Game changer: Life with the iRobot Roomba vacuuming robot

We’re over the moon to announce the latest arrival in the Alexander family, the iRobot Roomba vacuuming robot, it has been a complete GAME CHANGER for us. But it is a big investment so I thought today I would breakdown what we really love about the newest member of our family, and why Geoff Slave 2 Rob, as we have named our Roomba, fits in so well with our family.

How did the Roomba change our lives?

For me it is all about the psychology of vacuuming, or not vacuuming more accurately! It is so easy to just set the Roomba off and then move things out of the way once it is underway, so we are all much more motivated to actually start the vacuuming in the first place.

We’re vacuuming more, and it feels good. This action of moving things to make room for the Roomba to work its magic has also made us more determined to clear the decks and declutter more permanently. It’s so much less frustrating than stopping and starting when using a normal vacuum, or having to tidy first, then vacuum.

You can get so many other things done while it is vacuuming too, like a quick wash up and wipe down of the kitchen/tidying of the living room before guests arrive.  Or enjoy working from home safe in the knowledge that when you look back up from your laptop the floor will be clean again – as a home worker this makes a big difference to my ability to think clearly – I love to work at the kitchen table overlooking the hills, but I find being surrounded by family mess stressful.

I find the prospect of cleaning much less overwhelming now.

We also have an Airbnb let, a holiday barn, in the grounds of our home, and another one on the way, so being able to take the Roomba with us to help with changeovers is just brilliant. Its given us a new personal best on changeover cleaning times!

Cleaning alongside a robot…

Outsourcing the vacuuming makes more time for other cleaning jobs like changing the sheets or cleaning the bathroom. This is also going to sound a bit weird but there is something very soothing and encouraging about having a robot companion. The gentle buzzing of the Roomba helps keep me on track and stay focussed on the task and motivates me to clean more. A bit like the egg timer keeps me focused on my writing sometimes.

Dealing with mess quickly

It is also brilliant for those times where a spillage happens in the midst of other stuff going on, like coming home to over excited dogs who have chewed a stick to bits, picking up dropped cereal while trying to coax the kids out the door in the morning, or the kids’ baking or craft spillages. Plonk the iRobot on the area, press a button and it cleans in a circle around the spot.

Who is a Roomba going to work for?

Families definitely. Whether you’re a new parent struggling to keep on top of keeping floors clean and hygienic for a crawling baby, the proud owner of glitter mad pre schoolers, following the trail of destruction left by baking mad tweens or trying to keep your sanity around teenage gatherings.

Those with back problems or disabilities. Let’s face it, vacuuming is so unkind for the back.

The time poor – that’s all of us surely?

Pet owners – keeping up with extra vacuuming needed to keep up with removing pet hair can be a chore.

Gadget lovers – it really does get the kids and tech lovers on board with the boring chores. Just watch the video for proof!

How well does the Roomba Clean?

I wasn’t sure this small device was going to have that much power but I was really impressed by it’s thoroughness. When we opened the canister to remove what it had picked up the first time we were pretty shocked by the amount it had picked up, despite having vacuumed with our old vacuum a few days earlier.

It really does get into corners and has a special whizzing arm that collects dirt from the edges. The Roomba cleans back and forth across the room and round any obstacles, it then goes back and cleans the edges of the room really throughly.

The first time it did a new room it picked up so much stuff it had to be emptied part way round, it really does seem to get under furniture and to places we miss with the vacuum. We found over time, with more regular use it could complete even our largest room without needing to be emptied. So it is a device that works best for regular use, but also one that encourages regular use if you see what I mean!

Does the Roomba cope with obstacles, family mess and awkward layouts?

Yes. It is designed to be part of a family home, so it will work round abandoned pets, toys, chairs, shoes etc. You do need to clear the decks of things like Lego* which could stop it working temporarily.

Our home layout is very quirky, with lots of spilt levels, nooks and crannies, but I still feel that the Roomba saves us a lot of time.

Does the Roomba Clean Multiple Rooms?

We have our docking station in the kitchen/diner, our largest room, we press clean and it cleans and returns itself to the dock when finished. We then pick up the Roomba and take it to other rooms when we need it, and it returns to the place we started it off when finished. We have a lot of different levels on each floor, but you could easily leave doors between rooms open and it could move from room to room.

Will the Roomba fall down stairs?

Nope! Amazing huh? Our Airbnb has a large step at the base of the stairs, you can pop the Roomba on this and set it off and it absolutely doesn’t fall off.

Does the Roomba clean rugs?

Yes, the Roomba cleans rugs, but has wobbled off our front door mat which is very thick and had to be put  back on track and we have a couple of small tasseled rugs which are very light which it scrunched.

Will the Roomba clean corners?

Yes, although it is round it can manoeuvre and use it’s special rotating arm to get into corners.

Does the Roomba clean stairs?

No, but it is the perfect companion to a handheld vac. It also doesn’t do skirting, but again I like the idea of doing these in one go with a handheld vac while it vacuums.

How does the Roomba app work?

I will be honest, we downloaded it, but we’re not quite at the stage of scheduling regular cleans yet, mainly because the dogs spend most the time in the room it is based in, along with my 9yo’s Lego collection. I work from home so it is easy to just plonk the Roomba on at a time to suit me, and move it from room to room when I take a break from work. It is also Alexa compatible, although, we don’t have this so I can’t share any wisdoms!

But… watch this space.

*How does the Roomba cope with Lego?

I instructed my 9yo to move his Lego, he didn’t. It swallowed a few bits, but they were easily removed and recovered from the canister – much easier than finding prize Lego in a vacuum bag! A larger piece stopped it working and had to be removed from the rollers, but again, the rollers are rubber, designed with lots of flexibility and this small section of the Roomba could be removed and completely replaced if needs be. The Roomba parts are as clever as Lego and robust, you get the sense they will wear well and that smaller components can be easily replaced if damaged.

How does the Roomba cope with pet hair and human hair?

It picks up a phenomenal amount of dog hair, much more than our previous vacuum despite it being a pet specific model. It also copes really well with long human hairs which our old vacuum often gave up on picking up. Like any vacuum hairs still get twisted round the rollers, but the rollers are so so easy to unclip and are rubbery with plenty of give, so it is a really easy job, not a fight to remove hair from them.

How easy is the Roomba to empty and service?

The Roomba talks to you too – it tells you exactly what it’s problem is – there is something very calming about this.

No swearing from me after taking it apart to remove a Lego blockage, which is a stark contrast to our previous vacuum which I was forever taking apart and not being able to put back together. I found it incredibly intuitive to empty the Roomba’s dust canister and unblock the rollers.

There is UK customer service line, open daily 9am-7pm.

Is the Roomba 980 worth it?

A Roomba is an investment. The 980 is the top of the range newest model, it is four times the price of our last vacuum, although there are different Roombas for different budgets. But when I think about the time we save, the stuff we get done instead of vacuuming (see video!) the amount of vacuuming that now gets done and the way it makes our home feel, I don’t think I could go back to our old vac and I would be willing to invest in one myself funds permitting.

Let me know if there are any questions I haven’t answered!

Disclosure: this video and post has been produced in partnership with iRobot who supplied our Roomba for the purposes of this post.

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3 Comments

  1. 01/06/2018 / 7:35 pm

    Oh wow this sounds like the dream Penny! My floor is forever covered in little bits of sawdust from our guinea pigs and sweeping the kitchen floor is my most dreaded daily chore!

  2. midlifesinglemum
    01/06/2018 / 10:48 pm

    I absolutely want a Roomba but I’m going to have to wait a few years until the price comes down.

  3. 06/06/2018 / 1:10 pm

    The Roomba is a great product indeed. We really need a good-quality vacuum especially if we have pets at home.

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