This is an unsolicited, unreimbursed testimonial for the robotic vacuum cleaner known as the iRobot Roomba. When I first heard the words “robotic vacuum” years ago I made a rude noise with my lips. It sounded like a pricey toy more than a useful appliance.
But DF, that most frugal and practical of men, has owned one model or another for years. When I moved in with him I decided to learn how to use it.
And then I fell in love with a little self-propelled disc.
Roomba delights me when she’s not scaring me with just how much dust and crud she’s picked up on what looked like clean-enough floors. (Yes, our Roomba is female. She makes us think of the robot maid from “The Jetsons.”)
Given that I have asthma, it’s smart to keep the environment as dust-free as possible. But vacuuming frequently hasn’t generally been high on my to-do list, even though I knew it should have been.
Recently I realized my asthma attacks have all but disappeared since I came to live with DF. Initially I thought it was because I was so much happier. Now I think it’s mostly Roomba’s doing.
Happiness does have a lot to do with overall health, of course. But dust does, too. Every time DF or I open up Roomba and see what’s been removed from our environment I think, “Eeeeewwww, I could have been breathing that.”
Welcome to ‘Mopping Monday’
Roomba has also solved another housework issue. Clean floors have always been an issue for me because mopping seemed like a huge time suck: First I’d have to move chairs and numerous other items up off the floor, sweep or vacuum the whole area and then mop.
Somehow this felt onerous so I’d put it off. And off. And off, to the point where a simple mopping wouldn’t be sufficient and I’d have to get down on my knees and scrub with a brush.
This wasn’t so bad when I lived in places with minimal linoleum, but almost all of our living area here has wood laminate flooring. Even though it’s not a huge house (under 1,100 square feet), the move-vacuum-scrub trifecta would likely take hours. While DF and I share the housework, I don’t feel I should order him to mop on a specific schedule. (Especially since he often does more cleaning than I do.)
Thus I’ve instituted “Mopping Monday.” Before he leaves for work DF gets chairs, the piano bench, the ottoman, the trash can and other items up and out of the way and gets Roomba going. I write until Roomba has done two full passes.
After that I mop the living room and part of the kitchen, empty and refill the pail and do the rest of the kitchen, the entry area and mop my way down the hall toward the office (with a quick side trip to the bathroom linoleum). Then it’s back to work until the floors dry.
Imperfect, but worth it
Is Roomba perfect? Nope. She’s a little laissez-faire about corners and can’t reach all the way under the baseboard heaters, so DF or I use a broom to pull dust from tight spots out where Roomba can grab it.
Consumer Reports agrees, saying that robotic vacuums can’t “match the deep cleaning you’ll get with the best upright and canister vacuums.” That’s probably true for those with carpets, but only one small room in this house has wall-to-wall.
It’s so easy to mop every week, the way I prefer, now that DF moves the furniture and Roomba does the sweeping. Having a clean living area makes me feel happy. Having needed to use my rescue inhaler just once in the past year – and that was during an illness – makes me happy, too.
Before MSN Money fired all its writers I purchased a Roomba as an anniversary gift for my daughter and son-in-law. Very glad I did so, since these days I’d hesitate to drop more than $400 (and maybe upwards of $700) for a single present. (However, a nice chunk of the price was covered by Amazon gift cards I earned from the Swagbucks reward program.)
These critters aren’t for everybody. Yet despite my initial skepticism I’m amazed how big a difference this little item has made in my life. While it doesn’t sound like a frugal hack, the impact on both my health and my peace of mind are completely worth the cost.
That’s why I’m going to split the cost of a new model with DF when this version gives up the ghost. Once you’ve gone Roomba, it’s hard to go back.