Your views on the roomba?
August 10, 2007 12:58 PM   Subscribe

What do you think of the roomba?

It's been a couple of years since the last time someone asked, and I'm curious about if anyone's opinion of the Roomba has changed? I have a big new apartment with hardwood floors and not a whole lot of furniture. No pets, but I have long hair and shed way more than one would think :)

Basically, I like going barefoot, but in places with wood floors, things get dusty so quickly and my feet get all dirty and it's gross, so I thought this might be a good solution. Do you have one? Would you recommend it? Pros/Cons?

Thank you!
posted by echo0720 to Home & Garden (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I used to love it, but then I got a Dyson and I realized that the Roomba was merely brushing the surface.
posted by k8t at 12:59 PM on August 10, 2007

Do you have wires run along the baseboard? Much like a small pet, it likes to get tangled in them and make a mess.
posted by smackfu at 1:01 PM on August 10, 2007

We've had one for about a year. We used it religiously at first. But now we have to remind ourselves to do it, and it's more like a chore again.

  • It really vaccuums by itself.
  • Good suction, gets edges pretty well.
  • well made, runs for a couple hours on one charge, and has a high "coolness" factor.
  • It has to be emptied every time, which can be messy.
  • Hair and string get wound in the brushes too easily.
  • You have to make sure your floors are relatively unobstructed, and anything dangling or laying on the ground risks getting sucked up.
  • Doesn't work well in high pile.
  • Occasionally has trouble with height transitions. Ours sometimes can't make it over the edge of the run.

posted by cosmicbandito at 1:06 PM on August 10, 2007

It isn't a very powerful vacuum, but if you run it every day or so it does a pretty good job and will save you a lot of time and energy. You might want to use something more powerful every now and then, though. And if you have a cat, they might get a bit freaked out.
posted by Soliloquy at 1:07 PM on August 10, 2007

You probably don’t want to have it running while you are at home. Mine, at least, is loud enough to drown out the television set at a normal volume. I also have hardwood floors, and I notice that sometimes the Roomba forces small dust bunnies away from itself by the small amount of air it pushes out. Also, like smackfu says, it can easily get tangled in wires.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 1:09 PM on August 10, 2007

Had one.

It's cute. Does a decent job when run regularly.

Needs to be emptied every time you use it.

The sensors get all crudded up from time to time, resulting in the circle dance which requires some disassembly to fix and repair. The last time it happened, I bought a Dyson and stowed the Roomba in the closet 'cause I thought I might like to play with it again some day.

When I moved recently, the Roomba didn't move with me.
posted by notyou at 1:17 PM on August 10, 2007

Response by poster: Oh, I own a regular vacuum, too, but it's old and big and heavy, so I only use it two weeks or so. And hardwood floors require sweeping and mopping, is this a good in-between sweeping/mopping solution?
posted by echo0720 at 1:22 PM on August 10, 2007

We had trouble with ours. We have a long-haired dog, and we had to untangle the little brush constantly. After having the entire unit replaced three times, we just gave up on it and replaced it with a Dyson. The Dyson does a *much* better job.
posted by beautifulstuff at 1:24 PM on August 10, 2007

Response by poster: Do the dysons go flat to fit under furniture?
posted by echo0720 at 1:32 PM on August 10, 2007

I have wood floors, and long hair. I bought one of the ever recurring Roombas off I've been pretty happy with it. If you have any rugs with fringe, you will need to do something about the fringe, but there is no problem with the transition otherwise. You do need to clean the brushes, which is a pain, but I don't find it nearly as annoying as actually vacuuming. Besides, you need to clean the brush on a regular vacuum too.

I have not found it to be too loud. Roomba does make a model with a timer, or you could just start it before leaving the house if this is a problem.

If your furniture is high enough off the floor, the Roomba will clean underneath it, which really cuts down on dust bunnies. More or less furniture is not really a factor.

I rather like the Roomba, but then again I have always been lazy about vacuuming. If you vacuum every day or two, it might not get to the level of clean you want.
posted by yohko at 1:35 PM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Ha! Funny! I just got a first generation Roomba from my folks. Here's my take on it, which I just put up last week.
posted by The Deej at 1:45 PM on August 10, 2007

(Obviously, my blog post deals with my first gen model, so it doesn't address any changes, at least from a hands-on perspective.)
posted by The Deej at 1:46 PM on August 10, 2007

I have Discovery that I picked up as a refurb a few years ago. As other have said, you do have to empty out its dustbin after every use and it's pretty sad when it gets entangled in lamp cords or trapped under a chair and starts pathetically peeping its "rescue me" song. I don't consider it very loud on carpeting but notice it's very noisy on hard floors. After the novelty wore off, I moved it out of the family room, instead setting it up to vacuum under my bed, where my upright vacuum can't easily reach.

It's best thought of as a daily picker-upper of surface lint vs. the sole vacuum cleaner in the house: a friend of mine runs hers twice a day and likes it because it picks most of the tiny bits of stuff that show up like neon beacons on her black (!) carpeting.

A Swiffer every other day would probably get your hardwood floors cleaner, faster.
posted by jamaro at 1:49 PM on August 10, 2007

I have a Roomba Discovery.

It's a delicate robot that has to be cleaned EVERY use to keep it effective and avoid permanent damage. At first, the cool factor was very high. It was loud, though, and it takes ~an hour to do its cleaning with a high potential for annoying you and your neighbors. I couldn't leave while it was going because my Roomba required a great deal of babysitting. It kept getting stuck on my (normal, non fringed) area rug or underneath my sofa.

It does need to be emptied every use and it's VERY hard to empty without getting dust and dirt on the floor. Then I'd spend another 10 minutes combing and cutting hair out of Roomba's brush. If you're grossed out by dust and nastiness on your floor, you will be way more grossed out when you get that dust and nastiness all over hands and clothes while cleaning it. Again, that's EVERY SINGLE TIME you use it or it stops working properly.

I also found I needed a regular vacuum for things like vents, mouldings, and shelves where Roomba couldn't go.
posted by Gable Oak at 2:01 PM on August 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

I like mine (first-generation roomba), though it's only useful in those rooms of the house that don't have anything it'll get tangled in. Yes, you have to empty its dustbin and clean its brush (many people & creatures with long hair in this house) after each use, but that's still less time and effort than doing the vacuuming myself. Plus, I'm a big ol' geek and the coolness factor still hasnt totally worn off.

For rooms with cords, plants, fringy rugs, or (cough) piles of random books and crap on the floor, I use a normal vacuum cleaner.
posted by hattifattener at 2:21 PM on August 10, 2007

OOH!OOH! Let me evangelize. (I'm a robot geek so I'm excited)

Note 1: Roomba is not a vacuum. It's a sweeper. If you want powerful suckage (in a good way), get a Dyson or a real vacuum.

I have a Roomba Sage and a Dirt Dog. The Roomba, I bought the pet brush adapter for, because I live with two guys with long coarse hair that the original brush didn't like very much. The pet brush is easier to clean and may (?) have longer bristles to pick up all the hair. It does well on my carpet.

I also have a Dirt Dog (a version of the Roomba) -- it works on carpet just fine, but it works a LOT better than the other Roomba on the tile floors in my kitchen and bathroom (and presumably on hardwood). It's meant for garages and other hard floors, so its chassis sits a little lower. It picks up garlic skins, grains of rice, etc much better from the tile than the Roomba does.

I've never had a problem cleaning it... I just pick it up by its handle, hold it over my trash can, pop out the bin and empty it, and it's ready to go. I clean the brush and the filter every couple of times, but doing that over a trashcan too hasn't been a problem... I don't get dust/lint/etc everywhere like some other people mentioned.

It doesn't like the fringe on my runner rug, nor does it like the bump that appeared in the middle of the rug under my dining room table. Other than that it doesn't require a lot of babysitting, as long as I move away the wires and such (which I would do anyway for a real vacuum).

Depending on what kind of hardwood floor you have (must be sealed), you could get a Roomba, which does a better job of getting gunky stuff off the floor, in addition to small amounts of dust and lint. It probably wouldn't be good for hair, though -- it doesn't really have a brush so much as a sucker upper.

So... yeah, I'd recommend a Dirt Dog for you. Worst case you get it and try it for a month, then return it... I think they have a "try for 30 days" thing. If you email me I also have a 20% off coupon code I can give you.

I promise I don't work for iRobot. I'm just a total fangirl.
posted by olinerd at 2:23 PM on August 10, 2007

Come to think of it, I wonder if hardwood floors would do well with a Scooba, their wash-and-mop-type robot? I don't know anyone who's used one of those yet.
posted by hattifattener at 2:24 PM on August 10, 2007

Er, for the hardwood floor bit, I meant Scooba, one of the washing ones... silly me.
posted by olinerd at 2:24 PM on August 10, 2007

I liked my roomba a lot, but the little spinning brush broke. I had purchased it mail order from North America while living in Europe, and I got into this weird thing with roomba where both the north american company and the european distributor refused to help me, referring me back and forth. I offered to pay any reasonable amount for the brush, and shipping, but neither would help me out.

So my roomba is now a piece of junk for lack of a 50 cent part. Now that I've moved back to north america I could probably straighten the whole thing out, but I can't be bothered. I won't be buying anything else from them.
posted by lastobelus at 2:34 PM on August 10, 2007

I have a Roomba Discovery, and I love it. But then again, I hate, hate, hate vacuuming so I might be biased. I like the fact that I can let it do its thing, and as long as the floor is reasonably clear of objects I can go off and wash dishes or clean the bathroom. Another plus for me is that my cats freak out at the sound of a traditional vacuum, but don't bat an eye at the Roomba.

You do have to run it daily or every other day to keep your floors clear, but some of the pricier models can be scheduled to vacuum while you're at work. I don't mind letting my Discovery run while I'm at home, though.
posted by christinetheslp at 3:33 PM on August 10, 2007

I just started using one, and it's fun to watch. I realized that since it vacuums slower than a human, it will only save time if we don't sit there watching it.

I wish that the outside of the Roomba was padded. It doesn't bump very forcefully into obstacles, but the hard plastic can scuff some glossy finishes. Also, the transition between carpet and wood floor doesn't happen very smoothly. It tends to get stuck for a moment at the threshold, chewing up the edge of the carpet. It sometimes dumps a bit of dirt on the wood floor when it moves onto the carpet. It works great in rooms with wall-to-wall carpet, but I wish it worked better on wood/carpet combinations.
posted by reeddavid at 4:18 PM on August 10, 2007

It is certainly not a vacuum to get out every little dust mite clinging to the carpet, but it works great for cat hair and little crumbs on the kitchen floor.

The Roomba is an adorable gadget, it sings! Beepbeepbeep when it backs up, happy tonal song for cleaning, panic song for when it gets stuck, and a victory song when it finishes.
posted by idiotfactory at 5:31 PM on August 10, 2007

Do you have one? Would you recommend it?

Yes and yes.


You have to empty it pretty frequently - maybe every 3 or 4 times you run it - and clean the filter too. That's kind of a dirty, dusty job. It can't go where there's something sitting on the floor so you may need to straighten up before you run it.

Every couple of months you need to put in a new filter and every year or so you'll need a new battery pack.

It does poorly with the edges of rugs, especially fringes; and it sucks with extension cords and other kinds of wiring that may be on your floor.

The Pros are that it's pretty idiot-proof and pretty much does what the company says it does on their website, which is kind of amazing.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:13 PM on August 10, 2007

I bought a Roomba Sage off as well. I've had it for about a year, and I love mine. I have hardwood with non-fringe rugs, and the only time it ever gets stuck is if we've messed with the cords under the computer or TV. Most of the time, though, it can extricate itself from there too.

I don't use it as a main vacuum, that's what my Electrolux is for, but it's great to keep things tidy around the most used areas of the apartment. I run mine about twice a week or so, and it's great to let it clean up a bit while I do other things like cook dinner, exercise, or answer emails.

You do have to empty it quite often, but that's not too bad at all in my experience - I've never had a problem getting dirt on my clothes or on the floor. I clean the brushes about every other time as well since I have long hair. With the special cleaning tool (basically a razor blade with a comb) it's pretty easy and definitely not as time consuming as having to vacuum by myself.

Bottom line is that I can't imagine not having one. I have friends who like to just "stop by" every now and then. Now I don't have to rush around getting the bulky cannister vacuum out to clean the rug in front of the TV in the 3 minutes it takes between them calling and showing up on my doorstep. It's also great mentally for me to always have clean-looking rugs, as I tend to try to keep the room tidy then too.
posted by gemmy at 6:42 PM on August 10, 2007

FWIW, since a lot of people are mentioning Dyson... we went to a vacuum repair shop and he said they won't take Dysons for repair, and a lot of places won't, because their construction is full of proprietary parts and such. So if Dyson ever goes out of business, like Fantom did, you might be screwed.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:49 PM on August 10, 2007

My ex-husband took the Roomba with him (good riddance) expecting that it would be a great choice for his new apartment with hard floors throughout. My mileage definitely varied. I found that using the Roomba on hard flooring on the main floor of my house was just way too noisy and inefficient. When used on carpet, I found that the 5-10 minutes of painstaking manual cleaning of the brush and pan afterwards was a pain. Plus, it tended to eat the carpet. Much of the debris it pulled up were the carpet fibers themselves.
posted by maudlin at 7:18 PM on August 10, 2007

echo0720Poster writes "Do the dysons go flat to fit under furniture?"

Technically, yes, but their sucking power is seriously compromised when the vacuum isn't totally upright.
posted by peep at 7:27 PM on August 10, 2007

It doesn't perform well on any unevenness/transition (even building up a line of crud just off the edge of a thick rug), it takes forever, you're tempted to watch it take forever, and ours fell down the stairs, which it's not supposed to ever do. Worst of all, the the little layabout won't even move our furniture to properly clean.
posted by NortonDC at 7:39 PM on August 10, 2007

My sister had one in her dorm room for college, and her roommates found that every time it was started, it would immediately head out of their door and attempt to escape. Without fail.
It did a pretty good job on berber carpet, but if you've got anything more substantial than that, I'd say no.
posted by lilithim at 10:11 PM on August 10, 2007

Love ours, it's not a total replacement for a manually operated vac but it cuts way down on the overall labor involved in keeping the floors barefoot friendly.

We have two cats, the Roomba is good at clearing up the inevitable kibble crumbs in the kitchen and, at the other end of the digestive process, the litter bits in the bathroom.

It's pluses include getting all the way under our king bed and offering up a little light entertainment as it extricates itself from tight spots, focuses on particularly dirty areas, and finds its way home to its charging station when done.

To personify the thing, think of extreme persistence and endearing naivite as bumbles and twirls about fulfilling its single-minded purpose.

I consider it a good start to a productive day when I head for work leaving the dishwasher on, a roast in the slowcooker, and Roomba faithfully performing the most mundane of household tasks.

Oh, and yes if you want it to work you need to keep the floors clear of junk which for me is a huge plus because I naturally tend to be rather untidy.
posted by scheptech at 10:40 PM on August 10, 2007

I bought a Sage direct from iRobot. It was useless at picking up the fine black Florida sand that is tracked in by my dog from his expeditions in the back yard. It did not pick up longleaf pine needles at all, which is a serious problem for me, since I have a 70 foot longleaf pine tree in my back yard, so pine needles are regularly tracked in from the patio and yard. It was hopelessly confused by the dining room table and its six chairs, which have carved curved legs that let it go under the nest of legs in some directions, and not exit. It was too thick to get under the couch. It got tangled in the fringe of the Persian rugs. It was worthless on the bluestone floor in the entrance hall. It did a poor job picking up dog hair. It did absolutely nothing about cleaning white baseboards, air ducts, or corner dust bunnies above floor level. My dog hated it, barking constantly whenever it was running, and charging it whenever it started one of its little "corner confusion" routines.

I sent it back after 2 weeks. Took me 6 months to get my money back from iRobot.
posted by paulsc at 11:22 PM on August 10, 2007

They're not completely worthless because they're fun to watch the first time or two. Like everyone else said: loud, can't handle rugs with fringe, need to be emptied and coddled regularly, not a replacement for a vacuum. Buy this awesome remote control helicopter instead. Cheaper, less noisy, more fun, more controllable, less maintenance, similar efficacy at cleaning.
posted by MarkAnd at 6:31 AM on August 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

it would immediately head out of their door and attempt to escape.

You're supposed to set up one of the little infrared-light barriers to stop it from doing this.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:26 AM on August 11, 2007

Following up:

Agree environment matters, while it works for us I should say we seem to have the perfect situation for it: 1200 square feet of single level tile and short nap wall to wall. And my wife and I both hate vacuuming.

Also maybe useful to know: they supposedly have a new model in production for sale in the next month or two. So, like the iphone, does one buy at stock reduction prices now or wait to see what the new one offers? I opted for the current Roomba (it's generation 3) and will probably wait for gen 3 iphone.
posted by scheptech at 11:30 AM on August 11, 2007

Generally we like ours.

We have been without a regular vacuum for about a year but are considering getting one for touch up work.

I am amazed by what it sucks up...not on the first run but I have run it 3-4 times in a row and thats when it really starts sucking up crazy amounts of junk from the carpet.

So yeah if you run it once it will mostly get surface stuff and think its done. Repeat runnings seems to work well.

You can watch TV with it but I generally just read or go into another room.
posted by UMDirector at 10:50 AM on August 12, 2007

We love ours because we have the right environment for it and it forces us to keep the rooms tidy as we like to run the Roomba every other day.

I can't emphasize how important it is to let the Roomba run until it thinks it is done. It needs to go over the room 2-3 times before it will get everything. But what do I care? I'm doing the dishes or the laundry while it's working.

Also, with mostly hardwood floors, it's going to be really loud. I would turn it on on my way out the door to work in that case.
posted by achmorrison at 6:23 PM on August 14, 2007

« Older Itchy disaster girl goes swimming.   |   Using a US powerstrip in Japan? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.