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Consumer Reports: How to get the most out of your robot vacuum

Posted at 7:16 AM, Feb 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-13 08:16:53-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Robotic vacuums have been around for a while, and they're often popular gifts around the holidays. If you're interested in getting one, there are a number of brands and models out there and ways to get the most bang for your buck.

There’s no question that robotic vacuums are different from traditional upright or canister models, which is why Consumer Reports designed this special test lab to resemble a typical home living space.

Consumer Reports' experts tested robotic vacuums to see how well they remove debris and how well they can navigate and clean rooms with obstacles like cords and carpet fringe. When it comes to getting the most from your robotic vacuum, Consumer Reports says to start with its charging station, called a dock.

“When you’re setting up a dock, you want to ensure it’s on a hard, level surface without any thick carpets or rugs or uneven surfaces," said Sue Booth with Consumer Reports.

Even better, create a docking zone with three to five feet of clearance on each side. The open space speeds up cleaning and helps the vacuum locate and return to the dock.

Another tip: Minimize as much clutter as possible.

“Robotic vacuums see clutter as obstacles—so they can get trapped in clutter, or things can get stuck in the brush roll, or the robotic vac could run out of battery trying to navigate around clutter," said Booth.

So, keep things like power cords tied neat—including the one for the dock.

If you’re in the market for a robotic vacuum, you don’t have to spend a fortune. There are several lower-priced models recommended by Consumer Reports. One from iRobot gets excellent scores for cleaning bare floors and picking up pet hair. The model from Eufy is an even bigger bargain. It gets top marks for cleaning bare floors, predicted reliability, and owner satisfaction.

Another tip? If your robotic vacuum doesn’t have a self-cleaning dock, you should clean out the dirt bin after each use.