Roombas are among the most popular robotic vacuums in the world as they will automatically clean your home or apartment without you having to lift a finger.
But given the relatively small size of most Roombas, surely they need to be cleaned out pretty frequently?
You need to empty your Roomba after every use unless you have a self-emptying Clean Base. Roomba models with the Clean Base only require you to replace the bag when it’s full. The size of your home and its occupants will also impact this frequency. If you have pets, it will likely be more often.
This article will focus on when and how to empty your Roomba, along with other maintenance tips to keep it running for longer.
When To Empty Your Roomba
The way you empty a Roomba depends on the model of vacuum you own.
Empty the Bin on Older Roombas After Every Use
IRobot recommends that you empty the bin on your standard Roomba vacuum after each use.
The containers do not have a very significant size, which means you could fill up the entire bin after every cleaning.
To ensure your Roomba does not run out of space for dirt and debris during a vacuuming cycle, check and clean the bin frequently, especially if you have larger areas or lots of pet hair.
If you have set the Roomba to clean an entire floor of your house, you may have to empty the vacuum halfway through its cleaning cycle.
Luckily, emptying your Roomba is a very easy and straightforward process.
How To Empty an Older Roomba
To empty the bin on an older Roomba model:
- Press the Clean button on the top of the Roomba.
- Remove the bin from the base.
- Depending on your Roomba model, there may be a filter that you have to detach before you can empty the bin.
- Tap the bin against your trash can a few times to eliminate all the dust, dirt, and debris built up during a cleaning cycle.
- Clean out the filter and place it back in its slot before reattaching the container to the rest of the vacuum.
Examples of Roombas with a regular bin include:
- Older Roomba 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, and 900 Series models
- Roomba e5
- Roomba i3 and i7 (Self-Emptying Dock Sold Separately)
This is a handy YouTube video from iRobot that shows how to empty the bin on one of its older Roomba models:
Empty Self-Cleaning Roombas When Prompted
Newer, more expensive Roomba models come with a Clean Base that serves as a charging station and a self-emptying dock.
The Clean Base requires placement close to a power socket and does take up more space than standard Roomba charging stands.
However, giving up some extra space is worth it not to have to check on the bag so often.
A Roomba with such a base doesn’t require emptying after every use.
Instead, the robotic vacuum goes through a cleaning cycle, goes back to the base, and automatically empties its contents into a bag.
The bags can hold several weeks’ worth of dust, dirt, and debris, which means you need not worry about the bag filling up after a few cleaning sessions.
Although, as mentioned above, if you have pets in the house, this will likely be more often.
AdamsTechReviews on YouTube put the high-end iRobot Roomba s9+ through a stress test to assess the self-emptying dock feature.
This video shows how the vacuum continues to self-empty after each cleaning and how well it does against a pretty huge mess:
How To Empty Your Roomba Clean-Base
When the bag fills, the Roomba base alerts you that it is time to replace the bag.
To empty the Roomba Clean-Base:
- Lift the lid at the top of the base unit.
- Grab the card piece and lift the bag free.
- Throw the whole bag in the trash.
- Slide the card of the new bag into the slot of the base.
- Close the lid and continue use.
Roomba bags are not reusable, which means you must throw the bag in the garbage and replace it with another one.
There are third-party reusable bags you can purchase online, but there is no guarantee of them working correctly with your robotic vacuum.
Roombas that come with a self-emptying dock include:
- Roomba i3+
- Roomba i7+
- Roomba s9+
Check out this video below for a visual guide on how to remove and replace the bag on your Roomba Clean-Base:
Roomba Maintenance Tips
If you want to get the most out of your Roomba, you must follow certain maintenance tips over time.
If you don’t keep the vacuum up to date and clean, you will likely find yourself emptying the bag more often.
For example, owners of older or entry-level Roombas should dust off the filter each time they empty the bin in their vacuum.
If the filter appears in poor condition, replace it with a newer one.
In doing so, you’re ensuring that the vacuum will work properly and that no debris can get stuck.
This will allow the Roomba to work effectively for longer.
If you own an S-Series Roomba with a clean base:
- Assess its charging contact IR windows (sensors) every month.
- Remove debris from the blower cover inside the canister every three to four weeks.
- Replace the bag each time the clean base prompts you to do so.
Wipe the Cliff Sensors Clean
Every Roomba owner should clean the cliff sensors at the bottom of the vacuum with a lightly damp melamine foam.
These sensors prevent the Roomba from crashing into walls or running over the edge of the stairs.
Clean the charging contacts between the Home Base or Clean Base and the Roomba as well.
Remove and Clean Caster Wheels
The front caster wheels on your Roomba may require care after a few weeks, as they can develop clogs due to hair and debris.
This is likely to impact performance and could even damage your floor.
To clean the caster wheel on your Roomba:
- Remove the wheel from the robot.
- Remove any visible debris.
- Take out the wheel from its housing and ensure everything is clean.
- Reinstall the wheel in its appropriate position.
Clean Debris From the Brushes
The buildup of debris on vacuum brushes is always a cause for concern, as it can result in permanent damage to the machine.
You may also notice weaker cleaning power if there is too much debris in the brushes, so regular checks are recommended.
To clean the brushes on your Roomba:
- Open up the brush guard by lifting the yellow tabs on the bottom of the machine.
- Take out the brushes and clean them thoroughly.
- Use appropriate cleaning tools to remove hair from the bristles safely, without damaging the brushes.
- Ensure the entire brush area of your Roomba is clean and free of debris before you reassemble the machine.
This is a helpful iRobot video showing how to clean the brushes on the Roomba 600 Series vacuum:
Learn more: Why is my Roomba side brush squeaking?
Choosing the Best Roomba for Your Needs
Roomba is one of the most popular brands of robot vacuums available today.
If one of your concerns is how often you’ll need to empty the bin, the good news is that there are a few excellent options that can prolong the life of each bag’s use.
Here are some examples from Amazon.com:
For Small Spaces: iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum
The iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum is an outstanding entry-level option.
An affordable self-charging vacuum, the Roomba 675 has a 3-stage cleaning system, features Alexa and Google Assistant integration, and has advanced sensors for adaptive navigation.
Such a model is perfect for studio or one-bedroom apartment dwellers, as the capacity of the vacuum should be enough to clean your entire living space without needing emptying.
If you live in a larger apartment or home or do not want to bother with emptying your vacuum after each cleaning, you should invest in a high-end model.
Further reading: Do Robot Vacuums Work in Small Spaces? 3 Things To Know
For Larger Homes: iRobot Roomba s9+ (9550) Robot Vacuum
The iRobot Roomba s9+ (9550) Robot Vacuum is the most expensive and feature-filled robotic vacuum you can buy.
The s9+ comes with automatic dirt disposal, smart mapping, and optimized cleaning for corners and edges.
With a robotic vacuum such as the s9+, you receive up to 40x the suction power compared to entry-level models.
The clean base automatically charges the vacuum while allowing it to empty its contents into a larger bin after each cleaning cycle.
In the video above, iRobot claims that these bins can hold up to 60 days’ worth of debris before the containers need to be cleaned, making this one of the least hands-on options.
Standard Roomba vacuums need emptying after every use and may even fill up while cleaning a vast space.
In contrast, newer, more expensive Roomba models come with a clean base that serves as a self-emptying dock.
If your Roomba comes with a clean base, you do not need to empty its contents manually.
Instead, the Roomba automatically empties into a larger bag, which you can throw away when full.