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Don't Buy robot vacuum cleaners

by Matthew Knight

Some robot vacuum cleaners are so bad at cleaning and navigating that they are nothing more than very expensive toys. Find out which made our Don't Buy list.

Put us to the test

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You might think that buying a top-of-the-range robot vacuum cleaner will guarantee your home with be cleaned without you lifting a finger, but our tests reveal this isn't always the case. Some models costing over £500 failed to impress in our tough tests. 

In fact, some robot vacuum cleaners picked up just 4% of the dust we ground into carpets. Others got stuck on lamps, under chairs and in corners – wasting battery and failing to return to their base. By contrast, our Best Buy robot vacuum cleaners easily found their way round obstacles and cleaned floors thoroughly.

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Robot vacuum cleaners to avoid

Our tests go further than anyone else's to ensure that the ones we do recommend as Best Buys are truly the cream of the crop.

  • We challenge robot vacuums to remove dust, debris and pet hair from different floor surfaces. The best models can pick up 50% of the dust in your carpets, meaning you'll need to get your main vacuum out less often.
  • Using our specially designed test room, we make sure the robots we recommend are capable of negotiating their way round obstacles successfully. With the worst models, you'll regularly find them stranded somewhere in your home.
  • Best Buys will also cover the vast majority of your floor space and won't leave uncleaned patches that have you reaching for your main vacuum to finish the job.

We simulate a range of different types of grime to see how well each robot vacuum will tackle ordinary household mess, including fine Arizona sand, lentils and real pet hair. We also built a specially designed testing room full of obstacles to represent the kind of furniture you find in an ordinary home. 

Which? is independent – we work for you, the consumer, so you can be sure that our product recommendations are influenced only by our test results. We're not influenced by third parties and we don't accept freebies from product manufacturers or retailers. We buy all the products that we test ourselves, so our advice helps you to make the right choice first time and avoid costly mistakes.

Log in to unlock our full list of Don’t Buy products on this page. Not yet a member? Join Which? to find out which robot vacuums are Don’t Buys and which are Best Buys.