Robot Vacuums

Here's why a self-emptying robot vacuum is so much better

You can't put a price on peace of mind

The iRobot i3+'s self-sealing bag Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

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Two hundred years ago, street lamps needed to be lit every evening. Fifty years ago, you needed a computer the size of a house to calculate pi. Last year, you probably had to empty your robot vacuum every day. Outrageous!

But now, street lamps can be activated via electricity, the cellphone in your pocket can calculate pi to a billion places, and the latest robot vacuums can empty themselves. At first glance, this may sound like the height of laziness, but there are some major benefits to getting a robot vacuum that can clean itself.

How does a self-emptying robot vacuum work?

iRobot Dirt disposal
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

Most self-emptying vacuums utilize a port on their underside to get the dirt and debris out.

The current generation of self-emptying robot vacs works pretty much on the same design that iRobot debuted in 2018. Basically, it’s all in the specialized charging dock. When the robot vacuum finishes a cleaning cycle, it goes back to its dock and a vacuum inside the dock sucks out the dirt and debris via a trapdoor on the bottom of the vacuum. All the nasty stuff gets stored in either a bin or a sealed bag.

Why self-emptying robot vacuum cleaners are worth paying for

Robot vacuums work best when they run every day. The fact that they operate autonomously without you around helps keep them from being obtrusive. So, the more a robot vacuum model can go without a human interacting with it, the better.

The latest generation of iRobot Roombas can go about 30 days without needing to be emptied. All the debris they suction up goes into a bag that seals when you remove it. This way, you never see, touch, or smell anything unpleasant. Let’s be real: the more pleasant a chore is, the more likely you’re going to do it. And vice versa.

iRobot i3+ bag
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

The bag keeps you from smelling, seeing, or touching anything unpleasant.

Aside from being less icky, using a robot vacuum that self empties into a bag is probably better for your health. Think about the last time you emptied your cordless vacuum into the trash and a cloud of dust and allergens getting kicked up into your face. In most households that’s fine, but if someone in your household suffers from allergies, this moment can be a real tear-jerker.

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What kind of self-emptying robot vacuum should I get?

iRobot i3+ dock
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

The charging dock contains another vacuum device that suctions out dirt and debris from the robot vac into its own larger bin or self-sealing bag.

It turns out that the iRobot i7+, our highest-rated robot vacuum to come out of our testing labs, can empty itself as well as be directed to clean certain rooms during specific times of the day. For example, you can program this robot vacuum to clean the hallway near the door at 3 p.m.—when the kids get home from school.

The downside is that the Roomba i7+ is pretty expensive, but luckily the Roomba i3+ is way more budget-friendly while still self-emptying and being programmable.

We know it may seem absurd to splurge on a robot vacuum that empties itself. However, once you get used to the amount of convenience it provides you, living without it will be like going back to the days of iceboxes and crank-started automobiles.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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