Home >Blog>Pros and Cons of Using Robot Vacuums in Commercial Cleaning

black robot vacuum sitting on the floor

We use artificial intelligence for everything these days — why not cleaning?

Ever since the first Roomba came out 20 years ago, homeowners and business managers have weighed the pros and cons of using the floor-cleaning gadget. It seems easier than sweeping yourself, but is it really cost-effective, especially in a large commercial building?

Here’s everything you need to know about robot vacuums and the best ways to keep your establishment spic and span.

Maintenance Effort

It may seem like the biggest pro of a robot vacuum is that it simplifies your maintenance efforts. While this may be true in a small office, a large warehouse or office building won’t see the same results. These devices may not live up to your performance standards long term.


Robot vacuums do work pretty well in a commercial office setting. If your floors frequently have scraps of paper, crumbs, or dirt tracked in from outdoors, a robot vacuum can handle it. If you have an in-house cleaning team, this will make their jobs much easier.

For instance, robots can prevent the need for your maintenance workers to excessively bend over and stoop down — movements that can easily lead to back pain. That means less time off and potentially fewer workers’ compensation claims due to injuries. 


One of the core disadvantages of a robot vacuum cleaner is its insufficient suction power. Despite what you may see in TV commercials, these vacuums simply can’t handle heavy particles. A restaurant kitchen, for example, will frequently have messes that are too big for the robovac.

The reality is that a robot vacuum has a less powerful and smaller motor than a full-sized vacuum does. You likely won’t want it running during peak business hours — it’s a tripping hazard — but by the time you need a deep clean at the day’s end, the robot may not be up to the task.

Also, keep in mind that robot vacuums work best on low-pile carpeting and bare floors. High-pile carpets and shaggy rugs will only slow the robot vacuum, causing it to use up more of its battery.

Commercial Cleaning Efficiency

The top pros and cons of a robot vacuum, like a Roomba, also have to do with how efficiently this type of machine cleans commercial floors. Although vacuum robots can indeed work well, they may need a little help on the front end to produce the best cleaning results.


Vacuum robots are more than just effective cleaners. They are also more efficient than human maintenance personnel. That’s because these machines are designed to easily clean large spaces without missing spots. Managing these automated “workers” is also easier as they require little supervision. That means both you and your maintenance staff members can focus on completing other more important tasks while robots handle all of your facility’s grunt work.


One of the main disadvantages of a robot vacuum cleaner is that pre-cleaning is required before you use one of these robots. For instance, to make your commercial space easier for your robot vacuum to navigate, you’ll have to pick up any clutter on the floor before you set your robot loose. These types of mechanized cleaners won’t run correctly if obstacles, ranging from dropped pens to fallen papers, are in their way, or they may inadvertently suck up small items.

At a certain point, “pre-cleaning” becomes time- and cost-prohibitive.

Commercial Cleaning Cost Effectiveness

It’s worth considering how this device impacts your bottom line. All things considered, investing in a company fleet of cleaning robots often amounts to a net zero.


A robot vacuum designed to work in a retail center or school environment, for example, is an investment initially. However, over time, you may notice that using a robot in your workspace significantly reduces your labor costs.

Unlike human workers, who require pay, benefits, and breaks, robot vacuums can spend hours working without slowing down. High-quality robots additionally require minimal repair and maintenance, which can further help with keeping operational costs low.


One of the biggest disadvantages of a robot vacuum cleaner is that it can’t completely replace your establishment’s maintenance workers or your traditional vacuum cleaner.

As we mentioned earlier, robot vacuums don’t have the best suction power. As a result, even if you invest in a robot vacuum cleaner, which can inherently be costly due to its built-in technologies, like Wi-Fi connectivity or even a self-emptying system, you’ll still also need to make room in your budget for manual vacuum cleaners — and the workers to run them.

All of this means that robot vacuums may not generate as much financial savings as you initially expected them to. 

Commercial Cleaning Effectiveness

Your Roomba or other robot vacuum can certainly be effective at keeping your establishment clean. However, they may not complete tasks as quickly as you would like them to.


A commercial vacuum robot can easily clean places that a maintenance worker would have a hard time reaching. These include corners or areas beneath heavy furniture.

In addition, as we alluded to earlier, robot vacuums are designed to perform continuously. They won’t quit cleaning until no grime or dirt is left in the area. Human cleaners, on the other hand, could accidentally miss even glaring messes.


One of the top disadvantages of a robot vacuum cleaner is that even though it can clean more effectively than a human being can at times, the machine works relatively slowly. You may find that it takes half an hour longer to complete a cleaning task with a robot vacuum than it would with a traditional vacuum cleaner.

Safety and Floor Damage

One of the biggest questions surrounding robot vacuums is how safe this type of device is. Robot vacuums can create a safer environment for your maintenance workers, but they may unfortunately damage your floors.


Robot vacuum cleaners are not at risk of falling and tripping, and they’ll never need sick days. They can’t spread disease during flu season. Most offices find that their employees are actually tidier when they know a robot vacuum cleaner is patrolling the floors. They think, “I better move this so the robot doesn’t hit it!” Sometimes the mere presence of a robot vacuum cleaner can contribute to an increased awareness of building safety.


Although robot vacuums can promote a safer work environment for maintenance staff, one of the main disadvantages of a robot vacuum cleaner is that the device could damage your establishment’s wooden floors.

A robot vacuum has rubber wheels and soft brushes, so chances are that the vacuum itself won’t scratch your wooden floors. However, small objects, sand, or dirt can become lodged in one of the wheels or the area beneath the vacuum. The device can then drag this debris around and result in unsightly scratches.

Inherent Limitations

Finally, it may seem obvious, businesses need to remember that a robot vacuum cannot complete every cleaning task.


Robot vacuums are making it increasingly easier to keep commercial establishments’ floors sparkling clean. Their robust sanitation mechanisms, specialized brushes, and advanced sensors make them excellent navigators and cleaners of large spills on linoleum floors or bread crumbs on break room floors, for example.


As far as the disadvantages of a robot vacuum cleaner go, this type of device does not feature attachments for cleaning specific areas, such as vents, upholstery, or crevices.

Robot vacuum cleaners are great for cleaning floors and the areas along baseboards. However, you cannot use them to clean elevated surfaces, such as couches. You’ll need a canister or upright vacuum cleaner to use attachments that can handle spot cleaning at higher levels. They can’t clean windows or disinfect countertops. At the end of the workday, you’ll still need a cleaning crew.

Call Seattle Commercial Cleaners

The only way to get a thorough cleaning at your business is by hiring a commercial cleaning company. Seattle Commercial Cleaners has more than a decade of experience handling business cleaning tasks. We tailor our cleaning solutions to your needs. Contact us today for a free quote.