Stop Robot Vacuum From Scratching Hardwood Floors

A robot vacuum is a huge financial investment in most cases, but it can definitely make your life a little more convenient.

You can come home to a perfectly clean floor day in and day out. Yet, there seems to be a recurring issue with robot vacuums causing scratches on hardwood floors.

So, how do you prevent robot vacuums from scratching your hardwood floor?

If you notice circular scratches on your hardwood floor, the front wheel of your robot vacuum is likely the cause. First, try wrapping the front wheel evenly in electrical tape. And, sweep up any hard dirt, sand, and debris that might be getting caught in the wheel, causing the scratching.


Damaged or scratched wood flooring can be quite an expensive fix. That’s exactly why we’re going to review everything you need to know about your new robot vacuum and your beloved hardwood flooring.

What To Do If Your Robot Vacuum Starts Scratching Your Wood Floors

The first thing you need to do is pick up the vacuum to prevent further scratching. It’s time to figure out what’s causing the scratches in the first place. 

Turn the vacuum over and take a good look at the front wheel. Slowly rotate the wheel with your fingers and see if you notice any sand, dirt, or cat litter lodged in the wheel.

If the scratch patterns on your floor are deep and circular, the cause is probably debris trapped in the wheel.

If you don’t see any dirt, keep reading.

As you spin the front caster wheel, see if there’s any resistance. If the wheel doesn’t spin smoothly, there’s a good chance that the issue is hair or dust caught in the wheel.

Use a screwdriver to take the front wheel out and remove any hair that’s trapped in the wheel.

If the trapped hair was the issue, you can probably return to using your robot vacuum without any further scratching.

What Causes Robot Vacuums to Scratch Hardwood Floors?

The front caster wheel of your robot vacuum is the biggest culprit when it comes to scratched hardwood floors.

The issue is that this front wheel only moves back and forth in a single direction. So, when your vacuum bumps into a wall or furniture and rotates, this wheel drags.

The trouble is usually trapped debris.

If this wheel could rotate in all directions, the fact that dirt, sand, or litter was trapped inside the wheel wouldn’t be too much of an issue since it would just roll over the dirt.

But, since the wheel doesn’t turn, the robot vacuum is basically acting like sandpaper on your floor.

This is why you’ll see circular scratch patterns.

There’s also a chance that the front wheel isn’t functional at all. If for some reason the front wheel doesn’t move, like in the case where the hair is caught in the wheel, skid marks might result. That might happen with swiveling and in normal travels.

Which Type of Flooring Is Best for Reducing the Chance Of Getting Robot Vacuum Scratch Marks?

The best way to completely prevent floor scratching is by getting carpeting in your house. There’s nothing to be scratched and robot vacuums run quite smoothly on the carpet.

But, carpeting stains easily and is hard to clean.

The good news is that robot vacuums don’t seem to scratch different types of laminate and tiled floors.

A laminate floor is a great way to get that hardwood floor look without the price and without the robot vacuum scratches. And, it’s much easier and cheaper to repair and replace if scratches were to occur.

Best Preventative Measures to Take for Avoiding Robot Vacuum Scratch Marks

Since the front wheel is the issue and causing your scratches, you might assume that removing the front wheel is a solid option. 

If only it were that easy.

The front wheel plays an incredibly important role in the movement of your vacuum. So, you’re going to have to find another way to prevent these scratches.

Electrical Tape

One of the best ways to prevent scratching is with electrical tape. 

Begin a roll of thin electrical tape on the front wheel and roll the wheel forward. Attach the electrical tape as evenly and flat as you possibly can.

Once the entire wheel is reinforced, cut the electrical tape so that there’s a little overlap at the end. 

Another benefit of electrical tape is that it still allows the vacuum to move when on the carpet.

Remember, you’re looking to reinforce the wheel with electrical tape to give it a softer exterior (as compared to plastic).

You’re not trying to tape the wheel down so that it doesn’t move. The electrical tape shouldn’t get caught or trapped as the wheel turns.

Taking Extra Precautions

The whole purpose of using a robot vacuum is so you don’t have to do any cleaning of your floor. But, if it’s being scratched, you might have to do a little something. Here are some little ways to prevent this scratching.

  • Don’t wear shoes or boots indoors, minimizing the sand and dirt tracked in.
  • Sweep up large debris spills instead of leaving them for your vacuum.
  • Put a mat outside of the litter box to keep the litter off of your floor.
  • Sweep to clear up hair to prevent it from getting trapped in your wheel.

The more of these you can do, the better.

What to Do If My Floors Become Scratched by a Robot Vacuum

If you’ve determined that your robot vacuum is causing those circular scratches on your hardwood floor, it’s time to make a decision regarding whether or not you’ll continue using it.

But, you’re going to have to do something about those scratches.

Here’s a look at what you can do.

Buff the Scratches Out

This method is definitely a little risky, so you might want to leave this one to the professionals. If you’re feeling a little daring, you’re going to need some sandpaper and some wood stain.

Make sure it’s the same exact color as your current floor. What you’ll need to do is sand the wood floor with the grain and then gently apply the stain afterward.

Clean Your Floor

You might not know why it works, but it does work. When your wood floor is cleaner and shinier, you’re less likely to notice damages and scratches.

Products like Weiman Hardwood Floor Cleaner and Polish Restorer might be exactly what you need to bring your scratched floors back to life and hide those scratches a little better.

Do Some Touch Ups

If you’d rather just color in the scratches and pretend they’re not there, products like Katzco Furniture Repair Kit Wood Markers are exactly what you’re looking for.

Choose the marker that looks closest to your hardwood floor and dabble in some ink. This is great for minor fixes, but won’t be so subtle if you have tons of scratching.


Robot vacuums are definitely convenient, but they can be quite a pain when they end up scratching your hardwood floor. You might feel like your only options are to get rid of the vacuum or get rid of your beautiful floor. 

Here’s what you can do instead.

  • Sweep your hardwood floor with a soft-bristle broom to clean up debris and hair.
  • Reinforce the front caster wheel with electrical tape to create a softer wheel.
  • Limit how much dirt or sand you drag in by leaving your shoes off.
  • Monitor the front wheel frequently to be sure hair isn’t getting caught.


Co-founder, product tester, and editor-in-chief around here.

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