Robot Floor Cleaners

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Floor-cleaning robots?

April 2001

Hi, I'm considering one of the floor-cleaning robots (iRobot Scooba or Evolution Robotics; Neato seems to be for vacuuming only). Does anyone have any experience with these? Do they work with hardwood floors? We also have tile floors in the kitchen, and I was hoping I could use a robot for them, too. Thank you! robots rule?

We have an older model (about 3-5 years old) Roomba, and I have sort of a love-hate relationship with it. When it works, it works really well on our hardwood and tile floors and low-pile rugs - I especially love the fact that it goes under our couch, beds and even some of the bookcases without me having to move the furniture. It's great for keeping ahead of the day-to-day pet hair, dust kitties and Cheerios. My main complaint is that it requires a lot of hand-holding - I have to clean out the bin, clean the brushes, and just generally perform a bit of dirty maintenance after every run. Sometimes things get stuck in it or brushes fall off, and then it runs its whole cycle without actually picking up any dirt. Periodically I still have to go through with the regular vacuum and do the tight corners and baseboards and things the Roomba doesn't reach well. Still, being able to set it to run and then leave the house and come back to find things vacuumed is a good deal, in my book. I think the newer models may be better; I'm thinking of upgrading. Welcoming Our Robot Overlords, as Long as They Vacuum

We just bought a new Roomba from Costco and LOVE IT!! With 2 kids now, it's so nice to just turn it on, walk out the door for our daily outings and then come home to clean floors! We have hardwood floors throughout the house except in the kitchen, which is tiled. We also have area carpets around and it does a great job on all these surfaces. Upkeep has been very simple so far. About every 2 days, we clean out the very small chamber and then it's on it's way again. Only once in the last 3 months has it told us to clean its' brushes, which was just because some debris was caught. We love it - especially because... well... we do NOTHING!! scoles

2004 - 2007 Recommendations

Roomba robot vacuum cleaner

October 2006

Can anyone recommend the iRobot Roomba? I need a new vacuum cleaner. We have hardwood floors, a dog, a toddler. We've used canister vacuums till now, but they never seem to last very long ad I'm fed up with them. Love the idea of just turning the vauum on and letting it do its thing. But it seems to good to be true. Would love feedback before I waste my money. Thanks! amy

I have a couple of clients who have the Roomba and they LOVE it. One has pets (cat and dog) and 2 boys and uses it on hardwood and carpet. One is just a couple, and they use it on slate and hardwood. This particular couple raves about it and can't sing it enough praises.

We LOVE our Roomba. We have a toddler and mostly hardwood floors and run it all the time. After eating we just spot clean under the table which keeps us from having to get on our hands and knees to clean up rice, sand, cracker crumbs, etc. It is great! Roombas Rock!

I think our Roomba is great as an EXTRA vacuum. It won't entirely replace your regular vacuum, but you'll use the regular one certainly less! The Roomba takes like 10 times longer to vacuum a room that you would, but of course you don't actually have to do it so that's awesome. So it's best to just set to work in a room when you leave and then when you return, it's done. It also won't go and clean your whole house at once ... it's really designed to do one room, or a couple of attached areas at once. It's a great helper indeed, but you have to learn how to use it optimally.

I got my Roomba about 4 months ago and I love it. Haven't really used my vaccum since. we have 2 small kids and a cat, mostly wood floors and some rugs. the Roomba does not handle fringes well so I fold those up and move furniture over the folded ends so the Roomba doesn't nudge the rug open and try to vaccuum the fringes. I also read when I was researching my Roomba that a good way to break them is to run them without cleaning them. I try to clean mine every time I run it even though the instructions say you can clean it less often. Cleaning is not hard to do anyway. So far I've had no problems.
love my Roomba

We have a Roomba (our second) and really like it. However, I wouldn't say that it replaces a regular vacuum entirely. And, it takes some experimentation to figure how to get it to work an area effectively. If you have a large, open area or multiple rooms that cannot be closed-off, it doesn't clean all that effectively. Area rugs with fringe also pose a problem as it jams on the fringe. But, we love ours for the kitchen and family room and for the bedrooms. It is nice to start it when you leave the house or have it going in a room while you are doing something else. It also is very effective at picking-up small debris and dust and gets under most furniture and beds getting areas that you might not otherwise get to regularly. So, I recommend it with the proviso that you need to spend some time to make it work for you - once you get that down, it is really cool
Roomba Fan

We received the Roomba as our Wedding gift and it is by far our favorite gift EVER. We are having a baby and I want my husband to buy me the Scooba. If I could volunteer to do a commercial for Roomba I would. This product is excellent and it does everything that it claims to do. We have hardwood throughout and a dog and we love our Roomba.

The only recommendations I make are that you use the electronic divider they provide to section off the room (it works best if the room is medium size or smaller (it works fine on large rooms but it works best when a larger room is sectioned off). Additionally, I often sweep before I run the Roomba. Once again this is not required but our dog sheds a lot and by sweeping in advance I don't have to clean the filter as often. Jamila

March 2006

We're thinking about getting either a Roomba (robot vacuum) or a Scooba (their new robot wet mop) and I'm wondering if they really work - if you have one, what do you think of it? If you didn't buy one, why not? We have all hardwood or tile floors, with low-pile rugs -- and cat hair. Would the Scooba work without having to vacuum first? Have you tried using the Scooba with vinegar and water or some other safer/cheaper alternative to their proprietary cleaning solution? Thanks for your input! JP

I've owned 2 Roombas: the first model, which broke down and got replaced for free, then broke down irreparably, and that's when I bought the red model. it's also the least expensive. I LOVE my Roomba. In my opinion they're the first good use of robotics. They work extremely well on bare floors, but not on carpet of any pile depth or with any fringe, or throw rugs that slide easily. The trick to keeping them in good working order is to be sure to clean the brushes and wheels on a regular basis, especially if you have people living in your house with long hair. The hair winds around the brush and wheel axles and must be cut out, tweezed out, pulled out. They keep getting better and better, and for me, the pros outweigh the cons. I can set it going and know the floor will be clean without me. That makes it easy to clean like twice a week, each room, which I would never do with a vacuum or broom. Great if you have a dog or cat. Easy to get your kids to clean their own rooms, too. I got a quick battery charger and extra battery. That's all you really need. adaking88

I recently bought a factory reconditioned Roomba on Amazon. The price was low and there was a 30 day guarantee, so I figured I might as well try it. So far it has been well worth the investment. I too have mostly hardwood floors and low pile carpets, as well as a cat, and Rooba does a much more thorough job than I ever did with sweeping/vaccuming these surfaces. There is a bit of ''prep'' involved in that roomba can get tangled up in electrical cords or big pieces of debris (like papers, clothing, etc.) but I love the fact that I can just clear the floor, press a button and leave the house, and have a clean floor when I return. Granted I have to be gone for awhile for this to work as Roomba is not exactly fast. It takes a good 30 minutes just to do my small kitchen. It is important to clean out the dust compartment and lint tray often as it doesn't hold much. I am always amazed and strangely satisfied by how much stuff is sucked up every time I use Roomba. My cat and kids were initially not to fond of Roomba, but all have now warmed up to it. The biggest problem is that Roomba is spoiling me -- now I feel like there should be robots that can do all of my household chores at the press of a button. I am definitely interested in Scooba too, but holding out for the ''factory reconditioned'' model.

I haven't seen the Scooba, but I hear that it's pretty good.

We do have a Roomba, and we're very pleased with it. However we notice that it does accumulate dirt and hair on all of its parts. These should be removed after each use. Else they'll shorten the Roomba's life.

In other words, the Roomba is a techie device, and it responds well to the kind of loving care that a techie would give it. If you don't enjoy taking things apart and cleaning them, then you should stick to a more rugged machine. Something like a conventional vacuum cleaner. Techie Nerd in Berkeley

I lovelovelove my roomba. We have 2 extremely sheddy dogs, and it is incredible (and gross) how much hair the roomba picks up. If you are strictly talking dirt, yes, it gets that too, but it is a wonder on pet hair. Warning, though, getting a roomba is like getting a tivo - you'll never want to be without it again! Ellen

I have had a Roomba for about 3 years. Actually I've had 4 Roombas for 3 years because I kept getting them replaced. I love it and hope to use it forever because it makes vacuuming a non-issue normally. That being said, they are computers and they have lots of glitches. One being the ''circle dance,'' which almost all Roombas do. If you learn to fix the glitches and stay on top of them, which I have finally done, it is a wonderful appliance. There is an on-line Yahoo group for Roomba users which has a lot of knowledgeable folk who figure everything out about these machines, including the Scooba, beyond what the company employees seem to know themselves. That pretty much saved me and my Roomba, and returned me to the sanity of my look-ma, no hands, vacuuming life. Lnd

I've had a Roomba for over a year now, and it is wonderful! I have a dog with long hair and two cats, and in order to keep the floors free of pet hair, I'd have to stay home and vacuum or sweep all day long. Roomba is the next best thing. I have been setting Roomba free as I leave home in the morning, and it makes a world of difference! The important thing is to stay on top of cleaning the brushes of the pet hair. If you keep them untangled, Roomba's a miraculous addition to the family. If not, she stops and beeps a series of beeps to let you know what's the matter. It can be frustrating to figure out what's wrong. I haven't tried the Scooba yet, but if it's still around in a couple of years, I'll probably get one.

My mom has a Roomba and raves about it. She has primarily hardwood floors w/ rugs and a dog -- apparently it does a good job on the pet hair. When my mom upgraded to the latest model she handed down her original to my sister. My sister thinks it is pretty good - her take is that it's not as good as if you vacuumed yourself but overall not bad. Eve