Combines a vacuum and mop in one unit. Performed excellently on hard flooring in our testing. Gentle rubber rollers won’t scratch vinyl plank flooring. Actively avoids obstacles without bumping into them.
Somewhat pricey. We wish it had a mop-only mode.
Self-empties into included automatic disposal dock for up to 45 days. Removes 98% of debris from hard flooring. Self-cleaning roller is gentle on most surfaces including vinyl plank flooring.
Its app is buggier and more difficult to use than competing robot vacuums.
The most powerful Roomba available with 40 times the power of entry-level models. D-shape cleans corners better than anything else we tested. Its wide rubber rollers are gentle on floors.
Expensive. Unable to clean in dark rooms.
Two turbines provide strong suction. Laser navigation maps fast. Saves and recalls maps for different floors. Performed well on all surfaces in our testing. Brushroll fins are gentle on finishes.
A little pricey for a non-self-emptying model. Loud.
Supports mapping and row-by-row cleaning. Strong suction in our tests did better than entry-level options. Textured rubber rollers pick up debris from all surfaces and are gentle on vinyl plank flooring.
Lacks active object avoidance or optical navigation.
After going through an intensive research process to narrow down our short list of top products in this space, we tested most of our top five to be sure that these products are worth your time. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter and test to verify manufacturer claims.
What are the best robot vacuums for vinyl plank flooring? Can robot vacuums clean vinyl planks? Should you even use a robot vacuum on your vinyl plank floors? If you have a home with vinyl plank floors, you may be wondering if robot vacuums are a good way to clean them. The answer is absolutely yes.
Vinyl plank flooring, also called luxury vinyl plank flooring (LVP) and luxury vinyl flooring (LVF), is one of the most popular flooring options available. Easy to install and impervious to moisture, vinyl planks are thick pieces of composite vinyl with finishes that can mimic hardwood down to the grain, but can also look like stone, ceramic and more.
The water resistance of vinyl plank flooring makes it particularly popular in kitchens. Vinyl plank flooring, unlike thinner vinyl sheets or hard tile, has a measure of give underfoot, making it comfortable to stand and walk on.
The BestReviews Testing Lab has examined many different models of robot vacuum, evaluating them on performance, ease of use and price. We’ve picked five robot vacuums from among the models we’ve tested as your best choices for cleaning vinyl plank floors. We’ve also added a couple more models to give you even more choice. Considering that vinyl plank flooring can handle water, we think a vacuum and mop robot like the Roomba j7+ Combo is an ideal solution for cleaning and adding shine to your vinyl plank floors.
On September 11, iRobot released two new models ahead of the holiday season. Here's a look at what we know so far.
Battery life: 120 minutes | Dimensions: 13.7” L x 13.7” W x 3.4” H | Weight: 8.98 | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Combo j9+ is iRobot’s new high-end combo vacuum/mop model, with 100% more suction power than a Roomba i-series model. It comes with an updated OS that allows it to learn from previous cleaning jobs and identify different cleaning settings for different rooms. This ability lets the Combo j9+ apply gentler cleaning settings on hardwood or vinyl plank flooring to reduce wear, while switching to higher power for carpet and frequently used areas.
As a combo robot, the j9+ not only sweeps but also mops vinyl plank flooring and other hard surfaces, with the ability to learn when to scrub harder on stubborn spots. Unlike competitors, it raises its mop pad completely off the floor, preventing cross-contamination on carpet. The Combo j9+ comes with a self-refilling, self-emptying dock that’s quieter than previous models, and it also features a usable top surface.
BestReviews is currently testing this product; we will update our test picks when we're done.
Battery life: 120 minutes | Dimensions: 13.3” L x 13.3” W x 3.4” H | Weight: 7.5 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba j9+ has the same features as its Combo model sibling except for the ability to mop. Nevertheless, its increased power, double that of a midrange model like the Roomba i4, and dual rubber rollers give it excellent pickup performance on all floor types, including vinyl plank flooring.
With its ability to learn and automatically adjust to different areas and rooms, it knows to be gentler on hardwood and vinyl planking while still exerting powerful cleaning on carpet and rugs. It boasts faster mapping than the j7 series Roombas and can also identify and avoid obstacles such as pet waste in real time. It features attractive styling and comes with a self-empty dock that’s quieter than previous Roomba docks. Its battery life is a generous 120 minutes.
BestReviews is currently testing this product; we will update our test picks when we're done.
Battery life: 128 minutes | Dimensions: 13.3” L x 13.3” W x 3.4” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.4 L | Weight: 7.49 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba j7+ Combo leads our picks for cleaning vinyl plank flooring for one main reason: it’s both a robot vacuum and a robot mop. As a robot vacuum, it can pick up dirt, debris and anything else from your flooring. As a robot mop, it can soak up spills and give your vinyl planks a gentle shine.
The Roomba j7+ Combo is a top-of-the-line model from iRobot, and it wowed us in our testing. We rated its hardwood and hard floor performance 9 out of 10 for suction strength and cleaning thoroughness, with only its moderate corner cleaning (a widespread weakness among round robot vacuums) as a demerit. It removed table salt and pet litter without a trace and did the best among all our tested Roombas in tracking down and picking up breakfast cereal from hard flooring. Pet hair came off of hard floor completely. As a mop, the j7+ Combo removed spilled water and soda quickly and easily, and it transitioned neatly from one mode to the other with its innovative retractable mop arm. Its carpet performance was stellar as well.
The Roomba j7+ Combo is a self-emptying model, so you don’t have to worry about getting your hands dirty emptying the bin after every job. Its rubber wheels and rollers are gentle enough to avoid scratching the finish of vinyl plank flooring, while its suction is strong enough to pick up even larger bits of debris. Most impressively, the j7+ Combo has active object avoidance. It sees with a camera what’s in front of it, allowing it to avoid socks, people, pets and pet waste. A complete robot for floor upkeep, we rate the Roomba j7+ Combo 5 out of 5, making it the best Roomba for vinyl plank flooring.
Read more: iRobot Roomba j7+ Combo
Best full-featured vacuum for the money
Battery life: 90 minutes | Dimensions: 12.9" L x 12.6” W x 3.5” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.17 L | Weight: 13.23 pounds | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Shark IQ Self-Empty XL is our best buy for hardwood floors, and we like it for the same reason here. It offers features like a self-emptying bin, smart mapping, no-go zones and optical navigation for less money than competing robot vacuums.
The Shark IQ boasts what SharkNinja calls a “self-cleaning” brushroll. Shaped like an hourglass with a tapered center and wider ends, the Shark IQ self-cleaning brushroll is designed to work with its dual side brushes, channeling dirt into the center where it can be taken up into the suction path. Instead of only bristles, the brushroll features thin, flexible fins, with small, fine brushes at designated intervals. This design not only allows the Shark XL to reduce hair tangles, but also allows it to clean more gently on surfaces including vinyl plank flooring. Reviewers who mention having vinyl plank flooring verify that the Shark XL cleans well without scratching or harming the vinyl. We also appreciated that the Shark includes a bagless base, so you won't have to continuously buy expensive replacement dust bags after several cleanings.
The Shark IQ performed excellently on hard flooring in our tests, removing 98% of visible dirt and debris in a single pass. Its automatic disposal dock can store up to 45 days of dirt. We had trouble with its mapping feature during testing, but its basic navigation was solid, and we liked its easy-to-use scheduling feature. We give the Shark IQ Self-Empty XL a rating of 4.5 out of 5.
Best for carpets
Battery life: 107 minutes | Dimensions: 12.25” L x 12.25” W x 3.5” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.5 L | Weight: 8.15 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba s9+ reaches deep into thick carpet pile for a more comprehensive clean in a single pass. Paired with its self-cleaning dock, it makes cleaning an absolute breeze in homes with both vinyl plank floors and carpet.
The s9+ has the most suction power of any Roomba model we’ve tested. iRobot doesn’t give out standardized suction measurements for its Roombas, but no model has 40 times the suction of a baseline 600-series Roomba like the s9+ and its variants. This power was evident in our tests, as it easily tackled spilled cereal, pet hair and pet litter on every flooring type. Most impressively, its D-shaped chassis allowed it to get into corners like no other model in our testing, with outstanding corner-cleaning results. This comes in handy in kitchens with hard floors like vinyl planking, where debris can accumulate in corners out of other robot vacuums’ reach. Like other mid- to high-end Roomba models we tested, the s9+ features rubber rollers and rubber wheels, so it isn’t likely to scratch vinyl plank flooring and isn't as prone to tangles from hair.
The s9+ features smart mapping and object memory that allows it to avoid specified items and clean in specific areas, such as when we asked it to clean only beneath a kitchen table during testing. Despite being an inch smaller than other Roombas, its wider cleaning path makes short work of floor area. It’s a self-emptying model that comes with a dirt-disposal dock big enough to collect dirt for 60 days before its bag needs to be changed. A powerful product, we rate the Roomba s9+ 5 out of 5.
Read more: iRobot Roomba s9+
Best vacuum for multiple floors
Battery life: 190 minutes | Dimensions: 13.58" L x 13.58" W x 3.85" H | Dustbin capacity: 0.6 L | Weight: 7.72 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: No | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Eufy by Anker RoboVac X8 has the features and specs of a powerhouse. Anker is happy to share that the X8 has not one but two vacuum turbines, providing a total of 4,000 Pa (Pascals) of suction power, a more than respectable value for a robot vacuum.
For vinyl plank flooring, the RoboVac X8 has a single brushroll with alternating directional rows of small bristles with flexible fins. This brushroll design promises not to mar or scratch vinyl plank floors, and reviewers who have vinyl floors agree. In our testing, the RoboVac X8 impressed on all flooring types we tested, including various types of hard flooring, carpet and tile. We especially liked its performance with pet hair and appreciated that it came with an accessory to remove hair from the brushroll.
The RoboVac X8 uses laser-guided navigation to create a map and track its position. Using lasers allows it to map extremely quickly, taking only 20 minutes to map and clean 215 square feet. Its ability to remember maps for multiple floors makes it an asset in multilevel homes. Its plethora of features earns it a 4.5 out of 5 rating.
Battery life: 94 minutes | Dimensions: 13.34” L x 13.26” W x 3.63” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.4 L | Weight: 7.44 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: No | Object avoidance: No | Scheduling: Yes
For a low-cost solution without extra bells and whistles that performs well on both hard floors and carpet, we recommend the Roomba i4 EVO.
The Roomba i4 EVO is a mid-range robot vacuum with just enough features to make it a welcome asset in a home. We tested this model on a vinyl plank floor and it performed as well in many cases as more expensive models. It removed table salt without a trace and tracked down most of our spilled breakfast cereal — though, like other vacuums, it scattered some pieces with its side brush at first. Corner performance was average but on par with other round robot vacuums. Its row-by-row cleaning pattern gives it an edge over more basic vacuums that wander semi-randomly, and its rubber rollers picked up debris without marring the vinyl plank finish.
The Roomba i4 EVO doesn’t come with a self-emptying option, although it’s compatible with them. It supports smart mapping and scheduling but lacks a camera, so it can’t avoid obstacles it hasn’t mapped before. Still, its wallet-friendly price and persuasive performance make it recommendable for any flooring type, including vinyl plank floors. We give the Roomba i4 EVO a rating of 4 out of 5 for performance, simplicity and reliability on all floors.
Read more: iRobot Roomba i4 EVO
Best low-cost self-emptying vacuum
Battery life: 92 minutes | Dimensions: 13.5” L x 13.5” W x 3.6” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.4 L | Weight: 7.44 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: No | Scheduling: Yes
For a self-emptying option that won’t break the bank, we like the Roomba i1+. It’s one of the lowest-cost Roombas available that comes with a self-emptying dustbin and automatic disposal dock.
The Roomba i1+ did well on hard flooring in our testing, removing kosher salt, breakfast cereal and pet litter with only a few visible pieces scattered by its side brush, a problem shared by many Roombas. Like later models, the i1+ has dual multisurface rollers made of textured rubber, which makes them effective on a wide variety of flooring types and gentle on vinyl plank flooring. It was very successful in picking up and disposing of pet hair from hard flooring, with no trace left behind. We noticed its suction seemed stronger on hard flooring than on carpet.
The Roomba i1+ features mapping, although, like the later Roomba i4 EVO, it only uses its gyroscope and odometer to feel its way around. We were satisfied with the quality of its maps, however, and didn’t need to edit them before use. The Roomba i1+ rates 4 out of 5 for value.
Read more: iRobot Roomba i1+
Best vacuum-only model
Battery life: 97 minutes | Dimensions: 13.3” L x 13.3” W x 3.4” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.4 L | Weight: 7.49 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
If you don’t want mopping but would like active visual navigation and excellent cleaning, you might want to consider the Roomba j7+, the mop-less version of our top pick the j7+ Combo.
Like the Combo variant, the Roomba j7+ was in the top tier of models we tested for suction power. We particularly appreciated how it handled pet hair on both hard flooring and carpet. In our hard-floor tests, it removed kosher salt with only a couple stray grains remaining, as it did with pet litter and breakfast cereal. It completely removed pet hair from hard flooring. As with most mid- to high-end Roombas, the j7+ has rubber multisurface rollers that won’t scratch vinyl plank flooring.
The Roomba j7+ seemed to have a shorter battery life per full charge than the Combo in testing. In other respects, the j7+ is just like the Combo model, especially the excellent camera-based active object avoidance. We stood in front of the j7+ during testing, and it changed direction even though it didn’t expect us to be in its way. A self-emptying model, the j7+ comes with a 60-day automatic disposal dock. We give the Roomba j7+ a 4.5 out of 5 for all-around performance.
Read more: iRobot Roomba j7+
We tested more than a dozen robot vacuums over the course of several weeks to discover each model’s capabilities and drawbacks. We use standardized testing as well as general cleaning jobs in real-world environments using common everyday materials.
We measure each model for battery capacity, battery duration and charging time. We note the setup process for each model, any difficulties encountered and the quality and user-friendliness of the robots’ controls and, when available, smartphone app.
In our performance tests, we use small to medium particulates represented by items such as salt and breakfast cereal to measure each robot’s cleaning ability. We test on both carpeted and hard floors, often on actual vinyl plank flooring. For pet owners, we take special note of performance when it comes to pet hair and pet litter. We also pay close attention to how well each one cleans in corners and under furniture.
In navigation, we test for mapping ability and accuracy, as well as noting cleaning pattern and object avoidance. We also track if the robot vacuums can be scheduled and if they respond to voice commands, and if so, which voice assistants they supported.
Lastly, we conduct cleaning and maintenance on all our test units, noting especially roller performance, hair tangles, wheel cleaning and dustbin emptying.
A robot vacuum’s brush roller comes into contact with the surface it’s cleaning almost all the time. While vinyl plank flooring is impervious to water or decay, it can suffer dents and scratches that aren’t easy to repair, and it can be a pain to disassemble and reassemble a floor just to fix one or two scratched planks. Brush rollers with stiff bristles have a small chance of scuffing or scratching flooring. Look for robot vacuums with rollers made of rubber, like the Roomba j series, s series and i series, or that have rubber fins like the Eufy RoboVac X8 and the Shark IQ XL, that are gentle on any surface while still cleaning effectively.
When it comes to cleaning, vinyl plank floors have the benefit of not needing grout, which always seems to attract dirt and grime in tiled surfaces. For its part, tile is hard to scratch and scuff, while vinyl planks may dent if struck. Luckily, most robot vacuums clean relatively gently, and won’t damage either type of flooring during a normal cleaning job.
Robot vacuums share a number of essential and helpful features, some of which are particularly useful on vinyl plank flooring.
Robot vacuums should have a minimum of 45 minutes of battery life, with many models capable of running for one to two hours or longer. Cleaning vinyl plank floors, and hard flooring generally, takes less energy than cleaning carpet, especially for robot vacuums that have auto-sensing technology to decrease roller spin and suction on hard flooring.
The fear of scratching and scuffing is a common one for owners of vinyl plank floors. For all their strength and water resistance, vinyl plank flooring can’t be refinished like real wood can. Full-sized vacuums with beater bar attachments have been known to scratch vinyl plank floors, but that’s not the case with robot vacuums. Most robot vacuums have soft brushes or rubber rollers that won’t mar the coating on vinyl planks, and rubber wheels help avoid scuffing.
It is possible that debris caught beneath a robot vacuum may scratch vinyl flooring, but we haven’t come across this possibility in our testing. Remember to empty your robot vacuum’s dustbin regularly and keep its wheels, rollers and internal spaces debris-free.
Low-cost robot vacuums run between $100 and $200. Not all the robot vacuums in this price range are entry-level machines, but those with plenty of features at this price point tend to be low in build quality or brand reputation. We didn’t include any of these in this buying guide, but a good choice for a basic all-around model is the Roomba 694.
The Roomba i4 is an example of a mid-range robot vacuum, costing between $200 and $500. The best values in robot vacuums can be found in this price range, like the i4 EVO as well as the Roomba i1+, which is a mid-priced model that comes with an automatic disposal dock.
Robot vacuums starting at $500 may still be considered mid-range models in terms of features, which makes the Shark IQ XL such a value buy, with its optical navigation and self-emptying capabilities at the lower end of this price range. At the high end is a powerhouse like the Roomba s9+ and the vacuum-mop Roomba j7+ Combo.
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