6 Places You Should (and Shouldn’t) Store Your Roomba

While these robotic vacuums require very little help from humans, you should keep them in certain spots for the best possible results.

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Vacuuming is a tedious and time-consuming job. Whether you live in a multistory house or a studio apartment, it can take forever to coax a vacuum around each carpet and corner of your home. With work, family, and other obligations overwhelming our schedules, who has the time for that? That’s why so many people are attracted to the Roomba, a robotic vacuum that roams and cleans your living space autonomously—as in, without needing you to push it around. Goodbye, lengthy cleaning sessions…hello, free time! But before you welcome a Roomba into your home, there are a few things you should know.

How does a Roomba work, exactly?

In addition to operating independently, Roombas are capable of “seamlessly navigating around furniture, along wall edges, and in places that humans don’t often reach with traditional vacuums,” explains Brent Hild, Senior Product Manager at iRobot. You don’t even need to remind these robot vacuums to do their chores…unlike your children. “Roomba robot vacuums can be scheduled to clean when it’s convenient for owners, even when they’re not home,” Hild says.

When the robot finishes cleaning or needs recharging, it rests on a Home Base charging station, which plugs into the wall. All Roomba models use dozens of sensors and technologies to help it autonomously clean your home, avoiding obstacles, traversing various floor types, and navigating to and from their Home Bases, says Hild. However, you can’t store its Home Base just anywhere—just like you can’t store your cell phone in these places. In order to take proper care of your Roomba, it’s important to store the charging station in the right place.

Store your Roomba on the floor

To ensure that your Roomba can function independently, “it’s recommended that the Home Base is placed on a level surface,” says Hild. While you may think that placing the charging station on a table is a smart organizational idea, the best level surface for your Roomba is actually the floor. After all, Roombas can’t jump from a table to the floor. Storing the charging station on the ground will let your Roomba wake up and clean at the scheduled time without any human intervention.

Give it some space

Storing the Roomba’s Home Base on the ground also allows the device to navigate back to the charging station when it finishes cleaning. The Home Base emits a signal that the Roomba senses when it’s close; this alerts the Roomba to where the Home Base is located and guides it to the charging contacts. Ideally, says Hild, “there should be ample space in front of (about four feet) and to the sides of (about 1.5 feet) the Home Base to allow the signal to reach the Roomba when it’s near. If the signal is blocked, the Roomba may not make it back to the Home Base.”

Keep it against a wall

Since the Roomba returns to its Home Base when it needs to rest and recharge, the charging station should be plugged into an outlet. That’s why Hild suggests storing the Roomba’s Home Base by a wall. Plus, placing the device against a wall is a great organizational tactic to declutter your living space. According to Hild, not storing the Home Base in this prime location “could lead to a poor experience since the robot cannot find its way back to recharge.”

Don’t store your Roomba in a closet

Since the entire point of purchasing a Roomba is to remove the human hand from the vacuuming process, it’s essential to store your Roomba in an accessible location. “Closets are bad places for Roomba charging stations because they usually don’t have the needed clearance on the side or in front of the base,” says Derek Hales, editor-in-chief of Modern Castle. “They usually have one or more doors nearby that they can run into, [and] they usually aren’t near the highest traffic areas of your home.” While the device can function in a closet, it won’t yield the same benefits that it would in an open space. You can keep your Roomba in any room, but you should never store these 10 things in your bedroom.

Skip spots near the stairs

All Roomba models have “cliff-detection sensors to avoid stairs and other drop-offs,” says Hild. However, this doesn’t mean you should store your Roomba at the top of a flight of stairs. Despite the Roomba’s highly intelligent sensors, “it’s still best to place the charging base four to six feet away from stairs so Roomba can better navigate itself to and from the base,” says Hales. This simple precaution will help you take good care of your robotic vacuum. Not to mention that it will likely prevent you from tripping over it and falling down the stairs in the dark.

Avoid an area with obstacles

In addition to having cliff-detection sensors, all Roomba models have bump sensors to identify obstacles. They also feature anti-tangle technology that will reverse the robot’s dual brushes to prevent them from getting stuck on cords and rug tassels, says Hild. So while your Roomba can function properly in rooms that contain obstacles, it’s a good idea put the charging base in a place where there aren’t too many of them. Like what? “Cords, shaggy rugs, doors that Roomba could close, or other loose items on the ground,” says Hales. This will ensure that your Roomba has ample space to detect and adapt to any hurdles in its path. Don’t miss these other smart home devices that are worth every penny.

Carley Lerner
Carley Lerner is a freelance writer and former editorial intern for Reader's Digest. She is a member of the Class of 2021 at Duke University, where she writes for the school newspaper, The Chronicle.