Here’s the problem for me: how to keep the kitchen floor and the bathroom floor clean every day. The kitchen floor collects crumbs and the stuff that just ends up as a result of the time we spend there (which is a lot), and the bathroom floor collects hair, dust, powder and general bathroom dirt. As soon as they are clean, they start to get dirty again. The answer for me is the iRobot Roomba. Roombas have been around for a while. The early adopters (like Stewart Brand of Whole Earth fame) already have one and are used to the fascinating way it does its job in a way that seems to be both focused and random, along with the beep language it uses to communicate. The rest of us might have been thinking that they are too expensive, or too gimmicky, or that they get too tangled up in electrical cords, too this or too that. Or that they don’t clean as deeply as big vacuums with powerful suction motors. That part’s true, they don’t.
What Roombas do well is the frequent cleaning you know you should do, and would do, if you only had the time. They are the autonomous, targeted predator drones of floor care. You can send it around the kitchen as often as you like. Keep it confined in there with the IR virtual wall and the kitchen will be thoroughly swept. Same deal with the bathroom, as often as you need it. It’s also good to sweep around the edges of hallways, where the dust seems to build up. One of its best tricks is its ability to clean under furniture and beds and come back out again; no need to move them even when you bring in the big vacuum for a thorough cleaning.
Like any good gadget, you can customize and accessorize them to your heart’s content. Since Roombas have been on sale since 2002, you can get one in any price range. The 400 series are available for well under $200 and basically do everything the new ones do, but the latest and greatest models can back off of fringes and electrical cords and easily find their way back to the charging dock. All you have to is dump out the dirt.