An Easy Guide on How to Empty a Roomba & Fix the “Full Bin” Issue

A robot vacuum is now the third most crucial chore machine, especially if you hardly have enough in the house. But then, do you know how to empty a Roomba bin into the self-emptying base remotely when the automatic setting fails?

Sadly, YES, this has been a common issue to a lot of people with sophisticated iRobot vacuums, including Roomba S9+ and i7+. In some cases, the little helper even gets to dock, but will still push the “bin full” message on the app.  

Personally, this is infuriating, having invested over $400 to not be emptying your robot manually daily. But if you do know where to look, the solution is usually pretty straightforward.

So, in this article, I’ll show you how to empty a Roomba into the self-emptying base without having to force it. I’ve also included a few tips you might find helpful when emptying the bin from the robot manually.

How Often Should I Empty My Roomba?

First, Roomba is my all-time favorite robot vacuum for Vinyl plank floors, tiles, and carpets as well. Yes, not all the innovations from the local brand have been too pleasing. But the majority of products are some of the bestsellers, despite the huge price tag.

One of the bestselling features of Roomba is the fact that it’s very efficient in cleaning. Even without a mention of the available suction power, it’s able to deliver on the task better than most other brands. Then it has now assumed a nearly autonomous mode, whereby it can clean, recharge, and empty its bin without supervision.

In other words, this would mean to answer how often you should empty your Roomba,  start by considering the system in use.

For example, with a self-emptying model like the Roomba i7 series, you never have to manually empty the bin- unless the automated feature fails. You only need to empty the base collector, which can take 45-60 days to get full.

If you don’t have the self-emptying base, you’ll now need to empty your Roomba daily or a couple of days a week. It all depends on how dirty your floors usually are, in particular, whether there are furry friends in the house.

Fortunately, iRobot Roomba vacuums (except Roomba 600 series) have a “full bin” indicator onboard and on the app. You’ll always know the right time to empty it, albeit I’d recommend checking physically if your floors are usually unusually dirty.

Why is My Roomba Self-Emptying Feature Not Working?

In the sophisticated Roomba vacuum with an Automatic Dirt Disposal Charging Station (self-emptying base), you never have to worry about the bin getting full.

As was just mentioned, it can take up to sixty (60) days for the base collector to get full of debris/ dust. It might be less in other cases as it all depends on how dirty your floors usually are.

Technically, this would also mean your Roomba will rarely push the “full bin” message to your phone. Even after getting full mid-cleaning, it should be able to track back to the dock and empty all the debris.

Nonetheless, every machine has its flaws, and the Roomba is no exception. It may be unable to activate the automatic self-emptying function on its own. But that usually happens for one main reason: BUMPER SENSORS.

A Roomba robot vacuum uses the sensors behind the front bumper to dock properly. If these sensors don’t alert the machine has docked successfully, it may not be able to empty itself.

How to Empty a Roomba

The various times this happens include:

  • The Roomba returned to the base while the sensors were “sleeping”. It’s more likely to happen when you returned the robot to the dock while carrying it- perhaps after it was unable to find the base on its own
  • The (transparent) window in the bumper that the sensors use to look through is too dirty- either at the front, behind, or both.
  • The Roomba has an incorrect configuration (firmware bug) affecting the performance of the sensors. It can also happen when the sensors are damaged.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Empty a Roomba Robot Vacuum

Not every user knows how to empty a Roomba right. Many believe it’s all about unhooking the bin from the robot and turning it over to the trash can. But in doing so, there’s a high chance of triggering the “full bin” indicator even when the bin is physically empty.

Part One: How to Empty a Roomba into the Self-Emptying Base

Well, this is the most asked question on the iRobot Roomba/ robot vacuum community forums. But it’s mostly an issue for people who didn’t realize the machine uses the front bumper sensors to activate the self-emptying feature.

If these sensors are working as they should be, your Roomba should be able to dock and empty automatically. In case it doesn’t happen, you might see the “dust bin may be full” message on the phone app and the “empty bin” button may not appear.

Luckily, you can also correct that by simply:

  1. Make sure the Roomba base station is properly plugged into the power outlet
  2. Move the robot a couple of feet (about eight) away from the base
  3. Press the HOME button from the app to allow the robot to track its way back home by itself
  4. Once the robot docks on the base successfully, it should start to empty automatically. You’ll also notice an “Empty Bin” button under the “CLEAN” button in the iRobot Home app, which you can use if the automatic activation fails.

Important Notes:

You can also press the “HOME” button on the Roomba while docking on the base station to activate the automatic disposal feature. If it fails or the “Empty Bin” button doesn’t appear on the app, the sensors behind the front bumper may be blocked.

So, get your clean rug and wipe the visible dirt on the front bumper. It’s also likely there is a debris build-up behind the bumper obscuring the sensors. And in that case, you’ll need to grab your Phillips screwdriver and remove the bumper to clean its interior.

As was mentioned earlier, a firmware issue can also affect the automatic disposal feature of your Roomba. Thus, you can try rebooting your robot by pressing and holding the “CLEAN” button for 20 seconds. The button will display a white light ring swirling clockwise (reboot finishes when the swirling also ends).

Part Two: How to Empty a Roomba Vacuum Bin Manually

The steps on how to empty a Roomba Vacuum bin manually are pretty straightforward. But you must make sure it empties EVERYTHING to avoid getting the “Full Bin” indicator on the robot or mobile app.

What to Do:

  1. Make sure your Roomba vacuum is completely off
  2. Press the bin quick-release button (shown by a dustbin icon) on the back of the robot
  3. Remove the bin from its slot completely
  4. Locate and press the bin door quick-release button (also has a dustbin icon) to open
  5. Once the door is open, empty the content from the bin into your main trash can. You can shake the robot bin a bit to get out any stuck-on dirt
  6. Next, locate the filter door release latch, then press and lift it to reveal the filter
  7. Grasp the colored tab on the filter and remove it from its position
  8. Tap the filter lightly against your trash container to shake off all the debris
  9. Return the filter and shut its tiny door close
  10. While the door to the robot bin is still open, check if the inner “Full Bin” sensors have any sticking dirt. If they (sensor ports) are dirty, grab a clean, dry microfiber/ soft cotton cloth and wipe them clean
  11. Now close the door to the Roomba bin and check the two outer “Full Bin” sensors are clean as well. If not, use the cloth from Step 10 to wipe them clean
  12. Next, check the two “Full Bin” sensors on the Roomba robot and wipe off any stuck-on dirt with a clean, dry microfiber/ soft cotton cloth. The one used in Steps (10) and (11) should still work
  13. Finally, slide the bin back into its slot on the robot. Make sure it secures properly (with a click).


First of all, the steps on how to empty a Roomba are nearly the same on all the series of robot vacuums from the local brand. The only difference will be the position you remove the bin or its filter. Hence, the reason I’ve seen no need to repeat them.

Meanwhile, a lot of people usually finish emptying their Roomba vacuum by Step 5: After pouring out the content in the bin. Some will make efforts to shake off the dirt and debris that have collected on the filter as well. But most don’t remember to wipe the build-up on the “Full Bin” sensors (unavailable in older Roomba vacuums).

However, too much dirt around these sensors can cause your Roomba to show the “Full Bin” message. And when that happens, your robot won’t be able to start a new cleaning task until you wipe them off.

FYI: You necessarily don’t need to clean the sensors every day- once or twice a month is enough, depending on how your floors are dirty.

Remember to Empty the Automatic Disposal Bin

In conclusion, that’s how to empty a Roomba robot vacuum right for the next cleaning session. And as was mentioned, it’s a pretty easy process if you know what to look for, even when the machine starts pushing “Full Bin” messages.

If you have the sophisticated Roomba, do remember to empty the large collector of the Automatic Dirt Disposal Charging Station as well. Otherwise, your smart robot won’t be able to self-empty its bin automatically.