Welcoming Our New Robotic Overlords
Getting a Roomba i7 ($799) robotic vacuum last year was a game changer. Vacuuming was never a favorite chore, but when I hurt my back it became something I dreaded. I was always in agony afterwards.
The Roomba i7 changed all that. Because my unit came with its own self-cleaning pedestal, all I have to do to clean the floors is tell it to go, and then, roughly once a month, throw out the dirt that accumulated in the bag. I loved the way the Roomba figured out how to map my apartment. It got smart enough that I could tell it to clean a particular room.
I also appreciated that I could set a cleaning schedule to keep ahead of my allergies. I didn't have to remember to run the vacuum. It knew to do it a few times a week. Bliss.
In fact, I loved the i7 so much that I purchased one for my parents. When my mom, notoriously picky about the gadgets she lets into her life, decided her i7 was staying, I knew this was a real winner!
So, when the folks at iRobot offered to let me try the Bravaa Jet M6 ($449) floor washing cousin of my i7, I leapt at the opportunity! My apartment has hardwood floors in my office. There are tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms.
Setup was easy, though finding a place for the base of the unit near a power outlet that would not also be a trip hazard was a bit more difficult than with the i7. The vacuum's vertical stand makes it less likely that someone will miss it and go head over heels. You should also be aware that unlike the i7, which almost never needs to be picked up, the robot mop does need more attention. You have to fill it with its cleaning solution from time to time, and then there are different sorts of mops you can attach: Both dry and wet come in reusable and disposable varieties. Changing the mops means picking up the unit and flipping it over. The suds can be changed by lifting out a plastic chamber from the top.
A particularly nice feature is that both robots share the same set of maps. So, having told the i7 where my kitchen was, the Braava knew as well. This lends itself to automated cleaning solutions where the pair work in tandem. You can tell the Braava to wet mop once the i7 has vacuumed.
I admit I was skeptical about the Braava when I first watched it mop the kitchen floor. It works quite differently than I do when I'm mopping. It zooms ahead a couple of feet, then creeps backwards. Then it shoots out a spray of soapy water and retraces its steps. It doesn't seem to scrub, yet it does thoroughly cover the floor, even sneaking in under the cabinets where grime tends to hid. Its unique way of mopping means that it doesn't get the walls wet. The water stays where it is supposed to go.
I found that it did an excellent job with typical, fresh, and largely superficial dirt and spills. However, it was less successful with the sort of mess that would ordinarily get me down on my hands and knees to clean. Sometimes I wished it had a "really scrub this spot" button. But, alas, some cleaning chores still need human intervention.
However on the whole it does a good job with routine cleanups. Looking on-line I found that some users complain that it leaves tire marks on wooden floors. I didn't notice this on my dark floors, but on-line sources also suggested doing a dry mopping after a wet one to remove the marks. The unit also sometimes has trouble negotiating transoms between rooms. If all of this sounds like too much fuss for a $400 unit, then it may not be for you.
However, I find the device to be well worth overpowers the small nits. It frees me up to do things around the house that give me pleasure, and that is of inestimable value. During the pandemic, when I won't let a cleaning person in the house, the iRobot combo has helped keep the place clean and eminently livable, something I'm not sure I would have accomplished on my own.
We may not have flying cars, but in this 21st century home, the robots have definitely arrived! Thanks George Jetson!