How to Clean and Care for a Robot Vacuum

Robot vacuums have revolutionized cleaning. These small, compact machines keep floors tidy without human intervention. Once you schedule cleaning, the robot vacuum uses built-in sensors to navigate and clean dirty spots. And they find their way to the docking station once they complete cleaning or if the battery runs low. 

While your floors stay clean, you must clean your robot. Caring for a robot vacuum helps maintain efficiency and increase its shelf life. This robot vacuum cleaning guide discusses how to clean and care for a robot vacuum. 

How Often Should I Clean a Robot Vacuum?

You should empty the robot vacuum’s collection bin after every use to eliminate dust. But you do not need to empty it daily if your robot vac has automatic dirt disposal.

The vacuum filter needs once-a-week cleaning or more if your floors are constantly littered with pet hair or other particles. The wheels, charging contacts, and sensors should be cleaned every two weeks and once a month for the main and side brushes. 

How to Clean a Robot Vacuum

You must get the right tools for cleaning a robot vacuum. You will need microfiber cloths, tweezers, small scissors, a soft-bristled brush, and mild dish soap. Here are nine steps on how to go about it. 

Turn off the Power

You want to avoid accidentally activating the robot vacuum halfway through cleaning. So, disconnect the unit from the charging station and power it down. 

Empty the Bin

Ensure you empty the bin in a trash bag even though it is half full. If your robot’s bin is plastic, rinse it and leave it to air dry.

Clean the Filter

Always check the manufacturer’s instructions because robot vacuum filter cleaning differs between brands. Nevertheless, remove the filter from the robot and empty its contents in the garbage bin. Use a soft-bristled brush or a hand-held vacuum to dislodge all debris. But, some robot vacuums use washable filters that can be rinsed with water. 

Clean the Side Brushes

Side brushes are designed to pull in dirt towards the main brush. With time, these brushes can become tangled and bent. To clean them, pop them off and wipe the bristles with a clean microfiber cloth. Pull out any tangled hairs with tweezers or small scissors.

If the side brushes appear warped, straighten them gently with your hands or heat them with a blow dryer for a few seconds, then coax them into position. Alternatively, swap the brushes and replace them when they are worn out. 

Clean the Roller Brush

The roller brush or main brush collects hair, lint, dirt, and dust and can easily get tangled. The dirt can block airflow and weaken the suction power. So, pull out the brush and cut any layers tangled around it with scissors, a utility knife, or the robot vacuum’s cleaning tool. Be extra careful not to cut the bristles while at it.

Some manufacturers recommend cleaning the main brush in warm water and dish soap once a month to remove all dirt. Once clean, rinse the brush and let it air dry.  But first, check your manual to confirm if you can hand wash your brush.  Finally, wipe its brush guard and cavity with a microfiber cloth before installing the clean roller brush back. 

Clean the Wheels

Wheels can also get tangled, and this affects their movement. Therefore, check for trapped hairs or threads around the axles. Remove the wheels (if your model allows it) and wipe any debris. Use tweezers to pluck debris from the wheel cavity or cut it off with scissors.   

Clean the Sensors

The sensors are your robot vacuum ‘eyes,’ and they, too, need cleaning. Wipe the sensors with a dry microfiber cloth to remove dust. If there is stubborn dirt, wipe it with a slightly damp (not wet) cloth. 

Clean the Charging Base

If your robovac has a self-emptying base, check to see if it is full and empty the contents. Next, wipe the charging base with a dry microfiber cloth and the metal ports underneath the robot vacuum.

Disinfect the Robot

You might want to disinfect your robot vacuum if it smeared pet vomit or poop over your floors. First, remove any removable parts and clean them with a damp melamine foam sponge. Martha Stewart explains melamine foam sponges provide a mechanical cleaning without the need for chemicals.

Next, disinfect the parts with 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes. As Ifixit explains, 70% isopropyl alcohol is effective at cleaning adhesives and disinfecting. Also, avoid cleaners and disinfectants that may damage the electronics of the surface material of the robovac. 

Robot Vacuum Maintenance Tips

To ensure your robot vacuum stays operational for years, follow these seven maintenance tips. 

  1. Clear cords and cables from the vacuum’s cleaning path to prevent tangling. 
  2. Wipe liquids off the floor and remove pet water bowls.
  3. Wipe grime off sensors for better navigation.
  4. Clean the dustbin after use to avoid clogging.
  5. Deep clean the robot once a month.
  6. Replace filters every month.
  7. Set up the docking station away from direct sunlight, heat vents, or extreme cold.

Troubleshooting a Robot Vacuum

Learning a few troubleshooting techniques would be best in case of hiccups. Here are two common robot vacuum problems and solutions.

#1: Robot Vacuum Not Charging

This problem can be a result of dirty charging contacts. So, wipe them with a clean, dry microfiber. Also, check if the base station contacts are springy. If they appear stuck, you will need to purchase a new station charger.

#2: Robot Vacuum Not Working

It could be the robovac is not plugged into the outlet, or your battery is defective and not holding charge. If the LED lights up when the robot vacuum is charging, yet the unit won’t start, get a replacement battery.  There are many reasons why your robot vacuum may not work, and you can always take it to a professional to help fix it.


Robot vacuums are convenient set-it-and-forget cleaning machines that lessen your work and save time. But they need your input in terms of cleaning and maintenance. Caring for a robot vacuum extends its life and only takes a few minutes. Make sure you clean the sensors, wheels, brushes, and docking station, and change the filters when deep cleaning the robot vacuum. 

 Sources: IFixit, Martha Stewart.