Looking for the best robot vacuum for hardwood floors?
You’ve come to the right place.
In this in-depth buying guide (about a 10-minute read), I’ll help you find the best robot vacuum for hardwood floors (and robotic mops) – and discuss the critical things to look for when selecting one.
To do this, I review & compare my favorite 6 robot vacuums, robot mops and vacuum-mop combos from Roomba, Braava, iLife, and Ecovacs.
From these six, I’m sure you’ll find one that meets your needs and budget.
So let’s dive in!
What’s In This Buying Guide
Three Types of Robot Vacuum for Hardwood Floors
When looking for a robotic vacuum for hardwood floors, there are three types of robots to consider:
- Robotic Vacuums: These use a combination of brushes and vacuum suction to suck dust and debris from your floor. But they cannot clean pet urine or sticky spills.
- Robotic Mops: These mop your messiest spills from the floor using a wet pad, but they do not use brushes and air suction to pick up debris and hair.
- Robotic Vacuum+Mops. These incorporate dry vacuuming and wet mopping features into a single unit, which make them especially ideal for hardwood floors.
Features To Look For
In addition to selecting the right type of vacuum/mop, you also should consider whether you need a model with programmable/intelligent features such as intelligent navigation and remote smartphone control or a more basic (and cheaper) unit that you control when you’re home.
Prices vary widely based on how strong the suction power is, how smart the navigation is, the sophistication of remote control and programmable scheduling features, and whether they can clean an entire floor or just one room.
High-end whole-floor hardwood cleaners like the Roomba 960 (see review below) typically sell for more than $500. They are packed with all sorts of bells and whistles.
On the other end of the scale, you’ll find less sophisticated single-room cleaners like the Roomba 690 for less than $300.
The good news is that smart and powerful robot vacuum models including Roombas are getting cheaper by the month. So you don’t have to spend a lot of money to find something good.
If you’re looking for a robotic vacuum that can handle pet hair and dander, then take a look at our roundup of the best robot vacuums for pet hair, recently updated.
Best Robot Vacuums & Mops for Cleaning Hardwood Floors
Best Choice For Hardwood Floors (Overall): iRobot Roomba 960
The Roomba 960 is a premium Roomba model. Only the 980 and the new i7+ cost more.
The 960’s excellent whole-floor cleaning ability, combined with its many smart and wifi-connected features is why we’ve chosen this as the best choice overall for homes with hardwood floors. While it has no mopping capability, we think most people will be happiest buying this model.
Two things are crucial in a robot vacuum’s ability to clean dust and debris from hardwood floors, and the Roomba 960 has both:
- Powerful suction. The Roomba 960 has five times the suction power of other cheaper Roomba models. It can easily pick dust, pet hair, food crumbs and all different kinds of debris.
- Roller brush + side brushes. Having two brush sets makes a big difference in how well a robot cleans. The dual roller brush system picks up pet hair and pushes debris inside the vacuum. The side brush sweeps in debris and dust from the sides and edges.
The Roomba 960 uses a 3-stage cleaning system that loosens dirt using brushes, lifts it using the dual counter-rotating roller brushes and vacuums it using powerful suction.
Dirt is captured in a HEPA filter that catches everything from long strands of pet hair to tiny bits of dust and pet dander.
This robot doesn’t just roll around cleaning whichever part of the floor it happens to be on, either.
Like other premium Roomba models, the Roomba 960 is equipped with the iAdapt 2.0 intelligent camera-based navigation system.
The 960 maps and remembers your home to keep track of where it has cleaned and which areas remain.
The Roomba 960 is also a whole-floor cleaner that can navigate from room to room while avoiding furniture and staying away from the stairs.
This vacuum is also equipped with a Dirt Detect sensor that detects the dirtiest areas of your floor and directs the robot to spend more time there.
The Roomba 960 is a great choice for people who need to clean while they are away. It automatically returns to the dock for a recharge when the battery gets low, and then resumes where it left off.
You can control and monitor the Roomba 960 remotely. Some of the things you can do remotely include:
- Start and stop cleaning using the iRobot smartphone app.
- Create and edit a cleaning schedule.
- Get cleaning reports and alerts on your phone.
- Use Alexa or Google Assistant to control it with voice commands (using your phone or smart speaker).
The only two concerns I have with the Roomba 960 are:
- small bin. It’s best to set this vacuum to run every other day or so. Don’t wait too long or the small bin will fill too soon and stop running until you get home to empty it.
- the 960 requires visible light for its camera-based navigation to see where it is going. This unit has trouble cleaning at night and in dark corners. Many other robot vacs use infrared-based navigation, which can see better in the dark.
That said, if you are looking for an affordable and full-featured whole-floor vacuum cleaner for hardwood floors, the Roomba 960 is really hard to beat.
Best for Pet & Dog Hair: Roomba 890
Trying to keep your home clean when you have pets is a headache. Pet owners especially save a lot of time and energy buying a robotic vacuum.
My top recommendation for pet and dog owners with hardwood floors is the Roomba 890.
Here’s why I think it is the best unit for pet and dog hair:
- Powerful suction: the 890’s suction is five times more powerful than cheaper Roombas and other brands. It has no trouble picking up pet hair, no matter how much your pets leave behind.
- Dual brushes: the 2-brush design works to suck in pet hair, pick it up and push it inside the vacuum. The brushes don’t tangle often, a common problem with other vacuums when they encounter pet hair.
- A HEPA filter: to capture even the tiniest bits of hair and pet dander. Great if you or anyone else at home has allergies.
With its suite of sensors and smart navigation system, the Roomba 890 has an easy time driving itself around obstacles and navigating complex floor layouts.
Its slimmed-down design allows it to duck under low-level couch edges and other furniture where pet hair often accumulates unseen.
The side brush sweeps in pet hair along the walls and corners.
The Roomba 890 is a smart robot vacuum, too, although most of its features and settings are only accessible in the app. So you’ll need to connect it to your home WiFi network during setup and then download the iRobot Home app for your smartphone (or tablet).
There is, of course, a ‘clean’ function – a big green round button at the center of the app. It will remotely command the robot to start cleaning regardless of whether it is on a schedule or not.
On the unit you can also see the cleaning status, set a cleaning schedule and receive alerts such as ‘bin full.’
The only app feature you miss out on buying this Roomba is the cleaning report, which is only available in the Roomba 960 and 980.
Once you connect the Roomba 890 to your WiFi, you can control it via voice using Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. You can use the smart assistant app on your phone or issue a command to a Google Home or Amazon echo smart speaker.
The only thing you may find annoying is how quickly the smallish bin fills up, especially if you have multiple pets.
Overall, the Roomba 890 is a great bargain if you are looking for a mid-priced Roomba with most of the smart features of Roomba’s top robots and cleans just as well.
Best Single-Room Robot Vacuum: Roomba 690
The Roomba 690 is an excellent choice if you are looking for a cheaper Roomba vacuum cleaner.
It doesn’t have the suction power of the more expensive Roombas, but it cleans hardwood floors very well. You get most of the smart features available in the Roomba 960 and 980, too.
Like other Roombas, the 690 uses a 3-stage cleaning process.
The side brush and roller brush agitate and loosen dirt on the floor. The side brush is especially handy, reaching dirt along the wall edges where the rounded shape of the robot can’t quite reach.
The dual roller brushes then push the dirt into the vacuum.
Powerful suction vacuums the dirt and passes it through a filter before it is dumped into a fairly sizable bin.
Thanks to its low profile, the Roomba 690 can reach dirt and dust mites that have accumulated under your bed and furniture. No more sneezing and stuffy noses because of out-of-sight allergens.
Regarding navigation, the Roomba 690 uses iRobot’s iAdapt Navigation system that relies on multiple sensors to navigate around the room and evade obstacles.
It also has a Dirt Detect sensor which guides it to areas with the most dirt.
Unfortunately, the Roomba 690 doesn’t have visual navigation like the one used in the 800 and 900 series. So it can’t map out the floor layout or move from room to room.
For that reason, the Roomba 690 is really suited for single room cleaning.
Like most other robotic vacuums today, the Roomba 690 is smart enough to find its way back to the charging dock when the battery gets low. But it will not automatically resume cleaning. You’ll have to do that manually.
The Roomba 690 connects to WiFi, allowing you to start cleaning via the app when you are away from home.
Other things you can do in the app include:
- Set a 7-day cleaning schedule.
- See cleaning history – but you won’t receive cleaning reports/maps.
- Locate the robot in your home.
The Roomba 690 is compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. So if you don’t want to use the app, you can control the robot using voice commands (via the phone or a compatible smart speaker).
Overall, the 690 is the best bargain Roomba. It’s the most affordable Roomba with smart features and Alexa/Google Assistant compatibility.
My only concerns are that it’s a bit noisy, gets easily stuck on chords and can only clean one room at a time.
Other than that, though, the Roomba 690 is just about perfect for small to mid-size apartments with hardwood floors – it can also vacuum a low-pile carpet.
Best Value: Ecovacs DEEBOT N79S
The N79S is a recent upgrade to Ecovacs original N79 model.
To this already-great cleaner, Ecovacs added two upgrades.
First, they added a new Max Cleaning Mode.
The N79 has four cleaning modes: auto, spot, edge and single-room. Now there is a Max mode which increases suction power by 50%. This is handy when you are cleaning a spot on your hardwood floor with lots of dirt. It also improves the robot’s cleaning ability on a hardwood floor littered with pet hair.
Second, they added Alexa compatibility.
The N79 has WiFi connectivity, but it can only be controlled using a smartphone app. Now, you can send voice commands via the Alexa app on your phone or using an Amazon Echo smart speaker.
Even with the upgrades, the DEEBOT N79 is just as affordable as before.
It remains our best value robot vacuum for hardwood floors (as well as low-pile carpets).
When it comes to navigation, the robot falls somewhere in the middle of the pack.
It is not as smart as pricier Roombas, but it is not totally dumb either.
Using what the company calls Smart Motion technology, the robot follows a precise cleaning path rather than just moving randomly.
To change the cleaning pattern, select the edge (follows wall) or spot (cleans in a spiral pattern) mode.
The robot uses infrared sensors to detect obstacles in its way, which means you can use it in the dark.
The N79S uses three brushes to clean. Two side brushes pull in dirt and pet hair from the sides and along wall edges. And there’s a main V-shaped brush that lifts dirt into the vacuum.
A HEPA filter ensures that all the debris, including the finest bits, is captured.
Like the previous model, you can control the N79S when you are away from home using the ECOVACS App.
Using the app, you can remotely switch on the robot, pause cleaning, set a schedule and monitor the vacuum’s status.
With the new Alexa upgrade, you can also link the robot to your Amazon Echo speaker and control it via voice commands.
To be honest, though, except for the lack of intelligent navigation (which doesn’t seem to affect the robot’s cleaning ability that much), the DEEBOT N79S cleans a lot like a Roomba… but at half the price.
If saving money means a lot to you, then buy this one.
Best Robot Mop for Hardwood Floors: iRobot Braava 380t
Vacuuming a hardwood floor is not enough to keep it clean. You also need to mop it occasionally to get rid of stains and stubborn grime.
This is where a robot mop like the iRobot Braava 380t comes in handy.
But you need to be careful when choosing a robotic mop for your hardwood floor.
With all robot mops, you attach a mopping pad and press the start button. Some use onboard water tanks to wet the pad, and others rely on you to do that.
Models with onboard water tanks are far easier to use, but some models produce too much water, which can damage or stain hardwood floors over time.
For cleaning hardwood floors, I recommend buying the Braava 380t Robot Mop by iRobot, the same company that manufactures Roomba vacuums.
- It has an onboard tank. Some robot mops have a pad attachment which you have to wet yourself. Having a reservoir allows it to clean a larger area more effectively.
- Wide coverageof up to 350 square feet in a single cleaning session. That’s enough to cover an average sized living area or two smaller bedrooms.
- Reusable microfiber cleaning clothes. You can also use disposable cleaning pads (such as those from Swiffer).
- It can sweep as well as a mop. The cleaning cloth can also be used to sweep an area up to 1,000 square feet. It picks up dust and pet hair.
- Excellent mopping ability. The robot uses a triple pass cleaning action to make sure the floor is completely clean.
- Controlled water release. The reservoir releases just enough water to keep the mopping pad damp. It doesn’t leave the floor wet, which prevents damage to the wood.
The Braava 380t comes with a GPS-like navigation system called Northstar that relies on small signal-emitting cubes.
The robot mop uses the NorthStar Navigation Cube to determine its position at all times and build a map of the room.
That’s how the 380t knows where it has cleaned and where it has to go. It does not waste time cleaning the same area more than once.
The Braava 380t comes with one Northstar cube, which is enough for one small or mid-sized room. If you are cleaning a larger space, consider buying additional cubes.
Unlike its Roomba vacuum cousins, the Braava 380t has no WiFi features. You cannot control it with your phone when you are away from home, and you also cannot link it to Alexa or Google Assistant.
It also has no scheduling feature, which kind of makes sense because you always need to add fresh water before it starts cleaning, anyway.
Overall, though, the Braava 380t is the best single-purpose robot mop you can buy for cleaning hardwood floors.
If you have hardwood or hard tile floors in your kitchen and dining areas, then I highly recommend buying this one.
Best Vacuum + Wet Mop Combo: iLife V8s
If you don’t want to spend twice on a robot mop and a robot vac, then buy the excellent iLife V8s 2-in-1 combo robot vacuum+mop for your hardwood floor.
iLife products are generally priced lower than Roombas, so it is not that surprising that this unit is a downright steal for everything it does.
When it comes to vacuuming, the V8s does an good if not stellar job.
Suction power is adequate, and the side brushes do a good job of sweeping dust and pet hair into the path of the robot for collection. Not as good as the 960, but good enough.
Note: this vacuum has no roller brush. This is usually not a problem if you have mostly hardwood floors at home. The roller brush is mostly useful on the carpet where it helps to lift up dirt and pick up pet hair.
One of my favorite features on the iLife V8s is the gigantic dustbin. At 750 ml, this bin is one of the largest of all robot vacuums.
This is great news if your home gets really dirty, if you can only run it once a week – and especially if you have several dogs and cats. This robot can pick up lots of dirt and pet hair without needing to be emptied midway through.
When it comes to mopping, the robot also does a decent job, but not quite as good as the 380t.
To use the V8s in mopping mode, you need to insert the mopping module and attach the mopping pad, but after that it’s ready to clean.
The mopping module includes a water reservoir which releases small amounts of water to keep the pad wet. It doesn’t leave streaks or pools of water behind on the floor, so it’s safe for a hardwood floor.
As for downsides, well, this robot doesn’t connect to WiFi – which means there is no app with which you can remotely control it.
But it does come with remote control plus a big LCD display on the robot.
The iLife V8s is definitely the best deal going right now for a 2-in-1 robot mop + vacuum combo. Especially if you have lots of dogs/cats. It does both jobs well, at a really low price.
Features to Consider When Comparing Robot Vacuums for Hardwood Floors
Design & Size
Most robot vacuum cleaners have the same round shape. Neato robot vacs are an exception.
They have a unique D-shape which allows the vacuum to get really close to the wall for better edge cleaning.
Other than the Neato robots, you don’t have any other options when it comes to shaping. Almost all the other brands are round.
What many robots vary in is height. And it makes a significant difference in cleaning ability.
Most robots range between 3 and 4 inches in height. Those with a low profile – less than 3.5” – can easily navigate under furniture and other tight spaces where dirt and pet hair tends to accumulate unseen.
Thicker robot vacuums will leave some areas uncleaned because they cannot access them.
If most of your furniture pieces have a clearance of at least 4 inches, you don’t need to worry much about the height of the robot vacuum. Most can clear that height.
But if you have several pieces with very low clearance, look for low profile models such as Roombas (3.6”), ECOVACS DEEBOT N79S (3.1”) and iLife V8s (3”).
Next, check the robot vacuum’s brush system.
Most robotic vacuums have 2-3 brushes.
There’s the main roller brush which spans almost the entire width of the robot. It picks up pet hair and dirt and lifts it towards the suction port.
Then there are the side brushes which sweep in dust and pet hair from the sides and along the edges. Roomba models have one side brush while most other robot vacuums have 2.
Some robot vacuums like the iLife V8s lack the roller brush. This is not a major issue on hardwood floors (and other hard floors) but can seriously limit cleaning ability on a rug or carpet.
If you have pets, make sure the brushes don’t tangle up as they collect and sweep hair.
This is not a big issue with most robot vacuums. Even the cheap ones have enough suction power to clean a hardwood floor.
That being said, a powerful vacuum cleaner will produce better results especially if your floor gets really dirty or if you have some areas with rugs.
But if your floor doesn’t get very dirty, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a high-suction robot vacuum. A cheaper one will do just fine.
If you watch a robot vacuum cleaning, you can easily tell the difference between those with intelligent navigation and those that are simply moving about until the battery runs out.
Luckily, even the ‘dumb’ robots usually clean just as well. It’s just that they take longer and can only clean one room at a time.
What you need to watch out for are robots that bang hard into furniture, leaving unsightly marks and damaging delicate items.
Look for a robot vacuum with a good obstacle detection system.
If you have a large home and need a robot vacuum that can clean multiple rooms at a go, you’ll have to pay more for a robot with intelligent navigation.
Models like the Roomba 960 can map out a room and choose the best cleaning pattern. They know where they’ve already cleaned and which areas are remaining.
They can also vacuum an entire level, moving from room to room.
Battery Life & Auto-recharge
Cheaper robot vacuums have a typical battery life of around 90 minutes. This is enough to clean one or two average-size rooms.
Pricier robots that can clean an entire level usually have a longer battery life of up to 120 minutes.
If you have a small to mid-size home, a robot with a 90-minute runtime is enough. For larger homes, invest in a longer-running robot vacuum.
In addition to battery life, check whether the robot has an auto-recharge feature. This is where the vacuum automatically goes back to the charging dock when the battery gets low.
If you are buying a more expensive model, check whether it also has auto-resume. This is where the vacuum automatically resumes cleaning where it left off before it went back to the dock to recharge.
This is a standard feature in almost all robot vacuum cleaners. It allows you to set the vacuum to start cleaning automatically at a specific time and day.
But there’s a difference in scheduling flexibility between cheaper and premium robot vacuums.
With low-cost models from companies lie iLife, you can only set a specific time when the robot will start cleaning every day. Many don’t even allow you to unselect some days meaning you have to completely turn off schedule on those days you don’t want it to clean.
In pricier models, you have more flexibility in setting the schedule (usually with an app).
You can select only some days and even set a different time for each day.
Generally, however, this is not a big issue. Most budget robot vacuum owners find the basic scheduling feature to be good enough.
But if you want more flexibility (e.g. if you have a very busy schedule), spring for something more expensive with better scheduling.
Finally, decide whether you want a robot vacuum cleaner with WiFi-connected features.
A WiFI-connected vacuum allows you to control and monitor the robot when you are away from home using a smartphone app.
In most cases, you can also link the robot to a smart assistant like Alexa and control it via voice commands using a smart speaker.
WiFi features are beneficial if:
- You want to be able to clean the house at any time even when you are at work or on vacation.
- You already have a smart home and want a robot vacuum you can integrate into your home.
- You love the convenience of using voice commands.
Hardwood Floor Cleaning Tips
Here are some tips to help you keep your hardwood floor clean and in pristine condition.
If you leave dirt for too long on a hardwood floor, it will be harder to clean and can stain the wood. It can also cause scratches on the floor when shoes and feet rub against it.
This is why you want to clean a hardwood floor frequently – and gently.
With a robot vacuum cleaner, frequent vacuuming is super–easy. Just set a daily schedule and the robot does all the rest.
Vacuuming is not enough to keep your hardwood floor clean, of course. Occasional mopping – about once a week – gets rid of stubborn dirt and mild stains.
To avoid damaging your hardwood floors, only use tap water or mild cleaners that are safe for a hardwood floor.
- Encourage family members to leave their shoes outside. Shoes create scuff marks and scratches on the floor. They also track in a lot of dirt.
- If removing shoes is not an option, put a mat at the entryway to capture any dirt on the shoes before it reaches the floor.
- Clean up messes and spills immediately. Whether it’s spilled water, bits of food or a pet’s mess, clean it up immediately to avoid any damage. If the mess is solid such as bread crumbs or dog food, start the robot vacuum cleaner and set it to Spot mode.