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.)


Remove the hopper:


Empty the hopper:


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.


Take the top off:


Take the filter plate off:


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


Remove the furry dusty gunk:


Next, pop open the roller enclosure:


Remove the rollers and take their end caps off:


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


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


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


Check the end of the axle for even more hair:


This can be removed using your knife:


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



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.


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


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).


Rubbing with a damp cloth helps somewhat:


But this Orange Power stuff is even better:




Next, use your knife to liberate the rotor brush:


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




Note to self: buy new rotor brush.


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):


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:


Remove the entire bottom plate:


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


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



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




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


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


6 thoughts on “How to Really Clean a Roomba

  1. This post makes me feel much less alone! I was searching for hacks to cleaning our robot vacuum after feeling sick of touching all the dirt in order to empty it. But that’s just how it is, isn’t it? The dirty little secret robot vacuums sweep under the rug!

  2. This was a lifesaver. It really got us started when Spot had an encounter with a large sticky rodent trap. We added the steps of removing both right and left wheels, about an entire spray bottle of Goo-Gone, and a bunch of castille soap.

  3. How often do you have to do this?? Seems like such a chore. How long have you had this vacuum cleaner? Thanks for this!

  4. So disappointed you didn’t really clean everything. I could see the part I wanted to see how it was done but you never did it.Clear plexiglass where the dirt needs to be removed from it there’s more than one of these plexiglass looking holders of dirt

  5. I didn’t get the round cleaning thingy or the comb tool. I just use an old hair comb and comb down the brush.

  6. Very helpful info. I just washed the filthy brush. I hope it still works. Couldn’t find anything about washing it so am taking a chance. Now to clean the rest. thanks.

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