If your home has a simple layout—only a couple of rooms, with no major obstructions—whole home cleaning with a Roomba is a no-brainer. Just schedule when you want it to clean and its smart navigation will handle the rest on its own. For larger and more complex homes, though, moving a Roomba from room to room can be a bit trickier.
The first step to improving your Roomba’s navigation is to understand how it thinks. Its main move is referred to as the Roomba bounce. It travels in a straight line until it hits an obstacle, turns in a random direction, and starts off again in a straight line. The problem most people have isn’t getting it to move from one room to the next but making sure it actually cleans the rooms instead of just passing through.
There are a couple of things you can do to help your Roomba give your carpets a thorough clean every time it leaves home base. With a bit of pre-planning, you can get the automated and hands-free clean a Roomba promises, even in the most complicated home layout.
The biggest difference between versions of the Roomba isn’t their power but their mapping, scheduling, and navigation skill. For effective and no-hassle cleaning of multiple rooms, we’d recommend getting a Roomba 960 or higher.
There are two main reasons for this. First, it uses a superior mapping system, called Simultaneous Location and Mapping (or SLAM for short). It combines laser sensors with visual cameras to map out the area and find the most efficient path. This same technology makes it better at navigating between rooms.
The second reason is the improved battery system. The Roomba 960 will run for 75 minutes, while the Roomba 980 gives you up to 120 minutes per charge. Both models also have the “recharge and resume” feature. This means they’ll not only run longer in each session but will automatically pick up where they left off after recharging. This is a necessary feature for larger homes and useful for any kind of multi-room set-up.
Even if you don’t feel you need the top of the line Roomba for your needs, we wouldn’t recommend attempting multi-room cleaning with anything lower than the Roomba 690. This is the lowest model that will give you scheduling options and smart home system compatibility, which are key features for moving your Roomba between rooms, even in a smaller home.
One of the biggest complaints from Roomba owners is that their vacuum gets stuck or stranded. You can help to prevent this by reducing the length and complexity of the path the Roomba has to take to get back to the charger after cleaning.
Think about your home’s layout through the Roomba’s eyes. Consider what obstacles it has to maneuver around and the placement of doorways as well as the size and design of the space. The less time the Roomba spends in transit, the more of its battery life will be spent cleaning. Think about where in your home will give the vacuum the shortest path to travel to reach all the areas you want it to clean.
Virtual walls are handy accessories for keeping the Roomba out of places it shouldn’t go. The most useful one for a multi-room set-up is the Virtual Wall Lighthouse because it has two modes. It can function as a wall, blocking an area off from the Roomba’s cleaning range. It also has the lighthouse mode, which traps the Roomba in a single room long enough for it to clean then guides it through to the next room.
Virtual Wall Lighthouses would be the perfect way to move a Roomba through many rooms except for one problem: they’re only compatible with certain models, namely the 880, 790, 780, and 500 series.
The Dual-Mode Virtual Wall barriers that will work with other Roomba models don’t have the lighthouse mode, but you can still use them to help the Roomba clean multiple rooms—it will just take a bit more pre-planning and effort. If you buy a Virtual Wall Scheduler, you can set specific Virtual Walls to turn on or off at a given time. Used in conjunction with your Roomba’s scheduling, this lets you block off rooms in sequence and guide the Roomba through its cleaning path.
As we said above, every Roomba model from the 690 and up has some kind of scheduling option built in, whether you do it through the Roomba’s app or via Wi-Fi using Alexa, Google Home, or another smart home system. If your home layout isn’t too complicated, you can use this function to make sure your Roomba is hitting every room in your house on a regular cycle even without using any Virtual Walls.
The most recent iteration of the iRobot Home app gives you map features that weren’t available before, which can make it easier than ever to set up automatic cleaning for your whole home. While you can get quite in-depth with customizing your clean, something as simple as starting the vacuum in a different room each day can make sure it’s hitting all your floors from time to time.
Cleaning multiple rooms of your home shouldn’t be an issue if you follow through with one or more of the steps above. If the Roomba still isn’t cleaning every room, there are some general troubleshooting things you can try.
First, consider the lighting and flooring in the room the Roomba is missing. Because the Roomba uses visual sensors to detect trouble areas, it may not notice dirt as readily on darker floors, or in lower lighting conditions. Making sure the room gets cleaned could be as simple as keeping the lights on when you know the Roomba’s going to be running.
Also,consider what’s in the room that’s being cleaned. If there are dividing walls, large pieces of furniture, or even just lots of clutter, the Roomba will take longer to clean the carpet than it would in a room of the same size that’s more open. Keep this in mind when you’re setting up the scheduling to make sure you’re giving the Roomba enough time to thoroughly clean the space.
Since each home is different, there’s no one right answer when it comes to making a Roomba move easily from one room to the next. With smart home base placement, proper scheduling, and maybe a virtual wall or two, there is no home layout the Roomba can’t handle. We wish you the best of luck in finding the right set-up for your home!