Keeping the House Clean with a Dog: Using a Roomba

One of the drawbacks of getting a dog is that they get the house dirty: sand, dirt and hair are the norm. Before getting Nix, we never used to clean the house more than once a week. However, once she came home things changed: we had to sweep the floor once or twice a week (and even wash it), apart from the weekly thorough cleaning.

This led us to consider getting an automatic vacuuming robot (that is, a Roomba) and finally, taking advantage of a Black Friday offer, we decided to get the Roomba 871.  We had already asked around to know other people’s opinions and we also had read reviews online and watched some videos. The only reason why we opted for the 871 model instead of a cheaper alternative was because it was the one that was on offer and the price difference with an inferior model was little.

Contents & Features

The Roomba 871 comes with the following elements:

  • The Roomba itself
  • The charging base
  • A remote controller (and batteries for it)
  • An extra filter
  • A virtual wall
  • The manual, the warranty, and a quick start guide
Roomba 871

The Roomba 871 has five different buttons: the grey one in the middle is the start/stop button. By just pressing it once (or sometimes twice) it will start running and automatically cleaning. If you wish to stop it in the middle of its run, you just have to press it once. Once the Roomba is done, it will automatically return to its charging base.

Some of the contents of the Roomba 871 box, including the remote controller.

The remaining black buttons are used to set the time, the day of the week, and to ask it to return to its charging base or to focus on a certain area to clean. This model can be programmed so that it runs automatically at certain days of the week at specific times. Moreover, it can be controlled remotely: you can either move it using the controls in the remote, or order it to start or stop cleaning.

This element creates a virtual wall to close off an area to the Roomba.

The virtual walls are used to avoid the Roomba entering certain spaces. This is specially useful if you have no doors in an area of your home.

Our Opinion

I have to say that we are in love with the Roomba. It does not leave everything as clean as a person could, but a floor goes from looking dirty to looking clean, which is exactly what we wanted and needed. It also deals very well with dog hair: the Roomba sucks it and it doesn’t get tangled on the Roomba’s brushes, which is great.

It’s also really easy to empty the tank: you just press and pull one of the plastic pieces and the tank comes out, as shown in the photo.

In the other picture below you can see the Roomba’s tank: plenty of dog hair and even a piece of plastic wrapper. I wonder how the wrapper got sucked in. To empty it you just have to lift the lid (the plastic with the hole you can see in the picture), so it’s really easy to do so.

Although the tank looks small, in our case we don’t have to empty it every time it runs, although it’s recommended to do so. In any case, when it’s full, a red light with a bin symbol turns on, so that you know it will stop running shortly unless you empty it.

The tank contains a filter which is also really easy to remove and, if I remember correctly, doesn’t need to be washed – you just have to clean its dust by shaking it a little bit.

There is a yellow tab so that the filter can be pulled out easily from the tank to be cleaned.

We have tried the virtuall wall to avoid the Roomba falling down the stairs, and it’s worked as expected. The Roomba is supposed to have systems to avoid this without the need to use a virtual wall, but on one occasion I found half of Roomba hanging off a step of the stairs, so we always try to use the virtual wall, just to be safe.

We have never used the programming function as we prefer to run it “on demand”. We normally leave it running while we take Nix out for a walk, and when we get back it has already done most of the work. Moreover, you have to bear in mind that you should remove as many obstacles from the floor as possible, to faciliate the Roomba’s work. This means lifting chairs and no dog toys on the floor. If we programmed it, then we’d have to remember to remove the obstacles at the appropriate times, and in my opinion we’d easily forget to do so.

When it comes to the remote controller, we haven’t even tried it. I personally don’t think it’s very useful. Getting the Roomba to do its work means standing up and pressing the start button: I can very easily do this without the need for a remote. Perhaps the remote would be a very good idea for someone with reduced mobility, but otherwise it seems to me redundant and unnecessary.

What I do like though is that the Roomba comes with a kind of handle which can be used to lift it and carry it around. For us it’s really useful as our house has various floors and at least once or twice during the week we have to move it from one floor to the other.

The “hidden” handle in the Roomba.

Noise-wise, it’s not too bad in my opinion. The sound it makes is differerent from a vacuum cleaner, for me is more like some kind of mechanical sound than a sucking sound. In a way, I find our vacuum cleaner louder than the Roomba and perhaps a bit more annyoing. However, that’s my own subjective view.

Although we really love the Roomba and so far are very happy with the results, I have to say that you should not expect perfect results from it. When it runs well, it leaves everything looking good. However, from time to time it messes up and does not finish its run properly. For example, one day it got tangled in cables, or another day it closed the bathroom door while it was cleaning it and then it couldn’t get out. On another occasion, we found that it had only cleaned the dining room and not the corridor, when the corridor was way more dirty.

So if you’re willing to put up with these little drawbacks, you hate cleaning and/or you lack time to do so during the week, and you’re willing to spend the money (around 400€, more or less, depending on the available offers and the model), we’d totally recommend getting one.


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