I remember a few years ago, when I first saw commercials for those Roomba robot vacuum cleaners. I thought it was a neat idea, but totally impractical. There’s no way a little thing like that could do a good job cleaning the floor, and it sure wouldn’t work for us. Who would waste their money on a Roomba?
A few years later, I opened up our Christmas present from my stepson’s grandparents, and I found out.
It Seemed Like An Expensive Yet Worthless Christmas Gift
They had one themselves, and they loved it. When we unwrapped it and put on our fake smiles, they lit up and started going on and on about how great it was. But when I saw it, I thought, “Wow. I feel bad. I wish they didn’t buy this for us. We’ll never use it.”
Sure, they have a nice big house, and they don’t have piles of stuff around the house like we do in our little townhome. You could barely even walk through our house without knocking over a stack of something.
So our Roomba 595 iRobot Vacuum Cleaner sat in its box for well over a year, until a few months ago, when we started cleaning the stuff out of our home to get it ready to sell. We got new floors put in, so at least the living room floor was clear, and we had given our vacuum to my mother in law when she moved out a few weeks before. So now was the time.
A Robot Vacuum? Come On…
I was still skeptical. I knew this thing would do nothing more than move the debris around from one part of the kitchen floor to the other. That’s what our old Bissell standup vacuum did. It would literally shoot bits of cat food across the floor, like hockey legend Wayne Gretsky launching a puck toward the goal.
And that was a big vacuum cleaner plugged into the wall. This little toy would probably have a dead battery in five minutes and miss half the floor anyways, right?
Oh My God! I Love This Thing!
Now that I have this robot vacuum cleaner to clean the floor for me, I must have lots of time to do other stuff, right? I’m SUPER PRODUCTIVE now, right?
Haha no. Now I just love to sit on the couch and stare at this robot as it cleans my floor.
This thing is amazing! It really gets the whole floor! And no hockey-puck action. It really picks the stuff up. It even works great on our vinyl floors, and it goes up and over the throw rugs without any hassles. It fits perfectly under the edge of our kitchen cabinets and right under our couch too.
Even now, I’m practically gushing. I’m such a nerd. I love my first robot! I think I’ll start calling him R2.
It’s So Smart
Anyways, this thing is so smart. You’d think that when it comes to a chair leg, it would turn around and totally miss underneath the kitchen table. But no. It cleverly stops and goes, stops and goes, inching its way in little arcs until it gets around the chair and table legs and into the space under the table. Basically, it will manage to go into every single space that it can physically fit, and it will find its way out too.
It also has some kind of sensor, so when it’s traveling full speed across the floor and is about to bang into your wall…it senses the wall and automatically slows down so it won’t scratch anything up. How cool is that?
It also knows where it’s wall charger is located…it’s “home base.” And it’s programmable.
So basically, you can just set it up in the corner or under the couch at its secret, hidden home base under the couch or something. And you can program it to come out every 24 hours or every 3 days or whatever, and it will automatically come out of its base at the appointed time, clean your whole living room and kitchen or whatever for half an hour, then it’ll automatically go right back to its home base to recharge for the next cleaning!
It also comes with these little broadcaster things that you set up to create an invisible wall. Like, if you don’t want it to go into the bathroom, you can put that little device next to the doorway and the Roomba will stop at the doorway and turn around. Or you can use that to block off the stairs so it won’t go tumbling down. It’s not an actual barrier, but it emits a light beam or something, and when the Roomba detects the beam, it won’t cross it.
Easy To Clean And Maintain
Occasional cleaning is all you have to do. The instructions say to clean the filter after every use, but I just do it every 2nd or 3rd time or so, and I only clean the brushes as needed, like if there’s hair or something twisted around it. It’s so easy. There are no bags, no washing needed. Just remove the filter and dump it out into the trash and snap it back in. Takes like 2 minutes or less.
But Roomba Does Have Its Limitations
Yes. It’s not the perfect little robot. Not yet.
It can’t do stairs or curtains or blinds.
It actually does corners pretty well, but not as well as those handheld attachments on a hose vacuum, you know?
Also, if part of your bedroom floor has little toys or a mound of loose papers and photos…Roomba will annihilate that. Not good. With a manual vacuum, you can just vacuum the “walkway” through a messy bedroom and avoid your kids’ Pokémon cards, but Roomba cannot make that distinction yet and will roll right over all that and get stuff tangled and mangled in its brushes and rollers. So be aware of that.
And if your home is super packed with piles of stuff like our place was in the past, then that would limit its effectiveness. But you know what? It’s actually so good at maneuvering, it probably could find it’s way through the mess. As long as there’s no small items or cords on the floor that could get chewed up.
I’m telling you, this thing really is amazing. If you’ve never seen one in action, you will literally waste half a day just sitting there watching it clean your floor. It’s so cool.
So if you could use a little help around the house, or if you’re just bored and geeky and want a cool robot slave, then let me tell you…this is the droid you’re looking for.
Photos by Chris Desatoff
Chris Desatoff is a cartoonist and blogger. You can see his stuff at ChrisDesatoff.com