A Roomba definitely makes pet owners life easier. It automatically removes all your dogs and cats hair from the floor. So, you can enjoy cuddling your pets, and having fun. However, there are various Roomba with prices ranging from $200 up to $1100. In the following, we guide you to choose the best Roomba for your pets, at the best price. We present and explain important features to consider. We also, review 15 Roomba on the market. This detailed analysis is summarized using scores that shows Roomba performance with respect to our criteria.
In this section we compare Roomba based on their performance at picking up pet hair. Table 1 summarizes these results. This comparison relies on 3 criteria:
- Suction Power.
- Edge Cleaning Solution.
- Dirt Sensor Type.
Obviously, suction power is an important factor in vacuum robots performance at collecting dog and cat hair. The higher is suction power, the better.
If you have carpets, better aim for highest values. The best with these regard are Roomba 980, Roomba i7 and i7+. But, if you have hard floors with tiles, hardwood, Linoleum or alike, suction power is less critical. You can go for a cheaper Roomba.
Edge Cleaning Solution
To thoroughly collect all pet hair, your vacuum robot should have some solution to efficiently clean edges. Indeed, pet hair often accumulate at corners and next to walls and furniture.
All 15 Roomba we have reviewed share the same edge cleaning solution. They compensate their round shape using a side brush. This rotating brush brings hair right closer to the center of the robot, where it is eventually sucked up.
Dirt Sensor Type
The dirt sensor allows detecting dirtiest areas. When Roomba senses such spots, it switches mode for several seconds to ensure a deeper cleaning.
There are two types of sensors. Basic ones are acoustic. While advanced ones, are combo. They mix an acoustic sensor with an optic one for better sensitivity.
2. How Often Should You Clean Roomba?
The amount of required maintenance defines how much time you need to spend taking care of your Roomba. The less often you have to clean your Roomba, the better. Table 2 below, compares the 15 Roomba in our selection regarding features that impacts the amount of required maintenance.
- Main Brush System Type.
- Dustbin Capacity.
- Self-Cleaning Support.
Main Brush System Type
The main brush system is a set of two counter rotating brushes located underneath Roomba, right between the two big wheels. This system is in charge of pickup dirt that is eventually sucked by the Roomba. There are two kinds of main brush systems: basic ones and tangle free ones.
The basic brush system is available on cheapest Roomba. It is made of two brushes. A bristle brush and a smaller flexible rubbery one. Since, hair strands tend to get twisted around these brushes, you need to clean them often to ensure optimal cleaning performance. This is likely the case if you have pets with long hair, or during molting seasons.
The tangle free brush system consists of two multi-surface rubber brushes. They grab long and short pet hair. However, unlike bristle brushes they won’t get tangled with hair. These tangle resisting brushes are a must. They are available on Roomba 780 and above.
Dust, hair and debris collected by Roomba’s main brushes eventually into a dustbin. All you have to do is to empty the dustbin once it’s full. In homes with a heavy shedder, the Roomba bin is likely to fill up quickly.
Roomba 800 series are the best ones with this regard. They got the larger dustbins which volume is 650 ml (~22 oz). High-end Roomba 960 and Roomba 980 are also good with 600 ml (~20 oz).
What is better than a large dustbin? A vacuum robot that empties it own dustbin, without requiring any human intervention. Such level of autonomy is not science-fiction any more. There exist vacuum robots that do exactly that.
The first Roomba of this kind is the Roomba i7+. Whenever its dustbin is full, it goes back to its dock to empty it. The charging station includes a vacuum that sucks dirt, debris and pet hair from the Roomba into an external disposable bag (see Video 1 below). All you have to do is replace the bag once in a month or so. Check out Video 1 to see the Roomba i7+ in action.
The next best Roomba capable of self-cleaning is the Roomba i7. It is more affordable than the i7+. However, you need to buy the self-cleaning base separately.
Video 1. Self-Cleaning Roomba i7+
3. Which Roomba is Easier to Use with Pets?
Roomba does the cleaning on its own. But, it does it according to your needs and expectations. Indeed, it you who decide when the Roomba should operate, and where it should clean.
Table 3 below compares 15 Roomba with respect to how easy they are to operate and meet dog and cat owners needs. This review is based on 3 important features:
- Selective Area Cleaning
- Boundary Marking
Except for the cheap Roomba 614 and Roomba 630, all other Roomba do support scheduling. All you have to do is setup only once days and hours when your Roomba should operate. Then, based on your schedule, the Roomba will automatically start cleaning. And when the cleaning is done, Roomba will go back to its docking station, to recharge and prepare for the next cleaning session.
Selective Area Cleaning
By default, your Roomba will clean all the area it can cover on a single charge. However, all Roomba provide an extra hardwired spot cleaning mode. You move the Roomba to a dirty spot, and it will clean about 3 feet (~1 meter) around its initial position (see Video 2 below).
Roomba i7 and i7+ improve selective area cleaning. They allow you to define custom virtual zones. Indeed, these advanced Roomba make a map of your home and display it on iRobot HOME mobile app. So, you can schedule your Roomba to clean more often rooms where your pets spend most of the time.
Video 2. Roomba Spot Cleaning Mode
All Roomba have bumpers to detect walls and furniture. But, they do not sense light objects, and end up pushing them around. While this is okay for pet toys, Roomba needs your help to avoid your dog’s water fountain or your cat’s bowl. This is why many Roomba are shipped with small battery powered beacons called Virtual Walls. These beacons emit infra-red light that signals to Roomba that it should avoid a specific area, and move away.
The more beacons you have, the more spots you can mark as forbidden to Roomba. To make your life easier, the high-end Roomba i7 and i7+, allow defining boundaries on the iRobot HOME mobile app. The beauty of this feature is that it allows defining as many boundaries as you wish, add, and remove them easily, all on your smartphone.
Summary: Which Roomba is Best for Pet Hair?
Table 4 below shows overall scores for cheapest Roomba. It is obvious that none of these affordable is Roomba will fully satisfy pet owners. The only exception is Roomba 690. It is still maintenance intensive, but it is rather easy use, and it does okay at picking up pets hair.
Table 4. Cheap Roomba Overall Scores for Pets Owners
Mid-Range Roomba are Suprisingly Good
All mid-range Roomba of our selection do a good job in homes with pets. They all achieve scores above average as presented by Table 5.
These rather good scores reflect the low level of maintenance required. This is because all mid-range Roomba have a tangle-free main brush system.
Table 5. Mid-Range Roomba Overall Scores for Pets Owners
High-End Roomba Achieve Top Scores
As one might expect, all high-end Roomba are good at dealing with pet hair. Roomba i7 and i7+ can be qualified as excellent. Beside self-cleaning, they include other unique features that all contribute to scores above 80%.
As shown on Table 6, not all high-end Roomba are as good. Roomba 960 gets even a lower score compared to Roomba 890. Having said that, you should not dismiss Roomba 960. It is still good for pet hair, and does better than the 890 in large homes.
Table 6. Overall Scores of High-End Roomba for Pets Owners
The ideal Roomba for pet owners is Roomba i7+. A close second is Roomba i7. It has the exact specs, except it misses a dock for self-cleaning, although it is self-cleaning ready. That is you can buy the cleaning station later.
Best Value for Pets
Best Overall for Pets