The Best Robot Vacuums for Carpets and Rugs 2021

written by Sam Harris
part of Robot Vacuums
created on June 26, 2020
updated on September 30, 2021

You’re in the right place if you’re looking for the best robot vacuum for your carpets and rugs. With an emphasis on general carpet cleaning, listed items will feature specific use cases/corresponding scenarios, including but not limited to best robot vacuum for medium pile carpet, best robot vacuum for low profile carpet, best robot vacuum for carpet + pet hair, etc.

Shag area rugs with tassels & high-pile carpets w/ tassels vs. robotic vacuums

Before revealing the list, it’s important to mention that the search is still on for that robotic cleaner that will not only transition onto shag rug or high-pile carpet (none currently EXCEPT the Shark IQ R101AE), but that will also deep clean (none can as of the time of writing). Below is a video of the Shark IQ R1001AE going over a 1″ shag rug:

See also a video showing the Roomba s9, 360 S6, and Roborock S5 struggling with/being helped onto a 1″ shag rug:

The point (assuming you haven’t guessed it already) is that robotic vacuums AREN’T made or recommended for thick carpets or shaggy rugs. You also may have to fold/tape down fringes or tassels, use boundary strips, or set no-go zones in the app if you want to give your robot the best chance.

Continue reading if the area rugs and/or carpets in your house are under ½”, and/or if you can commit a few minutes of your time for prepping the house.

Three of the best auto clean vac for carpets and rugs

Neato Botvac D7 Connected or Roomba 980

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Neato D7
roomba_980_robot_vacuum
Roomba 980

Featuring #1 on the list are the duo of the Neato Botvac D7 and iRobot Roomba 980–pricey BUT advanced, feature-rich, with superior cleaning systems supporting intensive vacuuming of carpeted floors. 

One key highlight of the Botvac D7 entails its map editing and saving function. Not only that, with the Neato D7, you can select rooms for cleaning or mark zones for exclusion. Assuming you have got an Oriental rug, you could exclude this in the app to prevent the D7 from getting trapped or causing damage. The Neato D7 is also one of the few robotic cleaners that actually removes pet hair from rugs (as opposed to leaving them behind) while cleaning black carpets and rugs without complaints. And while not a self-emptying model, the Neato D7 has a 700ml dustbin that ensures prolonged cleaning while minimizing maintenance.

With the Neato D7 having drawbacks in navigation and connectivity, the Roomba 980 emerges as a top alternative. Granted, the iRobot 980 doesn’t have the custom settings, map backup, or large dustbin of the Neato D7. It also can’t operate on rugs with black patterns. On the upside, the iRobot Roomba 980 has equally top-notch transversing and carpet deep cleaning ability, in addition to improved navigation, more refined software, and a stable, up-to-date app.

Shark IQ AV1002AE self-emptying smart home cleaning bot

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shark iq av1002ae

Featuring #2 on this list of the best robot vacuum for thick rugs is the Shark IQ AV1002AE. The Shark IQ, it turns out, is the one to get if you like the Neato D7 or Roomba 980 but hate that they don’t have the bigger bin. Or if you simply want the most value for your money, seeing as the Shark is priced similarly (typically in the $500 – $600 range) despite having the auto-dirt emptying feature with just as good enough app, software, and cleaning power. The docking station being bagless also means zero ongoing expenses on dirtbags.

See full list: best self-emptying robot vacuum reviews

Quiet, low profile, intelligent, with floor mapping ability and auto top-up function. Beware run time is ~60 mins and there isn’t support for map saving, targeted cleaning/room-specific scheduling, or app-based barriers (ships with a boundary strip). Regardless, given in particular its big, adjustable wheels and strong suction, the Shark suffices if you live in a house ~800ft with hardwood floors, mid-pile carpets and rugs, and shedding pets.

Continue reading: Shark IQ AV1002 auto-empty vacuuming robot review

iLife V80 Max automatic room vacuum cleaner

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iLife v80 Max

The iLife V80 Max rounds off this review of the best auto vacuum for carpets. The 2000Pa suction of the iLife V80 Max and the no-brush design is a perfect match for the debris repelling properties of short-profile carpets (tightly woven fibers with a height of less than 0.25″). Oriental rugs and Berber carpets also stand to gain from the design of the iLife V80 Max’s extraction port given it offers the best protection against potential damage that could result from sticking fibers or long tassels. Different from other basic models that bounce around randomly, the V80 Max has been optimized for reach and coverage thanks to its Gyro navigation. Additionally, its 750ml dustbin and ~two hours of run time ensure prolonged cleaning while reducing the frequency of emptying.

Conclusion

Carpets and rugs are warm and cozy. They can make for a nice playground for kids or act as home to crud and bacteria. Robot vacuums make perfect sense since automation is involved. The only thing is, carpet cleaning with home cleaning robots isn’t as straightforward a thing considering that there are very few of them that can go over 0.25″ rugs and even fewer that can actually give a proper clean on a carpet 0.5″ tall. There’s also the part of the materials of some rugs being more susceptible to quick unraveling which rules out a device with rollers. 

Thankfully, all four robots featured in the above list acknowledged those common scenarios, addressed specific carpet cleaning requirements while providing alternatives where and when it made sense–as was the case of the Roomba 980 being a nice option software- and navigation-wise, with the d7 better suited to black rugs and carpets. The Shark IQ is the robot of choice for homeowners who want the self-cleaning feature. The iLife V80 Max suffices for single apartment homes with delicate thin carpets and rugs.

One last thing, featured items as earlier mentioned are for low and medium-pile carpets and rugs. More so, currently, no robot can handle tassels and fringes. You either tape down, mark off as no-go zones (in the app or with boundary strips), or completely remove.

Further readings

With the above post emphasizing general carpet cleaning, click on the below links as it applies.