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Dog Poop, Dirty Rugs, and Other Disappointing Truths About Robot Vacuums

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Most people who have a bot will say that it makes their life a bit better.

But the same people will even tell you that their bots are not ideal –and a few folks can just never become comfortable with their flaws. We cover all of the details within our comprehensive guide to robot vacuums, but here’s the Brief version of All of the ways a robot vacuum cleaner may let you down:

1. Rugs do clean, at least not like a vacuum cleaner can.

A large pile of dust and debris next to a quarter for size comparison. The pile is many times larger than the quarter.
Even the very best robot vacuums can hardly touch the dust which settles into rugs. Following six months of regular cleaning with the top-of-the-line Roomba, this debris all managed to pile up in a single 6-by-9-foot area carpet. It took just about 15 minutes to get a high-end, human-powered vacuum to collect this entire mess. Photo: Liam McCabe

Bots are fantastic for bare floors and may keep carpets feeling clean because they pick up clear crap like clogs, road grit, cat litter, and a few pet hair (provided that it hasn’t been walked all over and ground into extended carpet fibers).

But over time, your carpets will wind up collecting lots of dust and hair a robot simply can not suck up. The carpets will start to look dull and your indoor air quality might suffer, although you might not find it, or believe it stuck to your feet.

Even the most powerful robot vacuums possess a small percent of the cleaning energy of an $80 vertical vacuum, and that means if you want truly clean rugs you’ll need to bust out something more powerful to time.

2. They can get stuck onto the very inevitable household clutter.

Modern homes are full of obstacles that may snarl or tangle or trap your robot in the midst of a cleaning session. Charging cables are a guaranteed stopper, no matter your robot is. Stray socks (and other varieties of laundry) are nearly as bad. Bots struggle on thresholds, and some can’t even climb onto a rug out of a bare floor.

Your bot will operate for the most part, if you keep your floors clutter-free.

But in some houses, no matter how meticulous you are about eliminating traps and barriers, some bots will get a way to get stuck from time to time, and you’ll need to get used to rescuing them.


A looping video that shows a robot vacuum criss crossing a room with its path diagrammed.
Video: Michael Hession

Should you sit and observe your robot while it works, you will notice it do some things that appears really dumb: creating turns, driving past an obvious mess, or bumping into the very same challenges over and over again. It may spend 20 minutes cleaning the exact same small part of your residence and miss an entire room. It will not even make it back into its own dock.

Cheaper robots appear clueless and have lost but the luxury models find lots of methods to act foolish, too. We have found that bots with interactive channels (to help you set invisible bounds ) can drive people nuts when they do not work correctly.

We’ve found that the best approach to alleviate your frustration with a robot is to quit watching it all work. Trust forgive it if dominates a tuft of cat hair or stops before it return to its pier, and find something different to do with your time. That’s the purpose of purchasing a robot vacuum anyhow?

4. They can smear poop anywhere.

A looping video showing the mess caused when a robot vacuum drives over a pile of dog poop.
Video: Michael Hession

If your dog can’t hold this, along with your bot runs across the litter, you could have a turdpocalypse on your palms.

To get a whole lot more about what robots can and can not do–and our favourite models–check out our guide to the best robot vacuums. We really do believe they are helpful, life-improving gadgets for many people in most houses!

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