Can Roomba Go Over Rugs?

How does your Roomba cope with rugs? ¹

The Roomba is arguably one of the most innovative robot vacuums on the market today. With every Roomba model, there’s always a new feature that solves a specific vacuum cleaning problem. 

From obstacle avoidance to hazard detection to smart mapping and navigation, the Roomba has got floor cleaning down to a science.

But, surprisingly, even with innovative iterations of the Roomba, it still can’t seem to figure out rugs. If you own a Roomba, you know how frustrating it is to watch the robot vacuum wrestle with rugs and fail at the one thing it’s supposed to be good at. 

This article discusses the different types of rugs that the robot vacuum struggles with and answers the ultimate question: Can Roomba go over rugs?

What common problems do Roombas have with rugs?

Here are some of the Roomba on rugs conundrums that frustrate owners.

  1. Roombas see black stripe patterns as cliffs.

The Roomba’s cliff sensor detects ledges, edges, and steep drops. It’s used to prevent Roomba from falling out of an area, such as a balcony or stairs. 

The “cliff detect” feature uses an infrared beam and a photocell sensor to determine if the Roomba should back away from a ledge to avoid falling off or climb up a slope.

Roombas are smart, but they can’t seem to distinguish a cliff from a black stripe pattern on rugs and carpets. This becomes a problem because the robot vacuum will avoid the rug and no cleaning can be done. In some cases, the Roomba gets trapped within the confines of rugs with black borders.

  1. Roomba and the black carpet of doom

Sometimes, Roomba and rugs just don’t mix, especially when the rug is solid black. The Roomba sees black rugs as empty spaces and avoids them like the plague. So, if your area rug is all black, chances are your Roomba will back away and change direction.

  1. Roomba gets stuck on rugs

Can Roombas go over rugs? Yes, but it depends on the type of rug. Some people may find that their Roomba doesn’t function properly when they run it over threshold rugs or rugs with loops on the edges. 

Although the Roomba is designed to work on all types of floor surfaces, there are some types of rugs that test the Roomba’s cleaning mettle. This can make cleaning difficult because the Roomba will avoid the offending rug or get stuck on the fringe.

What types of rugs do Roombas struggle with?

High up on the list of things that your Roomba struggles with are solid black rugs, rugs with black patterns, and rugs with black borders and geometric shapes. These are rug designs that can mess up the Roomba’s cliff sensor.

In some cases, robot vacuum for rugs also has a hard time cleaning threshold rugs and thick area rugs. These types of robot vacuum area rugs make the Roomba work harder or stop working altogether.

  • Shag rugs 

A shag rug is a type of rug with long, thick strands of fiber that are soft to touch. The length of the strands can vary from very short to extremely long. The Roomba struggle with shag rugs because the rug’s long fibers can get lodged in the wheels of the Roomba, causing it to get stuck. Also, the pattern of the rug creates a surface that is too uneven and challenging for its sensors to detect. 

  • Rugs with tassels or Rugs with fringes

Can Roomba go over rugs with fringe? No. A tell-tale sign that the Roomba has run into a rug with tassels is when it spins in circles or when it will not move at all after stopping in one spot. 

It’s difficult for the Roomba to maneuver on these types of rugs because it struggles to identify the space between the rug and the floor. It cannot navigate around the rug’s fringes; thus, the Roomba’s wheels can get tangled up in the tassels (or wires) and stop moving.

The maximum threshold height that Roombas can transition over is 5/8 inch (1.6 cm). Anything more than that and the Roomba will not cross over and instead will change paths when performing a cleaning cycle. 

So, to the question of can robot vacuum go over rugs? Yes, Roombas can go over most flat and low- to medium-pile rugs. However, for shag rugs and rugs with fringes and tassels, the Roomba will likely get stuck and fail to work.

Why might the colour or pattern of the rug matter?

The color or pattern of the rug matters when Roomba is on a cleaning cycle because it can be detected by the infrared camera. Roombas use this information to map out the room and determine how they will clean it.

The Roomba will have a hard time cleaning an area if there is a rug with a solid color or geometric pattern on it because it sees it as a ledge that it needs to avoid. The Roomba might move in circles or get stuck on the rug and be unable to continue its cleaning cycle.

What type of rugs do Roombas work best on?

Barring some solid black rugs, borders, and patterns, Roombas are highly efficient robot vacuum cleaners for any type of rug and floor surface. After all, they are designed to clean with little to no human interference. 

The Roomba can maneuver over many types of flooring, and the only time it needs to be picked up and emptied is when it leaves an area and cannot re-enter. 

The types of rugs that work best for the Roomba are flat rugs, low pile rugs, and rugs that meet the maximum threshold.

Can a Roomba go over area rugs? Yes! The best rugs for Roomba are flat and low-pile area rugs with no fringe. Since the Roomba has a rotating brush, it can cause snagging on thicker rugs. So, a shaggy rug is not a good choice as the Roomba may not be able to go across it easily, if at all. 

A traditional rug will work well for a Roomba. Roombas cannot run over rough, uneven floors. If the floor is too rough, the robot vacuum may have problems cleaning it. They are designed to run on hardwood and carpeted floors, with their rubberized bottom preventing them from scratching any hard flooring.

Of course, not all Roomba vacuum models are created equal. Earlier Roomba models are not as powerful as the new feature-packed robovacs, so they are likely to struggle with thick and high-pile rugs.

Can you stop a Roomba from cleaning a rug?

Yes, you can prevent your Roomba from cleaning a rug by using virtual wall barriers that you can buy separately.

Roomba’s virtual wall barrier is a programmed electric field that can keep the Roomba from entering an area where it is not wanted. The Roomba detects the barriers and will stop and avoid the closed-off area.

The Roomba is an intelligent robot vacuum that can detect changes in floor surfaces. It knows when to change direction to avoid bumping into walls and furniture. And since it’s designed to transition over rugs and thresholds, you need to create a virtual barrier that warns the Roomba that the area rug is off-limits. 

So, if you want your Roomba to ignore your expensive high-pile Persian rug, get a virtual barrier. Alternatively, you can create physical barriers using bumpers to send the Roomba in a different direction. You can set up your home so that the Roomba can clean efficiently while avoiding designated closed-off areas.

What about the Roomba mop? Does Roomba mop avoid rugs?

Roomba’s popular robot mop is the Braava Jet m6, a floor mopping robot that cleans any flat, hard-surface floor. 

Unlike other Roomba models, the Jet m6 includes a water tank so it can clean with a hard floor cleaning solution. It has a sonic jet nozzle to shoot out high-pressured concentrates of water and soap. The suction is aided by a spray nozzle that is designed to not scratch delicate surfaces. Since the Braava jet m6 is designed to clean hard surfaces, it will avoid rugs and carpets.

Which is the best model of Roomba for rugs?

The short answer: the latest Roomba for hardwood and rugs. 

Ben Kehoe, a Cloud Research Scientist over at iRobot said that it took them years to make the sensor robust for the Roomba. Does this tell us that the Roomba over rugs debacle will soon be a thing of the past? Maybe. 

But until we see a Roomba cross over black lines on rugs without struggling, we’d have to trust CEO and founder Colin Angle when he says that newer models of Roomba “have cliff detect sensors that are much better at dealing with the dreaded black carpet lines.”

Angle specifically mentioned the Roomba models that can deal with black rugs:

  • Roomba i3+
  • Roomba i7+
  • Roomba s9+ 
  • Roomba j7+

Why do these Roombas work on rugs better than the older models? According to iRobot, the new generation of Roomba models have more robust cliff sensors that are better at detecting real cliffs. Although the company has not yet perfected the sensors to distinguish a cliff from a solid black rug, it’s safe to say that newer Roomba models are the best for rugs.

Among these Roombas, the Roomba j7 and Roomba j7+ are the two next-generation Roomba models that have Precision Vision Navigation feature. So, aside from the smarter sensors for cliff detect, these Roombas will avoid obstacles, including pet waste and charging cords. 

Which is the worst model of Roomba for rugs?

Early generation models of the Roomba lack the vacuum power and the advanced cliff sensor features of newer (s9+) and next-generation (j7+) Roombas. Older models are not as smart and efficient in cleaning rugs. They have a standard cliff sensor that works at the basic level and are not able to detect and navigate with precision. So, the worst Roomba model for rugs are the older models with very basic cleaning features. 

Photo credits

¹ Photo by Cindy Parr on Flickr