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Robot vacuum cleaners to avoid buying

Need some help around the house? Don't count on these poorly performing robot vacs and check our reviews before you buy. 

Last updated: 13 February 2024

Need to know

  • Our most recent expert testing includes reviews of 17 robot vacs from popular brands such as Dyson, Ecovacs, Kogan, Dreame, iRobot and more
  • We assess how well robot vacuums clean hard floors, carpet, pet hair, and corners and edges, as well as how easy they are to use (including their apps and the process of connecting them to your home Wi-Fi network)
  • Consider joining CHOICE to see our full reviews and best performers

Robot vacuums promise to eliminate the burden of one of the most dreaded household chores, and they've certainly gained legions of fans whose bots have become valued members of the family.

But while we all fantasise about putting our feet up while someone else takes care of our filthy floors and carpets, the truth is that not all robot vacuums are the magic household helpers we've been led to believe. 

CHOICE tests show that while most models perform well on hard floors, there are many that give disappointing results on carpet, and that also fall down in other aspects of our testing.

Not all robot vacuums are the magic household helpers we think they are

And they're not cheap. The robot vacuums in our latest review range in price from $399 up to a whopping $2899 for a bot with fancy features such as an automatic self-emptying function, an allergen filter and smart room mapping.

In our expert testing, each model is assessed and given a score for carpet cleaning, hard floors, corners and edges, pet hair and other key criteria, including how easy their app is to use and how easy the dirt receptacle is to empty. 

We found some impressive units, and some woeful ones that are just not worth the price tag.

Antonio vacuums choice logo

One of our expert robot vac testers, Antonio Bonacruz.

Robot vacuums vs traditional vacuums

They may do the dirty work so you don't have to but, unfortunately, our rigorous lab tests have found robot vacs generally don't clean as well as traditional barrel or stick vacuums. 

Of course, given that you're not the one doing the cleaning, you might be fine with that – and you can always schedule your robot to clean more often to compensate. 

"We've found robot vacuums are best for 'top-up' cleans in between more thorough laps with your stick or barrel model," says CHOICE expert Kim Gilmour.

"Overall, how effective a robot vacuum will be for you depends on your home's layout and things such as whether you have pets and the main type of flooring."

Some models are clumsy at navigating objects and corners, and they can often get stuck. 

On the plus side, robot vacuums are handy for getting into those hard-to-reach places such as under couches or beds – prime spots for dust to accumulate.

Bot manufacturers are constantly competing to improve their technology to make better, more intelligent versions. 

And while we've seen some evidence of these advances in the stand-out performers in our latest review, we think you should steer clear of these low-scoring models below.

The lowest rated robot vacuums

1. Ecovacs Deebot U2


Ecovacs Deebot U2: An indifferent performer, even on hard floors.

  • Price: $399
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 47%
  • Dirt removal from hard floor score: 77%
  • Dirt removal from carpet score: 15%

If you only have hard floors and you're happy with an 'OK' performance, this might be an acceptable buy for the relatively low price. But if you've got an extra $100–150 to spend, there are other models that perform much better on hard floors. 

This model is good at detecting stairs and also has a mopping function (which we haven't yet tested for this model), but it's very poor at cleaning carpets and poor at picking up pet hair. 

Read the full review of the Ecovacs Deebot U2.

2. Ecovacs Deebot T20 Omni

Ecovacs Deebot T20 OmniDLX23

The Ecovacs Deebot T20 Omni has lots of bells and whistles but doesn't impress on one of its core functions – cleaning carpets!

  • Price: $1799
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 56%
  • Dirt removal from hard floor score: 82%
  • Dirt removal from carpet score: 20%

Prepare to be dazzled by all the features spruiked by this robot vacuum: auto-charging! Self-emptying! Hot mopping and auto-drying feature! 

If you get charmed enough to fork out the eye-watering $1799, you'll be dismayed to find out that our CHOICE experts scored it just 56%.

If you only have hard floors (and you love a fancy feature), you may still be content – it scores a decent 82% in our hard floor cleaning test. But it was marked down for its dismal score on carpet (20%) and pet hair removal (40%).

It scores a decent 82% in our hard floor cleaning test, but was marked down for its dismal score on carpet (20%) and pet hair removal (40%)

When it comes to the mopping function, this robot vac was actually very good at removing the stains from the floor in our test, but it lost points for making a dirty mark on our test carpet. 

The problem is that although the mop pads automatically lift up as it travels over carpet, it may struggle at the edges of the carpet or rug and spread more dirt around – causing you more problems than it is solving.

Read the full review of the Ecovacs Deebot T20 Omni.

3. Dreame DreameBot D10 Plus


The Dreame DreameBot D10 Plus has some handy features, too, but its performance on carpet is poor.

  • Price: $999
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 57%
  • Dirt removal from hard floor score: 88%
  • Dirt removal from carpet score: 19%

Just like the Ecovacs Deebot T20 Omni, this robo vac offers a few positives and high-end features.

It's very good at cleaning hard floors, and good at picking up pet hair and detecting stairs. It also automatically returns to its charging station just before the battery goes flat, and has a self-emptying function. 

But these fancier features come at a high price. At almost $1000, this vac still performed dismally in our tests for cleaning carpets, corners and edges. 

There are definitely better bots to spend your money on if you have this kind of budget.

Read the full review of the Dreame DreameBot D10 Plus

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.