How To Clean A Robot Vacuum To Improve Its Performance?


deebot n8 robot vacuum mopping hardwood floor next to a dining table

A robot vacuum is ideally supposed to be a hands-free device, so it can be tempting to avoid maintaining it. Yet, giving it regular cleans is essential if you want to keep your trusty robotic floor cleaner performing at its best. Over time, dirt, dust and other debris can build up in the nooks and crannies of the machine, causing it to lose suction power and efficiency. But fear not! With the right tools and a little know-how, you can keep your robot vacuum running smoothly for years to come. In this guide, we'll cover maintenance guidelines and exactly how to clean your robot vacuum cleaner to keep it in top-notch condition.

Step 1. Gather necessary supplies

The first step is preparing the supplies to clean your robotic vacuum. Gather the following items, which you likely already have in your house: a trash can, a clean and dry microfiber cloth (it’s essential that the cloth is free of dust to avoid leaving micro-scratches, especially on the sensors), a brush with soft bristles (an old, clean toothbrush works well), a pair of scissors and a vacuum with a crevice tool attachment. You’ll need access to warm water and mild soap later for a couple of these steps, as well.

Step 2. Power down the robot vacuum

The next step in cleaning your robot vacuum is to make sure the device is powered down to avoid any potential accidents with the moving parts or electrical components, or damage to the machine. Remove the robot vacuum from its charging station and locate the power button on the robotic vacuum to switch it off; this can typically be done on the accompanying app, as well. To be extra safe, you can also unplug the charging dock or station, which can have lingering connections with the robot vacuum that could suddenly turn it on (e.g., if you’ve set a recurring cleaning schedule).

Step 3. Wipe charging station

Remember that the charging station should be unplugged. Use a dry microfibre cloth to gently clean the charging base.

deebot x1 omni black from ecovacs in its omni station in a modern home

Some robot vacuum models have removable components inside the base station (e.g., dirty water tank, clean water tank, dust bin) which you can remove. Wipe the inside of the station carefully with the cloth, and replace the components after emptying, cleaning and fully drying them. This will also ensure that there is no residual debris blocking the charging sensors.

Step 4. Wipe down the exterior

Now you can wipe down the exterior of your automatic vacuum. Dampen the microfiber cloth with water and use it to gently wipe down the exterior of the cleaner, being careful not to get any water or moisture inside. Do not use harsh chemicals or abrasive cloths (even certain cotton towels can leave tiny scrapes that make the device look older over time, or catch dirt).

Step 5. Empty the dustbin

Remove the dustbin from the vacuum and empty the contents into a trash can. Use a soft-bristled brush or microfiber cloth to remove debris from inside the bin, if any. Wash the dustbin with soap and water to remove stubborn dirt or stains, and ensure it’s dry before you replace it. Neglecting to thoroughly empty and clean the dust bin can lead to reduced suction power, or potentially damage the vacuum’s motor if left untreated.

Some smart vacuums (including almost all of ECOVACS’ own DEEBOT vacuum robots) also self-empty their own dust into dust bags located in their base station. If this is the case, you should also remove this dust bag or bin from the station and use a damp cloth to wipe the surrounding area.

Step 6. Clean the brush roll and side brushes

The next step in cleaning your robot vacuum cleaner is to remove the brush roll cover and then the brush roll from the unit. You will most likely have to flip the robotic vacuum over to access the brush roll cover. Clear dirt, hair and debris from the brush roll or the unit’s intake area using a cloth, scissors or the crevice tool if required. At this point, be careful not to damage the bristles or brush roll itself. Most smart vacuums also have two sets of side brushes. Remove these, clean the bristles with water and re-attach them when dry. Finally, replace the brush roll back and its top cover.

Step 7. Clean mop pads

If your smart vacuum cleaner is smart enough to have a mopping function, you need to clean the mop pads. If they’re single use, replace them with new ones.

bottom view of a ecovacs deebot x1 omni robot vacuum showing the side brushes and rotating mopping pads on the bottom of the robot

If they’re reusable mop pads, remove them, rinse them with warm water, and then hand wash with a mild detergent. If the pads are particularly dirty, you may want to soak them in the soapy water for a few minutes before rinsing. Ensure they’re dry before reattaching them to the vacuum.

The reusable mops on certain new DEEBOT models have a mop auto-wash and auto-dry function, in which case there’s no need for you to manually clean the pads.

Step 8. Clean the filter

An important step is cleaning the robot vacuum’s filter(s). Filter cleaning can be done more frequently than the other steps in this list, up to once or twice per week, to facilitate air flow. Remove the filter from the vacuum and tap it in a trash can to release any loose dust. You can also use a soft brush to loosen dust into a trash can. Some robot vacuums have multiple filters made from different materials; you should only wash them with water if specified by the manufacturer. Allow them to air-dry before reinserting.

Replace this filter every six months to a year to prevent allergens or other irritating particles from recirculating into the air.

Step 9. Check the wheels and sensors

Flip the auto vacuum over to check if there is any hair or pet fur tangles that may be blocking the wheels. Clean them away with a dry cloth or soft-bristled brush. Next is cleaning the robot vacuum’s sensors. Check the sensors on the bottom and/or front of the device for any grime or stains that may be interfering with them. Use the microfiber cloth to wipe the sensors, being careful not to wipe them vigorously; do not use water.

How To Maintain And Extend The Lifespan Of Your Robot Vacuum

ecovacs deebot t9 robotic vacuum cleaner with replacement mop pads next to it

Replace Consumable Parts

Replace consumable components like filters, rollers and brushes every 2–3 months or according to the manufacturer’s recommended intervals. Wheels may need to be replaced every 12 months, depending on the material they’re made from and how often the vacuum is used. If your robot vacuum also has a mopping function, replace the mop pads around every 3–6 months depending on how often they’re used and whether your device station has an auto-wash feature, which can help your mop pads go longer between replacements.

Update Firmware Regularly

Regularly updating the firmware of your smart home device helps make sure that the vacuum robot can perform without bugs and can even add new features. You can enable automatic updates or do them manually. Missing updates or having an outdated smartphone device that isn’t compatible with the robot’s mobile app can lead to reduced functionality.

Maintain Battery Health

Another important way to ensure you can use your robotic vacuum cleaner for many years to come is to incorporate healthy charging practices. Yes, there are bad ways to charge a battery! For instance, avoid overcharging your robot vacuum or, on the flip side, not letting it charge fully, as this can lead to a deterioration in battery performance. You should also put the vacuum station in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight to prolong battery life.

Common Issues And Troubleshooting

ecovacs deebot t10 plus spraying air freshener in a bedroom

Issue 1. Robot Vacuum Getting Stuck

The first common issue that can show up in automatic vacuum cleaners is the device getting stuck under furniture or caught on objects blocking their path. The easiest way to avoid this is to check the dimensions of your smart vacuum before purchasing it to ensure it can actually reach under all the furniture in your living space.

Another way to remedy this if you’re already encountering the problem is to set virtual boundaries for your furniture. Boundaries can generally be set using boundary tape or, in the case of DEEBOT robotic vacuum cleaners, through the ECOVACS HOME app. Another manual way to fix this problem is to literally lift furniture out the way using pads.

Issue 2. Poor Cleaning Performance

Some robotic vacuum cleaners perform great in navigation, speed or ease of use, but fall short where it matters most: cleaning capability. This could be happening due to poor design on the part of the robot vacuum itself or dirty cleaning components. If it’s the latter, clear vacuum parts like wheels and brushes of any sticky debris which might be holding onto more and more dust and fluff and degrading the cleaning performance.

How about if the robot is suddenly stopping out of nowhere? This can generally be attributed to reduced battery life. Attend to this by fully charging the vacuum cleaner, and if the problem persists, replace the battery as it may be nearing the end of its life.

Issue 3. Error Messages And Solutions

The third popular issue that arises for smart vacuum owners is a repeating error message. Consult the error code table/chart for your robot vacuum cleaner on the manufacturer’s website to understand how to rectify it, and if the problem persists even if you’ve followed the steps on how to resolve it, this may be an indication of faulty hardware or software. In this case, reach out to customer service.


How often should I clean my robot vacuum?

The rule of thumb for frequency of cleaning your robot vacuum cleaner is to give it a quick clean after every use. This is taken care of DEEBOT smart vacuums, which self-empty dust into stations after every cleaning session. Deep cleansing of the dustbin, filter(s), brush roll, side brushes, sensors, and exterior of the machine should be done every 3 —6 months depending on how often the machine is run.

Can I wash the dustbin and filters of my robot vacuum?

Yes, you can wash the dustbin and filters of your robot vacuum, but the specific washing instructions vary depending on the type of filter. To be safe, you should always check the instructions relevant to your particular model to determine if the filter is washable with water. If so, rinse the dustbin and filter with a damp cloth (or wash the filter with warm, soapy water).

How do you clean the roller brush on a robot vacuum cleaner?

To clean the roller brush on a robot vacuum, flip the device over for clear access, remove the roller brush from the device, and use scissors or a vacuum crevice tool to remove pet hair or dust from the brush. Then wipe the entire part down with a damp cloth and reinstall it into the vacuum cleaner.

How can I make my robot vacuum cleaner last longer?

Extending the lifespan of your smart vacuum has everything to do with how willing you are to take time to maintain the device. You should set a maintenance routine, with the short-term goals of keeping the charging station and sensors clean, updating the firmware, and charging the device correctly, and long-term goals of replacing the filter, brush roll and side brushes regularly.

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