- What: Roomba Robotic Vacuum
- When: Birth to college
- Why: Clean floors
- Where: Amazon
I don’t know how people survive the toddler years without a robotic vacuum. Of course, I say the same things about dogs, so I suppose it depends on your situation. But you don’t have to feed or water a Roomba, nor do you have to walk it or pick up any poop it leaves behind.
We’ve had one since they first debuted, well before we had children. I loved it then, when we pushed a button leaving the house and went on a Roomba hunt when we got home after work. More than ten years later, Roomba can find its own way back to the charging base. Even in those situations where it ends up hanging off a cliff also known as the heating return vent, the app on our smartphone will show us its exact location with no hunt required.
My kids have all been equally fascinated and horrified by the robotic vacuum that comes on automatically. My first two loved it, and would still ride on top or even stand on it if allowed. My third hates noise, and loves to push the button to turn it off if it starts.
Roomba can detect stairs to avoid falling down them and crashing into little pieces. We’ve caught Roomba in lots of unfortunate situations, but never at the bottom of any stairs. It has been known to close itself into the bathroom by pushing the door. Since that results in a very clean bathroom floor, I find it hard to complain. It also eats strings and then gets stuck, but as long as I keep balloons out of reach, it works well.
As an added bonus, it piles things into several favorite corners based on the algorithm it uses to make sure it cleans the entire house. That means when my kids don’t clean up and can’t find a favorite item, I can check Roomba’s hidden stash.
We can now schedule it to run at a certain time of day and we can vary the time for different days of the week. It can clean the entire house, just a room, or a small spot. For those parenting years with a crawler who puts every tiny speck in their mouth, this machine saved me hours and hours on my knees picking up who knows what off the floor.
Roomba tucks neatly away underneath furniture or in a corner when not in use. With a much smaller footprint than regular vacuums, it stores out of sight more easily. It may not have as much sucking power or be as smart as a human wielding a regular vacuum, but over a couple days I think it does as good a job, if not better, at keeping the floors free from dirt and dust.
I don’t have much experience with Roomba on carpets, though it does fine with our rugs. I have learned not to buy rugs with tassels, and we love Roomba so much we only buy furniture that has enough clearance for Roomba to fit under, especially since we don’t spend time dusting. We recently returned a new bed frame because once we unpacked it from the box, we realized Roomba would never be able to clean under the bed again.
Our version has rubber brushes for easier cleaning. It also comes with special tools to clean it, though we use them sparingly, and usually only to fix a specific issue. Both brushes pop in and out easily for cleaning, and emptying the tray of collected grime is a cinch as well. You never need to buy replacement bags, although you can order spare parts as needed. We’ve never done that, but have upgraded multiple times, including when the batteries no longer hold a charge very long or when we want the newest features.
I know other brands of robotic vacuums exist, and some cost less, too. We’ve had at least four iterations of Roombas, though, and never considered breaking up with iRobot’s success.
So far, Roomba doesn’t empty its tray in the garbage on its own, but other than that, it keeps the house cleaner than I could ever do otherwise. And it doesn’t bark.