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How to take care of your robot vacuum

Regular wheel and brush care will keep your little vacuum sucking... in a good way.

CNET

Though your robot vacuum may not be as sophisticated as the droids in sci-fi movies, they still need regular maintenance. Without it, your vacuum might end up just pushing dirt around, instead of picking it up.

Your main focus when taking care of your Roomba, Shark, Botvac or other automated vacuum is the upkeep of the wheels, main brush and side brushes. Here's how to get started.

Wheels

When wheels get grimy, they won't turn as well. To keep them spinning, at least once a week make sure there aren't any threads or hairs wrapped around the axles. If there are, use a utility knife to cut the debris free.  

Next, check to see if there is anything stuck to the wheels themselves. If so, wipe them down with a damp cloth. Clean wheels get better traction and prevent extra strain on the motor.

robot-vac

Use a utility knife to free hair and strings from brushes and wheels.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Main brush

All robot vacuums have at least one main brush that pulls dirt, lint and hair into the dust cup. Like the wheels, the main brush can get entangled with hair and strings. After every use, check the main brush and cut away anything wrapped around it. Be sure not to cut the bristles as you work.

Once a month, remove the main brush – if the manual says you can – and hand wash it in warm water and mild dish soap. Give it a good rinse, then let it air dry fully before putting it back into the vacuum.

Side brushes

The side brushes on a robot vacuum are smaller and are used to pull debris into the main brush's reach. They need some extra care to keep working well.

After a while you may notice that these brushes become warped and even tangled. Luckily you can straighten them back out, no problem. Heat the plastic bristles for a few seconds with a blow dryer set on high. When they're warm, coax the bristles back into position with your fingers. Hold them in position for a few seconds until they cool, which will set them in place.

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A few minutes of maintence every week and month will keep your robot vacuum humming along for years to come.