How to Clean the Front Wheel of a Roomba Discovery

Picture of How to Clean the Front Wheel of a Roomba Discovery
The front wheels of Roomba Discoveries collect hair and eventually stop turning. This undoubtedly affects performance, particularly cleaning time before recharge, but more importantly, it really bothers me when a robot isn't working at its peak.

Here, I show how to remove and clean the front wheel. This is a surprisingly complex task and will take some time. My Roomba sat on the kitchen counter for a few days as I devoted half and hour here and there to figuring it out. If you are lucky, it is possible to accomplish this without removing Roomba's cover; I was not lucky and had to remove the top cover and bumper. If you're not prepared to spend some time, and potentially remove Roomba's covers, don't start.

I probably sent more time on this project than I would have spent sweeping the floors for the next year. But, that's not the point, is it? I'll watch Roomba work for nearly as long as it would take me to do the same job. I've seen other people do this too, so I know I'm not alone. Cleaning, servicing, and ensuring perfect operation of a Roomba is a way to constructively harness obsessive compulsive behavior.
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Step 1: Turn Roomba on its back; figure out how it pees

Picture of Turn Roomba on its back; figure out how it pees
If you're mammalian like me, after a few months of Roomba cleaning your room, its front wheel will be clogged with hair. You can try cutting and pulling the hair out, but save your self some frustration, and go get your tools.

Jeweler's screwdrivers
small needle-nose pilers
a clamp, such as a quick-clamp

rregister1 year ago
I brute-forced the axle from the assembly (somehow no apparent damage was done). Cleaned the hair, lubricated the axle and shoved it back in (from the open side of the assembly). What are the consequences of this foolish move?
I assume the eccentric piece has fallen off (bad), and that the sensor is out of position now (also bad). But the wheel is spinning freely which is all I care about -- is there any chance the robot will work now? (thank for any advice)
Thank you so much for this. Thank goodness only one of my robots has this kind of front wheel. I did manage, with your great instructions, to get it clean. However, I will never ever do it again -- what a complete pain! I'll pick it clean with a dental tool next time.
kelockwood4 years ago
Yes indeedy, this is the hard part! I have tiny girly fingers and it was still hard.
fredm5 years ago
 I was able to do it w/o a clamp. There are thin strips of double-sided foam tape that hold the metal cover in place.  On my robot, they were already loose, so sliding the metal cover down was easy. I had to do the full front disassembly to get the switch back into position though.  

It took absurdly long to get the switch repositioned -- getting the front bumper off was the easy part.

Thanks for this Instructable -- it was a huge help (and funny too)!
dermbrian6 years ago
Short of doing this disassembly, I find that a hemostat works pretty well to grab and pull out the junk that gets in the front wheel.....and the ends of the brushes.
tookies7 years ago
This is impossible to do by hand. You will need somekind of clamping mechanism.
tookies7 years ago
The metal cover takes some effort to separate from black plastic part. Using a small flat head, I had to pry/leverage it open from top down.
trebuchet037 years ago
It's not just the Discovery models :p All iRobot models with that style wheel collect all sorts of debris :p I'm always getting stuff out of my front wheel - it takes some time, but nowhere near the same amount of time to vacuum every other day :)

What's inside a Roomba anyway? My investigations determine that there is dust inside a Roomba.

Dust... the (silent) Roomba Killer...
Thank you my rombas front wheel stoped working a long time ago