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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: 14 June 2024

Need to know

  • Our most recent expert testing includes reviews of 16 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 robot vacuum reviews and best performers across over 200 product and service categories

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 they are. 

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 less than $300 up to close to $3000 for bots with fancy features such as automatic self-emptying function, allergen filters 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.

Robot vacuums with mopping functions

We are seeing more and more robot vacuums that include a mopping function, with varying results.

We test the performance of the mopping function on models that have this feature on various stains in our labs, but we don't currently include it as part of our overall score. If you're interested in how a particular model performs at mopping, click on the product name to view test results.

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. Electrolux UltimateHome 300 Robot Cleaner


Electrolux UltimateHome 300 Robot Cleaner underwhelmed in our testing.

  • Price: $699
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 46%
  • Dirt removal from hard floor score: 82%
  • Dirt removal from carpet score: 5%

Our experts had few good points to share after they tested this bot from well-known vacuum manufacturer, Electrolux. 

First we can look at the positives: it has a physical remote and, if you just want a basic model without bells and whistles, it is actually a decent performer on hard floors.

But it was poor at cleaning corners and edges, borderline at picking up pet hair and very poor at picking up dirt from carpet, scoring just 5% in this test.

We also tested the mopping function on this bot, but while cleaning it missed most of the stains in the centre of our test area. 

And although this model advertises up to 120 minutes of run time on a single charge, it should be noted that this is measured while the vac runs on minimum mode. When we tested the battery life on its highest setting, it lasted just 25 minutes.  

Read the full review of the Electrolux UltimateHome 300 Robot Cleaner.

2. MyGenie XSonic Robotic Vacuum


The MyGenie XSonic Robotic Vacuum is not likely to be the magic vac you're looking for.

  • Price: $699
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 47%
  • Dirt removal from hard floor score: 83%
  • Dirt removal from carpet score: 4%

Like many bots we test, this model will likely perform quite well for you if you're just using it on hard floors. However, if you have carpets, prepare to be underwhelmed, as it scored a very poor 4% in this test.

It also scored poorly when it comes to how well it cleans corners and edges and on how well it picks up pet hair. Our testers also found a few issues with unclear instructions and confusing labelling on the bot itself. 

It does have a mopping function. However, when we tested its performance on floor stains in our labs, it received one of the lowest scores of 20%. Other models score up to 80%, making them better buys if you're interested in this capability.  

Lately we have seen this model discounted quite heavily from it's $699 recommended retail price. If you're tempted by the savings just be aware of its limitations. 

Read the full review of the MyGenie XSonic Robotic Vacuum.

robot vacuum in choice test lab (1)

We let bots loose in our labs to assess how well they pick up dirt on hard floors.


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

3. Ecovacs Deebot U2

  • 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.

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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.