Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The lazy way to clean

We bought a Roomba. We had thought about getting one and paused by a Roomba display at Costco the other night when a guy started telling us how great they were. I thought maybe he was a sales rep but no, he was a customer there buying a second one for his 2-story house. So we bought one. After all, we have 4 cats, 2 full-time jobs, hardwood floors that show off the dust and dirt really well, and a lot of other things we'd rather do than vacuum. I found that overall the reviews for this little robot are positive, but some people report having duds and others say it doesn't do what they want or they don't like how it bumps around or makes noise. The best review I read summed it up nicely by saying not to give up your primary vacuum. What this will do is sweep the floors daily... and provide entertainment for the cats at the same time. It doesn't do thorough cleaning of carpets and won't get into tight corners and of course it has to vacuum around your shoes, the laundry basket, and the toys strewn about (in our case, cat toys).

This machine is also not a "set it and forget it" type of tool. It requires frequent cleaning so that the sensors don't get too dirty (and cause it to miss seeing the steps and take a fall). You also need to keep the wheels clean so they don't get bogged down with hair and string - a very possible scenario with 4 cats, my long hair and fringe on our rugs. So we'll see how good we are at keeping up the maintenance. I still think that will be easier than vacuuming the whole house.

So last night in between going to the door for the few trick or treaters we had, we played with our new toy. The model we bought has a docking station, remote control, and virtual walls - devices that emit infrared while the Roomba is on and keep it from entering places you don't want it to go. We have hardwood floors in our house but in the living room and dining room we have large oriental rugs with fringe. Roombas "eat" fringe, just like other vacuums - and they'll also get hung up on cords and drag them...and the object attached to the cord, so you do have to Roomba-proof a bit. The Roombas do much better on hardwood and tile than on carpet and since our carpets quickly get covered with cat hair, we're better off using our Miele in those rooms. Our main use of the Roomba will be to sweep the floors of the kitchen, hallway, family room, and our bedroom. We'll keep it out of the sewing room/office because of the oriental rug in there and the plethora of threads and pins it might encounter. Besides, it's small room and the Roomba would spend a lot of time bumping around and I worry it might not get out of there and find its home base when it's done.

The Roomba does do a lot of bumping - it's kind of funny to watch it and guess where it will go next. When it finds a straight path it does a tiny wiggle from side to side as it goes, kind of like wiggling its hips if it had them. When it finds a lot of dirt, a blue light comes on and it goes around in circles, almost as if it's gleefully doing a dance. The cats do not know what to make of it. It is a bit noisy and beeps when it turns on, beeps when it's time to go home to its base (after an hour of cleaning) and it also beeps an "uh oh" and shuts off when you pick it up. So far we haven't seen it get stuck. It's gone over small rugs and the transitions between tile and wood without too much trouble. It did try to "mate" with the base of our fan but it finally got itself back on level ground and went about cleaning. It does pick up quite a bit. The dust bin is small but that's probably both to keep the size down and also to make you tend to the device regularly.

It'll be nice to have the rooms swept of cat hair, cat litter (ugh!), crumbs, and other grit and dust bunnies while we're away at work. Hopefully this little guy will keep working away for a good long time because I think we need him!


  1. Hmmm.. Sounds like our new hardwood floors might need a christmas present. I mean come on -- free sweeping AND a cat toy? Sounds awesome!

  2. Ha! Well, you were consistent. I came back from the meetup all excited about your new toy and thinking I need one too...I'll be checking in for Roomba updates.

  3. Glad to read this post. I have thought about one of these for some time. I have lots of hardwood floors which seem to show dust more so than carpets!!!! Have to check this out.

  4. Anonymous2:15 AM

    Great idea. We're always looking for ways to annoy the cats. Kathy