How Does Roomba Clean Corners?

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iRobot Roomba 890 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum

If you own a Roomba or are considering getting one, there are some questions that are all over the interwebs on what this thing can actually do and some of its limitations. In this article, we set out to answer a few of the web’s most burning Roomba questions.

[1] How does Roomba clean corners?

Roomba has two sets of bristles: front-mounted and side-mounted. The side-mounted ones are meant for cleaning corners and along walls. Here’s how: the brush extends past the Roomba, enabling it to reach a bit further than where the robot can go. It spins in such a way that the dirt it collects, gets flung forward and inwards, right where the Roomba is able to suck it up.

The underside of a Roomba showing the location of the bristle. Source

While Roomba does pretty well in most cases, you should bear in mind that this is a round vacuum cleaner trying to reach a sharp, square corner. It might miss a bit of dust, especially if you have carpeted floors.

[2] How well do stick vacuums clean corners?

So a Roomba has some limitations when it comes to cleaning corners. To make a fair comparison, how well do stick vacuums clean them?

Stick vacuums vary greatly in size, shape and performance, so the answer to this question isn’t necessarily that clear cut. If you have an average stick vacuum with reasonable suction power, you can get almost all the dirt from your corners. Most units have a hose attachment that you can use to get deep into the corners, sucking up all the dirt, leaving your corners sparkly clean.

[2] What is the edge cleaning function (in Roombas)?

Edge cleaning is a cleaning setting you can select for your Roomba, either directly on the unit or via the app, depending on the model you have. Here, your trusty dust gobbler will follow the edges of the room it’s in, cleaning along the wall as it goes. This is an excellent way of finding and trapping all the dust and pet hair that’s prone to hide there.

You can let it do an entire cleaning session in edge cleaning mode, or combine this with other modes, just as you see fit. For some of the newer models, you can schedule this, while you will have to change the cleaning mode manually (or via the app) for the older models.

[3] Does Roomba damage baseboards?

This one is again up for debate. Some users have reported minor chips and scratches to their baseboards, while others said that the Roomba definitely doesn’t knock into anything with enough force to cause any sort of damage. The damage reported by Roomba users were mostly nicks in poor quality paint work – the type you generally find in rental units. Some Roombas leave a dark line on your baseboards, especially when they’re new.

If you’re concerned that your new dust gobbling electronic pet will cause more damage than your live furry one, there is an easy fix, though. Just attach a bumper. These are relatively inexpensive at $2 a pop and will prevent damage to the paintwork and prevent unsightly black marks on your light baseboard.

To prevent any damage to your baseboards, buy it a soft bumper.

[4] How do Neatos clean corners?

Neato manufactures D-shaped robotic vacuum cleaners, specifically for better reach into those tight corners. These bad boys have front-facing brushes that dislodge dirt from the corners, sweeping it directly into the path of the powerful suction. Cool! Some reviewers say that Neatos do a far better job at cleaning in corners than Roombas, while others disagree.

I guess it depends on the model you have and the type of surface you have on your floor. Robot vacuums tend to do a much better job on tiled or hardwood floors than on carpet. That’s obvious, though. Traditional vacuum cleaners and even brooms are better on harder floors, since these are far easier to clean.

Neato vacuums are D shaped to help with corners

[5] Can Roombas clean under and around furniture?

Yes, they can. The clearance below the furniture does play a role, though. If your sofa or bed has a very low base, then Roomba won’t be able to fit in there and thus won’t be able to clean there either. Not the best. If your furniture has adequate clearance, the Roomba will be in there like a rocket, gobbling up dust like there’s no tomorrow.

Roombas will clean under furniture as long as there is enough clearance.

There’s a disclaimer, though. If your furniture has just enough clearance, the Roomba will go in and might get stuck. You might have to watch it when you first start using it in order to figure out where it can and can’t go. If you find that your furniture falls within this category, you can always set that specific piece of furniture as a no-go zone. If you have one of the newer model Roombas, you can do this on the app or using the virtual barriers (you get two when you purchase a newer model Roomba). If yours is an older model, simply flip a chair on its side to block off that area. Works wonders.

As for cleaning around furniture, Roomba does this pretty well too. The older models generally wander around in a random pattern, so when it encounters your furniture, it will change course. Eventually, it will cover the entire floor space around your furniture. The newer models are much better at this. Since they march in an orderly fashion, mapping out your home and figuring out the most effective cleaning path, they’re far more likely to get to all the little corners in between the legs of your dining room chairs. It’s actually really cool.

[6] How should you declutter a room to prepare for a Roomba cleaning session?

This is one thing that annoys a lot of Roomba (and other robot vacuum cleaner) owners. You can’t just let it loose unattended if your home is a real mess. Before each cleaning session, you definitely have to declutter. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, though, since you have to clean up your home in any case, right?

To get the best from your Roomba, make sure that the floor is clutter free.

So, what needs to get out of the way? Essentially, clothes, wires and loose rugs with tassels. If it’s loose and can get sucked into the machine or if it can get stuck in the brushes, Roomba will probably get tangled in it and require a rescue mission. This can be a pain if you have a lot of loose wires around your desk or entertainment system, but you can always set this as a no-go zone or block it off with a chair turned on its side.

Another important thing to consider, especially when you have pets, is big messes. Like, if your dog knocked over the big potted fern again. If you let Roomba loose on these, it might cart the dirt through your entire house, so you have to either set it to spot mode, cleaning only that spot, or clean up the mess before the cleaning session.