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Robot vacuums do a great job sweeping and vacuuming the floor. They can avoid obstacles, stay away from the stairs, and many can easily move from room to room.
But they can just as easily get tripped by computer cables, clothes or toys left on the floor. Thick carpets and carpet tassels can get the robot stuck.
This can be especially inconvenient if you are not at home to rescue the robot.
To avoid coming home to a half cleaned floor and a dead robot here’s how to prep your home for robot vacuuming.
Note: If you are looking for a new robot vacuum, two excellent models we recommend are the new Roomba i7 and the Ozmo 930 vacuum and mop. See how they compare in our Roomba i7+ vs. Ozmo 930 matchup.
1. Pick Up Clothes, Toys, and Other Clutter
Robot vacuums have sensors to detect obstacles and evade them. But there’s a minimum height below which the robot will go right over whatever is in the way.
So while the robot might detect a chair or a box on the floor, it won’t detect toys or clothes.
Small items like Legos, screws, or coins can get inside the robot, damaging sensitive components and causing it to stop working. So, it is necessary to prep your home for robot vacuuming.
The robot can also drag small sharp items against the floor, causing unsightly scratches, especially if you have hardwood flooring.
Items like clothing and cables can also get tangled in the robot’s wheels or brushes.
If you have your robot on a schedule, do a quick floor check every morning before you leave. Make sure kids have not left toys on the floor and pick up clothes and any other clutter on the floor.
2. Tuck In the Tassels
If your carpet or rug has tassels, you can run the robot first to see if it will get stuck. If it does, tuck in the tassels before cleaning.
Some robots can also get stuck on a shaggy carpet. If you have such a carpet, make sure the robot vacuum can handle it before you set it loose.
3. Block Access to Risky Areas
If there’s an area where your robot keeps getting stuck such as under a low chair, you can either remove whatever is tripping it or block off access to the area.
In many cases, blocking the robot is more convenient.
Instead of clearing the mess of cables under your work desk or moving the dog food and water bowls, find a way to keep the robot from cleaning that particular area.
With some robots like the Neato Botvac D7, you can mark out no-go zones in the app.
If you have a Roomba, you can use a virtual wall barrier.
Other robot vacuums work with magnetic stripes while with others you have to use a physical object to block access or just close the door to the room.
4. Beware Black Floors and Rugs
This is not a very common issue nowadays, but some older robotic vacuums have this issue. The robot’s cliff sensors – the ones that detect whether the robot is about to tumble down the stairs –can confuse a dark floor with a drop-off.
The robot will either stop or keep going in circles.
If you have a dark rug, remove it before the robot cleans. If you have dark flooring, you can block the cliff sensors using tape but make sure the robot can’t fall down the stairs.
5. Watch Where You Set up the Charging Dock
Your robot vacuum may have managed to clean the floor without getting stuck just for it to get lost when going back to the dock.
This often happens if you’ve set up the charging dock in a less than ideal location.
The dock should have plenty of room around it to allow the robot to find it with ease. It shouldn’t be near the stairs or too close to furniture.
Make sure you don’t move the charging dock when the robot is cleaning. It can confuse the robot when it starts looking for it.
6. Pre-cleaning Check for the Robot
It’s essential to prep the robot vacuum as well.
Objects stuck in the wheels or long hairs in the brushes can prevent the robot from moving or vacuuming properly.
Ideally, you should do a quick check after every vacuuming. But if you did not, do it before the robot cleans.
Check the wheels, brushes, vacuuming inlet, and other areas for any objects.
Also, wipe the sensors to ensure the robot can ‘see’ clearly.