Ode to a Robot Vacuum

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Should I buy a Roomba? Is a Roomba worth the price? I asked myself those questions many times, and now that I have an answer, which I want to share it with you. I’ve been curious about robot vacuums since they hit the marketplace 13 years ago. However, the high price of the machines always deterred me from buying one.

When I saw a used Roomba for sale at a yard sale earlier this year for $30, I jumped at the chance to test it out. (The previous owner said that the Roomba could not keep up with her shedding dog, but I was willing to give it a try.)

Because my Roomba was previously owned, I had a few hiccups with it at first. A little sleuthing on the internet and some helpful YouTube videos helped me trouble-shoot some problems (the brush heads needed to be cleaned, which involved tweezers to remove hair and debris, and later battery charging issues). I have had nothing but good experiences with Roomba since, and I can now say that I think these machines are worth their retail price tag. If my used model died tomorrow, I’d definitely replace it with a new one.

My husband, on the other hand, does not share my affection for the Roomba, which is what prompted me to write this post. His complaint is that the Roomba doesn’t do a meticulous job, but I would argue, that’s not the point of a robot vacuum. It’s never going to get every corner and nook that you could tackle with a broom. What it is going to do is lengthen the time between deep floor cleanings and cut down the weekly maintenance you have to do yourself. If you run the Roomba once a week, it will keep your floors reasonably clean. Up that to twice a week, and you’re in really good shape. It'll also tackle spots you would need to move furniture to reach, like the spaces under beds and sofas.

I usually set the Roomba to work when I leave for work in the morning, since it’s pretty noisy while it runs. When I get home, I’m always surprised at how much dirt the machine has managed to pick up in its travels, and I’m thrilled that it wasn’t me sweeping it up. Confession: I was never the kind of person who swept or vacuumed the whole apartment every week, so the Roomba has seriously upped the cleanliness of my home.

I like using the Roomba for another reason: It forces us to be tidy. To get the most out of a robot vacuum, you need to offer it a clear path, and to do that, you can’t have tons of crap piled up on your floor. When I run the Roomba, I put all the chairs up on the coffee table, dining table, and desk, which in turn means that those surfaces must also be clear of piles of crap. See what I mean? To have our apartment ready to be cleaned by a robot means our apartment must be in order.

All in all, I think a robot vacuum is a great addition to our small two-bedroom apartment. It might not be the best solution for everyone (like the dog owner I bought mine from), but for me, it's been a great way to cut down on my housekeeping time.

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