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Are you thinking about buying a robot vacuum but are worried that it might scratch or damage your beautiful hardwood floors?
In this guide, you’ll learn whether or not robot vacuums are safe for hardwood floors, which robot vacuum models are least likely to scratch hardwood floors, and how to minimize the risk.
Let’s get right into it!
Use the links to navigate:
- Do Robot Vacuums Scratch and Damage Hardwood Floors?
- What Manufactures Say About Using Robot Vacuums on Hardwood Floors
- What Customers Say About Using Robot Vacuums on Hardwood Floors
- Are Some Robot Vacuums More Likely to Scratch Hardwood Floors?
- How to Prevent Robot Vacuums From Scratching Hardwood Floors
- Other Risks With Robot Vacuums
- Final Thoughts
Do Robot Vacuums Scratch and Damage Hardwood Floors?
Robot vacuums are a convenient way to keep your floors clean, but one of the biggest concerns is that they’ll scratch and scuff up hardwood floors.
So, do robot vacuums damage hardwood floors?
The short answer is no. Robot vacuums will not scratch or damage your hardwood floors. Most are manufactured with soft brushes and rubbery wheels that are safe for multiple surfaces, including hardwood.
However, like with any vacuum, there is a risk.
Dirt, sand, or small objects can get stuck in the wheel or underneath the vacuum. And, since most people don’t constantly monitor their robot vacuum while it’s running, the debris could drag around for a while and scratch your floor.
One exception, though, is the Roomba robot vacuum. The front pivoting wheel (pictured below) may cause issues.
Unlike the other two rubber wheels on the Roomba vacuum, the pivoting wheel is made of hard plastic, which is more likely to scratch floors, especially when it comes in contact with debris. When the vacuum rotates, this wheel spins in every direction across the floor and can create circular scratches in the hardwood.
Softer hardwood is more susceptible to scratches, but it’s a potential risk for any wood floor.
What Manufactures Say About Using Robot Vacuums on Hardwood Floors
I reached out to several of the top robot vacuum manufacturers to get their take on this topic.
I asked each manufacturer the same questions:
I’m thinking about buying a robot vacuum, but I am concerned that it will scratch my hardwood floors. Do your robot vacuums scratch hardwood floors? Do you have special wheels, brushes, or other technology that helps prevent scratches on wood floors?
Here are their exact responses:
iRobot (makers of the Roomba): “Our various Roombas are capable of cleaning many different types of hard flooring as well as carpets and transitioning between the different types. I would make two recommendations to you; the first would be to contact the manufacturer of your floor and ask if the floor is safe for a rubber beater bar vacuum. Should your floor manufacturer give you the go-ahead, I would recommend any of our robots with the exception of the 600 series. The 600 series uses a traditional bristle brush that is much more susceptible to getting debris stuck in the bristles. The remainder of our robots use multi-surface rubber brushes that are solid and less likely for debris to get caught in it.
Finally, the true test can only be determined by observing the robot in your home. That is why we have our 60-day try-in-your-home return policy. No matter which item you decide to purchase, do so without risk, as any item purchased directly from us here at iRobot.com comes with a 60 return time frame. Simply call us to arrange a return, then send it back to us at no cost to you, no questions asked. That’s a full 60 days in your home to be sure the robot you picked is the right one for you and your family!”
Roborock: “Our robots are designed to work on hard floors. The S6 is geared towards use on hard floors and includes a DuPont nylon brush, which should ensure good treatment of your floors. If you still have concerns, then I would suggest you ask this same question on the Roborock subreddit. There is a great community of Roborock customers who have a lot of collective experience between them.”
Neato Robotics: “Our robots should not scratch hardwood floors. I run one myself on hardwood flooring without any issues. The wheels of the Neato are rubbery and would not cause scratching.”
Eufy (makers of RoboVac): We don’t have special wheels, bushes, or other technology. Please know that our RoboVac won’t scratch hardwood floors if the brush guard is installed correctly, usually.
What Customers Say About Using Robot Vacuums on Hardwood Floors
Although most manufacturers claim their robot vacuums are safe on hardwood floors, it’s important to consider what customers are saying, too.
Below are the themes I found reading customer reviews of the top-selling robot vacuums.
iLife A4s Pro Robot Vacuum
The iLife A4s Pro Robot Vacuum has plenty of positive reviews, but reviewers claim it can scratch the floor if it doesn’t have a good path. Though floors can be at risk, the biggest issue here is wood furniture; it tends to run full force into it, causing dents and scratches.
That said, the majority of customers love how this vacuum performs on hardwood floors.
Although it’s one of the most popular robot vacuums, many customers have had issues with the iRobot Roomba scratching and damaging floors. As iRobot customer service warned, definitely stay away from the Roomba 600 Series if you have hardwood floors.
The Ecovacs robot vacuum is another to watch out for: a few customers have complained that it didn’t just ruin or scratch their hardwood floors but took chunks out of it.
However, other customers love it for their hardwood floors, so it seems to be a hit-or-miss buy.
The fact is, the majority of robot vacuums are safe on hardwood floors with minimal critical reviews. There are little to no complaints about the Bissell SpinWave, Shark IQ vacuum, and the Anker Eufy.
Are Some Robot Vacuums More Likely to Scratch Hardwood Floors?
Are some robot vacuum brands less likely to scratch your floors than others?
To find out, I analyzed thousands of reviews on Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and other major retailers and calculated the percentage of customers that complained that the vacuum scratched their hardwood floors.
Below are the results for top robot vacuum brands:
- iLife: Out of over 14,000 reviews, 0.0004% iLife customers complained that the robot vacuum scratched their hardwood floors.
- iRobot: Out of over 34,000 reviews, 0.0007% iRobot customers complained that the robot vacuum scratched their hardwood floors.
- Shark: Out of over 8,000 reviews, surprisingly, zero Shark customers complained that the robot vacuum scratched their hardwood floors.
- Neato: Out of over 4,000 reviews, 0.003% Neato customers complained that the robot vacuum scratched their hardwood floors.
- Eufy: Out of over 16,000 reviews, 0.0002% Eufy customers complained that the robot vacuum scratched their hardwood floors.
- Roborock: Out of over 950 reviews, zero Roborock customers complained that the robot vacuum scratched their hardwood floors.
Based on these statistics, Neato, iRobot, and iLife are most likely to scratch your floors, and Roborock and Shark are the least likely.
However, there are no guarantees. Many factors impact the risk, including the type of wood, the amount of debris on the floor, and the vacuum model.
How to Prevent Robot Vacuums From Scratching Hardwood Floors
No matter the brand, if you’re trying to minimize the risk of your robot vacuum scratching your floors, there are some simple steps to take.
Pick up large debris: Don’t leave rocks, dirt, sand, or plastic lying around. The wheels can get caught on these items, drag them around, and cause scratches, denting, or scuffs.
Pick up wires or cords: Robot vacuums can easily get tangled in wires or cords, drag them around, and scratch the floor.
Tape the pivot wheel: Putting electrical tape or a thick rubber band over the Roomba’s pivot wheel can prevent scratches. You’ll need to replace the tape often, but it’s a quick and easy fix.
Pick up debris: Pick up sand, gravel, or other debris before running your robot vacuum. While the vacuum can suck it up, there’s a chance it could get stuck in the wheels and drag across the floor.
Clean the vacuum: Regularly clean your robot vacuum to ensure the wheels can spin freely. Before use, always check that the wheels are clean and rotating as usual.
Sweep hair: Hair can get trapped in the wheels and prevent them from spinning. When the wheels don’t rotate properly, they can drag and rub the floor.
Be present when it’s running: While it may be tempting to sleep or go to work while your vacuum is running, it’s best to monitor it for at least the first few cycles. That way, you can be there if anything goes wrong.
Choose the right vacuum: Make sure to choose a robot vacuum designed for hardwood floors or multiple surfaces. Also, consider Shark, Roborock, or Eufy, which have the fewest complaints about scratching hardwood.
Other Risks With Robot Vacuums
While damaging your hardwood floors is a risk with robot vacuums, it’s not the biggest one.
One of the most common complaints is that the vacuum unit gets scratched. Many models seem to be a bit fearless and will bash or run into things, causing dents or scratches on the vacuum’s body. Over time, one too many bumps can result in a malfunctioning vacuum.
Another risk is that it scuffs or scratches your furniture. Robot vacuums have sensors, which generally prevents them from bumping into objects. But this isn’t failproof. Many unhappy customers report that their robot vacuums damaged their favorite furniture.
You should also take caution if you have pets. Cats and dogs are known to attack these vacuums. They either think it’s a toy, or they think it’s a threat. Either way, it can be dangerous for both the vacuum and your animals.
The battery life is also a bit of an issue. Of course, if you have a larger home, your chosen model may not last long enough to get around the whole house on a single charge.
Lastly, robot vacuums are supposed to learn your home layout so they can easily navigate around your furniture. However, this isn’t an exact science, meaning your floors might not get 100% clean, or the vacuum gets stuck.
Don’t let all this talk about robot vacuums get you nervous about giving one a try on your hardwood floor.
Overall, scratches or damage to your hardwood floors is quite rare, except for instances when the robot vacuum malfunctions or debris gets stuck in the wheels.
The best way to minimize damage to your floors is to keep the vacuum wheels clean, put electrical tape over plastic wheels, shop within the top brands, and choose multi-surface models.
Make sure to clean up any major messes involving sand, dirt, debris, and hair before starting your robot vacuum.
Best of all, most brands offer a generous return policy, so you can test the vacuum out in an inconspicuous area before committing to it.