They might be mostly hands-free in operation, but you still need to prep your home for a robot vacuum before turning it on. While they’ve come a long way, they’re not quite as adept at going around or avoiding obstacles as you are - and they certainly can't do the tidying up for you.
In fact, prepping your home is mostly making sure there isn’t anything blocking your robovac from getting to whatever mess you want to clean up. After all, even the best robot vacuum can only do so much.
In fact, there are plenty that have object avoidance as a feature. However, that means that the spot being avoided won’t get cleaned. That’s on top of the fact that the implementation of this feature is hit-and-miss from model to model. The best thing you can do to get a good clean is to prep your home in advance. Think of it as defensive driving for your robot assistant.
Even though it’s a little bit of a pain, spending five to ten minutes following the steps below is still much quicker than vacuuming your home or office on your own.
Steps for how to prep your home for a robot vacuum
- Mind the dock
- Clean up any wet or sticky messes
- Pick up any large debris or items
- Watch out for cables
- Move necessary furniture
Tools and Requirements
- Robot vacuum
- Paper towel
- Cleaning solution
- Dustpan and brush / broom
Step by step guide
1. Mind the dock
The first step is one you’ll want to consider when first setting up the dock or base station of your robot vacuum. However, if your robot vacuum is having issues getting in and out of its dock, you’ll want to adjust. Move the dock so that it has clearance on either side as well as a direct path in front of it.
2. Clean up any wet or sticky messes
With a paper towel and cleaning solution, clean any wet or sticky messes before running the robot vacuum. This is true even for models that also mop as they still separate the vacuum and mop functionalities (vacuum in the front, mop in the back), and the last you want is to have to clean out gunk from the side brushes or brushroll because you didn’t clean up dog vomit.
3. Pick up any large debris or items
This is going to be the majority of your prepwork. Pick up any rugs, water bowls for your pets, toys, and any other random objects that are laying on the floor and put them out of the way. A robot vacuum might get stuck on something or just avoid the area altogether, leaving you with areas that still need to be cleaned. This goes for large pieces of trash as well.
It's worth noting some vacuums are adept at mounting rugs and carpets and dodging cables, so the best thing to do is follow your robovac around your home once to see what its pain points are and remove those.
4. Watch out for cables
Cables are possibly the worst objects for robot vacuums. Not only do robot vacuums get stuck on them, but the cables can get tangled around the brushroll, possibly damaging both the cable and robot vacuum. Pick up any hanging cables and organize any that you can’t move that much out of the way, such as ones going to your TV or computer, so that they’re either not touching the floor or wouldn’t potentially go under the vacuum.
5. Move necessary furniture
Depending on your robot vacuum, it might not be able to go under certain areas, whether you have an office chair that’s in the way or a bean bag/ottoman that would cover a whole area that needs to be cleaned. Move the necessary furniture out of the way so that the robot vacuum will go where you want it to. Some robot vacuums draw out maps as they clean - checking these in-app maps can give you an indication of where your robot vacuum has detected a larger obstacle.
Even with all these steps, you’re still saving a lot of time compared to running a regular vacuum around your space. And, once you have a good understanding of what to look for to keep the floors prepared, you can adjust how your space is organized so you don’t have to do much work to prep your home.
Maybe keep your pet’s water bowls on a tray that’s easy to pick up, or organize the cables from your TV to sit in the back of your entertainment center instead of the floor, and so on. That way, you can just pick up a couple of items on the floor that aren’t supposed to be there and turn on your robot vacuum.
In fact, if you like to run your robot vacuum on a schedule while you’re not home, organizing your home so you don’t have to really do much prep work will help you avoid headaches. After all, if you don’t prep your home, you’ll come home to find that robot vacuum yelling out warnings that it’s stuck.
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James Holland loves audio gear! So much so that he covers all the ins and outs, good and bad for Tech Radar and T3. Where does that so-called expertise come from? Not only is he a lifelong music-lover but he also works in the music industry and is a musician. When not testing headphones or listening to music, he loves to travel, rage at the latest PC games, and eat off-the-beaten-path but not too off-the-beaten-path food.