How to clean a Roomba vacuum cleaner – learn the best way to clean this robot vac

Want to know how to clean a Roomba vacuum? Discover the best way to clear dirt and debris from this innovative robot vac

An iRobot Roomba j7+ with man and dog in hallway
(Image credit: iRobot)

Wondering how to clean a Roomba vacuum? We once were scratching our heads over this super-cool vac too.

After all, the best vacuum cleaners on the market are typically upright, canister, or cordless stick models, so when we first got to grips with this machine, we weren't quite familiar with the process of cleaning a Roomba vacuum.

Thankfully, we spoke to the geniuses at iRobot, creators of the (almost) independently cleaning appliance to break down a cleaning regime, part by part, with a rough timetable to determine how often we should be taking apart the machine and inspecting each cleaning constituent.

By the time you finish reading this guide, you'll be a master of all of the modules, knowing exactly what they do and why they need to be looked after as frequently as they do. The good news is that you don't have to be a mechanic to need any special materials or tools to maintain your machine.

How to clean a Roomba vacuum

Whether you've just bought an iRobot Roomba vacuum, thinking about a purchase, or are a veteran with your vac, each specification slightly differs from model to model. We've had the pleasure of writing up a iRobot Roomba S9+ review, iRobot Roomba i7+ review, and iRobot Roomba 980 robot vacuum cleaner review. So you can bet your bottom dollar that we know our way around this brand.

Saying that, the manufacturer knows their brand best, and so we've gone through the guides and spoke to the pros to create a mini manual that'll save you so much time.

Cleaning a Roomba vacuum bin

To keep your Roomba performing at its best, you should ideally clean the bin after each use. This small task is quick and easy to do and will stop waste from accumulating inside the appliance. After all, the less there is to decant, the simpler the job will be (and you'll be less likely to make a mess with dust particles flying about everywhere).

We spoke to at length to Brent Hild, director, product management, iRobot, who gave us a 7-step process to emptying the bin.

  1. Press the bin release button on the back of the robot to remove the bin. The bin release tab has a bin icon on it.
  2. Open the bin door to empty the bin's contents in your trash can. The bin door release button has a  bin icon.
  3. Grasp the side of the filter to remove the filter from the left side of the bin.
  4. Shake off debris by tapping the filter against your trash container. Then, replace the filter. Note: Filters are not designed to be washed or to come in contact with liquid.
  5. Rinse out excess debris with warm water and allow the bin to dry. Ensure the bin is completely dry.Note: The bin is designed to be rinsed by hand only. It is not dishwasher safe and should only be cleaned by rinsing with warm water.
  6. Place the filter back into the bin.
  7. Slide the bin into the bin slot, securing it into place.

How to clean Roomba vacuum brushes

'For optimal performance, inspect the Roomba multi-surface brushes and cleaning head module at least once a week, and twice if you own pets.' says Hild.

  1. Open the cleaning head module door by pushing on the green tab on the right side of the multi-surface brushes.
  2. Remove the brushes from the robot and ensure hair and debris are removed from the square and hex pegs of the multi-surface brushes.
  3. Clear debris on and under the gray bearings.
  4. Insert the bearings on the multi-surface brushes.
  5. Ensure the vacuum path is clear.
  6. Match the shape of the multi-surface brushes pegs with the shape on the cleaning head module.

Pooch or puss packing up your vacuum cleaner with hair or fur? Browse the best vacuums for pet hair that come out top dog in our tests.

How to clean the charging docks

iRobot Roomba J7+ in hallway with charging dock on laminate wooden flooring

(Image credit: iRobot)

As one of the best cordless vacuum cleaners on the market, your Roomba charging docks ensure that your vacuum cleaner is full of energy ready to take on the whole house. These components can collect dust, so it's important that you don't overlook them when learning how to clean a Roomba vacuum cleaner thoroughly. And thankfully, the process is (almost) instantaneous.

Simply wipe the charging contacts and docking sensor window on the Home Base® and robot with a clean melamine foam, such as a Magic Eraser, that you can find on Amazon.

How to clean the cliff sensors

iRobot J7+ in kitchen with yellow bar stools on laminate wooden flooring

(Image credit: iRobot)

The cliff sensors on your Roomba vacuum cleaner do exactly what they say on the tin. They stop your device from diving off a 'cliff'... or rather a staircase in your house or balcony if you live in an apartment. These features work by bouncing infrared light off the surface photocell sensors.

In a similar fashion to the charging docks, you can use a magic eraser.

How to clean a Roomba vacuum filter

You should aim to clean your iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner filers once per week (or bi-weekly if you're a pet owner). What's more, be prepared to replace them entirely every two months. 

You can either buy these direct from iRobot or shop the parts and other accessories straight from Amazon, along with the best cleaning products and other bits and bobs that catch your eye.

  1. Grasp the side of the filter to remove the filter from the left side of the bin.
  2. Shake off debris by tapping the filter against your trash container. Then, replace the filter.
  3. Slide the bin into the bin slot, securing it into place.

How to clean a Roomba vacuum's front caster wheels

iRobot Roomba S9 going from laminate wood flooring to cream rug with front caster wheels on show

(Image credit: iRobot)

The front caster wheels on your Roomba vacuum cleaner help it to travel along the floor and clean the ground. If there is a bit of resistance (caused by dirt or debris), you'll need to examine the machine and extract the offending object.

If you're blessed with luscious locks, hair can be a common culprit to clogging your machine. Ideally, you should clean them every fortnight, and change them annually.

Here's how to clean the rotating discs:

  1. Pull firmly on the front wheel to remove it.
  2. Remove any debris from inside the wheel cavity.
  3. Spin the wheel by hand. If rotation is restricted, remove the wheel from its housing and push firmly to remove the axle and clear any debris or hair wrapped around it.
  4. Reinstall all parts when finished. Make sure the wheel clicks back into place.

How to clean the edge sweeping brush

iRobot S9 next to skirting board on laminate wooden floor with female child wearing spotted leggings in background

(Image credit: iRobot)

Put simply, this bit of your robotic vac gets to the nooks and crannies of your floor, and is perfect for tight corners and skirting areas. With a few basic tools/things you can find lying around the house, you can keep your sweeper going strong.

  1. Loosen the edge sweeping brush with a coin or small screwdriver.
  2. Remove the brush.
  3. Remove any debris from the edge sweeping brush and the post of the edge sweeping brush module.
  4. Reinstall the edge sweeping brush.

Lynsie Crombie's expert advice on how to clean a Roomba

'Turn it over and lay it on its back, use the comb tool that comes with your Roomba to remove hair and threads that could be stuck in the brushes.' says Lynsey Crombie, aka Lynsey Queen of Clean.

'Locate the sensors and use a damp rubber cloth to gently clean these, check there is nothing stuck in the wheels and then gives with a wipe over and finally empty the dust collecting canister and clean the filter.'

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Christina Chrysostomou
Former acting head ecommerce editor

Hi, I'm the former acting head ecommerce editor at Real Homes. Prior to working for the Future plc family, I've worked on a number of consumer events including the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live, and Good Homes Magazine. With a first class degree from Keele University, and a plethora of experience in digital marketing, editorial, and social media, I have an eye for what should be in your shopping basket and have gone through the internal customer advisor accreditation process.