Vacuum Cleaners

iRobot Roomba

Robotic vacuums make basic cleaning a breeze

Don't you wish someone else would clean your home for once? And we don't mean spending hundreds of dollars to hire a maid or forcing your children into unpaid labor.

With iRobot's lines of Roomba and Scooba vacuums, cleaning's actually pretty easy. The little robotic vacuum cleaners use dozens of sensors to monitor their surroundings and adjust their movements almost 70 times per second. So, your new friend will clean around the home without meeting an untimely end down a flight of stairs.

Battery operated

If you plan to purchase an iRobot vacuum, look for one with NiMH (nickel metal hydride) batteries instead of nickel cadmium (NiCad) batteries. The latter type will need to be fully discharged before being recharged; otherwise, they will retain a memory of the old charge and become less efficient over time until they die. The various Roomba and Scooba products also give you the option of purchasing virtual walls, which will keep cleaning to a certain area of the home.

iRobot's line of robotic vacuums includes:

  • Roomba - The Roomba is the granddaddy of all robotic vacuum cleaners. It's compact and easy to use, and it can do a lot of cool things, such as returning to the docking station for a recharge when it's running low on juice or using ultraviolet light for disinfection. A side brush spins to get at walls while two larger brushes underneath the robot rotate in opposite directions to pick up larger particles. Large may be a relative concept, though, because many Roombas require pre-sweeping to remove items that can clog the 'bot. The good thing about the Roomba is it can get at areas your regular vacuum can't, such as under furniture. It will go over each area about four times per cleaning cycle, and sensors help it locate dirtier areas to target for intense cleaning.
  • Scooba - This little cleaning machine washes and scrubs hard floors. It preps the floor with a vacuum sweep before putting down a cleaning solution, scrubbing, and then picking up the dirty liquid. Some people might be wary of using the Clorox cleaning solution that's recommended, but thankfully, users on a Scooba forum give tips for chemical-free cleaning. Some suggest vinegar or other green cleaning products, but since we've never tried any of the methods, we can't promote the use of non-recommended cleaners.
  • Dirt Dog - This vacuum is meant for garages and work areas. It can pick up small nuts, bolts and nails, going under workbenches and cars. It sweeps up debris that clings to rough surfaces and collects everything in an oversized bin.

The Roomba vacuum cleaner and other iRobot products aren't meant for big jobs and won't make cleaning entirely unnecessary, but they can be good for dust (a bonus if you have dust allergies) and hair between cleanings and making your job a bit easier.

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