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Why I Don’t Love My Roomba Vacuum

The iRobot Roomba i3+ sits on the floor.
Shannon Flynn / Review Geek

Sometimes an effort to save money will make you waste money! That's the case for me and a robot vacuums . By failing to research and grabbing a sale, I ended up with a robot vacuum that couldn't do the job I needed.
“Getting a robotic vacuum changed our lives.” My husband and I heard several versions of this statement from friends with pets, and with a new puppy in our lives, we decided to join the club by picking up a Roomba. However, the device that was supposed to help clean our home is now gathering dust.

With all the praise for robotic cleaning assistants, how did my household reach this point? Looking back, I’d say it’s a combination of not doing enough research and getting blinded by a Black Friday deal. I encourage you to learn from my mistakes so that you can avoid them yourself when shopping for a robot vacuum.

What I Expected

My robot vacuum journey started with the adoption of a new furry friend. My cat Binky had been by my side for years, but it had been a while since I also had a canine friend. When my husband and I brought home our dog Gatsby, I quickly remembered that dogs bring both love and messes into your home.

To help minimize the time we spent cleaning, we turned to friends who were dog parents. The advice that kept coming up was to get a self-emptying robot vacuum. After seeing how much of a difference this device made for friends with large furry dogs, I was sold on getting one to help keep our house clean with a 15-pound, non-shedding pup.

What I Bought

Vacuums are displayed on a page of the Target Black Friday ad.

After spending years writing about Black Friday deals, I knew that this shopping holiday was a prime time to find a bargain on a robot vacuum of my own. After listening to our friends’ experiences, I decided on a self-emptying Roomba model, specifically the Roomba i3+.

When I saw this model in the 2021 Target Black Friday ad for $400 instead of $600, I skimmed the reviews again to confirm my decision. After seeing mostly positive ones, I ordered the vacuum and waited for it to arrive.

What I Experienced

A Roomba map shows an inaccurate floorplan of a house.
My Roomba’s very creative (and inaccurate) map of my floor plan from its last cleaning attempt. Shannon Flynn / Review Geek

A few days later (thanks to Target’s fast shipping), I unpacked the Roomba in my dining room. Getting everything started in the iRobot app was a breeze, so my optimism was at an all-time high.

After I excitedly started the vacuum for the first time, I was surprised by how loud it was. However, I told myself, “It’s okay. Most vacuums are loud.”

As the vacuum started moving at a slow and steady pace, it gently bumped into things before redirecting itself to clean the same areas again and again. At this point, I thought, “It’s okay. It’s learning our floor plan.”

At this time, my pets were also making judgments. Binky quickly developed a fond curiosity and followed the vacuum. Gatsby, on the other hand, was not a fan, as he nervously eyed it from the other side of the room. This was strange because he would typically follow my upright vacuum around, occasionally licking it, while I cleaned. However, I assumed he felt uncomfortable seeing a device move without me pushing it.

About 30 minutes of vacuuming went by, and I thought I could have been done in half that time. But the dumb little vacuum was trying its best, so I let it keep going so that it could learn from its mistakes, while I comforted Gatsby and let Binky follow the Roomba.

Once more than an hour had gone by, I realized three things:

  • One strip of floor that ran through my dining room, kitchen, and family room was spotless.
  • The vacuum was not getting any smarter or more familiar with our floor plan.
  • Every member of the household except for Binky couldn’t handle any more of the noise.

With that, I canceled the job and sent the little moron back to its home. For months after that, I would occasionally give my Roomba a chance to prove itself again, only to be disappointed by the same result.

After a final cleaning attempt in July 2022, I decided to retire the robot vacuum. Today, it sits in a corner of my dining room, serving as a stand for the Blink camera that watches over Gatsby when he’s in his crate.

What I Learned

What did I learn from spending $400 on a vacuum that now solely serves as a stand for our puppy cam?

First is the importance of listening to your friends’ reviews AND doing your own research. Our friends gave great advice about selecting a self-emptying vacuum. This feature saved a lot of time and effort because I didn’t have to constantly empty a tiny dirt chamber in my vacuum.

My own research, though, would have told me that severe struggles with navigation could have been avoided with a robot vacuum that uses a LiDAR detection system, like the Roomba i7+. Additionally, I would have done more research into quiet robot vacuums if I had known how Gatsby would react to the model I purchased.

Second, I learned that a “good deal” is only a bargain if the product works for you. It’s easy to get blinded by so-called savings. You think to yourself, “Wow! I’m saving $200.” However, because I ended up with a vacuum that doesn’t fit my needs, I actually ended up wasting $400.

While I resent the irony that I have to vacuum and dust around my Roomba, I don’t blame the product. It did its best, but its best just wasn’t what I needed. A little more research could have told me that, so I’ll consider that moving forward. But until then, I’ll be manually vacuuming my floors while Gatsby thanks me with plenty of kisses.

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Shannon Flynn Shannon Flynn
Shannon Flynn is a freelance writer for Review Geek. This attorney turned writer has been creating content ranging from blogs to eBooks for nearly a decade. She has written on topics in several industries, including healthcare, retail, and law. However, she has a special interest in writing about tech products, including smart home devices, e-readers, Apple products, and Nintendo gaming. She also has a passion for trying out different apps and all things LEGO. Read Full Bio »