Note: this is not a sponsored post. I have no affiliation with iRobot/Roomba....this is purely my personal opinion and experience!
Oh my gosh, how did we ever live without Thomas* (our Roomba)?! Blair and I find ourselves saying this almost daily -- it is seriously the greatest invention for moms of littles. We had several friends get a Roomba over the last several years and swear up and down that it "saved their marriage" (haha) and was the greatest thing ever, and for some reason, we didn't believe them!!! Well, I am telling you, it's no lie!!! We are in love with our Roomba!
Our house has a combination of wood flooring, tile, area rugs, and carpet. It was a struggle to keep the floors "clean enough" for our (then) infant, now toddler, to play on. It was even worse once he became old enough to enjoy playing outside -- the constant in-and-out of the house tracked in all kinds of dirt and dead leaves! I found myself vacuuming the house constantly, which was a pain because each type of flooring required a different setting on the vacuum cleaner. I couldn't stand to sit on the couch at night and see dust/dirt/whatever in the reflection on the wood floors!!
I finally gave in and bought a Roomba. I justified this purchase because I found $200 worth of Visa gift cards that had been gifted to us and forgotten, which covered a large chunk of the purchase price (yay!) After reading a million Amazon reviews, I got the iRobot Roomba 650. There is quite a range of Roombas at different price ranges and with different features; the less expensive ones lack the ability to schedule the Roomba to run on its own, and the more expensive ones have bells and whistles like iPhone app capability. The 650 model seems to fit our needs -- it can be scheduled to run at certain times on different days of the week. This feature is great because we can set it to run while we are at work! The Roomba returns to its base to charge after it is done vacuuming. I have it set to run at 9 AM on workdays; not only does this mean that we come home to clean floors (GLORIOUS!), but it also allows it enough time to be fully recharged by the time we get home, so we can run it a 2nd time at night if we choose. (Note that you can only schedule it to run once a day, but the time can be different for each day.)
While the Roomba is quieter than our normal vacuum cleaner, I would not say that it is "quiet". We don't like to have it running in the same room where we are watching TV, for instance. We also generally don't like to run it at night (while we sleep), as it navigates each room by gently bumping into furniture and walls, and those thuds are distracting while you're trying to sleep!
I cannot pretend to understand the navigation pattern/logic of the Roomba. It seems to roam around aimlessly, with no set pattern to its ways. This results in lots of weird vacuum lines in your carpet, but you can see that it does appear to get good coverage, despite its randomness. It also does not follow the same pattern each day - it randomly vacuums around our house, going in different rooms in a different order each time. It does not vacuum 100% of our house each time. We have a ~2,300 square foot house (all one level), and I would estimate that it vacuums 65-75% of the house each day. However, since the Roomba is intended to be used more frequently than you would use a normal vacuum, our floors are still more clean than they would be vacuuming the entire house on a less frequent basis with our normal vacuum. Since it goes in different rooms each time, the whole house gets covered every 2-3 times. And, since our Roomba is fully recharged when we get home from work, we can always choose to run it again in a particular room that got missed if it needs it. (We rarely do this, as it will normally get vacuumed the next day anyway).
We have learned where the obstacles are in our house that the Roomba gets stuck on; luckily, they were pretty easy to fix. It gets stuck on small, loose power cords, like our iPhone chargers and the cord to the baby monitor, so we have to make sure that these aren't laying on the ground. It also sometimes gets stuck on the crib skirt or our long curtains that have excess fabric pooled on the ground. Luckily, the Roomba recognizes when it gets stuck on something and stops (it provides an audible error message, if you're home to hear it), rather than continuing to try to run until the battery dies. If we come home and it's not docked in its base, we know to go look for it! It's usually stuck under C's crib or where my iPhone cord is plugged in. The reviews I read also says that it doesn't do well on black rugs/flooring, because it triggers its cliff sensor that keeps the Roomba from falling off an edge (like stairs). We have very dark wood-look tile in our bathrooms and it does just fine on that, so it must only have a problem on surfaces that are actually black.
The Roomba's vacuuming capability is impressive!! First, it goes under all of our furniture, which is normally territory that NEVER got vacuumed - under beds, couches, TV stands, even in between the chairs under our dining room table. Second, it has 2 brushes on the bottom and a spinning brush on one side that allows it to suck up dirt along baseboards and in corners -- again, areas that are not covered by our normal vacuum unless we break out the hose attachment. We are continually disgusted by the amount of dust and dirt that the Roomba finds every day. At this point, we have had our Roomba running daily for over 2 months, and the dust bin is still somehow at least half full every. single. day. Where is all of this dirt coming from?!?! So gross!!!!!
The Roomba does not take a lot of maintenance; I do empty the dust bin daily (or every other day, at a minimum) - it gets full quickly, plus I like to see how much dirt it found that day :) Every 2-3 weeks, I clean out the brushes on the bottom of the Roomba to remove hair that has gotten wrapped around the brushes. The Roomba comes with a tool - like a seam ripper - that is intended for this purpose, and it only takes a couple of minutes every few weeks. This helps ensure that the brushes are most effective and also reduces strain on the gears from hair wound too tightly and causing extra resistance, which will probably shorten the lifespan of the Roomba. However, all of this takes less time than it took to vacuum my house ONCE, and the floors are MUCH cleaner than they used to be due to the frequency that the Roomba runs. I love the feeling of clean floors under my feet!!! In the 2+ months we've had our Roomba, I haven't used our normal vacuum cleaner once. That's how good of a job it does!!
Do you have babies/young kids that spend lots of time on the floor? You need a Thomas in your house!!! :)