My iRobot friend

My iRobot friend November 30, 2013

Do YOU have something that you are wishing for this Christmas?  Recently, my husband, T, gave me a stellar gift and the other Builders have asked to hear more about it.  As I mentioned last week in my Thoughts for Thursday post, T bought us a Roomba iRobot vacuum in October.  The Roomba iRobot is a robotic floor vacuum that comes in several different models and costs anywhere from $300 to $700.  Let me give you a bit of background to explain why he made the purchase.  After all, we already had a rather inexpensive but fully functional vacuum, and we are not prone to routinely dropping a few hundred dollars on house cleaning tools!

I really like to keep a clean house.  Obviously, this is a challenge with four kids six years and under, and right now, we don’t hire any cleaning assistance.  When it comes to cleaning our floors (a mix of carpet, hardwood and tile), I try to vacuum the whole house one a week, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.  On a daily basis, the more pressing situation is in our kitchen and dining room.  We have a counter in the kitchen where our kids eat breakfast and lunch, but we eat all of our family meals in the dining room due to space constraints.  T was shocked earlier this fall when I told him that I was sweeping the kitchen floor 2-3 times a day (is there any end to the granola, bread crumbs and couscous bits that kids can drop on the floor?).  Sweeping the dining room floor is time-consuming because of all the chairs that need to be moved.  Neither floor cleans well with our upright vacuum, because it tends to spread stuff around the tile kitchen floor and the wood dining floor rather than vacuuming stuff up.

So, T proposed the Roomba as a way to ease the burden of (and perhaps my perseveration over) the messy floors.  I’ll admit that at first I was skeptical and not very interested.  Before I met the iRobot, I thought of it as an expensive gadget that would get in my way and be more trouble that it was worth.  The videos that T showed me always showed the Roomba cleaning spacious, semi-vacant living spaces with nary a toy, cluttered corner or child in sight (all of which are omnipresent in my house!).  But, T persisted in his offers, so we made a family trip to Bed Bath Beyond with a “20% Off One Item” coupon in hand.  When the BBB sales associate assured me we could return the Roomba at any point if I wasn’t happy with it, I finally caved.  What did we have to loose?

T and the kids couldn’t wait to put “Robie” to work (they had already named it on our way home from the store).   The iRobots work with the help of responsive navigation technology and have the ability to “learn” their surroundings over time.  At first, we noticed that Robie would run headlong into walls and chairs, but over time the semi-random pattern of vacuuming became more methodical, and it started slowing in front of walls and encircling chair legs.  The Roomba has a spinning brush that helps move stuff from the margins into the vacuum, which helps it clean corners and other tight spaces.  I was impressed that Robie’s low profile (about 3-4” in height) allowed it to successfully clean under our beds, couches and around our radiators, areas where I am unable to reach with our upright vacuum. It even dragged out a few lost toys from under the couch :).  It did a great job on the hard floors and was able to detect especially dirty spots that needed more attention.  When it finished, the Roomba found it’s docking station and went into sleep mode.  T pulled out the collection compartment to empty it, and we were both amazed at the amount of stuff it had picked up.  T pointed out that if I wanted, the Roomba could be programmed to vacuum at specific times during the day.

Now, several weeks into our iRobot experiment, I have to admit I am hooked:

– I now move our kitchen stools and put Robie to work in the kitchen as we leave for school/errands in the morning.  It is such a treat to arrive home to clean floors.

-If I set Robie to work at the start of afternoon rest time (it is quiet enough that it doesn’t wake the sleeping younger children), it can do a superficial clean around dropped toys and book piles in our living and dining rooms while I work on other projects or obligations.

-T will set Robie to work after dinner while we put the kids to bed, and by the time we arrive back downstairs the floors are clean.

-My favorite part? T (my gadget lover) often offers to take over “Robot Duty” when he arrives home from work or on weekends.  I’ll take any vacuum that makes cleaning more appealing to my husband and kids :).

-Robie successfully avoids falling down our stairs and has amazed me with its ability to avoid entanglement – no need to watch or attend to it like a wandering toddler!

So, in sum, I give our iRobot five stars. The company isn’t paying me to say this; I don’t have any financial conflicts of interest!  For us, it has been a great investment, and I am so thankful that T suggested it.


p.s. While we haven’t tried this ourselves (and we won’t), check out this video of babies riding on Roombas. After having Robie around our house, we couldn’t stop laughing.






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  • Kat0427

    Thanks for this great review, Queen B! The thought of dust-free/crumb-free floors is very appealing 🙂 And, I am totally impressed that you were actually sweeping 3 times a day!

  • Mary Alice

    I do have cleaning help once a week, and I still sweep the kitchen floor 2-3 times a day, and the dining room floor after dinner every night. If this could just do the dining room while we do the dishes, it would be life changing! You don’t have to disclose which model you have, but do you have thoughts on the different models? When the price goes up so much it makes me nervous about buying the cheapest one. Also, brilliant on the coupon! I never think to use those coupons on really big ticket items, but in this case 20% makes a huge difference.

  • Karen

    Such a big price range for different models – What model did you pick and why? Sounds like you are happy with it.

  • Thanks so much for this review. I’d also like to know which one you bought. We were thinking about getting the mopping one, so if any of our readers owns that, please let me know what you think!

  • Queen B

    Sorry for the late reply! We bought the 770, and we got it for about $100 less because we used a coupon at Bed Bath Beyond. We liked the invisible wall feature (allows you to tell it not to leave a room with the help of a moveable signal-emitting box) and I think it has a better allergen filter (we have some dust allergies in our crew). The more expensive ones have additional features that I didn’t feel we needed. The website gives good side by side comparisons that we found helpful.

  • Anna

    Thanks for a great review! I never would have thought that it was so smart. I figures babysitting it and emptying it would take so much effort that I might as well do the sweeping myself. Also, great idea about using the BBB coupon!