Illustration of robot vacuum cleaning carpet in living room

As robot vacuums become more prevalent in average households, robot vacuums keep up with demand through smart features that let us schedule cleanings while we’re out, control them via voice commands, or set which spaces should or shouldn’t be cleaned.

But if your home is mostly carpeted or covered in rugs, the convenience of a robot vacuum gets dicey. Buying the cheapest one you can find is all but guaranteed to create more of a hassle every time it eats a tassel or can’t muster the strength to pull pet hair off the living room floor.

Are robot vacuums good on carpet?

Not all robot vacuums are equipped to handle cleaning your floor coverings. Some simply have too little suction or too little clearance to properly handle thick, high-pile carpet. When choosing a vacuum, you’ll want to look on each robot vacuum’s product page to find out what carpet height it can handle. While most suggest only low-pile carpet or flat-weave rugs, some vacs can ramp it up to medium pile or even fluffy, high pile.

Good maneuvering only gets a vacuum so far. Carpets and rugs are where pet hair, crumbs, and dust go to die, so beefy (yet methodical) suction is key for homes with a lot of stubborn floor coverings.

As a general rule of thumb, upright vacuum cleaners have more suction power than compact robot vacs. But if you’d still prefer to outsource the job, look for a robot vacuum with at least 2,000 Pa in suction to ensure that the carpet fibers are being efficiently combed. Most modern vacuums have a boost mode that automatically kicks in when the vacuum senses carpet. The same sensors should be smart enough to facilitate a smooth transition to dark hardwood floors and *not* mistake them for a cliff.

Will a Roomba ruin your carpet?

Any robot vacuum is unlikely to ruin your carpet. However, loose carpet strings and rugs with fringed ends are something to look out for. Bumbling bots with less accurate object sensors may gobble these right up and get stuck on them, potentially damaging your floor coverings. Folks who love a good frilly rug should consider a robot vacuum that follows virtual boundaries through smart mapping (rather than hit-or-miss physical no-go strips).

Folks in homes with combination flooring may be considering a hybrid model. Many budget robot vacuums do offer mopping now — they just don’t promise to not also mop on your carpets. To ensure that your carpets don’t get soggy, opt for a hybrid that stops its water flow when soft floors are sensed.

Which is better: Shark or Roomba?

Both are good, but a general comparison between the two brands doesn’t work so well. Like the Instant Pot vs. Ninja Foodi debate, Roomba has a wider range of models to choose from and features that can be tailored to your needs. Shark’s whole lineup is generally more budget-friendly than its most direct counterpart from Roomba. Shark offers self-emptying and laser mapping of your home’s layout for as low as $449.99, while iRobot’s cheapest self-emptier starts at $599.99 (as low as $399.99 on sale) and doesn’t remember specific rooms. The other two (highly impressive) self-emptying Roombas are $800 or more, while Shark’s most expensive bot is $649.99

But iRobot and Shark are hardly the only players in this group chat. Roborock, Eufy, and Yeedi pose serious competition, offering attractive features like mopping or suction that rivals that of the Big Brands for hundreds of dollars less.

Here are our thoughts on the best robot vacuums for carpet in 2022:

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