I’m Considering a Roomba

Dear Home-Ec 101,

I can get a new Roomba 530 for a great post-Christmas price. In my rental place, we have vertical blinds. I was worried how the machine would cope with those. I have tiles all through except the bedrooms that have thick, soft carpet. Your advice is appreciated.


I want a robot minion

Heather says:

I have way more affection than is healthy for my Roomba; I love that stupid thing. I went so far as to name my robot minion Gertie and from what I can tell, I am not the exception to the rule when it comes to anthropomorphism and Roombas.

It could also be that I just have weird friends. (Amy, Jim, Eugene. . .)

Here’s my initial experience with a Roomba 530. I did some searching today and found a blogger who has vertical blinds and included them in her Roomba experience. The short version of her story is that the blinds were pretty much a non-issue.

As long as you enter your Roomba experience with the expectation that the Roomba is for maintenance rather than deep cleaning, I think you will enjoy the appliance.

If you expect the Roomba to completely eliminate your need to vacuum, you will be disappointed.

Before running your Roomba, you’ll need to do a quick pick up. In my house I have the kids scatter and pick up anything that could “choke the robot.” I also tilt the couch up on end as it is the perfect height to trap the robot which is neither the couch nor the Roomba’s fault and it’s just a part of the routine. With three kids and a dog, I find a daily Roomba’ing necessary or there will be so much dirt the vacuum can’t keep up. If your apartment isn’t ground level, you may find that you’ll need to use your vacuum far less often.

Home-Eccers, do you agree or has your experience been different?

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.


  1. deneicer1 on January 10, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    @HeatherSolos Any ideas, examples or thoughts you have for a laundry folding table (higher height) would be greatly appreciated! I am intending to use the guest bedroom next to the hallway laundry “closet” for my laundry tools. I want them to be easily hidden (and FAST!) I am trying to make a “perfect” portable and easily disassembled if necessary….”temporary/permanent laundry” room. 🙂

  2. deneicer1 on January 10, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    OH MY GOSH! I WANT ONE, I WANT ONE, I WANT ONE…do you think if I keep shouting this mantra that one will appear?…or my husband will RUSH out to buy one because I won’t shut up????? 😉

    We have 3 dogs…yep, 3. English bulldog, Jack Russell terrier and ….wait for it…..a Siberian Husky. She sheds more than the other 5 of us put together! ARGH! (She is a new addition as well so I have to get used to this!)

    @HeatherSolos I have a thought for your couch….Maybe you could make or purchase risers? I have seen them in either round or square varieties and as an extra nice bonus….it might just keep your under-the-couch-dust-bunny population to a minimum. Here is an example: http://www.amazon.com/Black-inch-Square-Bed-Risers/dp/B003ZT207E

    I thought of them because I may need to buy some to raise a table to fold clothes in a standing position (as opposed to bending myself into a human pretzel on the couch or bending!)

  3. CherylSmithem on January 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    We love our Roomba, her name is Rosie! She keeps our place better than either of us have time for.

  4. mapchic on January 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I love, Love, LOVE my Roomba. His name is Rodney.

    I live alone with no pets and don’t wear shoes in the house, so Roomba does replace the vacuum for me. I pull the vacuum out for seasonal deep cleaning, but that’s it (which is great because vacuuming is my most hated chore).

    If you have long hair (as I do) be aware that there is a bit more care for your Roomba as hair will get wrapped around the brushes and have to be regularly cleared.

    Roomba has a few places where he can get stuck – under the corner of my kitchen cabinets under one of my bedroom chest of drawers. Very occasionally he will get confused and lost in my dining room curtains.

    I run him while I am at work and then empty and charge him over night. It’s great to come home to vacuum lines without having to do anything!

  5. imabug on January 10, 2012 at 8:06 am

    I used to have a Roomba Discovery which I loved until a power surge took it out. It was always fun watching it work. If you’re like me, any time you expect to save having a robot do daily light sweeping/vacuuming will be spent watching it 🙂

    If you have a video camera with night vision, turn the lights off and watch the Roomba through the video camera. You’ll see the infrared light that it uses to detect walls, objects and the floor. For some more fun, put some small lights on the roomba, set up a camera on a tripod, turn the lights out and do a long exposure of the Roomba at work. This works best at night or in a room with no windows.

    I’m not sure if Roomba’s algorithms have become better at this, but it may have problems transitioning to dark surfaces (such as rugs/carpets with dark/black patterns or borders). The floor sensors may interpret the drop in reflected light as no floor and make the Roomba stop and turn around.

    Roomba will require regular maintenance to clear the brush area of dust and collected debris like twisted up hair. I used to disassemble it monthly for cleaning.

    The virtual walls can be pretty useful for confining Roomba to certain areas.

    Roomba might have some problems moving around on thick pile carpet. you’re probably better off leaving that to the regular vacuum.

    It’s pretty easy to train pets to tolerate the Roomba or leave it alone.

  6. KittySparkes on January 10, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I’m guessing you also have to put the dog away before Roomba’ing- I know mine would try to kill it! 🙂

    • HeatherSolos on January 10, 2012 at 9:53 am

      @KittySparkes that’s really going to depend on the animal. My dog is an old basset hound and he can’t be bothered to slide off the couch for much of anything any more. He’s more like an occasionally mobile, throw than an actual animal.. The Roomba holds no interest for him, either. My friend’s Jack Russell? Oh I bet she’d be all over it.

      • KittySparkes on January 10, 2012 at 10:12 am

        @HeatherSolos Our 2-year old Boxer would bounce all over it and “talk” at it, then go pout when we told him to knock it off. I don’t see a Roomba in our near future, but not because of that. Maybe some day!

        Awww, Basset Hound!

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