In the old days In a few years, no other gadget – headphones, e-bike, nothing at all – has improved as dramatically as the humble robot vacuum. Hardware and software have improved beyond imagination (hello, self-emptying bins!), and prices have dropped dramatically, to the point where robot vacuums are now an accessible and practical household tool instead of a candle wealth statement or a potential cat car.
We’ve rounded up our top picks in our Best robot vacuums guide. But even though the technology has improved dramatically, that doesn’t mean it’s still easy to use at first. If you are worried you may become the next Roomba “pooptastrophe”, keep reading. Here are some tips that can help you get the most out of your new sidekick.
1. Decide which vacuum cleaner you want
The hardest part of writing a robotic vacuum cleaner roundup is deciding which vacuum is the best. We all have different homes, lifestyles, and desires. For example, a couple in a one-story, 2-bedroom apartment with no children would probably do well with a much more nude model than a family of five, with pets and Legos.
I recommend the Roborock S4 Max like the void most likely to please the greatest number. But with several children and a dog, I much prefer the Roomba i3 + no more having to jump every 10 minutes or so to empty a bin by hand. I know another parent who prefers a simple bounce robot because she doesn’t run the vacuum until 20 minutes after dinner in the kitchen. The robot your friend loves might not always be the best one for you.
2. Give it a try
It’s tempting, but you can’t open the box, start your new robot vacuum, go for three hours, and expect to come home to a clean house. It takes time for you and the robot vacuum to learn what the potential pitfalls in your home will be for the wick machine. I always stay home for the first run (or three) to make sure she can complete a cleanup run without a hitch.
It also helps to give your home once more before you start any cleaning. Dangling laces, dog toys, toddler fringe skirts, and ribbons tend to trip the smartest robot vacuum. In my testing, I found the most advanced series from iRobot, like the Roomba S9 +, does the best job of circumventing potential pitfalls. Vacuum cleaners like the Roborock S6 MaxV can also identify obstacles if you live in a house with pets or children who are constantly leaving, uh, surprises all over the floor. The more you and your personal robot vacuum get to know each other, the better.
3. Turn on the lights
Robot vacuums use a number of different sensors to navigate your home. For example, some of the more advanced models use lidar, or self-generated lasers, to navigate; others use stereoscopic cameras. These sensors usually work in conjunction with bumper sensors to tell them when they’ve hit something and cliff infrared sensors that let them know when they’re about to fall from a step.