Brand Comparison

iRobot Roomba 985 Reviewed

Our reviews compare and critic the features of this popular robotic vacuum.

by Josh Mitchell

With the advancements in technology that we have today, it is no wonder that robotic vacuums are quickly becoming the must-have item for your home. There are more manufacturers, each with their own line of different models, to keep you searching for the perfect one for years.

This article aims to cut down on that search. iRobot's Roomba 985 is a top of the line model with enough features to satisfy almost every consumer. We will take a look at the features, options, and details of the Roomba 985 WiFi connected robot and figure out if it is a good match for you.

The Roomba 985 is an advanced robot complete with mapping and human-like navigation technologies. It also uses low-maintenance pieces designed to extend the life of the robot, lower the amount of time you spend on maintenance and perform at the top of its abilities.

The navigation system is the second generation known as iAdapt 2.0. This uses a camera to take low-res photos of the environment and piece them together into a 3-dimensional layout, creating a map of your home.

The robot then follows this map cleaning in parallel lines, just like you would do with your standard upright cleaner. The AeroForce (successor to the AeroVac system) filtration system uses HEPA quality filters and a high powered motor to produce suction and clean the exhaust air, reducing allergens in the home.

With rubber, tangle-free extractors, a stiff-bristle side brush and up to 1300pa of suction power, hard flooring and carpet alike are cleaned in less time and more efficiently than ever before.

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Benefits of Robotic Vacuums

Roomba 895 product

When robotic vacuums first entered the market, they were seen as novel and only for a select group of people.

However, today there are more and more benefits of these little machines than you can imagine.

Not only do they save us time, effort and energy when it comes to maintaining the cleanliness of our floors, but in the case of the Roomba 985, it is done without us having to do more than press a couple of buttons on our cell phones once a week.

Robot vacuums cut down on in-home allergens when they have a HEPA quality filter installed as the Roomba 985 does. 

These vacuums clean our floors on a daily basis, and the additional reduction of allergen-inducing particles can help us breathe more comfortable in our own homes.

Let's face it, no one enjoys doing household chores, and the less often we have to lug out the large, heavy upright vacuum to clean, the better off we will be. Robot vacuums cut down on the number of times we have to use the upright models. Some even go up to a couple of months between uses.

Cleaning Time/Runtime

Up to 120 minutes

Charging Time

Three hours

Robot Weight

8.7 pounds

Robot Dimensions

13.8L x 13.8W x 3.6H inches

Coverage Area

Up to 1400 square feet per charge


1-year limited on the robot and the battery

Features of Roomba 985

Wondering if the Roomba 985 has the options and features you need? This section will outline those features to help you decide if this model is right for you.

iRobot Home App

The iRobot Home App is a free download from the Android and iOS app stores.

With the app, you can take full control of the Roomba 985, including the ability to start and stop cleanings, send the robot to the charging dock, or even creating cleaning schedules.

You will also be able to view the map created by the 985 and get status updates, filter change reminders, and see the charge remaining on the battery.

app with roomba 985

Self Charging

battery charging of roomba 985

The Roomba 985 monitors the battery life remaining during a cleaning session.

If the battery charge falls below 15%, the robot will pause the session and return to the Home Base charging station on its own.

While you can use the mobile app to send the robot to recharge, it isn’t necessary.

The Roomba 985 is capable of making sure it has enough battery remaining to make it back to the charging dock.

What’s more, if the entire floor wasn’t completely cleaned, once the battery charges entirely (about 3 hours) the robot will resume cleaning right where it left off until the job is complete.

Auto-Adjust Cleaning Head

Each Roomba 985 comes with a cleaning head that controls how far off the ground the tangle-free extractors are. This cleaning head uses infrared sensors to determine the flooring type and will adjust the height accordingly.

The process allows the robot not to lose suction power while keeping the extractors close enough to sweep hard flooring and low enough to agitate carpet fibers.

AeroForce 3-Stage Cleaning System

When iRobot first started, they used a process of debris collection known as AeroVac. During the 800 series robot releases, they changed to the AeroForce system.

The new system uses a high powered motor for more suction, better extractors to sweep, lift and collect debris and a side brush to gather dirt and dust from outside the robot’s reach.

The first stage, sweeping, is done by the side brush, gathering debris along wall edges, baseboards, thresholds and in corners. The brush sweeps the debris into the path of the robot’s extractors.

The second stage, agitation and collection, is done by the dual extractors. Their rubber paddles beat carpet to loosen debris in the fibers and to collect surface dirt and debris on hard flooring.

Finally, the third stage, suction, is where the dirt is lifted from the extractors into the air chamber and pushed through to the collection bin.

Advanced Dirt Detect

Dirt detection has been a part of most Roomba models since the beginning.

The 985 model uses an advanced infrared sensor algorithm to more thoroughly detect when an area has not been adequately cleaned.

These sensors detect if dirt or dust is still in the area the robot is moving away from and if so, causes the Roomba 985 to turn around and re-clean the area.

Straight line of roomba 985

In older versions, this would be a single pass only. However, the 900 series robots will make as many passes as needed to get the area clear of debris.

Smart Mapping and vSLAM Technology

mapping of roomba 985

iRobot models equipped with a camera, such as the 980, 985, and 960, all use vSLAM technology. vSLAM is a visual simultaneous location and mapping algorithm that allows the camera to build a three-dimensional map of the area it is in.

This map is uploaded to the mobile app where the end user can see it, allowing them to keep an eye on the status and location of the robot at all times.

Instead of relying solely on sensors, the photo mapping lets the robot maneuver around the home as if it could see.

This smart mapping feature prevents damage to the robot or to walls, furniture, or obstacles that the robot would otherwise run into.

Cliff Detect

Along with the vSLAM technology, the Roomba 985 is outfitted with a bevy of infrared sensors. The cliff detection sensors are located on the bottom of the machine and detect ledges, falls, or heights that exceed an inch and a half.

When such a drop is detected, the robot is alerted and will stop moving forward, change direction, and slowly continue forward until the sensors stop sending the alert signal.

The primary purpose of these sensors is to prevent the robot from falling off stairs or over a ledge such as those found in "sunken living room" types of flooring situations.

Performance of the iRobot Roomba 985

How does the Roomba 985 handle different situations? Is it compatible with all flooring and debris types? Let's take a look to find out.

Carpets & Rugs

irobot roomba 985 on carpet

With the dual tangle-free rubber extractors, the Roomba 985 does a great job on carpets. Not only will it take on low and medium-pile carpeting, but it will also handle most high-pile carpeting.

While shag carpets will still be a problem, if the robot does become tangled on carpet fibers, cords, fringe, etc. it will attempt to free itself.

By stopping the extractors and reversing them, the robot can usually get out of any tangle it encounters.

Once free, the 985 will move around the area of the tangle until it is clear and able to continue onward.

Hardwood Floors

Hard flooring is another specialty of the Roomba 985.

The extractors and side brush won't scratch any hard flooring surface and can sweep and gather most debris from even grouted or uneven flooring.

For homes with mainly hard flooring, the Roomba 985 will clean up to 1400 square feet on a single charge (depending on other factors such as the number of rooms and amount of obstacles on the floor it has to move around).

Roomba 985 on hardwood floor

Pet Hair

pets with roomba 985

The Roomba 900 series, including the 985, is capable of collecting pet hair, human hair, and strings that even your upright may miss.

It is most reliable on hardwood flooring where the side brush can help gather the hair.

Even on carpet though, the rubber extractors will lift and separate hairs to prevent tangles and wrapping. When you do clean the collection bin, you will find more hair captured than you thought.

However, you will need to clean the extractors and especially the end caps that hold them in place, as the hair will gather there and can cause movement issues.

Area Size

When it comes to home size or room size, the Roomba 985 is better suited for medium and large homes. Between 900 and 1500 square feet in total is where this model will shine.

Smaller homes will still get beneficial cleanings, but a lot of the power and battery will go to waste. Smaller homes are encouraged to look at less expensive options to not spend money on an item that isn’t being used properly.

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Comparison with Other Roomba Models

Now we will look at how the Roomba 985 compares to other Roombas. If you are still thinking about which model to purchase, this section should help you out.

985 Vs. 980

The Roomba 985, sometimes referred to as the Costco Roomba 985, is essentially a Roomba 980 sold only at Costco.

To maintain exclusivity, some vendors, such as Costco or Sam's Club, have iRobot produce a separate model number. This allows the vendors not to have to worry about coupons or price matching.

This leads to a lot of confused consumers asking, "what is the difference between the Roomba 980 and 985?"

The Roomba 980 is the same robot as the Roomba 985. The differences come in what is included in the box and the cost. The 985 is less expensive, comes with the Home Base, charging cord, Roomba 985 manual, an extra filter and of course, the robot itself.

The same is true when you buy a Roomba 980, except that the 980 comes with an extra side brush and two virtual wall barriers, where the 985 doesn't have an additional side brush and only comes with one dual mode virtual wall barrier.

985 Vs. e6

Both the Roomba 985 and the Roomba e6 are Costco model numbers. The 985, as previously mentioned, is the Costco version of the Roomba 980. Likewise, the Roomba e6 is the Costco model of the Roomba e5.

For this comparison, the price and included extras are quite similar. You will get an extra filter, and two dual-mode virtual wall barriers included with the purchase of the Roomba e6. For the Roomba 985, you will get an extra filter and one barrier.

The main difference between these two models is the lack of vSLAM and camera-based navigation on the e6.

Designed as a budget-friendly model, the e6 is better suited for smaller homes or those with fewer rooms and furniture. Because you also lose the recharge and resume capabilities (no mapping feature without a camera), the e6 isn’t suited for larger homes like the 985 is.

985 Vs. 960

The 960 is one of the few models that can compete head to head with the 985. Both models have mostly the same components and features. Each will map your home with camera-based vSLAM, and each will recharge and resume as needed.

Where they differ is in the motor. The Roomba 985 uses the 3rd generation motor along with Power Boost to improve power and performance on carpets. The 960 will handle low and medium-pile carpets well enough and can clean high-pile carpets like the 985. However, on high-pile, the suction power of the Roomba 960 may not be enough to get deep into the carpet fibers.

If your home is mainly hard flooring or low pile carpeting, you can save money by choosing the Roomba 960. The performance in these situations will be nearly identical. If, however, you have a lot of carpets, or your carpet is plush or high pile, the Roomba 985 is the better choice.

985 Vs. i7

The Roomba i7 is one of the latest models to be released by iRobot (September 2018) and is the direct successor to the 985 model. It also uses the 3rd generation motor but utilizes iAdapt 3.0 for even more power and better navigation.

The i7 also has additional features such as Imprint Smart Mapping that allow you to interact with the created map on the mobile app. You can now digitally block areas or specify specific rooms to be cleaned (or avoided).

You also get Imprint Link (first released with the Roomba s9+ and made back-compatible with the i7), which will allow you to control both the Roomba i7 vacuum and the Braava M6 mopping robots. Both of these features are not available on the Roomba 985.

Further, the Roomba i7 is able to upgrade to the Roomba i7+, which uses a Clean Base instead of the standard Home Base charging station.

The Clean Base (and special collection bin) removes the debris from the robot during each docking session. The waste is placed in a removable bag that you can toss out and replace. The Roomba 985 isn’t able to upgrade.

Roomba 985 Accessories

The Roomba 980 is compatible with quite a few accessories. The high-efficiency filters, for example, are a needed component, but you can purchase them in multi-packs to save some money. Each filter should last between four and six months, depending on usage, meaning a multipack of filters can last you about two years.

You also get a dual-mode virtual wall barrier with your purchase. However, some homes find that they require more containment. You can purchase a single barrier or two-pack to fit your needs.

Maintenance is also easier with new parts. A maintenance pack will include more side brushes and a filter to help you replace worn out parts. You may also be interested in new extractors or need a new lithium-ion battery pack.

All of these are readily available for you to purchase. Take note, also, that if something is compatible with the Roomba 980, it is also compatible with the Roomba 985.

Setting Up the WiFi Connection

The first time you use the Roomba 985 and want to control it with the iRobot Home app, you will need to set up the WiFi Connection. This process is pretty straight forward, though there are a few things you will need to do.

  • Download and install the iRobot Home App.
  • Sign into the app (or create a new account).
  • Ensure the Roomba 985 is on the charging station and that the Home Base has power.
  • Link the mobile app to the Home Base to find your robot.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to finalize the connection.

How to Charge this Roomba Model

The Roomba 985 is a self-charging robot. It will monitor its battery and return to the charging station as needed to keep the battery full. However, when you first get the robot, or in the rare events it dies before making back to the charging station, you will need to charge the robot manually.

This isn’t difficult at all. The only requirement is that the Home Base charging station has power. Simply pick up the robot and place it on the Home Base as the charging will start automatically. Once charged, the robot will be ready to resume cleaning.

Positioning the Roomba Home Base

To aid the robot in being able to make it to the Home Base so it can recharge the battery, you need to ensure it is appropriately positioned. It will need to be near a power outlet, so the power cord can reach the base and charge the robot.

You will also need to ensure the base is on a flat, even surface. Hard flooring is preferred over carpet.

You will also need to keep the area around the Home Base clear. This means two feet on either side of the charging station and at least four feet in front of it. This will make sure the sensor on top of the Roomba 985 can get the signal from the Home Base and have room to position itself properly.

Tips for Using a Roomba 985

The use of the Roomba 985 is almost effortless. You don't have to do a whole lot to enjoy cleaner floors. After the initial set up, the only thing you should stay up on is the maintenance routine (explained below).

There are, however, a few tips to make the Roomba 985 more efficient and prevent any frustrations down the road.

  • Before a cleaning session, ensure any area rugs with fringe have the ends folded under to prevent possible tangles.
  • Pick up any items you don’t want the robot to run through or over.
  • Make sure power cords, phone chargers, etc. are off the floor and out of reach of the robot.
  • Double check the Home Base has the power to recharge the battery when needed.
  • Use the scheduling feature to have the robot run daily (if possible) or at least three times per week.

This very thorough guide discusses using the 985 version in your home.

How to Extend the Battery Life

The lithium-ion battery used by the Roomba 985 should hold and maintain a charge for about 5 years, or 3000 recharge cycles.

Eventually, the battery will need to be replaced. If it is within the first year of ownership, the battery will still be under warranty, and you should check with iRobot customer service about a warranty claim before buying a new battery.

You can prolong the life and use of the battery installed though, by following a few tips.

  • If you leave for extended periods, put the robot in idle mode.
  • Once a month, prevent the 985 from being able to recharge and let the battery drain fully. Manually recharge to full.
  • Don’t place the Home Base in direct sunlight, causing the robot to get hot while charging.
  • Keep the robot clean and in working order by doing regular maintenance to prevent the robot from having to work harder.

Cleaning, Care & Maintenance

A regular maintenance routine is crucial for lasting performance and reliability of your robot. There are tasks you should perform on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Daily (or After a Cleaning Session)
  • Empty the collection bin and wipe off the full bin sensor.
  • Check for debris tangled on the wheels or around the extractors.
  • Wipe off the body and sensors to keep the robot clean and efficient.
  • Check the filter, side brush and wheels for damage or wear and tear.
  • Remove the extractor bars, clean off the end caps, and check the air chamber for clogs.
Monthly (as required)
  • Replace the filter with a new one (about every 4 to 6 months).
  • Replace the side brush with a new one (about every 9 months).
  • Replace the extractors (every 24 months) or battery (every 36 months, on average).

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can I use this Roomba 985 with 220 volts power?

The Roomba 985 is compatible with multiple power ranges. In particular, the range falls between 110 and 240 volts. However, there are different model numbers for European and non-North American versions of the 985/980, and if you live outside of the US, you should purchase these models instead.

While the 985 will work properly and charge with 220-volt adapters, it is important to note that a North American model used outside of North America immediately voids the warranty.

Does Roomba 985 remember a home’s layout?

In essence, the Roomba 985 does remember the layout. It is recommended that you let the robot do an initial mapping run before the first cleaning session so that it can adequately map your home. Once the mapping run is completed, the robot will be more efficient in its path making and decision-making abilities.

That being said, if you have mapped your home and decide to change the layout of a room (moving furniture, etc.), the Roomba 985 will recognize the map has changed and it will update on the fly with a new route.

If you change the layout in multiple rooms, the mapping may take a few runs to update completely. During this time, you may notice the robot running into furniture and objects more often than usual.

Does the Roomba 960 work with Amazon Alexa or Google Home?

All Wi-Fi connected Roomba devices are now compatible with both the Amazon Alexa and Google Home Assistants. Simply enable the command on your Amazon Alexa or Google Home, and then sign into your iRoomba account to pair the devices and begin cleaning via voice command.

How noisy are these robotic vacuums?

Most Roomba models are noisy. While not as loud as a standard upright, the Roomba 985 produces between 65 and 68 dB when it is running. This is about the same as a hairdryer. It is loud enough that it may be difficult to sleep while the robot cleans, but you should still be able to hear your TV or continue a conversation while it moves around.

How do I reset a Roomba unit?

On occasion, there may be an issue with the robot that requires a factory reset. To accomplish this, make sure the robot is not on the Home Base charging station, then press and hold the Clean button for about 10 seconds. After 10 seconds you can release the Clean button, and the Roomba 985 will make a tone to let you know the reset was completed.

How do I contact iRobot Roomba customer support?

To contact iRobot customer support, you can call 1-877-855-8593, email support or initiate a live chat by using the link on their contact page.

Where are the best places to buy a Roomba 985?

There are two options available for purchasing a new Roomba 985. The most obvious place to get this Costco robot is through the Costco website. You must be a Costco member to gain access and current pricing. Otherwise, because the exclusivity time has run out, iRobot now offers the 985 through Amazon, which is open to everyone without needing a membership.

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The Roomba 985 is a model worth considering. Not only will you get a large collection bin to reduce the number of times you need to empty it, but the rest of the required maintenance is relatively low.

The 985 comes with enough extras that you won't need to make another purchase for filters or containment for about a year. You also get the camera-based navigation, HEPA quality filtration, and a more thorough and complete clean on all floor types.

For those that have shedding pets, large floor plans and don’t like vacuuming their entire home once a week or more, the Roomba 985 is the perfect companion to keep your floors tidy and presentable between regular chore day cleanings.

All of our Roomba reviews can be found here.

Images via: https://www.costco.com

Josh is a trained HVAC and Plumbing specialist who loves all things DIY. He has been featured in Forbes, USNews, Homes & Gardens, Family Handyman and several other leading publications.