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Set up custom cleaning boundaries for your robot vacuum

If you've ever wanted more control over where your robot vacuum can clean, this how-to is for you.

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There's no need to limit your robot vacuum to a room with four walls and a door for cleaning. You can create your own boundaries within an open floor plan or other challenging room layout. Here's how.

The Neato BotVac 85 Colin West McDonald/CNET

Neato-brand bots come with magnetic strips called Boundary Markers. These strips create a physical threshold that your robot vacuum knows not to cross. You can even use scissors to adjust the size of the strips for greater customization.

Don't want to move your pet's food and water every time your vacuum cleans? Trim your Boundary Marker to size, and create a perimeter around Fido's bowls. It's as simple as that.

iRobot Roomba 880
The iRobot Roomba 880 Colin West McDonald/CNET

iRobot has a comparatively advanced approach to custom cleaning. Instead of a physical barrier like Neato's Boundary Markers, it uses devices called Virtual Wall Lighthouses. These gizmos require two C batteries and communicate with your robot vacuum via infrared signal to section off specific areas as needed.

LG Hom-Bot Square
The LG Hom-Bot Square Colin West McDonald/CNET

LG's Hom-Bot Square robot vacuum tackles custom spaces via a specific cleaning mode called My Space. Select this option and you can literally steer it around a perimeter of your choosing. Hit start, and the vacuum will stay within the border you just mapped out for it.