Feds let debt collectors slide into your DMs

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says that debt collectors are now allowed to text, email, and message people on social media. But don’t worry—the bureau insists it’s still illegal for collection agencies to actively harass someone over a debt they owe. (Right.)

Debt collectors were previously limited to contacting people via phone or snail mail. They were also prohibited from calling someone more than seven times in seven days, contacting people related to the debt holder, and reaching out to someone’s employer. Some of those restrictions apply to the new contact methods, too, but not all of them extend to these platforms.

The CFPB doesn’t limit the number of times a collection agency can text, email, or direct message someone on social media, for example. Instead they are required to identify themselves as debt collectors, give people a way to opt out of receiving messages on a particular platform, and refrain from using public communications methods to contact someone.

There is some good news. It seems the restrictions on when debt collectors are allowed to contact people—between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time—apply to these new forms of communication as well. Collection agencies will also be prohibited from calling someone about a particular debt within seven days of having a phone conversation about it.

The CFPB says debt collectors must offer, “in each message, a simple way to opt out of receiving further communications from them on that social media platform.” But as Consumer Reports notes, it doesn’t explain how that will work.

18 best tweets of the week, including $10 mode, Joseph Thee Stallion, and Gregor Samsa

Thanksgiving is over with, good friends, so deck the halls, pull out your credit cards, flip on Hallmark, prepare yourself for shoveling — the holiday season is here. Yes, we are already somehow one week past gobble gobble season. December! How about that?

Anyway, there were some good tweets out there this week. I don’t mean to hype things too much, but good job internet, the posts were pretty funny. Sure, everything is scary and bad and the internet has probably rapidly accelerated the decline of…everything..but we’ve got our silly little jokes on our silly little websites. Fair trade, right?

Anyways, here they are, the 18 best tweets of the week. Enjoy the good posts.

1.Hahahaha oh good, I will be processing 2020 forever

2. My colleague Elena is very funny

3. This man made the correct airplane movie choice and I stand by that

4. A freaking CLASSIC

5. Going to be thinking about this for a few years and will now say it every time I use a ten dollar bill

6. My colleague Ali is also very funny

7. If you watch Selling Sunset then you know this is a perfect idea

8. Joseph Thee Stallion

9. More Beatles Get Back memes

10. One of many good Spotify Wrapped memes

11. And another Wrapped meme

12. The lateness has nothing to do with me

13. My colleague Alex is very funny, too

14. Why does Spotify try to talk like this?

15. A good joke that’s reminiscent of a certain Mark Wahlberg quote

16. That’s right Alex

17. Going scarecrow mode is the new meditation

18. And finally, dril

Viral TikTok recipe for air fryer leftover egg rolls is predictably delicious — and easy


I am firmly in the camp that leftovers from Thanksgiving vastly outpace the quality of the food on the actual holiday. Something magical and mysterious happens in the fridge: The components in the stuffing marry more fully, the mashed potatoes thicken, the gravy congeals and intensifies in flavor, and the turkey…well the turkey is still turkey but you get my point.

This year I cooked a full Thanksgiving meal for just two people, which meant I had nearly endless leftovers to use however I pleased: breakfast hash, bowls of leftovers slathered in gravy, glorious sandwiches.

Last year I made leftover egg rolls, deep fried, heavenly, stuffed to the brim with stuffing, turkey, and mashed potatoes, dipped in a cranberry aioli. Look at these big honkers; they were fantastic.

So, when I saw Kroger — you know, the supermarket chain — post a recipe for air-fried leftover egg rolls, I was super intrigued. So were lots of folks it seems because the TikTok has racked up 2.3 million views. If I could get a similar result without the hassle of deep frying, it would be amazing. Kroger’s final result didn’t look quite like a deep fried egg roll — more on that later — but it did look tasty.

Thanksgiving leftover egg rolls being made

Not too bad looking.
Credit: Screenshots: TikTok / @Kroger

The recipe is wildly simple. Here’s what Kroger suggested, although later I’ll show where and how I modified things.

Ingredients

  • Egg roll wrappers

  • Leftover turkey

  • Leftover stuffing

  • Leftover gravy, reheated for dipping

  • Small cup of water for sealing the egg roll

Directions

  1. Chop leftover turkey into small pieces.

  2. In a large bowl, mix the chopped turkey with leftover stuffing. The mixture should be roughly 50/50.

  3. Set down an egg roll wrapper in front of you so it’s diamond shaped.

  4. Drop a large dollop of the turkey and stuffing mixture into the center of the wrapper.

  5. Pinch the mixture together, then carefully fold the bottom of the diamond over the mixture. Roll until the mix is totally covered.

  6. Like you’re wrapping a gift, fold the outsides of the wrapper on top of the already rolled part. Roll until all that remains is a small triangle of wrapped that looks like the top of an envelope.

  7. Dip a finger in the water and paint the edges of the triangle. Press it onto the rolled egg roll, sealing it all together.

  8. Air fry the egg rolls at 370 degrees for eight minutes, placing the envelope-side down on the air fryer grate.

  9. After eights minutes, flip then air fry for three minutes more. Dip in gravy and enjoy.

The details

The ingredients in this recipe are deceptively simple. I say deceptively because you would’ve had to have made a whole ass turkey and a batch stuffing. But if you’re out of leftovers, or they’ve gone bad, or whatever, guess what? I wrote how you can air fry turkey and stuffing, because Mashable’s AirFryDay is nothing if not thorough, baby.

Now, getting egg roll wrappers might also prove kind of difficult. Your best bet is going to be in the freezer section in a well-stocked grocery store. (One assumes Kroger carries them since, you know, they posted this recipe.) My two local groceries in Brooklyn did not have them, however. A note: Do not buy spring roll wrappers, which are a rice paper wrappers you dip in water. These are different than egg roll wrappers. Eventually I was able to get egg roll wrappers from a local Asian market. They came frozen but defrosted in like 15 seconds in the microwave. If all else fails you could always try to make your own.

When making this dish, like any other dish, the first thing you should do is your mise en place, which is a fancy French way of saying getting prepped. Chop the turkey, mix it with stuffing, defrost your wrappers. The wrappers should feel malleable while not heated through at all.

Two things about me: I hate following recipes perfectly and I love mashed potatoes. So I decided my test of the air fryer recipe would include one egg roll exactly how Kroger did it and one where I added a plop of mashed potato.

The most difficult part of the process in this recipe is the folding and rolling of the egg roll itself. It’s not hard, really, it’s just delicate. The real risk is tearing a seam in your wrapper, which I definitely did once but will not appear on Mashable dot com’s video via the magic of editing.

There are a few tricks to keep in mind when rolling. First, when you plop down your filling, don’t go too crazy. Less filling makes for a more orderly egg roll. But also… don’t skimp because why skimp? I did one egg roll with the Kroger turkey/stuffing filling and another where I spread a stripe of mashed potatoes atop it all.

filling on an egg roll wrapper

The filling before being rolled.
Credit: Mashable

Next, when you’re ready to fold and roll, sort of cup the filling with your hands to keep it in a neat shape and in place. As you fold the bottom of the diamond over the filling and begin to roll, the cupping of your hands will form a nice cylindrical-shaped filling.

egg rolls being rolled

The cupping of the egg roll in action.
Credit: Mashable

You can seal the edges with water when you fold the sides — you don’t need to — but just be sure to paint the envelope-shaped end of the wrapper with water then seal. Then do not fuss with it. If it’s imperfect, lumpy, tenuously sealed, whatever, just leave it be. You’ll just mess things up further by trying to make it perfect and the heat will be what really seals it all together.

Full disclosure: I tested this recipe in the Mashable office for filming purposes and used the office’s air fryer, which was an older model than my at-home unit. For some reason, it would let me air fry at 360 degrees or 390 degrees, but not 370 degrees. I chose 360 degrees, which meant my egg rolls took closer to 12 to 14 minutes to fully cook rather than 11. Here’s what they looked like when I flipped after about 8 minutes.

not fully cooked egg rolls in air fryer

Not quite done yet.
Credit: Mashable

And here’s what the egg rolls looked like full cooked.

cooked egg rolls on a plate

They don’t look like traditional egg rolls, but they’re not bad.
Credit: Mashable

cooked egg rolls cut in half showing Thanksgiving leftovers inside

The one on the right has mashed potatoes in it, the left does not.
Credit: Mashable

The verdict? They’re tasty. The skin of the egg roll ends up taking a more flaky, crisp texture, not exactly the bubbly, airy result you get from frying in oil. If frying in oil creates a 10 out of 10 texture, then air frying, I’d say, is about a seven. It’s crunchy, it’s good, but it’s not as good as frying in oil. Yes, it is more unhealthy, but frying it oil is freaking delicious.

I’d also argue you should include mashed potatoes if you’re able. Reheated stuffing plus reheated turkey can be a bit dry — while still good — even if you’re dipping in gravy. Adding mashed potatoes, which of course are laden with butter and milk — adds some much need moisture and a welcome pop of salty fattiness. Still, did I eat all of both egg rolls for lunch? You’re damn right I did.

All that being said, my wife was a bit sad she missed out on Thanksgiving leftover egg rolls. The next day I made a couple at home for the two of us to enjoy. I rolled up some turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and charred Brussels sprout leaves then fried the egg rolls in about an inch of canola oil. Simply put, they were much better than my air fried offering. Notice how the skin is bubbly and airy, and there are distinct layers of puffy, crisp wrapper? You just don’t get that in the air fryer.

egg rolls on a plate

That’s just better. It simply is.
Credit: Mashable

Still, air frying Thanksgiving leftover egg rolls works and is super tasty. And while it’s not as good as its oil-fried counterpart, air frying also didn’t leave me with a mess on the counter and a bunch of oil to toss out.

A decades-old missing persons case and an obsessed true crime reporter puts Twitter’s newest policy to the test

Maura Murray seemingly vanished from the face of the earth after a car accident on February 9, 2004. Her disappearance, a mere days after Facebook launched, was one of the first cases to put social media sleuthing to the test as users created Facebook and MySpace pages to solve the mystery of her disappearance. She was 21 years old.

Now, nearly 18 years since she was last seen, Maura Murray’s suspicious disappearance is putting social media to the test once again.

On Tuesday, Twitter announced a new policy update prohibiting the sharing of “private” media of private individuals without their consent on its platform. The fairly vague policy immediately caused debate among Twitter users, especially concerning how this could possibly affect journalism on a service that is primarily used for breaking news.

The very next morning, true crime author James Renner awoke to find that his Twitter account had been locked for violating this new policy.

“As soon as the new policy was in place, I got a dozen reports filed against me by the people I’ve covered in articles about the Maura Murray case,” said Renner, who wrote a book in 2016 titled True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray about her missing person case..

As of late Wednesday afternoon, Renner once again had access to his account but only after deleting four of the tweets that had been reported.

“I appealed on each. They denied the appeal on each,” said Renner. “Then I deleted in order to get back into the account. I’ve had to delete every single one. They’re mostly just links to stories I’ve written.”

And that’s a very interesting characteristic of these reported tweets. Twitter’s new policy mentions media, such as photos and videos. Do links to third-party websites count, too? Renner tells me that Twitter did post an embed card for the link, which automatically pulls a picture from the linked website into the tweet. Is that why these tweets fell under this policy?

“I [was] locked out of my account for simple reporting and linking to my articles,” Renner told Mashable.

Twitter warning to James Renner

An email notification from Twitter showcasing one of the tweets which locked James Renner out of his account.
Credit: Mashable Screenshot / James Renner

Twitter did not immediately respond to Mashable’s request for comment.

Renner, the founder of cold case nonprofit The Porchlight Project and host of a true crime series on ID Discovery, is not sure who reported the tweets. Twitter’s new policy rules state that tweets will only be flagged if they are reported to the company by the person depicted in the media or someone who represents them.

The true crime author tells me that he knows at least one of the reports was not triggered by the person depicted in the tweet because the person would need to be Maura Murray, the young woman still missing after nearly two decades.

It is possible that Maura Murray’s family is behind the takedown of that particular tweet. Again, Twitter does allow a “representative” of the depicted person to file a report. Renner’s self-described “obsessive” reporting on the case has been criticized before and Murray’s father, Fred Murray, has been one of those critics.

One of the issues Renner’s critics have with the true crime author is his beliefs on what reporting should entail.

“I’ve come to believe that there’s only one way to establish credibility with readers, and that is to show them how you’re making the sausage,” he writes in his 2016 book. “I think reporters should open up their research to all those interested and bring them along for the ride. That means scanning and posting the supporting documents you use to gather your facts. But I think it should go further. What I’d like to see is an open-sourced form of reporting, where journalists put notes and documents and pictures and sources in something like a readable Google doc as they are reporting.”

In its piece, the New Yorker classified Renner’s methodology as “madness.”

However, another tweet from Renner focusing on Bill Rausch, Murray’s boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, was also reported, forcing Renner to delete it. Rausch, a U.S. Army Major, has been a key figure for true crime aficionados following Murray’s disappearance. 

In recent years, Rausch has been charged on felony sexual abuse of a subordinate. The ongoing case has received local news coverage. The victim actually went to the police to report the alleged assault after discovering Rausch’s connection to Maura Murray through online reporting, such as Renner’s. 

Twitter warning to James Renner

Another Twitter email notification, this time concerning one of James Renner’s tweets about Bill Rausch.
Credit: Mashable Screenshot / James Renner

“Given that I’m the only one reporting on the ongoing sex abuse trial of this missing woman’s boyfriend, I’m concerned that he has effectively killed the story,” Renner said, assuming Rausch is the one who reported his tweet. Mashable is unable to confirm this as Twitter does not share who has made the reports.

One of the exceptions to this new rule, according to Twitter, is that the policy is “not applicable to media featuring public figures or individuals when media and accompanying Tweet text are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse.”

But, an argument can be made that all legitimate journalistic endeavors are in the public interest. Where does Twitter draw the line?

Renner isn’t the only one struggling with Twitter’s new “private” media policy. Anti-extremism researchers are reportedly having their accounts suspended due to the platform’s recent change. 

Twitter is a popular platform for these researchers and journalists specializing on covering right-wing extremism to identify white supremacists, neo-nazis, and far-right personalities who spread offline hate. However, those very extremist individuals are now organizing online in order to weaponize Twitter’s reporting tool.

For example, in one such reporting instance, a research’s account was apparently locked for sharing a photo of Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who is currently serving a prison sentence for destroying a Black Lives Matter banner belonging to a historic Black church in Washington D.C. Tarrio is both a public figure and a person of public interest.

When the new “private media” policy was announced, it was clear that its effectiveness would rely on how Twitter enforced it. 

Could the policy help private individuals who are being harassed on the platform? Sure. But it’s clear that, in its current implementation, it is being used to stifle reporting on newsworthy issues that are already of the public interest.

These are the best robot vacuums for carpet and rugs

BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Dec. 3, 2021):

  • iRobot Roomba j7+$649 $849.99 (save $200.99)

  • Shark EZ RV1912S — $299.99 $549.99 (save $250)

  • iRobot Roomba i1+$349 $599.99 (save $250.99)

  • Ecovacs Deebot T8+ Robot Vacuum and Mop with Self-Empty Station$449.99 $799.99 (save $300)

  • iRobot Roomba i7+ — $549.99 $799.99 (save $250)


Robot vacuums have become our mini housekeepers. As our reliance on them grows, 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.

SEE ALSO:

Here’s where all the best Black Friday 2021 deals will be

But if your home is mostly carpeted or if you have a lot of rugs laying around, the convenience of a robot vacuum gets tricky. Plenty of robot vacs are known for getting stuck in weird places, confused by dark flooring, or refusing to transition from hardwood floors to carpet. Will a robot vacuum actually make life easier, or will it become more of a hassle every time it eats a tassel or gets stuck trying to transition from bare floors to high pile?

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 suction levels between 1800 and 2500Pa to ensure that the carpet fibers are being efficiently combed of the debris they’ve been hoarding. 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.

Dual brushes and automatic cleaning brushes are a fantastic added bonus for carpeting, too. If you have a dog (or roommate) that sheds like it’s their job, hair is likely to get deeply embedded into your carpet. Normal vacuums tend to get the hair tangled up in the brushroll, but robot vacuums with dual brushes or self-cleaning brushes will help you avoid the weekly step of yanking a spool of hair out of the bottom of your vacuum.

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 physical magnetic no-go strips that don’t always work).

Which is better: Shark or Roomba?

Both are good, which is why you’ll see both brands on this list. Roombas tend to feel sturdier on the outside, with some seriously strong suction power — but the downside is that they’re expensive, loud, and are prone to technology bugs. Shark robot vacuums, on the other hand, might feel a little bit less durable on the outside but are fantastic for quieter cleaning, and still offer smart features at a lower price point. Shark vacuums do sometimes get lost though, as documented in this hilarious TikTok video.

Overall, both robot vacuum brands offer smart features, solid navigation, and strong suction, so making the choice between a Shark and a Roomba will depend on your desired price point and noise tolerance.

When to shop for a deal on robot vacuums

Robot vacuums receive more front-page attention in Black Friday ads each year, but even more deals are exclusively scattered across the internet. We’re tracking them from October all the way to Cyber Monday and beyond, including early Black Friday robot vacuum deals that are already live. Keeping your options open is the best way to guarantee a vac that has the features (automatic emptying, mopping, specific room targeting) at the budget you’re comfy with (whether that’s under $300 or over $1,000 if it’s really nice).

Here is more detail of each of our top picks:

The best self-emptying robot vacuums to take yet another cleaning task off your hands

BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Dec. 3, 2021):

  • iRobot Roomba j7+$649 $849.99 (save $200.99)

  • Shark EZ RV1912S — $299.99 $549.99 (save $250)

  • iRobot Roomba i1+$349 $599.99 (save $250.99)

  • Ecovacs Deebot T8+ Robot Vacuum and Mop with Self-Empty Station$449.99 $799.99 (save $300)

  • iRobot Roomba i7+ — $549.99 $799.99 (save $250)


Grab a drink, kick your feet up, and watch as your hardest-working home appliance puts in the work so you don’t have to: That’s the reality of investing in a highly rated robot vacuum. And as technology advances, there’s even less for us humans to take care of when it comes to ensuring our floors stay spick-and-span.

Self-emptying robot vacuums take the convenience of the traditional robot vacuum to another level: they actually allow you to forego regular maintenance for months on end—without sacrificing sparkling clean floors free of dirt and debris.

Instead of emptying the dustbin manually, a self-emptying vacuum actually takes that job out of your hands, emptying itself into a larger dustbin that has the capacity to manage weeks of dirt without needing to be cleaned or dumped out on your end. Not only does this allow you to keep your floors clean, it means you can literally set it up and forget about it.

How do robot vacuums compare to canister and upright vacuums?

While robot vacuums are getting more and more advanced by the day, not everyone agrees that they can completely replace your canister or upright vacuum. If you’re worried about your robot vacuum not doing the job well enough to completely replace your upright vacuum, consider scheduling your robotic vacuum to run twice a day — or pick up a hand vacuum to spot clean any problem areas you might notice. iRobot, for example, claims that robotic vacuums can save owners up to 110 hours of manual floor maintenance per year — or about two hours per week.

What’s the battery life like on a robot vacuum?

The battery life on most robot vacuum cleaners is just about exactly what you’d need to get a full clean in a single run. Most vacuums have a minimum of a 90-minute run time — which allows the vacuum to pass through a typical household.

If you’re worried about the battery life lasting through your home (especially if it’s particularly dusty or on multiple levels) you might want to invest in a robot vacuum that features a mid-cycle charging option. This way, your vacuum will return to charge before finishing the areas of the home it didn’t quite get to before.

How do self-emptying robot vacuums work?

The idea behind the self-emptying robot vacuum sounds pretty sci-fi and next level, doesn’t it? Not having to vacuum or do any manual maintenance whatsoever sounds like a dream come true! And while it is, in all honesty, a pretty neat concept, there is still maintenance and a little bit of leg work required to keep your vacuum working properly —including emptying the dustbin every now and then.

A self-emptying robot vacuum works the same way a regular robot vacuum does — it maps out the layout of your home, sucks up all the dust and debris from your flooring, and returns to charge between cleaning sessions without your involvement. But unlike traditional robot vacuums, which require emptying after every second or third vacuum, a self-emptying vacuum deposits all the dirt and debris into a separate bin that doesn’t need to be manually emptied (by you) for upwards of a month.

Are robot vacuums worth it?

Are robot vacuums worth the price tag? While it has become more affordable to pick up a robot vacuum, they’re still significantly more expensive than most of their manual counterparts. That being said, not having to lift a finger when it comes to floor maintenance is a pretty good feeling and is well worth it for anyone who just doesn’t have the time — or the interest — in pulling out a vacuum and manually cleaning the floors every couple of days.

SEE ALSO:

29 gifts for the dark academia devotees in your life

Not only are these handy devices extremely practical for anyone who wants to cut down on the mental load that comes with keeping the house clean, but they actually allow you to run the vacuum more frequently. For those reasons alone, a robot vacuum — and especially a self-emptying robot vacuum — is worth the investment if you’re looking to spend a bit more on a vacuum.

When to shop for a deal on robot vacuums

Robot vacuums receive more front-page attention in Black Friday ads each year, but even more deals are exclusively scattered across the internet. We’re tracking them from October all the way to Cyber Monday and beyond, including early Black Friday robot vacuum deals that are already live. Keeping your options open is the best way to guarantee a vac that has the features (automatic emptying, mopping, specific room targeting) at the budget you’re comfy with (whether that’s under $300 or over $1,000 if it’s really nice).

What to look for in a self-emptying robot vacuum

What to look for in a self-emptying robot vacuum really depends on exactly what your household needs are. Do you have a dog or a cat that sheds? Are there kids in your household? Do you live on a particularly dusty street? These are all serious factors to consider when deciding how much you’ll really need to spend or what features to prioritize when shopping for a self-emptying robot vacuum.

Power and battery life: If you’re shopping for a self-emptying vacuum, chances are you’re looking for something that you can set and forget—and that includes a healthy battery life. Look for a minimum of 90 minutes to ensure your vacuum can cover your home or apartment or consider a robot that can be programmed to charge halfway through its cleaning cycle and resume where it left off once it’s fully juiced up.

Size: Whether you’re living in a condo or a larger house, you’ll want to make sure the size of your external dustbin is large enough to make the self-emptying feature worth your while. Most external bins can hold up to 60 days of dust and debris — but if you’re working with a particularly high traffic home or you really don’t want to empty it all that often, look for an XL option.

Floor surfaces: Are you working with carpeted flooring? Hardwood? Look for a robot vacuum that is made to suit your specific needs. Certain vacuums are equipped with added sensors to ensure rugs and carpets are properly taken care of, while others have special brushes that ensure dust and debris don’t get pushed around on hardwood flooring.

Smart home integration: Most self-emptying robot vacuums come with smart home and app integration that make your job even more simplified. If you’re hoping to schedule cleans or have access to maintenance issue reports from your phone or you want something that is Alexa-enabled and equipped with voice control, be sure to look for a vacuum that specifies smart home integration.

What is the best self-emptying robot vacuum?

Interested in learning more about self-emptying robot vacuums? We don’t blame you! Below, we’ve laid out some of the absolute best self-emptying robot vacuums on the market. From the little guys to big-name brands, here are the best options out there in 2021.

Robot vacuums are getting more affordable: These 6 are less than $200

BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Dec. 3, 2021):

  • iRobot Roomba 692$174.99 $299.99 (save $125)

  • Shark EZ RV1912S — $299.99 $549.99 (save $250)

  • iRobot Roomba i1+$349 $599.99 (save $250.99)

  • Ecovacs Deebot T8+ Robot Vacuum and Mop with Self-Empty Station$449.99 $799.99 (save $300)


Robot vacuums can get pretty pricey, with some of the more advanced options running upwards of $1,000. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles — like smart home mapping, mobile app integration, and self-emptying canisters — then you don’t have to spend that much money. There are cheaper robot vacuums out there, and the best budget robot vacuums will get the job done well.

Inexpensive options typically don’t have smartphone app integration and all of the controls are done with a remote. You’re usually able to set a timed schedule with the remote or set it to go off in the moment, so you do have some sort of control aside from just pressing a button on the vacuum itself. Remotes often act as a steering device as well, allowing you to operate the robot vacuum like an RC car.

Most cheaper robot vacuums can handle sweeping up dirt and debris from hard flooring. But for carpet, you’ll want to get a robot vacuum with a roller brush. The spinning fan brushes that come standard and work well on hard floors can’t dig into the carpet to lift embedded hair and dirt.

Are robot vacuums worth it?

Robot vacuums are worth it if you are someone who doesn’t have time to vacuum regularly, someone who physically can’t vacuum, or someone who simply doesn’t like to vacuum. (All are very valid.) They take the work out of cleaning and can be really useful appliances to have in your home gadget lineup. But that’s only if the robot vacuum actually performs the way it’s supposed to.

SEE ALSO:

7 of the best robot vacuums to tackle pet hair

That’s a problem you could run into when searching for a budget-friendly robot vacuum since the simple truth is that some forego quality in the name of a lower price tag. Before pulling the trigger on a cheap robot vacuum, make sure you consult reviews to see if anyone is experiencing problems or quality faults.

You get what you pay for

As we said, some cheaper robot vacuums are not equipped to handle cleaning carpet. They either don’t have enough suction power or don’t have the correct brushes to really dig into the carpet to pull up embedded dirt, dust, and hair.

Pretty much every cheap robot vacuum less than $200 is going to clean your house in a random pattern rather than in the straight lines you’d probably create with an upright vacuum. That means they won’t clean in the most efficient way and might miss a few spots — though most robot vacuums have sensors to detect dirt, so you shouldn’t be left with any glaringly messy areas.

In any case, a cheap robot vacuum is mostly going to act as a supplemental cleaning device that does your day-to-day cleaning while still requiring you to do a deep cleaning every so often. They typically don’t fully replace a standard upright vacuum. Though, they can if you have hard flooring or you don’t need your home to be 100 percent spotless.

What is the best robot vacuum for the money?

The best affordable robot vacuum for the money is the Ecovacs Deebot N79S. It’s one of the brand’s older models, and it has a list price of $249.99, but you can usually find it on sale between $139.99 and $199.99. It’s one of the few robot vacuums under $200 that has WiFi and mobile app integration, meaning you can run the vacuum from anywhere using your phone or a voice assistant like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

If you happen to see any robot vacuums from iRobot, Shark, Eufy, or Ecovacs on sale for less than $200, snatch those up right away. It can be hard to find a good brand for that price, but those ones are definitely worth the money if you can find them for that cheap.

When to shop for a deal on robot vacuums

Robot vacuums receive more front-page attention in Black Friday ads each year, but even more deals are exclusively scattered across the internet. We’re tracking them from October all the way to Cyber Monday and beyond, including early Black Friday robot vacuum deals that are already live. Keeping your options open is the best way to guarantee a vac that has the features (automatic emptying, mopping, specific room targeting) at the budget you’re comfy with (whether that’s under $300 or over $1,000 if it’s really nice).

What is the cheapest robot vacuum?

You can find some pretty cheap off-brand robot vacuums, but don’t expect them to be top-tier in quality. Be wary of any robot vacuums that cost less than $100. They likely won’t be able to give you a great clean and probably won’t have a very long lifespan. Some of the cheaper models also can’t handle thick carpet or large areas.

There’s a robot vacuum on Amazon for less than $30, but there’s only one review at the time of publication, and we do not recommend buying it. Really cheap robot vacuums probably won’t work on rugs or have enough suction power to pick up hair and larger debris, making them basically worthless unless you are just cleaning hardwood floors that are already pretty clean. (Which really defeats the purpose of getting a robot vacuum at all, in our opinion.)

“Cheapest” does not mean “best inexpensive” robot vacuum

For the reasons already mentioned, you can gather that the cheapest option is not the best value. You want to find a good mix of functionality and price. Typically the vacuums that are $150 and up are going to be pretty decent and give you features that will actually leave your home looking and feeling clean.

Keep in mind that underside brush rolls are better for carpeted homes and if you have a big surface area to cover you’ll want to pay attention to the robot vacuums with longer run times to avoid having to recharge before the job is done.