How to Clean Your Roomba Robot Vacuum

Updated on April 1, 2019
Tom Lohr profile image

Tom Lohr is a futurist and hates cleaning. He is still waiting for his flying car.

Hazel, my robot vacuum
Hazel, my robot vacuum | Source

Welcome to the 21st Century

I love living in the 21stcentury. There has never been so much access to information, entertainment and communication. One of the best aspects of living in yesterday's future is the availability of machines to so some of our more mundane chores. Washing machines, dishwashers, garage door openers, and security systems have reached unprecedented levels of efficiency. While these task-relieving gizmos have been around awhile, there is one that has is a relative newcomer.

The Roomba floor cleaning robot vacuum, made by iRobot, has been around a few decades now, but has reached a combination point of price and reliability that makes owning one a great investment. My first Roomba, which I owned about 15 years ago, lasted about a year and did a decent job. When I finally got around to getting a new one about two years ago, I was amazed at how much they have improved. Not only are the batteries longer lasting, they do a better job of cleaning. If you ever wondered just how well a Roomba cleans your floors, you can take a look at a Roomba efficiency test here.

Robots Are People Too

Despite the mind boggling technology that goes into designing a large hockey puck looking machine to do the vacuuming for you, the Roomba is a machine, and machines require maintenance. Ignore routine maintenance on your Roomba and it will let your know its displeasure at your lack of attention. My reminder came during a mid-room cleaning. Hazel (my Roomba's name, she is valued member of the family), stopped mid cleaning and spoke to me in her sweet robot voice stating that her battery needed charged. Typically, it could clean several rooms on a single charge, but that day, she couldn't even finish one. The cause: its brushes, wheels, and hubs were so clogged with hair, thread and other things it had found on the floor, that it was expending a huge amount of energy just to push itself around. The moving parts were resisting and drained the battery.

The solution was simple. A thorough cleaning of the undercarriage brought my Roomba back from the brink of death. Afterwards, cleaning it twice a month has kept Hazel happy and on the job. How hard was it to complete a cleaning of my Roomba to keep it working at top efficiency? While a little gross, the process was easy to complete. You can do it yourself as well. Here are the steps:

Turn Your Roomba Over

The underside of the Roomba is the business end that cleans your floors. It is a sophisticated ballet of brushes that sweep debris to the vacuum suction portion and fills the dustbin.

Source

Remove the Dustbin and Clean the Filter

Pull the dustbin out of the back of your Roomba. This is the compartment that collects the dust and debris and you empty after each cleaning. Do this first so that the dustbin filter has time to dry. Once the dustbin is out, remove the white fiber filter and rinse it off in the sink. Set it aside to dry.

The dustbin with filter inside
The dustbin with filter inside | Source
Rinsing off the dustbin filter
Rinsing off the dustbin filter | Source

Remove the Brushes

There are two cylindrical brushes (one rubber and one bristle) that work in tandem to corral the debris on your floor. They are held in place by a plastic retaining frame with yellow tabs. Gently squeeze the two tabs on the frame and remove it. After the retaining frame is removed, pull each brush gently to the side and lift out of the Roomba.

Removing the retaining frame
Removing the retaining frame | Source
The two brushes to be removed
The two brushes to be removed | Source

Remove the Yellow Brush End Caps

Each brush has a yellow end cap on the end. Pull each off. On the end of the brush and on the end cap will be a swirl of dust and hair (mainly hair). It is easy to pull the bulk of it off with your fingers, but on the brush itself, it may be wound so tightly around the hub that you may have to use the tip of a knife to cut the hair in order to release its tight grip on the hub of the brush. The opposite end of the brush does not have an end cap, but requires the same removal of hair and debris.

Brushes with end caps removed
Brushes with end caps removed | Source
Hair wound around the hub of the brush
Hair wound around the hub of the brush | Source
More hair wound around the brush
More hair wound around the brush | Source
The power robbing hair that was wound around the hubs of my Roomba's brushes (hair from one brush hub shown)
The power robbing hair that was wound around the hubs of my Roomba's brushes (hair from one brush hub shown) | Source

Remove and Clean the Front Wheel

If you hear a strange noise from under your Roomba as it scoots across a hard surface, chances are the front wheel axel and hubs are suffering from the same hair clogging issues as the brushes. The wheel is easily removed by grabbing the wheel assembly and pulling straight up. To remove the actual wheel, push on the wheel towards the back side of the wheel assembly and the wheel will pop out. The hair and dust are easy to remove from each side of the wheel axel To replace, the wheel snaps back into the assembly, and the assembly is placed back into the Roomba with a gentle push.

The front wheel assembly removed
The front wheel assembly removed | Source
The wheel removed from the wheel assembly
The wheel removed from the wheel assembly | Source
Hair wrapped around the wheel axel
Hair wrapped around the wheel axel | Source

Remove and Clean the Edge Brush

An important part of getting your rooms spic and span is gathering the debris that hides alongside the baseboards and in corners. The front, three-armed, rotating brush sweeps wall hugging debris in front of the Roomba to be sucked up as the robot passes over it.

To remove the edge brush, you will need a small phillips head screw driver. Take out the small screw and place in a cup so you do not lose it (it is very small). Pull out the edge brush assembly and remove the hair that has wrapped around its hub on the body of the Roomba. Set the edge brush back into its place and replace the screw.

The edge brush
The edge brush | Source
The edge brush removed
The edge brush removed | Source
The edge brush hub where the debris gathers
The edge brush hub where the debris gathers | Source

Replacement Time

All parts will eventually wear out. The brushes and filters, while long lasting, have a limited life span. Giving your Roomba a complete brush replacement should be done every other year or so, your mileage may vary. Replacement parts are inexpensive and will give your robot an efficiency boost (the link to the parts are for the Roomba model that most people own. Check your model number before ordering). To replace, simply follow the cleaning instructions and instead of cleaning the old parts, just replace with new components.

Finishing Up

Once you have replaced all of the clean parts, put the filter back into the dustbin after it has dried. Put the dustbin back into the rear of the Roomba and set the robot on its charger.

The entire process should take no longer than 15 minutes. Dedicating a quarter of an hour twice a month will keep you chore-busting robot moving freely and efficiently. The iRobot Roomba takes care of you, and you should take care of it.

A disassembled Roomba
A disassembled Roomba | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

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      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        3 weeks ago from UK

        This is a very useful, detailed and well-illustrated article. They should have got you to write the instruction manual.

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