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Robot Vacuums

These robot vacuums make keeping up with pet hair a much more bearable chore

When shedding season is year-round, automated floor cleaning is a must.
By Leah Stodart and Andrea Kornstein  on 
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Pets can be mediocre roommates.

Their presence undoubtedly makes your life better — but significantly messier, too. And unlike in a passive-aggressive roommate group chat, you can't tell a pet to clean up after itself.

The most satisfying option would probably be following their trail with a vacuum and lint roller. But when life gets in the way, sending a robot vacuum to stay on top of your floor's filth can cut you a major break on one heightened chore of a pet parent. Investing in an automatic cat feeder or automatic litter box should be next on the list.

Let’s get down to our list of best robot vacuums for pet hair in 2023:

Read our full review of the Roomba s9+.

Automatic emptying wasn't the norm when iRobot dropped its fancy new D-shaped vacuum in 2019. The smarts of the s9+ are far more ubiquitous now, but this powerhouse still does one thing better than the newest Roomba, the j7+: deep clean thick carpets.

The s9+ cleans with 40 times the suction of 600 Series Roombas (the j7+ offers 10 times the suction) to provide some of the most thorough carpet attention on the market. Despite such power, the s9+ can still clean for over an hour before retreating to charge and unload debris. The flat edge is also still quite the rarity, and does a better job of snatching dust bunnies and fur balls hiding in corners.

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Read our full review of the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+.

The newest Roomba uses a new camera that helps it to avoid smaller obstacles that are typically blind spots for robot vacuums. Though it can't recognize everything (like feathers on the end of wand toys), it's definitely the botvac to get if you're nervous about pet waste being smeared or about a toy clogging the machine. The j7+ rarely gets stuck or requires a human's help, so I felt super confident sending it on a cleaning run when I wasn't home.

A year-ish after the release of the j7 and j7+, iRobot also welcomed a mopping iteration of the j7 series. The Combo j7+ operates identically to the regular j7s when it comes to vacuuming, and looks almost identical as well. The only differences are an interior water tank and a retractable mopping pad that scrubs when appropriate, lifts completely over the vacuum body when carpet is sensed, and lays flat when not in use.

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Hands-off cleaning is evolving, with much more of the process being automated past just the act of cleaning itself. Roborock's latest flagship hybrid, the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra, empties its own dust bin, refills its own water tank (swapping dirty water for clean when necessary), and not only washes, but also dries its own mop pads, correcting the biggest downfall of the older S7 MaxV Ultra. The dock, though still obnoxiously sized, has also undergone a chic redesign to better disguise the triad of water tanks. Boosted suction on carpet is also more intense: 6,000 Pa versus the older model's 5,100.

At $1,599.99, the S8 Pro Ultra is currently the most expensive robot vacuum on the mainstream market. Its menu of specs is almost identical to that of the Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni, which is frequently on sale for less than $1,000 after a year on the market. But even on sale, we'd probably still advise opting for the $1,599.99 Roborock to avoid the IRL frustrations that come with the X1 Omni.

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If you're set on a Roomba as your first robot vacuum, the 694 is a budget-friendly model to get your toes in the water. Despite being the cheapest Roomba in the current lineup, it's still armed with iRobot's tangle-free extractors (great for pet hair) and Roomba’s patented high-efficiency AeroForce filter.

The Roomba 694 relies on adaptive navigation to safely roam while unleashing a three-stage cleaning system to expertly loosen, lift, and sucks up dirt and debris. Advanced dirt detection sensors tell the Roomba to work harder on certain areas, like near the litter box or the designated belly rub spot on the carpet. After a software update through the iRobot app, the 694 offers personalized suggestions for recurring schedules.

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3,000 Pa of suction is a bold claim that'd top Roomba's best — and at a price point that's almost always under $400 on sale, skepticism is valid. But the suction power on this budget vac is palpable — especially with the automatic carpet boost. Plus, mopping and automatic emptying makes it almost impossible to question whether this Yeedi could lighten your chore load.

The presence of room mapping is also impressive at such a practical price point, despite undercooked quirks like only having the capacity to hold a map of one story at a time. Shaky furniture avoidance isn't so annoying when you can still enjoy the convenience of virtual boundaries in the app.

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Shark wasn't a competitive player in the hybrid game until a release in the winter of 2022. While the introduction of a mopping pad to Shark's smartest robot vacuum is huge in its own right, the Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 also welcomes a new feature that's ideal for carpeted homes with pets.

The Matrix Clean system shines during both wet and dry cleaning. During regular vacuuming, it delivers 30% better carpet cleaning (compared to the older RV Shark models) by digging deeper into carpet and taking multiple passes in a crosshatch pattern to loosen and grab debris from multiple angles. "Matrix" also applies to the AI Ultra's mopping, which vibrates 100 times per minute to scrub stains.

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Read our full review of the Neato D8.

D-shaped vacuums were Neato's thing far before Roomba caught word of that diligent edge cleaning. Amidst the seemingly-discontinued D7 and the D6 that doesn't offer zone cleaning (kind of a must for homes with pets), the Botvac D8 oozes with value. Compared to the similarly-shaped Roomba s9+, the slim build, its compact dock, and whisper-quiet suction make the D8 a solid budget-friendly choice for apartments.

For up to two hours at a time, the D8 uses laser navigation to (slowly but surely) to remember your home's layout. Though the mapping isn't immediately as accurate as more advanced vacs we've tested, the D8 learns rooms over time. Its ability to mediate those maps with virtual no-go zones is also a game changer. Additionally, the phone app can be used to start a cleaning even if you're not home.

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More in Robot Vacuums

Frequently Asked Questions

No one *wants* their robot vacuum to be loud, but noise level should be a heavier consideration in households with skittish pets. Some models are louder than others, depending on the strength of the motor or, on more high-tech models, a noise-dampening design. If your pet reacts well (or doesn't react) to the dishwasher, a hairdryer, or a blender, the low roar of most robot vacuums should be tolerable.

A robot vac that reliably follows boundaries might be helpful to avoid knocking into a water bowl or slurping up corners of a dog bed. Most low-end vacs come with adhesive magnetic strips that create a physical border around danger zones, but virtual no-go zones on nicer vacs that utilize laser mapping are far more reliable — and one less thing to chew on.

The noise level on automatic emptying stations is a different story. They sound like a plane taking off. However, the deafening whoosh only lasts for about 15 seconds, and the ability of a dock to hold months' worth of debris is crucial for homes where a robot vacuum could fill its onboard dustbin after cleaning a few rooms filled with pet hair.

Virtually all robots can master hardwood floors (as well as laminate, tile, and vinyl). Smooth surfaces don't take a spiderweb-like grasp on pet hair like carpets do. The hair may blow across and collect in furballs, but it's relatively easy for any robot vacuum to grab with a rotating brush, push it into the line of suction, and scoop it up. If your home's corners are particularly popular hangout spots for furballs, a D-shaped robot vacuum can detail those walls and 90-degree angles better than a circular vac.

A living space that contains a combination of hard floors and carpet or rugs will prove to be a little more challenging. The robot vacuum you choose should be able to detect different floor types and be able to hoist itself over the spots where they switch over without getting tripped up. Most vacs on the market today are smart enough to enact some sort of boost mode to work a little harder on carpets, though suction power itself plays a bigger role when it comes to extracting pet hair from carpeting. Veer toward a model harnessing with at least 2,000 Pa of suction.

Stronger vacuums collect more debris in every trip, and households dealing with shedding probably require more trips to tackle the extra debris. Naturally, these dust bins will fill up faster than a vacuum cleaning a petless household once a week. A self-emptying vacuum alleviates the need for you to empty the dustbin on the daily, letting you off the hook for one to three months at a time.

Pet owners with allergies will appreciate the streamlined emptying process for another reason. The automatic emptying process involves sucking the contents of the dust bin directly from the vacuum into the canister on the loading dock, containing the blast of dust that typically clouds the trash can during manual dumping. Allergy sufferers can also look for vac models that house HEPA filters.

Leah Stodart
Leah Stodart
Senior Shopping Reporter

Leah Stodart is a Senior Shopping Reporter at Mashable. She covers shopping trends, gift ideas, and products that make life easier, specializing in vacuums, TVs, and sustainable swaps. She graduated from Penn State University in 2016 and is watching horror movies or "The Office" when she’s not shopping online herself. You can follow her on Twitter at @notleah(opens in a new tab).

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