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Our robot vacuum story: one loser, one winner

Last year at Christmastime, Lisey announced that her present to our household would be a robot vacuum.

A black robot vacuum on a wood floor.

I had never seriously considered buying a robot vacuum, but Lisey:

  • doesn’t like sweeping
  • strongly dislikes floors full of crumbs

So she thought a robot vacuum would be the perfect solution.

At first, I was all, “Why would we need a robot vacuum? We have a broom and dustpan!”

But now that I’ve had one for a while, I have to say that I have overcome my initial skepticism.

And since I had asked you all for opinions back in December, I’ve been getting emails here and there asking what we ended up buying.

Thus, today’s post.

A roborock vacuum on a wooden floor.

The first try was a miss

The first robot vacuum we bought was a Shark and boy, this one did not work well for us at all.

This model runs on an entirely random basis, and while this might work well in a house with very few walls, it was kind of a fail at our house.

It would head into the kitchen, bump a wall, and promptly leave the kitchen.

(And the kitchen is where we wanted it to be the most!)

Also, it kept getting stuck in an endless loop at the end of our hallway.

While this was entertaining, it wasn’t particularly helpful.

Plus, it was a little tricky to keep it off of our shag rug in the living room; we just vacuum that one by hand, since it tends to choke a robot vacuum.

Our second try: a win!

Next up, we tried a RoboRock vacuum and this one was a huge improvement.

Overhead view of a roborock vacuum.

Instead of randomly moving around the house, this one has a sensor that actually maps your home and cleans it in a sensible fashion, making sure to cover all the floors.

If you want to get fancy with it, you can use the app to have it clean only certain rooms, but I usually just press the start button and let it clean the main floor of the house.

Does it do a good job?

I’m pretty impressed by how well it cleans! Every time I empty the dust bin, I am amazed at all the stuff in there.

dust bin from a robot vacuum.

The Roborock has a little flexible arm that extends out while it’s cleaning, so it does do a pretty good job of getting crumbs out of the edges and the corners.

It’s not quite as thorough as what I do with my regular vacuum, but I’d say it’s more thorough than what I typically accomplish with a broom and dustpan.

A full vacuum dustbin.

When my mom saw our vacuum, she asked, “Does it dust the baseboards?”

And I said, “No. But neither do I!”


You should know that my mom is a much more thorough housecleaner than me; she uses the hand tool to dust her baseboards every time she vacuums.

Me? I do it once in a blue moon.

Does it clean multiple surfaces?

Yep! I mostly have hard floors in my house, but it automatically senses the change when it comes across a rug, and the suction level changes as a result.

Carpet lines left by robot vacuum.

And it does a pretty good job on our three carpeted rooms.

Vacuum lines on gray carpet.

Do you still have to use your regular vacuum?

Yes. Despite the fact that I am not as meticulous a housekeeper as my mom, I do still get out my big vacuum to do a more thorough cleaning about once a week.

The robot vacuum can’t get way back in corners, it can’t get the dust off of windowsills, it can’t suck up hair behind the toilet, and so on.

A Roborock vacuum with the lid up.

But for maintenance in between the more thorough cleanings, this vacuum is great. It replaces the daily sweeping habit, not the once-a-week vacuum habit.

If you have little kids, I think this could be especially helpful. One of my cousins has the same vacuum that we do, and it’s great for the daily sucking up of the Cheerios that are inevitably sprinkled on her floor. 😉

Black vacuum on a brown wood floor.

Should you get a robot vacuum?

Well, I would say that this is definitely a nice but not necessary household item.

Is it handy? Sure.

Does it do a good job? Yep.

Could you accomplish much the same thing with some physical effort and a regular vacuum +broom? Yep.

So, I think this decision comes down to how much disposable income you have and also how much you need extra help keeping your floors clean.

If you have the money and you want the extra help, then go for it.

If you don’t have the extra cash to buy a robotic vacuum, don’t sweat it. There are plenty of other ways to keep your house clean!

And if you do get one, I would most certainly pay the extra $100 or so to get one with a mapping sensor. Otherwise, I don’t think it’s worth buying one at all, especially if your house has a lot of walls vs. a lot of open space.

At the time of this writing, there’s a $130 coupon for the Roborock on Amazon, but you could also check warehouse clubs and eBay refurbished to compare prices.

Readers, what’s been your experience with robotic vacuums?

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Thursday 7th of October 2021

I got a Shark on clearance at Meijer, aka Sharky. I bought it mainly due to the price & it would do the work for me. I have all wood floors with some room carpets. I am sorry I did not buy one sooner. I love it! It pays for itself when it vacuums the basement, that's such a huge time saver. Next time I will get a mapping one.


Thursday 7th of October 2021

Pierre, our Roomba, does a great job. I do still vacuum every week or two to get some spots, but it is great for keeping the pet hair and dust bunnies under control. We run it when we are gone so the noise is not a problem.

Joy Grzena

Thursday 7th of October 2021

I have Roborock S4

I couldn't live without it. I am 80 years old and it's hard for me to run the sweeper.

I've have set up and mapped out the house. When I go to bed I press clean and in 32 minutes it's done. I recommend doing it when there's no motion going on in the house or when you leave to go away you can start it.

When I get up my house is spotless. I have no complaints and it has been a lifesaver for me. I have had it since last xmas. The only thing I wish it would dust my furniture too.

I highly recommend it. It's the best investment I've ever made and truly love it and I know you will enjoy it too.

I have carpet, hardwood floor and tile and it does an excellent job on all..

I do empty my dust Pan every time. not necessary I just do it. I can't believe how much dirt and dust is in it. I only have a 1000 ft² apartment. I know my regular sweeper would not get this much dirt out when it Vacuums. I make sure that I keep the sensor's wiped off too and the roller clean. I never have anything wrapped around the roller.

It is really wonderful, I have a dog and it picks up all the dog hair. I like it that it has different speeds for cleaning and you can tell it just to clean one room. If you don't want the whole house done just do one room..

I do bathroom carpet after taking bath. Or if I spilled something on kitchen floor. You can also mark off places you don't want it to clean.

You won't be sorry for this investment it also has an 800 number that you can call if you have questions on how to set it up or if you just have questions, they are wonderful..

Its a good investment, I wouldn't trade it for anything.. Good luck and enjoy.


Thursday 7th of October 2021

We have a Roomba that’s at least 20 years old. It came with the virtual wall cones to define the area to be vacuumed. I’ve bought 1 replacement battery and 1 set of replacement brushes. Speaking from a personal mobility standpoint (multiple spine issues), this vacuum has been a godsend!

Steve B

Wednesday 6th of October 2021

I have 3 Roombas, but we have a 2 story house that's pretty large. I will probably retire the oldest one this year. The newest i7 is capable of doing the work of 2. It maps and has the empty bin so it can run, empty itself, recharge and start again without intervention. Plus, we have 5 dogs in the house and it is amazing how much hair it catches. To me, it's definitely worth the cost.

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