I had no idea how much hair was on our floors until we got our first Roomba. Emptying our Roomba’s bin for the first time, my family looked on in slack-jawed amazement as I pulled out fistfulls of hair, and that was only from about half of our apartment.
The thing about all that hair is that it doesn’t just go into the Roomba’s dust bin. A surprising amount of hair gets wrapped around your Roomba’s various brushes, and if you want to avoid permanent damage to your new robotic friend, you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and pull the hair off.
The bad news about cleaning the hair off your Roomba’s brushes is that you’ll need to do it regularly. Roomba recommends cleaning a Roomba’s brushes once a week, or even twice a week if you have hairy pets. I admit that I don’t quite keep to that schedule; instead, I average more like once a month, although we tend to only run our Roomba on a weekly basis. In any event, you’ll want to make cleaning your Roomba’s brushes a habit.
The good news is that cleaning your Roomba’s brushes isn’t too much of a hassle, especially if you do it regularly. With my Roomba 675, I can get the job done in less than 10 minutes. Also, remember that you’re not going for perfection, but rather getting the most egregious clumps of hair out of the way.
I’ll describe the cleaning process for the Roomba 675, one of the most popular Roomba models. If you have a different model, you can find detailed instructions on the iRobot support site, but the following steps will still give you the gist.
Opening the brush guard
The first step is to put your Roomba upside-down on a flat surface, preferably on a towel (which gets tossed in the hamper immediately after the cleaning) or something else soft.
You should now see a couple of thin cylindrical brushes, one with bristles and a second with long rubber flaps. Keeping these brushes in place is a guard that you’ll need to remove; just pull back on the two yellow levers to open the guard.
Looking more closely at the brushes, you’ll see that each has a yellow plastic bearing at each end. If you pull each brush up gently from the bearing end, they should come right out.
On the other end of the brush is a gray, non-removable cap with a square-shaped peg that fits into a matching receptacle in the brush compartment; when you replace the brush, you’ll want to fit the cap into the receptacle before snapping the bearing end back in place.
Pull all the hair off
Now comes the fun part (and yes, your hands are about to get dirty). Starting with the bristle brush, remove the plastic bearing, then pull off any hair that’s become wrapped around the bearing itself or tucked inside the bearing. The hair should come off pretty easily.
The same can’t be said for the actual bristles; get ready to spend quality time yanking and pulling the hair out. Remember, you don’t have to clean off every last strand; the idea here is to remove the worst clumps. Rinse and repeat (not literally!) for the second brush, which—despite its lack of bristles—will still have a fair amount of hair wrapped around it.
If you still have the little hair cleaning tool that came with your Roomba, by all means, use it. The tool looks like a thick red ring with sharp plastic teeth inside (be careful, those teeth can really poke your fingers).
Simply pull the Roomba brush through the ring, then marvel as the tool absolutely tears through the hair on the brush. Just a single pass of the tool can yank an astonishing amount of hair.
All done (or done enough, anyway)? Replace the brushes in the compartment (remember about fitting the gray ends in first) and snap the brush guard back into place.
If you have the time and inclination, you might also want to gently wipe down the Roomba’s brush compartment, which can get awfully dusty over time. Any cloth should do, although I got good results from using a dry Swiffer clothRemove non-product link.
Remove and clean the side brush
You’re not quite done yet. Next, it’s time to de-hair the side brush, that spindly-looking, tri-brush component that sweeps up hard-to-reach dust, dirt, and debris. Besides being yellow, it’ll be easy to spot, given that it’s probably got a bunch of hair wrapped around it.
You can use a regular or Phillips-head screwdriver to unscrew the side brush from the main Roomba chassis; once you remove the screw, just pull the side brush straight out.
Now, getting the hair unwrapped from the side brush can be a bit of a chore. I’ve had the most success using a pair of scissors to snip the tightly wound hair, which should then be fairly easy to pull away.
Once you’re done yanking the hair off the side brush, go ahead and screw it back onto the main Roomba unit.
Replacing your Roomba brushes
Besides regularly cleaning the brushes on your Roomba, you’ll also need to replace them from time to time.
iRobot recommends replacing the two main brushes every six to twelve months. While iRobot doesn’t offer a recommended timeline for replacing the delicate side brush, swapping in a new one every six months to a year; I had to replace mine early after it was damaged during a cleaning.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.