The best robot vacuums for hardwood floors

BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Nov. 18, 2021):iRobot Roomba 692 — $199.99 $299.99 (save $100)Shark IQ Robot Vacuum AV970 — $344.99 $399.99 (save $55)iRobot Roomba j7+ — $699.99 $849.99 (save $150)ionVac SmartClean V4–Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum — $199 $399.99 (save $200.99)Roborock E4 Robot Vacuum — $269.99 $299.99 (save $30)Robot vacuums have revolutionized the way we clean our homes — because we don't have to be home to clean. With scheduled sweeping sessions welcoming you home to a floor that's ready for bare feet, the work on your end shifts to choosing a robot vacuum that's best for your home's floor type. Do robot...

BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Nov. 18, 2021):

Robot vacuums have revolutionized the way we clean our homes — because we don’t have to be home to clean.

With scheduled sweeping sessions welcoming you home to a floor that’s ready for bare feet, the work on your end shifts to choosing a robot vacuum that’s best for your home’s floor type.

Do robot vacuums really work?

The latest robot vacuums aren’t the lazy bumper cars that you may have heard about or experienced earlier. The right ones are beasts.

If we’re being honest, robot vacs are usually not as thorough as traditional upright vacuum cleaners. Their suction isn’t as powerful and you just can’t get the same kind of clean that you get from eyeballing your floors and going back over spots you can tell you missed.

Many higher-end robot vacuums do have heightened dirt detection features that help them to scope out problem areas that require extra attention. Smart robot vacuums that navigate based on a self-made map of your home actually know where they’re going and can be sent to certain rooms on your command. Otherwise, the method is essentially a random “hope this works” pattern that covers less than the side-by-side lines you would probably do if you were the one controlling the vacuum. Though the robots try to hit every spot with this method, they’re bound to miss every now and then.

Regardless, one thing to ask yourself is: Are you currently vacuuming your floors every day? Because robot vacuums can do that. Even if they miss a spot one day, they might catch it the next, leading to an overall increase in floor cleanliness.

Are robot vacuums better for hardwood floors or carpet?

Given the velcro-like grasp that carpets can have on daily droppings, most robot vacuums perform better on hardwood than on carpet. All robot vacuums have a main suction system and side brushes that push dry debris (crumbs, kitty litter, dirt) into the line of suction. Not all of them have impressive brush rolls or the sheer suction power to rake carpet threads, though, which are a necessity for cleaning carpets.

Sucking up hair (human or pet) is easier for robot vacuums on hard flooring because on carpet, the vacuums have to really be able to dig deep and pull up hair embedded in the fibers. On smooth floors, the hair has nothing to get stuck on. If you have both carpet and hard flooring, most robot vacuums automatically adjust between floor types, lowering or raising to get the closest clean possible.

What about hard floors that aren’t wood?

Laminate floors, tile floors, and any other kind of hard, bare floors can get the same treatment as wood floors. Robot vacuums that work well on hardwood floors will also do a good job on these floors.

Do robot vacuums scratch hardwood floors?

Robot vacuums are purposefully are designed to work on hardwood floors without scratching them. They have rubber wheels and gentle rubber brushes that pull in dirt without gnawing at your floors.

Where you might get floor scratching is if an abrasive piece of sand, glass, rock, etc. gets caught under the wheel and drags throughout the house. This is pretty uncommon, but to be safe, make sure your floors are clear of any large, sharp debris before running the robot vacuum.

Are robot mops safe for hardwood floors?

Any avowed hardwood floor enthusiast is likely to be just as meticulous about dried shoe prints or wine spills as they are about dust and debris. A robot mop’s light wet scrub offers a satisfying shine to a robot vacuum’s dry sweep, especially if your hardcore mopping sessions with real hardwood cleaner are few and far between.

Many robot mops (especially hybrid robot vacuum-robot mop models, like the ones listed below) only mop with water, alleviating concerns about topcoat-damaging ingredients like vinegar, ammonia, or other alkaline products. Instructions typically strongly advise against adding any type of soap to the water tank to avoid messing with the vacuum’s interior parts.

When to shop for a deal on robot vacuums

Robot vacuums receive more front-page attention in Black Friday ads each year, but even more deals are exclusively scattered across the internet. We’re tracking them from October all the way to Cyber Monday and beyond, including early Black Friday robot vacuum deals that are already live. Keeping your options open is the best way to guarantee a vac that has the features (automatic emptying, mopping, specific room targeting) at the budget you’re comfy with (whether that’s under $300 or over $1,000 if it’s really nice).

Here are our top picks for the best robot vacuums for wood floors in 2021:

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