How to look after your robot vacuum (and not suck at smart cleaning)

Your special friend deserves some special care

How to look after your robot vacuum

Your home may be filled with dozens of smart devices, but the robot vacuum's ability to actually navigate around your house makes it a little bit special. Rather than stationary Alexa devices, robot vacuums can feel like a member of your household.

It's almost like a pet that cleans up your home, and we don't feel weird saying we've formed an unbreakable bond with our robot vacs. But like a pet, you need to look after it.

What can you do as a human being to make your robot vacuum feel good and work even better?


BFFs: How to look after your robot vacuum

1. Name your robot

A good number of robot vacuum manufacturers will let you name your robot vacuum. No, really. So instead of having the iRobot Roomba 980 moving around your home you'll have your adorable best bud Roomby. Or Brownie. Or Charles Xavier the Third, Duke of Sandwich. Or Kevin. Whatever floats your boat.

Names impart identity, turning even the most cold device into a lifelong friend. If you name your robot vacuum something, you'll instantly care about it more. Think of it as a psychological trick to make you want to take better care of your robot vacuum.

Plus, it's a lot more fun when your family can say things like, "Damn it Roomby, you swallowed the cat again!"


BFFs: How to look after your robot vacuum

2. Monitor its progress

We know, we know. The big thing about robot vacuums is letting them just clean your home and not having to worry about a thing. Counterpoint: why would you let a little rotating robot have free reign on your home?

Your home is built for big adult human beings, and often customised by you to accommodate either pets or baby humans. Thus, you need to keep an eye on your robot vacuum to make sure it doesn't get into trouble.

You don't have to hover over it like an overprotective parent, but you should check in every once in a while. See how it's doing, consult the companion app, and just make sure it's humming along as it's supposed to. We won't be responsible for any chewed curtains.


BFFs: How to look after your robot vacuum

3. Clean out the bin

For the love of the smart home gods, clean out your bin. This is the grossest bit of owning a robot vacuum, especially since most have small bins and will have you pulling out clumps of dust from them into your garbage. The new Roomba i7+ might be able to empty its own bin into its base station, but it just means you have to clean that instead.

But suck it up. Clean out that bin thoroughly, ensuring as many pieces of dirt and dust are out as possible. Even check out your manual to see if you can put your bin in the dish washer.

See, robot vacuums tend to use sensors to tell you when the bin is full. An improperly cleaned bin can confuse the sensors, which will impact your vac's ability to clean and send you on missions to empty an already-empty bin. Friends don't let friends clean with an improperly cleaned bin. Remember that.


BFFs: How to look after your robot vacuum

4. Watch those wires

Similarly, you can't just let your robot vacuum go and hope for the best. You still have to take the dog out on a leash, so to speak. Before you get your robot vacuum to suck up all that dirt, you're going to want to take a walk around your home and tuck away some things.

Mostly, you'll want to tuck away the arch nemesis of robot vacuums – the oil to its water – wires. Some robot vacuums are much better at handling wires than others, but you should still make sure you don't have a tangle og cables spilling out from behind your entertainment cabinet or nightstand.

Just tidy up a little bit. You'll help your best buddy clean more efficiently and you also won't have to rush over to save it as it chokes itself.


BFFs: How to look after your robot vacuum

5. Check the brushes

Your robot vacuum is built to go under and around furniture, sucking up grime from all those places you've failed to clean in years. Those places are dirty, and you never know what golden nuggets could be found there.

For the most part, your robot vacuum will do an admirable job on dust. But sometimes, you're going to want to check out the brushes to make sure everything is good. Maybe a ribbon gets stuck, harming your bot's ability to clean. Or, maybe you'll find a quarter lodged in there that causes your bot to intermittently stop in its tracks (true story).

Check your brushes after – at least – every other clean. Checking after every clean is better, but if you're in a rhythm where your robot vacuum has a regular cleaning schedule, it's not as important to do it every day.


BFFs: How to look after your robot vacuum

6. Talk to it

Robo vacs like the iRobot Roomba 980 and Neato Botvac D7 Connected can be controlled by voice assistants. You can call on Alexa and Google Assistant to start, pause and stop cleaning jobs – the extent of this integration varies between vacs – meaning you don't even have to lift a finger. The LG Hom-Bot even talks back, telling you what it's doing, and letting you know when it's tired and needs to return home to its dock for a charge.

But hey, maybe throw in some words of encouragement too. Your robo vac might not yet be able to engage in a discussion on consciousness, but a simple "good job, Roomby" every so often will provide some indemnity for the day these vacs rise up and enslave us.


BFFs: How to look after your robot vacuum

7. Don't pick it up randomly

Have you ever watched a baby crawl around on the floor, thought to yourself how adorable it is, then picked it up only to have it cry? Well, a similar thing can happen to robot vacuums, minus the soiled diaper.

You may one day get frustrated that your robot vacuum isn't cleaning a certain part of your home. Patience is your friend. If you're worried about it skirting too close to some wires, well, you missed the advice further up.

Anthony Bourdaine once said that the best thing you can do after cooking a steak is leave it the hell alone. Apply that thinking here. If you really need to move it or pick it up for any reason, turn it off first. You can either do this with the companion app or pressing a button on the robot itself.



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