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iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review: An efficient and easy-to-use robot vacuum let down by subpar mopping

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £899

Solid vacuuming and self-emptying with Roomba’s excellent app and obstacle avoidance system but but the mop leaves much to be desired


  • Self-emptying
  • Low profile
  • Exemplary ease of use


  • Expensive
  • Disappointing mopping
  • Doesn’t vacuum as well as the base model

iRobot has been churning out Roomba floor-cleaning robots for years, and this maturity shines through its robots, including this Roomba Combo j7+. Setting up the device is a smooth and elegant process, while the user experience is, on the whole, second to none.

The iRobot Roomba j7 remains one of my favourite robot vacuum cleaners, so I was justifiably excited to see whether the Combo j7+ lives up to its heritage. After all, with such a great base to start from, the addition of a self-emptying base station (the “+” element in the product name) and a mopping function (the “Combo”) should be a recipe for success, right?

iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review: What do you get for the money?

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ is a very well equipped robot. As mentioned above, the robot itself is capable of both vacuuming and mopping the floor and also comes with a charging station that empties the collection bin for you.

This makes it a little different to the Roomba j7, which we reviewed back in 2022, despite superficially looking similar. It also maintains the same main headline feature, in that it can spot and work around a messy floor, dodging everything from dropped socks to pet poo.

iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review

The combination of robot and charging station isn’t as enormous as the monolithic Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni but it’s still a significant item to find room for. The robot itself is only 330 x 333 x 84mm (WDH). That’s reasonably short in height and as a result, it will be able to fit under more furniture items than most robots that have a LiDAR turret, such as the Eufy RoboVac X8.

The charging station stands at 310 x 400 x 337mm (WDH) and has a plastic ramp which the robot rolls onto to reach the charging contacts at the back. The self-emptying vacuum chamber is located above the base, hanging over the robot’s parking bay, however, the connection port for emptying the robot’s collection bin is actually in the base, so the robot is emptied from below.

From the underside, you wouldn’t notice much difference between the Combo j7+ and the regular j7. It employs the same unique Roomba roller system, which uses two rollers moving in opposite directions, helping draw dirt into the suction port. These are encircled with a loose rubber sheath rather than the usual brushes, which helps them avoid hair tangles.

iRobot doesn’t directly quote its suction power but compares it instead to an early model, the Roomba 600. As with the j7 before it, the Combo j7+ is ten times more powerful, so we can safely assume it’s using the same vacuuming technology.

The main difference on the robot itself is the mop. It uses a drag and wipe system similar to most mops on basic combi robots, but this one doesn’t have a plate that attaches to the bottom of the robot. Instead, you attach one of the two supplied cloths to a flap on the top of the robot. When it’s time to deploy the mop, the robot lifts this plate over the back of the robot, and tucks it underneath.

iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review

Water to dampen the cloth comes from a 210ml reservoir in the collection bin, which you can fill with water from the tap. That leaves the collection bin with less room to collect dirt, with a relatively low capacity of 313ml whereas the Roomba j7 has a 400ml bin. The saving grace here is that the Combo j7+ should trundle back to its dock and empty itself if it gets too full, as long as you haven’t moved it to a different floor of your house.

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It also comes with a small (188ml) bottle of cleaning solution, which iRobot suggests you mix with water, and contains enough solution to fill the tank four times. I used this during testing but suspect that plain water is likely to be just as effective, if you don’t want to purchase refills.

What you shouldn’t do, according to the manual, is chuck any old floor cleaning product in. There’s a list of approved liquids, and it’s relatively small. iRobot will sell you its own Braava Jet liquid at £19 for 473ml.

iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review: What is it like to use?

Every interaction you have with the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ takes place through the Roomba app. This hasn’t changed much since I reviewed the Roomba j7 but, on the whole, that’s no bad thing. It’s a mature app that’s well designed and easy to use.

Setting up the robot is simple using the supplied quick-start guides and the app. For a first task it suggests a mapping run, which creates a map of the area without attempting to do any vacuuming or mopping.

This is a recommended process but it’s worth noting that the object avoidance is switched off at this point, so you need to clear your floor first. Also, the robot does not have LiDAR. Instead, it uses its camera and an element of bump-and-turn to explore its surroundings and this means it takes some time to complete this process – around double the time of a subsequent full clean.

iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review

What it also fails to provide is a live map in the app that shows you where the robot is on its cleaning journey. This isn’t essential but it’s useful to have at-a-glance information about where your robot is, and how far through its cleaning task it is, especially if you’re not in the room with it. However, this is the only complaint I have, really.

Where it excels is the way it gradually builds your knowledge of how to use the robot’s various features, starting with simple things and walking you through more complicated elements as you progress. Everything appears in the right place at the right time, and the robot is particularly good at making suggestions for room separations and guessing what the purpose of a room might be for labelling purposes.

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There are also scheduling tools: you can set favourite cleaning routines to appear on the main page of the app, and you can fine tune what you want vacuumed and what you want mopped. The device accurately detects carpet, though, and will avoid mopping it.

It also integrates well with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. You can then use voice control to send your robot off on a variety of tasks, including cleaning specific rooms.

iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review: Is it good at finding its way around?

Navigation isn’t the Roomba Combo j7+’s strong point. It didn’t ever fail to fully complete a clean or get stuck anywhere but its lack of LiDAR and its bump-and-turn approach to walls and furniture legs leave it looking navigationally unsophisticated next to vacuums like the Eufy RoboVac X8, which move around with laser-focused precision.

Amongst bump-and-turn robots, it’s relatively gentle. There’s a lot of give in its bumper, which stretches around the entire front half of the robot. If it sees an obstacle approaching through its front camera it then appears to temper its approach, so it’s unlikely to wallop anything. However, if your furniture is fragile you’ll need to look elsewhere to find a gentler robot, as this will make contact with every chair and table leg.

Although I’ve said the robot doesn’t get stuck or lost, it isn’t as efficient at covering complex spaces as other robots. The map it created of my ground floor didn’t include a structural wall I have separating the kitchen from the dining area. I have an electric piano butting up to it, and both were omitted from the map, despite the fact that it recognised the breakfast bar a metre or so away.

iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review

As a result, when the robot needed to cross the area, it sometimes got caught out by the wall and the piano legs. It didn’t get permanently stuck but watching it bump into the same structures over and over again was frustrating. Robots with LiDAR seem much better equipped to take structural anomalies into their stride.

It’s an interesting contrast to its ability to avoid dropped obstacles. I tested this with my usual trio of dropped sock, loose charging cable and convincing joke-shop dog poo, and the Roomba effortlessly spotted and dodged them all.

It also seemed very capable of getting out of tight spots when it wandered into them, such as between the legs of chairs or small occasional tables. Although there was a bit of bumping around as it tested the limits of its confinement it always escaped in the end.

iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review: How well does it clean?

I tested the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ with our usual suite of tests, as well as running it regularly over an extended period around my house. Our tests involve spilling a measured amount of both rice and flour onto both carpet and hard floor, and weighing the collection bin after a spot clean to see how much the robot picks up.

The cleaning tests were a mixed bag, which surprised me a little, because the original Roomba j7 blitzed them. The rice tests went well, with the Roomba collecting 94% of the spill on both surfaces.

iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review

Flour proved problematic, though. As soon as it started sucking the fine particles into the robot, it reported a “bin full” error and suggested emptying the bin and cleaning its sensors. On both carpet and hard floor it only managed to collect 40% of the flour in one short initial burst before quitting and reporting itself full. Manual emptying and cleaning was required before the robot would carry on.

There seems to have been a change from the Roomba j7, which managed to pick up 84% of a flour spill from hard floor and didn’t report any blockages. The bin is certainly different on this model, because it also incorporates the water tank, or it might be that the sensors are more sensitive. Whatever the reason, it isn’t as good at vacuuming fine particles as the j7.

irobot roomba combo j7 review chart showing percentage of spills cleaned

We’re also in the midst of compiling data for a pet hair test for vacuum cleaners, using pet hair harvested from a groomer’s floor. This is only the second robot I’ve tested with this tricky substance, so comparisons are difficult to make but it fared better than the previous model.

However, clumps of pet hair on hard floor were pushed ahead of the robot, with only 10% making it under the robot and into the collection bin. It performed a little better on short pile carpet, gathering 28%. Unfortunately, this also clogged the passage through to the collection bin, which needed manual clearing.

Its brushless rollers are, however, excellent at letting hair pass through with no hair build-up on the rollers throughout the time I used it. This is highly unusual in robots, which usually use standard brush rollers and are prone to picking up hair and getting it wrapped around their brush bars.

iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review

In general use I was pleased with the performance of the robot. By sending it out regularly, it kept on top of the dirt on both carpet and hard floor and it did a good job of going right into corners and edges. This is helped by a sensible cleaning pattern that criss-crosses the room and finishes off with a sweep around the perimeter.

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In the app, storing different maps is easy as is switching between them and I had no problem adding an upstairs cleaning routine to the robot’s repertoire. The self-emptying process also worked well, with the robot happily emptying mid-clean when it needed to.

iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review

As I mentioned above, the mop attachment is deployed on an arm that lifts the mopping plate off the top and over the back of the robot, tucking it underneath the collection bin in the traditional drag-and-wipe position used on most robot mops of this type. The benefit of this is that, when it hits carpet, it can lift the mop pad well clear, ensuring the carpet doesn’t get wet. This worked well but it did leave an unmopped area of around 10cm around carpets and mats.

The mop’s cleaning performance isn’t great, unfortunately, although it’s no worse than others of its type. It took a bit of mopping time for the cloth to become wet enough to use its entire cleaning surface, and left wet tracks with unmopped space between for several metres at first. There’s little pressure applied to the cloth and no agitation, so it’s fine for managing wet splatters and light dirt but it doesn’t provide the sort of cleaning you’d get from a rotary mop, such as the one on the Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni.

iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review: Should I buy it?

It’s no longer unusual for robot vacuum cleaners to come with both self-emptying and mopping functions but, in most models the vacuuming and emptying tend to be more effective than the mopping. The same is true here. I was impressed with the way the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ deployed its mop and avoided carpet by lifting it out of the way but the mopping itself is ineffective.

Our tests also showed that its vacuuming was less effective than its non-mopping sibling, the Roomba j7. However, it keeps many of the tricks of the j7, including faultless object avoidance, decent navigation and an app that’s very easy to use.

iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ review

For a more efficient cleaner in terms of managing to cover space, we’d point you towards a model with LiDAR, such as the Eufy RoboVac X8. It doesn’t have the mop or the self-emptying but will make its way around your home faster and more efficiently, and you’ll be able to view its progress as it cleans, too.

Once you’re spending this kind of money on a domestic robot, however, you might as well go all-in. For the absolute best of the best at the moment, I’d recommend the Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni. It’s more expensive than the Roomba, despite doing the same jobs, but it has the best mop we’ve seen on a combination device and is just as good at vacuuming and emptying. Although it starts out at £1,499, it’s regularly discounted to around £1,000 and sometimes dips as low as £850.

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