How to maximize cleaning with a robovac

Robotic vacuums have been around for a while, and they’re always popular gifts around the holidays. Maybe you received one, maybe you want one, or perhaps you’ve had the little robot running around your home for years. Either way, Consumer Reports has some great robovac options, with helpful tips 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 a special test lab that resembles a typical home living space.

CR’s experts test robotic vacuums to see how well they remove debris and how well they can navigate and clean rooms that have obstacles like cords and carpet fringe.

When it comes to getting the most from your robotic vacuum, CR says to start with the robovac’s charging station, called a dock.

When you’re setting up the dock, you want to make sure it’s on a hard, level surface without any thick carpets or rugs, or uneven surfaces.

Even better, create a docking zone with 3 to 5 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 and they can get trapped, things can get stuck in the brush roll, or they can run down the battery trying to navigate around clutter. So keep things like power cords tied neatly, 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 CR.

The iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO is $550 in the U.S. and Canada. It gets excellent scores for cleaning bare floors and picking up pet hair.

The Eufy 11S for $200 ($220 Canada) is an even bigger bargain. It gets top marks for cleaning bare floors, predicted reliability, and owner satisfaction.

Another tip: CR says if your robotic vac doesn’t have a self-cleaning dock, you should clean out the dirt bin after each use.

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