the best roomba for pet hair

Best Roomba for Pet Hair – The Ultimate Guide

We all love our pets; they are our family. Just like family, we have to pick up after them. It isn’t a problem until we grab the broom and have to collect the mounds of fur that have accumulated around the house. The corners and edges of your home hold enough hair to build a new puppy. Roomba robots are adept at cleaning up pet fur.

Some robotic vacuums claim to do be adept at picking up pet hair. Others actually are. Of course, we have come to expect nothing but the best from Roomba and picking up pet hair is no different. There are several Roomba models that do well against the fur babies constant shedding. This article takes a closer look at the best of them: The Roomba 890, 960 and 980.

Quick Summary

What makes them good for carpet?

All Roombas in this article come with brushless rubber rollers and high quality filters, ideal for vacuuming pet hair on a variety of floor types.

The 890

  • The most basic Roomba on this list.
  • This vacuum is great for pet owners, but it navigates using a random pattern. You should probably skip this model and either get the cheaper Ilife or upgrade to a 960.

The 960:

  • Improves upon the 890 by adding visual mapping. meaning that it can vacuum in satisfying straight lines instead of the 890’s random bump and turn navigation.
  • This Roomba is the best value for the dollars. Unless you have a lot of carpet in your house, this is probably the best pick for you.

The 980

  • Improves on the 960 by using a stronger motor and revving up its suction on carpet.
  • This vacuum is the way to go for pet owners with a lot of carpet.

Ilife A6

  • Not a Roomba, and quite a basic robot vacuum. But it gets the job done. The only non-Roomba (that we know of) with brushless rollers.
  • This vacuum is the cheapest one on this list. If you’re a pet owner and on a budget, the Ilife V6 might be for you.

Specifications Chart

Let’s take a quick look at the three models side by side before we dive into their capabilities.

Roomba 890 Roomba 960 Roomba 980
Dimensions 13.9×13.9×3.6 inches 13.8×13.8×3.6 inches 13.9×13.9×3.6
Weight 8.4 pounds 8.6 pounds 8.7 pounds
Battery 1800mAh Lithium-ion 2600mAh Lithium-ion 3300mAh Lithium-ion
Runtime Up to 60 minutes Up to 75 minutes Up to 120 minutes
Recharge 3 hours 3 hours 4 hours
Automatic Recharge Yes Yes Yes
Automatic Resume No Yes Yes
Filter AeroForce high-efficiency AeroForce high-efficiency AeroForce high-efficiency
Extraction Brushless Extractor Brushless extractor Brushless Extractor
Side Brushes 1 1 1
Mapping Sensor Based Camera Based Camera Based
Navigation iAdapt Navigation Technology IAdapt 2.0 Navigation Technology IAdapt 2.0 Navigation Technology
Drop Sensors Yes Yes Yes
Bump Sensors Yes Yes Yes
Dirt Detection Sensors Yes Yes Yes
Collection Bin Capacity 0.3L 0.5L 0.5L
Wireless Communications Yes Yes Yes
Mobile App Yes Yes Yes
Voice Commands Yes Yes Yes
Local Controls Yes Yes Yes
Scheduling Yes Yes Yes
Containment Virtual Wall Barriers Virtual Wall Barriers Virtual Wall Barriers
Full Bin Indicator No No Yes
Floor Types All floors All floors All Floors
Warranty 1 year 1 year 1 year
Price Check on Amazon Check on Amazon Check on Amazon

How to Choose a Good Robot Vacuum for Pet Hair 

When it comes to cleaning up after our pets, the fur and hair build up around the edges of the home can be some of the most difficult to control. Not only that, but the hair that gets lodged in the carpet fibers can be troublesome as well.

You need a robotic vacuum that can keep up with the heavier workload between your regular weekly cleanings. So what is it you need to be on the lookout for when choosing the right model? Let’s find out.

What to Look For

There are several aspects of robotic cleaners that you should be on your must-have list. Long battery life, of course, as well as certain cleaning modes, great filtration and of course easy maintenance.

Battery Life Is Always Important

When it comes to robotic vacuums, they need room to roam; The battery life will be an important factor in that. The larger the battery, the longer the robot can run. However, depending on what the robot does when powered on, the battery may drain faster or slower.

Mapping, navigation, sensors, motor speed, and other factors like wireless communications will cause an extra drain on the battery. The normal range for higher-end robots like the Roomba models is between one and two hours. Depending on the efficiency of the robot, one hour may be enough to clean upwards of 1400 square feet.

Larger homes, more spacious floor plans, or homes that are multi-floored may have a need for an even larger battery. While it isn’t a bad thing to seek out the largest battery or longest runtime, it isn’t always a budget-friendly option.

Filtration Can Make or Break Your Decision

When dealing with vacuums that remove pet hair from your home, one of the things that matter is how much pet dander is left over. The right filtration can help eliminate the allergy-causing dander from building up in the home.

A bundle of 3 high-efficiency Roomba filters.

All of the Roomba models on this list have high-efficiency filters. This is Roomba’s filter that equates to HEPA certified filters. As you may be aware (especially if you suffer allergies) is that HEPA filtration captures and collect allergens down to 3 microns in size.

Roomba used to use the HEPA certification to mark their packages but has recently stop achieving the certification and renamed their filters “high-efficiency.” These high-efficiency filters are still able to capture up to 99.9 percent of allergens including pet dander.

While it isn’t required to have the robotic vacuum be HEPA filtered, it doesn’t hurt. If you or your family suffer allergies, every little bit can be a help.

Cleaning Modes Offer Better Range of Collection Options

Some robots have more than one cleaning mode. Depending on the abilities of the robot you can have several different cleaning modes.

A couple of modes you should look for in your robot are parallel cleaning and edge cleaning.

Parallel cleaning means the robot doesn’t have a sporadic cleaning pattern. Instead, the robot will run back and forth in lines that mimic a more human cleaning pattern. When cleaning pet hair out of carpet these patterns ensure a better, more thorough clean.

Edge cleaning mode allows the robot to concentrate on the baseboards and corners of your home. If you have pets, this cleaning mode is almost crucial. Edge cleaning modes, when activated, only run along the edges of the home and then return the robot to the charging station.

There are other cleaning modes to be aware of, such as spot cleaning, which can come in handy when cleaning up after pets (or small children). Spot cleaning is a popular option for such matters.

Maintenance Should be Easy, not Frustrating

One of the things that often gets overlooked when considering a robotic clean is the amount of maintenance that needs to be done to keep them running.

You will need to empty the collection bin on a regular basis, of course. You will also need to wipe the sensors and make sure the recharging contacts are clean.

And then there is the brush bar. The dreaded part of any maintenance ritual. Cutting and tugging and pulling and unwinding hair and debris caught in those bristles. It’s a pain.

The underside of the Roomba vacuum shows its brushless extractors.

Except that the three Roomba listed in this article don’t have bristles. They use what is called a brushless extractor. The extractors rotate in opposite directions with little, rubberized paddles that agitate carpet, sweep floors and stay tangle free.

Of course, they rotate, so they will pick up hairs and fur and string that get wrapped around. With the brushless bars, though, you remove them with a click and just wipe them off. All of the hair and string and pet fur just wipes right off. Usually in a single swipe. Making the entire maintenance process last about 5 minutes.

How to Choose

It is no secret that you have options. You have over 20 Roomba’s alone to pick from. However, you are here because you have pets. So let’s focus on that aspect.

Pets shed. Something else that isn’t a secret. Unless you have one of those weird alien hairless looking critters, your dog and cat are going to shed. Some more than others, but by the time you get to sweeping and vacuuming, it all adds up.

So you decide to get some help with a robotic vacuum. Wise choice. These guys are really good at doing their job. So how do you decide?

Money is going to be one aspect, of course. Your budget will play a role in your decision. And it should. You should never spend more on a robot that you can easily afford. To make your decision harder, the prices of all three are dropping. In fact, while conducting all the research to write this article for you, I found that all three dropped an average of 10% over two months.

Personal preference. It all boils down to how many bells and whistles you need aside form the fantastic pet hair cleaning abilities. Do you need more controls? Fewer hands-on and more “let the robot just do its thing?”

In the following section, I will give you the good and the bad about each robot to help you decide. But it boils down to this: If you have decided on a Roomba to tackle your pet hair problem, these are the three options you should be considering. Let me help you pick the perfect one.



Want to know what each robot can (or cannot) do? I’ll show you. Follow along; you’ll find the perfect fit by the end.

Roomba 890: The 800 Series Gets Brushless Rollers

The Roomba 890 is the top of the 800 series and it shows. Not only does it incorporate a lot of features from the 900 series, but it also keeps enough of the 800 series features to allow the price tag to remain lower.

Thorough Clean Even Along the Edges

Let me get this out of the way right now: the Roomba 890 does not have edge cleaning mode. There. I feel better.

Does this mean it won’t clean along your baseboards and get into the corners? No. It does not mean that. On the contrary, the edge cleaning is part of the automatic cleaning cycle. As the robot runs around your floors cleaning, it will make a special trip along the edges of your home.

The side brush is angled to 27 degrees so that any pet hair along the edges and stuck in the corners will be swept away and collected by the extractor bars.

Without the edge cleaning mode, though, this process isn’t very slow. The robot will clean the edges at the same speed it cleans the rest of your floor. Understanding this means that you know the robot may need to run through two or even three cleaning cycles before all of the debris and pet hair are removed from the edges.

The Small Battery Gets The Job Done

The 800 series was notorious for the small-celled 1800mAh batteries. The 890 was no different. While it was acceptable for the earlier versions, it wasn’t acceptable for the 890. The 890 was the first 800 series robot to incorporate wireless technology, voice controls and sensor memory.

These features take battery power to run and iRobot should have given the 890 a larger battery.  They didn’t, so we can’t dwell on it. What we can do is discuss what the smaller battery means.

You can get up to 1600 square feet cleaned in a single charge. It only takes 3 hours to recharge the battery and you will need to tell it to resume cleaning after the battery is full.

However, let’s be a little realistic. You can create a cleaning schedule and let the robot run for about an hour before the battery dies. If you have only hard flooring in your home, this will be plenty.

You may even see the 1600 square feet. However, if you have carpet, rugs, a lot of obstacles, etc., you can expect closer to 1200 or even 1400 square feet in a single charge.

This may still be enough for you, though, and if you contain the robot to a smaller portion of your home, it may not even be a noticeable lacking feature.

You Have Total Control

With the Roomba 890, you have complete control over the robot. While the wireless technology has been retrofitted to previous models, it was the first 800 series robot to have them.

You get access to the Roomba mobile app, which is arguably the best in the business. From the app, you can name your robot, see status reports on the cleaning, battery life and filter time. You can even create a cleaning schedule and select the cleaning modes.

You have less local control because of the use of the app, than you do say over the Roomba 860, but you still have the ability to manually choose the automatic cleaning mode (default) the spot cleaning mode or sending the robot back to the charging dock; all from the push button on the top of the robot.

Further, you get voice activation through Amazon Alexa enabled devices and Google Home devices. With your voice, you can start, stop, pause, resume or dock the robot and its cleaning cycles. It’s not a bad mix of control options and you are sure to have a favorite.

Best Features

Roomba roams around the house, on carpet, hardwood, and area rugs.

  • Tangle-free Brushless Extractors make maintenance easy and pet hair disappear.
  • Navigation is nearly flawless and seems to improve with each run of the home.
  • All of the control options are available, including the mobile app and voice controls.

Areas of Concern

  • The battery is small and will need to be recharged often.
  • The collection bin is a bit small as well, making pet owners needing to empty it after every cycle.
  • No edge cleaning mode for the robot.

Bottom Line: If you are dead set on getting a Roomba and don’t want to spend over 500 bucks, the Roomba 890 is a great vacuum with enough features to please all pet owners.

See Roomba 890 on Amazon

Roomba 960: The Best Bang for the Buck, A Middle Ground With Everything You Need

The 960 is a good middle of the road compromise between some features and every feature. If you aren’t looking to break the bank as well as find a need for every possible feature on the market, the Roomba 960 might be your next robot.

Saving Costs By Reusing 800 Series Features

One of the most notable aspects of the 960 is the ability for the robot to be a 900 series model and still have a smaller price tag.

This is accomplished by using features from the 800 series in conjunction with 900 series parts. The company saves money and passes those savings on to you. Where did the savings come from?

Good question. The first notable aspect is the battery. The original 960 robots shipped with a 2600mAh battery pack. It was still fairly small for everything the Roomba 960 can do, but it gets worse.

iRobot has discontinued their 2600mAh battery pack replacements. This means if your battery goes bad you will have to replace it with the 1800mAh battery pack. This is the same small battery that the 890 uses.

There is a 3300mAh battery pack and a 2200mAh XLife battery pack, but as of this writing, neither of them fit the 960.

As it stands you still get 75 minutes of cleaning time which will cover nearly 200 square feet (about 1600 square feet of mixed hard flooring and carpet).

The Cleaning Modes are Improved

With the 960 you get the ability to use edge cleaning mode. This, matched with the side brush and the brushless extractor bars, means your pet hair clean-up days are over. When you select edge cleaning mode, the robot will head to the nearest wall and begin a slow, tedious cleaning of the edges.

It won’t neglect the corners, either. The entire edge of your home (or the area you have blocked off for containment) will be cleaned before the robot returns to the charging station.

The Roomba 960 recharges after running low on battery.

Whats good about this is that if the battery dies before the job is complete, the robot will return to the charging station, recharge the battery, and return to where it left off, finishing the job without you having to do anything.

One thing you need to be aware of, though, is that whatever cleaning mode you have selected is the cleaning mode that will be used for schedules. Meaning, if you choose edge cleaning mode and press the clean button, the robot will clean the edges.

If the next day, for example, you have a schedule set for cleaning while you are at work, instead of the automatic mode, the robot will once again perform an edge clean. You will need to manually change the cleaning mode in the app before the scheduled clean.

Best Features

  • Brushless Extractors, side brushes and edge cleaning mode virtually eliminate pet hair
  • A larger collection bin for less frequent maintenance.
  • IAdapt 2.0 uses camera navigation for improved performance and mapping.

Area of Concern

  • The smaller battery causes a loss of functionality and should be improved.
  • The motor has improved speed, which in some situations, can cause less suction.

Bottom Line: The Roomba 960 is an affordable Roomba with enough features to keep the gadget geeks happy while still doing an excellent job with pet hair.

See Roomba 960 on Amazon


Roomba 980: The Best Robot on the Market.

When it comes to the best of the best, one model stands above the rest (rhyme not intended). The Roomba 980 is the top of the line robot that does almost everything. If you need a robotic cleaner with every option, this is the one for you.

The Battery is Finally Large Enough to Do it All

The 3300mAh battery pack provides enough power to every part of the robot for up to two full hours of cleaning. If that isn’t enough, the robot will return to the charging station, recharge the battery (about 4 hours) and then resume cleaning where it left off.

Using the iAdapt 2.0 camera-based navigation, you will get a clean that is more human-like than any other robot and your carpets will be cleaned down to the root of the fibers, even on high pile carpeting. Shag is still a struggle, though, so you may want to keep an eye on the robot if you have that lovely 1070s flair.

Containment, As With All Roomba Models, is Still the Best

iRobot's virtual wall barrier.

The virtual wall barriers allow you to quickly and easily block access to rooms, parts of rooms or areas where you don’t want the robot to get near, such as pet food bowls, floor vases or interior planters.

All Roomba models work with either the Virtual Lighthouses or the dual-mode Virtual Wall Barriers. Some models like the 800 and 900 series will work with both. You can purchase these separately and have as many as you want.

The towers run on batteries (included) and send out an infrared beam to tell the robot, like Gandalf; “You shall not pass!” The robot sensors detect this beam and treat it like a physical wall. The Roomba 980 will stop and change direction without crossing the line.

The Motor Improvements Might Be the Only Downfall

When the iAdapt 2.0 technology was released, one of the new features was increased motor speed. The base suction was raised about 300pa because of the increase in speed and when the robot detects it is on the carpet, the speed increases even more.

All in all, the suction and motor improvement provides up to 20 times the power of the 600 series and 10x the power of the 800 series. However, depending on the layout of your home and the amount of hardwood versus carpet that you have, some users report that the speed is too powerful.

Roomba's carpet boost revs up the motor when it detects carpet.

Sometimes, the robot will actually kick out dirt and debris instead of sucking it up. This was found to be most common when going form heavily soiled carpet to hard flooring. The self-adjusting suction head and the speed of the extractor bars produced too much debris for the suction to collect all at once.

The robot does tend to circle back and pick up the dirt, though, so overall it shouldn’t be a problem.

Best Features

  • Finally, a battery that can power the robot efficiently.
  • A large collection bin for less frequent emptying.
  • Extractor bars remove virtually all traces of pet hair.

Areas of Concern

  • The power of the motor might be a tad too much.

Bottom Line: If you want the best of the best, the Roomba 980 is it. While not the perfect model for everyone, those with room in their budget can’t really go wrong with this model.

See Roomba 980 on Amazon

Alternative Option

If you are looking for a budget-friendly model that will compare to the pet hair cleaning abilities of the Roomba, but don’t want to spend a lot of cash, there might just be an option for you, too.

ILIFE A6: A Non-Roomba With Brushless Rollers

ILIFE is a budget-friendly robot vacuum that has a few limitations. However, if you have pet hair and need a model that is affordable, reliable and easy to maintain, it is worth looking at.

If you are dead set on having the Roomba name, then you can skip this section. However, for those not too concerned with brand, the ILIFE A6 is a viable option. You won’t have a huge battery, nor will you have wireless communications or voice controls.

What you will get, though, is a robot that will pick up pet hair with the best of them. Just like the Roomba models in this article, you will get a brushless extractor that is easy to wipe off when hair and strings do get wrapped.

You also get two side brushes instead of one and a battery that will provide you with about 90 to 100 minutes of cleaning time.

If, however, you have medium or high pile carpet, this robot won’t do much for you. It is more designed for hard flooring and low pile carpet, with an attention to the edges of your home. The navigation is a bit suspect, but for pet hair, and the cost, it does its job very well.

See Ilife A6 on Amazon

In Conclusion

Cleaning up after your pets, especially their shed fur, doesn’t have to be a chore you loathe anymore. With the Roomba line, you can get the fur out of your carpets and off your baseboards. The brushless extractors see that the pet hair is lifted, separated and collected.

They also have HEPA quality filters that will collect the pet dander, as well as pollen and dust mites, leaving your home up to 99.9 percent allergen free.

While each model has its pros and cons, deciding on a Roomba that will help you tackle the pet hair in your home is fairly easy. Now that I have given you the basics, it’s time to decide for yourself.


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