Four Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Robot Vacuum


I’m someone who knows a thing or two about robot vacuums. I set up a new one for testing a few times a month, and although each bot is a little different, they all share some common traits. While it’s true that some bots are better and some are not, a big factor in performance is actually you. How you set yourself and your bot up for success can make or break how clean your floor gets and thus, your continued affection for your robot vacuum.

Segment based on traffic, not “rooms”

Newer robots will map out your space using LiDAR and then double-check with you to make sure they got the rooms right. They are surprisingly accurate in nailing the division of spaces, and then you can ask the bot to care for one space or a combination of them, or set a schedule for them. But consider the living room, for instance: Do you need to vacuum and mop under the couches every day? Probably not. But how often do you need to sweep and mop the high-traffic area people walk along or under your feet where you drop things? At least once a day, am I right? So divide the space based on how often you want to clean. You can do this by editing the map, which usually allows you to divide or merge spaces. My living room now has two “rooms,” one for the high traffic area and one for the “yeah, let’s get the dust bunnies once a week to be a responsible adult.” You get to assign names to each room, so you can use your voice assistant to send your robot there to clean. At least three times a day, I send my bot to “Blueberry’s path of destruction” to get rid of the paw prints between the doggie door and the kitchen. 

Don’t buy third-party cleaners and accessories

These floorbots require maintenance. Their rollers get shredded, the sweeps need to be replaced, and the vacuum bags need to be changed out. The branded ones are expensive; Amazon is chock full of third party options that are always cheaper. While mileage will vary, I’ve found that these aftermarket options are incredibly disappointing. On every bot I’ve bought third-party bags for, the robot has trouble recognizing that a new bag is in, and will tell me to change it every week. The rollers are never as high quality and get ruined faster. While I’m not actually convinced there’s anything special in the branded cleaning fluid, I would not make my own or replace it with anything but cleaner specifically made for robot mops.

Keep the max settings on

All bots now have various levels of intensity for mopping and vacuuming. I have played with all the intensity levels, and the only benefit to them is lower noise output. Since it’s never low enough for me to watch a movie or have a business call while the bot is going, it’s not much of a benefit. Of course, there’s less wear and tear on the bot, too. But generally, when the bot is on a lower intensity level, I find myself needing to return it to spots at a higher intensity. My life got easier when I left it on max intensity all the time. Particularly with mopping, I can see no benefit for anything but the highest intensity setting. 

Turn off obstacle avoidance

The days of bump and go bots are largely in the past. The upside is fewer scuff marks and knocked over tower fans. The downside is that LiDAR often is more cautious about avoiding obstacles than I’d like it to be. For instance, most robots now have a pet setting, so your bot will avoid possible piles of poop, as well as your pet. I live in a poop-free zone, and I’ve yet to find a find a pet that would allow itself to be consumed by a slow moving robot, so the benefit was lost on me. I noticed the setting meant a lot more floor was left unswept, so I turned it off. Then I went a little mad and turned off obstacle avoidance altogether, and my floor went from 80% clean to 95% clean overnight. My robot doesn’t bump into things, but it has become more aggressive on getting corners and tight spots, and that is highly appreciated. 

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