10 great robot vacuums for people who are aging in place
Sucking up dirt and pet hair, without getting underfoot
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The idea of making housework easier, or, even, automated, for people who are less mobile than most is a great one. But, while this is easiest said, the execution isn’t necessarily so.
Robot vacuums have become integral to households that need to—but don’t have time or ability to—vacuum everyday. Sure, they're not as powerful as a full-size upright when it comes to pure suction power, but the trade off is that you don’t have to do it yourself. There’s no pushing and pulling a heavy, unwieldy machine across a carpet that creates drag. There’s no bending and contorting your body to get into every crevice. Robot vacs allow users to sit with their feet up—literally—and still have a clean floor, and it’s enough to clear dirt and debris in between visits from a monthly or biweekly cleaning service or an industrious loved one.
However, not all robot vacuums are created equal, and some are easier to use than others. A less mobile person may be one who is aging in place and not at all comfortable with using the advanced technology sometimes required to operate a camera- and sensor-laden automaton.
We questioned Reviewed’s senior lab manager and resident robot vacuum expert, Jonathan Chan, about which robot vacuums are best suited for people who are less mobile and/or aging in place. Whether you’re buying one for yourself or one for a parent, these are the robot vacuums to focus on.
1. iRobot Roombas: High performers requiring low maintenance
iRobot Roombas are some of the best robot vacuums we’ve ever tested, including the brand new j7+, which currently tops our list as the Best Overall. Other models we love include the i7+ (the j7+’s predecessor), i6+ (an Amazon exclusive), i3+ (the most affordable Roomba), and the i8+ (a Costco exclusive that has a long battery life).
For one, we love these Roombas because they can self empty, which means you rarely have to get your hands dirty removing dirt and debris from the robot vacuum chassis. Jonathan explains, “These Roombas empty themselves into a self-sealing bag, which can hold between 30 and 60 days’ worth of debris. The fact that the bag seals itself when you remove it means you never have to see, smell, or touch anything unpleasant.”
The j7+ has incredible navigation, which means that forward-facing cameras and machine learning allow the Roomba to avoid items from power cords to pet poop while it sucks up debris, and ensures it returns to its base after running a cleaning program, eliminating it as a tripping hazard.
If you’re caring for someone who is technology averse, it’s OK. They can still reap the benefits of a Roomba, as long as you are willing to help out. You can control most Roombas remotely using a smartphone, and you can create a set-it-and-forget-it cleaning routine, where the robot vacuum cleans the same area every day.
For top-tier smart models, you can also take advantage of the iRobot Genius smart platform.
“It can schedule and set routines for Wi-Fi-connected, iRobot branded smart devices. Special areas called Clean Zones, like the couch or under the kitchen table, can be labeled on the smart map, and you can also designate areas where you don’t want your Roomba to roam,” says Jonathan. “You can also integrate your home's smart locks into your robot vacuum’s programming so that when you walk through your front door, the Roomba will return to its charging base.”
- Get the iRobot Roomba j7+ at Amazon for $849
- Get the iRobot Roomba i7+ at Amazon for $790
- Get the iRobot Roomba i6+ at Amazon for $699.99
- Get the iRobot Roomba i3+ at Amazon for $549
- Get the iRobot Roomba i8+ at Costco
2. Eufy: Affordable and easy to operate
Yes, robot vacuums are expensive for most people, and potentially out of reach for anyone living on a limited income, like many seniors. However, Eufy by Anker makes very affordable robot vacuum models that also offer a great value for your money. On our list of best robot vacuums, we named the Eufy Robovac 11S our best value winner for its excellent suction and dirt pick up—more than that of many iRobot Roombas, in fact.
What’s more is that Eufys are easy to operate, even the smart models like the Eufy 15C Max, which can be controlled with an app or by an easy-to-read remote control. Using one should be easy enough for a person who isn’t terribly tech savvy.
As far as getting around an apartment or living space, Jonathan says that many entry-level robot vacuums come with no way of restraining them to an area while they’re in use. However, the Eufy Robovac G30 Edge comes with two magnetic strips that can be placed on the ground to keep it from navigating into rooms you don’t want it entering, say, a bedroom where someone could potentially trip and fall over it in the middle of the night if the robot vac fails to return to its charging base. Most similarly priced competitors don’t have any type of barriers at all.
While Eufy’s don’t offer the best navigation, our testing shows they are great at getting into nooks and crannies, especially the Eufy 11S because it is so slim and can get under toe kicks and low shelves.
- Get the Eufy Robovac 15C Max at Amazon for $175.99
- Get the Eufy Robovac 11S at Amazon for $159.99
- Get the Eufy Robovac G30 Edge at Amazon for $259.99
3. Neato: Powerful and awesome on carpeting
If your home, a loved one’s apartment, or an in-law suite is covered in carpeting, and you’re looking for a robot vacuum, then one of the D-shaped Neato Botvacs is the way to go. Powerful, large, and tall, our lab testing shows that Neato robot vacuums clean and navigate thicker carpets more thoroughly than their peers. According to Jonathan, this is especially true with throw rugs, although not high-pile ones, which anyone who is unsteady on their feet shouldn’t have in their home anyway.
If you have a cat or two, consider the Neato Botvac D3 Connected, which costs more than a Eufy but far less than an iRobot. During our testing, it performed really well, sucking up lots of dirt and annihilating pet hair. The more expensive D7 Connected is also great, winning our title of best robot vacuum for pet hair. Jonathan says, “Its wide head helps it pick up pet hair without getting clogged, and its D-shaped body allows it to get flush against walls.”
- Get the Neato Botvac D3 Connected at Amazon for $317.33
- Get the Neato Botvac D7 Connected at Amazon for $489.72
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.