Why Robotic Vacuums Are a Waste of Time and Money

Black robotic vacuum cleaner model on light-colored wooden floor beside glass door

For the better part of the last century home appliance manufacturers have been trying to come up with ways to make life more convenient. There are plenty of examples of them succeeding such as the refrigerator, the microwave oven, and many of today’s smart home systems. There are also plenty of examples of when they missed the mark such as the smart trash can and the microwave bank. We would add the robotic vacuum to that list of failed home appliances, and below we’ll explain why this attempt at automating the process of carpet cleaning swings and misses so badly.

The Robot Vacuum: Marketing Over Substance

As carpet care professionals we understand better than most that vacuuming can be a pain. If only someone would come up with self-vacuuming carpets or there was some way to automate the process of rug cleaning. Appliance manufacturers have tried for years to address the issue with little success. Until, that is, some modern-day Edison invented the robotic vacuum.

The robotic vacuum was marketed as one of those rare breakthrough products that would change the way we interact with our homes for the better. But at the end of the day, most people wind up putting the robot vacuum in the closet and leaving it there. Why? Here are five reasons why robotic vacuums are a waste of time.

Robotic Vacuums Do a Lousy Job

One of the things that makes vacuuming such a chore is that carpet and rug cleaning often entails having to press down and dig out the dirt, dust, and debris hiding at the base of carpet fibers. A robotic vacuum simply can't do this. The best they can do is skip across the surface picking up some of the loose material riding the top of the carpet fibers. Meanwhile, dirt, dust mites, pet hair, and more collect over time at the base and your carpeting starts to look dull and smell musty and stale. At some point, you have to take out the real vacuum and spend hours trying to extract all the stuff the robot vacuum couldn't get.

Even Small Obstacles Stop Robotic Vacuums In Their Tracks

So imagine this scenario: you’re expecting guests tonight so you set up the robot vacuum to tidy up the wall-to-wall. Then you go run some errands. You come back four hours later and find the robot vacuum got just a few feet from where it started before being stopped in its tracks by the power cable from your laptop. Guests are due in a couple of hours so you have to put away the robot and bust out the upright and do the job yourself. Stuff like this happens all the time with robot vacuums. A sock, a piece of paper, or having to negotiate a threshold between rooms can also grind the robot to a halt.

For "Smart" Appliances, Robotic Vacuums Can Act Pretty Dumb

Robot vacuums are great toys to impress your guests with, but if you watch them work for a while you'll soon realize they often don't know what they're doing. Sometimes a robot vacuum will go over the same tiny portion of carpet over and over for no apparent reason. Other times they'll do half the carpet and then quit. Not because they ran out of power, but because they just felt like quitting. And still, other times they'll just scoot right past an obvious patch of dirt. If carpet cleaning companies acted the way robotic vacuums often do they’d be out of business in short order.

Robotic Vacuums Can't Handle Doggy Doo

For that matter, they aren't terribly fond of cat poop either. If your pet reached the point that they couldn't hold it anymore and relieved themself on the floor, don't expect the robotic vacuum to gather it up and whisk it away. On the contrary. When a robot vacuum meets pet poop more often than not the result is a stinky, hard-to-remove smear. Not only that, but the vacuum's bristles are now coated with doggy doo, so if the bot transitions from a hard surface to a carpet it will distribute the poop across the entire carpet surface. Getting the stain and the smell out will require the intervention of professional carpet cleaning services and even then your carpet may be beyond saving.

Robotic Vacuums Can't Climb Stairs

Try as they may the engineers behind the robotic vacuum haven’t found a way to get them to vacuum carpeted stairs. Maybe that’s not surprising considering what a so-so job they do with an area rug cleaning. Now, granted, getting a machine to climb stairs while cleaning them is no small feat. But the fact is the robotic vacuum is useless when it comes to stairs, meaning you’ll need to keep a real vacuum handy and do the job yourself. Keep in mind too that the stair thing goes both ways. Not only can they not climb stairs, but if you have them vacuuming the upstairs hallway and they encounter the stairs heading down, they’re likely to go tumbling all the way to the bottom, and then, hello repair bill!

Skip the Robots and Call Our Boulder Carpet Cleaners

Perhaps at some point in the future robotic vacuums will live up to their promise. But for now, you'll still need to do most of the vacuuming yourself. For expert cleaning and carpet repair contact the pros at Steve’s. You can reach us by searching for "carpet cleaning near me" or by calling us at (303) 530-4900.

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