How to Really Clean a Roomba

The official iRobot Roomba instructional videos show a Roomba doing its thing in an immaculately clean house. When it comes time to clean the Roomba itself, an immaculately manicured woman empties a sprinkling of dirt from the Roomba’s hopper into a bin, flicks no dust at all off the rotor brush and then delicately grooms the main brush, before putting the Roomba back on to charge.

It turns out the cleaning procedure is a bit more involved for two long-haired adults and three cats living on a farm. Note that the terminology used in the instructions below was made up by me just now, and may or may not match what’s in the Roomba manual. Also, our Roomba is named Neville.

First, assemble some tools. You will need at least two screwdrivers (one phillips, one slotted), the round red Roomba brush cleaning thingy, and a good sharp knife. You will not need the useless flat red Roomba cleaning thingy the woman in the official video used to groom the main brush.

01-toolsBrace yourself, then turn the Roomba over (here we see that Neville had an unfortunate encounter with some old cat-related mess, in addition to the usual dirt, mud, hair, straw, wood shavings, chicken feathers, etc.)

02-start-dirty

Remove the hopper:

03-empty-hopper

Empty the hopper:

04-hopper-empty

See if you can see if the fan inside the hopper looks like it’s clogged. It’s probably good this time (Neville hasn’t accidentally been run with one filter missing lately), but we may as well open it up anyway.

05-hopper-top

Take the top off:

06-hopper-open

Take the filter plate off:

07-hopper-open-more

Take the fan cowling off. Only a bit of furry dusty gunk:

08-hopper-fan

Remove the furry dusty gunk:

09-hopper-clean

Next, pop open the roller enclosure:

10-rollers-open

Remove the rollers and take their end caps off:

11-rollers-out

Pull the brush roller through the round Roomba brush cleaning thingy:

12-brush-roller-cleaning

This will remove most of the hair, pine needles and straw:

13-brush-roller-gunk

Do it again to remove the rest of the hair, pine needles and straw:

14-brush-roller-almost-clean

Check the end of the axle for even more hair:

15-brush-roller-end

This can be removed using your knife:

16-brush-roller-end-clean

The rubber roller also needs a good bit of knife action:

17-rubber-roller-knife

18-rubber-roller-knife-end

The rubber roller probably really needs to be replaced at this point (it’s getting a bit shredded), but I’ll do that next time.

19-rubber-roller-clean

Clean the inside of the roller enclosure using a hand-held Dyson vacuum cleaner:

20-inside-clean-vacuum

That didn’t work very well. I assume Neville managed to escape into the bathroom recently and got a bit wet (he’s a free spirit).

21-inside-vaccumed

Rubbing with a damp cloth helps somewhat:

22-inside-wiped

But this Orange Power stuff is even better:

23-orange-power

See?

24-inside-clean

Next, use your knife to liberate the rotor brush:

25-rotor-knife

Almost there, but we need to take the whole thing off:

26-rotor-partial-clean

Yikes:

27-rotor-off

Note to self: buy new rotor brush.

28-rotor-clean

One of Neville’s wheels has horrible gunk stuck it its tread. Spraying with Orange Power and wiping helps somewhat (we’ll come back to this later):

29-wheel-gunk

Use a screwdriver to pop the little front wheel out, and cut the hair off its axle with a knife. The axle could probably use some WD40 too:

30-front-wheel-off

Remove the entire bottom plate:

31-bottom-off

Use that hand-held vacuum cleaner again to get rid of the dust balls:

32-bottom-vacuum

Use your fingers or a screwdriver to remove small chicken and/or duck feathers from the wheel housing:

33-wheel-feather-01

33-wheel-feather-02

Use a chopstick to scrape the remaining gunk out of the wheel tread:

34-wheel-chopstick

Voila!

35-roomba-clean

Here’s what came out of the poor little guy:

36-roomba-gunk

Finally, reassemble everything, and Neville is ready for next time (or, at least, is ready to go back on the charger):

37-roomba-done

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