive to your pet, like their bed or food bowl.
Most of the tests involve our robot obstacle course. The area contains analogs for furniture legs, shelves, and thresholds. Each robot vacuum has three chances to prove itself. The first two runs, we placed cork pellets under the shelves and between the furniture legs. When we let the robot vacuum loose, we look for how long a cleaning cycle takes, what obstacles it was able to clean thoroughly, and overall debris pickup. For the final test run, we replaced the cork with pet hair and run another test run.
We also spent time looking at how each robot vacuum could benefit a pet owner. For example, the LG Hom-Bot Turbo+ can be remote controlled from anywhere and has cameras that stream. When you combine these two features, you get a mobile pet cam!
What You Need to Know about Robot Vacuums
After testing dozens and dozens of robot vacuums, we think the name is a bit of a misnomer. A robot vacuum’s ability to pick up dirt pales in comparison to that of a full-sized vacuum and can only really compete over the course of a week. We found that consumers experience the most satisfaction with their robot vacuums when they view them as floor maintainers in between manual cleanings.
We should also point out that most robot vacuums are designed for bare floors and medium carpet. If you have throw rugs taller than ½ inch, your robot vacuum might not be able to climb atop it or may get stuck if it gets up there. This fact is vital for pet owners because it means pet beds are a point of contention.
Avoiding Robot Vacuum Pet Mishaps
Over the years, three technologies have developed to help keep robot vacuums from running amok: magnetic strips, virtual barriers, and app-based barriers. All three of these methods have their pros and cons.
Magnetic strips are the simplest. You lay them on the floor and they create a barrier that designated robot vacuums will not cross. While they don’t require batteries, magnetic strips are cumbersome. Most robot vacuums that included them only ship with one, so you have to cut them if you want to cover multiple entryways.
The next step up is virtual barriers. These battery-powered devices emit an infrared line that tells robot vacuums to turn back. Some specialized barriers, like iRobot’s lighthouse, can create a “halo” or a circle barrier to encompass a piece of furniture or a pet bowl.
The final method, aside from shutting doors, involves specialized apps. New mapping technologies allow robot vacuums to have a better understanding of their surroundings. They can then send that information to your phone. Companies like iRobot, Neato, and Ecovacs all produce robot vacuums were you can draw lines on virtual maps to denote where the robots can and cannot go.
Robot vs. Vacuum
Whenever you have a device that’s battery powered, you’re going to have to deal with a series of tradeoffs. With robot vacuums, it’s a balancing act between being a good robot and a good vacuum.
A good robot navigates well by not bumping into furniture and getting over thresholds. But a robot vacuum’s worst downfall is when it gets stuck and requires a helping hand, defeating the purpose of an automated floor cleaner. However, being a good robot means drawing power away from the brushes and to the wheels, sensors, and circuit board.
A robot vacuum that cleans well tends to ram itself into furniture. A robot vacuum can’t clean where its brushes haven’t been. They also tend to be noisier as more power is drawn to the suction motor.
The basic rule of thumb is that the more a robot vacuum costs, the better robot it is and the less dirt it will pick up. We’re talking about a 20 percent difference between the best navigators that never get close to a chair leg and a robot vacuum that scuffs everything in your house. The most exceptional robot vacuums do both and they tend to win our Editor’s Choice and Best of Year awards.
Different Types of Navigation
Robot vacuums tend to have two different types of navigation, infrared and optical, or a combination of both. Infrared sensors shoot out beams that give information about distance. Optical navigation involves cameras, usually mounted on the top of the unit. Typically, these cameras utilize contrast and landmarks to decipher where they are. Robot vacuums that rely on optical navigation cannot work in a pitch black room.
How long do robot vacuums last?
This is a very tricky question. However, we find that the battery is the shortest-lived part of a robot vacuum. Both nickel and lithium batteries have hard limits on the number of times they can recharge. Nickel batteries suffer from a limitation known as memory loss—basically, over time, they lose the ability to recharge fully. The cathodes of lithium batteries tend to wear after a few years. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to buy a new battery pack for your robot vacuum after two to four years of use, depending on how often you run your device.
Are robot vacuums worth the money?
If you’re a pet owner, a robot vacuum helps get at balls of fur that are everywhere. As a floor maintainer between manual cleanings, they can save a lot of time and energy. The way to get your money’s worth is to set a robot vacuum to automatically run every day. Getting one with an app is also a bonus for those times you need to give your floors a once-over before coming home to any last-minute surprise guests.
Other Robot Vacuums We Tested
Eufy RoboVac 11s
Where To Buy$247.76 Amazon Buy
Eufy RoboVac 11s
If your dog is the furriest thing on your floors, the Eufy RoboVac 11s is worth checking out. It's a highly affordable model that also rocks good performance. The Eufy is perfect for anyone who wants to figure out if a robot vacuum and their pets are compatible. The slim design allows the 11s to jam its brushes into places where pet hair often get swept away. This model also boasts quiet operation, so it isn’t likely to irritate your pets.
The RoboVac 11s has a few drawbacks. It has no virtual walls or magnetic strips to ward it off from unwanted areas. Also, during testing, the Eufy was entirely unable to clean high-pile carpet. That means it will do best in homes with bare floors, not thick carpets.
Dyson 360 Eye
Where To Buy$999.99 Walmart Buy
Dyson 360 Eye
The Dyson 360 is the most expensive robot vacuum in our roundup, costing just under a grand. It's as close to the power and functionality of a full-sized vacuum as you're going to get. It has the dual-fiber brushes that can handle hardwood floors and carpets, as well as the same 100-watt motor found on Dyson's cordless models.
Why is this good for pet owners? Well if your floors are covered in pet hair, you're going to want that extra power—the difference between moving pet hair around and actually cleaning it up. This Dyson was also able to muscle its way onto every surface and get to work.
We wouldn't recommend this robot vacuum to everyone (we get it it's expensive). But if you've tried another robot vacuum and found it left behind too much fur, the Dyson is worth trying. Aside from the high price tag, the 360 Eye has one other drawback. Its navigational camera requires light to work, so no night time cleaning.
LG Hom-Bot Turbo+ CR5765GD
LG Hom-Bot Turbo+ CR5765GD
For once, a robot vacuum has actually impressed us with its tech. The LG Hom-Bot Turbo+ represents the next step in robot vacuums. It not only did a great job cleaning floors, but it also had an app that was actually useful. See, the Hom-Bot has multiple cameras that you can access anytime through wifi.
It’s those onboard cameras that we think pet owners will enjoy. We see it as a two-for-one deal: you get a robot vacuum and a mobile pet camera to keep track of our furry loved ones.