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Avoid Scratching Your Wooden Floor With A Robot Vacuum

Will the robot vacuum scratch hardwood floors? or laminate floors?

The material used on the wheels of a robot vacuum cleaner is mostly rubber or soft plastic material that cannot scratch wood or laminate easily.

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So the obvious answer would be no, a robot vacuum will not scratch your hardwood or laminate floors. But there are exceptions to all things.

If for example enough hair or dust gets stuck in the front plastic wheels and the wheel gets stuck, the robot vacuum will not register this and continue to drag the wheel along, potentially scratching the floor along the way.

It could also happen that small grains of sand will get stuck in the rubber or soft plastic and then the robot vacuum turns, it most often drags the front wheels sideways, which means that the small grains will be dragged over the floor creating small scratches.

To avoid scratching your wooden or laminated floor with a robot vacuum, make sure to clean the wheels and make sure they are always able to move freely.

Once a month or so I also lubricate the small front wheels in oil, just a very small amount so that if a hair gets stuck, it’ll keep turning unhindered.

Robot vacuum cleaners’ wheels and how they work

Almost all known robot vacuum brands have two tractor-wheel systems which have an electrical motor assigned to each wheel.

This makes it able to turn 365 degrees while remaining in the same spot. These wheels are most often placed right on or right behind the center of mass.

If placed right behind the center of mass, the robot cleaner will also have one or two front wheels, these wheels do not have any motors attached and only served to stabilize the robot vacuum.

The two larger wheels will either be made entirely of rubber or have a rubber coating, so they are not able to scratch any harder surfaces.

The front wheel/wheels are most often made of rubber or soft plastic material.

These will get dragged from side to side when the robot vacuum is turning. It is here where the slight possibility of scratches exists.

Under normal circumstances, the front wheel is very gently pushed down to the floor by the robot vacuum’s own weight, but it is not designed to support the weight of additional items, pets, or kids as you’ve probably seen in several YouTube videos.

If you place additional weight on these wheels they might not be able to turn properly and hereby scratch the floor.

How to clean the front wheels of a robot vacuum

What usually gets stuck in the wheels is long hair and hair from pets. Over time they accumulate inside the wheels and will hinder the wheel from rotating properly.

Therefore you must check up on the wheels, just try and turn them around.

If they easily turn you don’t have to clean them, but as soon as you feel a little resistance when turning them, you should consider taking the wheels out and cleaning them.

For iRobot Roombas, Neato’s, and Roborocks models it’s pretty easy to clean the wheels.

The manufacturers know that dirt and hair in the wheels can be an issue and in most models today you can take the front/caster wheel out to clean with ease.

The iRobot Roomba series also can sense when something is obstructing its wheels.

If you hear it beep 5 times it means that something is obstructing the side wheels and the side wheels’ grooves need to be cleaned.

If it beeps 7 times it means that the sides are failing to rotate and something is preventing it from moving.

In both cases, you need to turn it off and turn it upside down to clean the wheels and remove any obstructions.

The side wheels should be able to move pretty easily, but with these wheels, you should be able to feel resistance, this resistance comes from the normal motors.

The front caster wheels, on the other hand, don’t have any sensors attached to them and therefore cannot sense if anything is obstructing them.

I would recommend that you check these wheels regularly, maybe try to spin them around after every time you empty the tray.

If any wheels get stuck often, you may have a deeper underlying issue with the wheels or the robot vacuum itself.

Manufacturers recommend replacing the wheels if it happens too frequently that they get stuck.

Will the brushes on the robot vacuum scratch the floor

The short and precise answer is no, the brush cannot in any way scratch your floor.

If you turn your robot vacuum upside down and turn it on, you’ll see the brushes spinning very fast and it might feel brutal to the floor.

But the brushes are designed or very light and soft plastic, nylon, and rubber which are materials that are much softer than any type of wooden or laminated floor.

Dirt and small grains of sand will not be an issue here either because it is sucked up or pushed away immediately and thereby cannot get stuck in the brush.

Which robot vacuums will be prone to scratch your floor

When looking for a new robot vacuum cleaner, it’s a good idea to make sure that the robot you are buying is made properly and is not prone to scratching any wood or laminate floor.

What you have to look out for is the material that the wheels are made out of, especially the front/caster wheels.

If any of the wheels are made out of hard plastic do not buy it because the material is harder and if the plastic is harder than the floor it’ll most likely leave scratches.

Also, check online for any complaints about scratches on the specific model.

Most brands have support forums where people are writing their complaints, but most of the time you can just google for example “does iRobot Roomba 900 leaves scratches” and you’ll get an answer.

I can tell you from personal experience that neither a Roomba 900 nor a Neato D4 leaves any scratches. The wheels of these robot vacuums are rubber and super easy to clean.

How to get the best robot vacuum for hardwood floor

  1. Make sure the materials used for the wheels are soft like rubber or soft plastic.
  2. Make sure it has good brushes and decent suction power.
  3. Pick one that can get into the corners and edges, because on wood or laminated floors, the dirt and dust get easily blown into the edges and corners of the room.

Before you buy your new Robot Vacuum Cleaner, check out these helpful articles:

10 Useful Tips When Owning A Robot Vacuum Cleaner

How A Robot Vacuum Cleaner Works


Author: Morten Pradsgaard

As a tech enthusiast and creative individual, my blog Living Smarter offers tips on tech, name ideas, and gaming. I collaborate with companies and individuals to share expertise in various genres and platforms.

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