Full review after six months of having the Costco irobot roomba i8+ and the irobot Brava m6 in our home with two kids and two pets!
So, Mr. Hungry has a thing. A thing that I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand and appreciate. He likes his floor squeaky clean.
You know, the floors? Where dirt is supposed to be? Well, in his world, they should be devoid of any dirt, crumb, coffee drips, or any other offending morsel. Unfortunately, water is a primary offender, and spit-up is a nightmare come true.
I acquired a rabbit in college, and my roommate and I “litterbox trained it” and mostly let it run wild through her condo. There was legitimate rabbit poop on the floor there, but neither of us cared because it was primarily centered in a small area of the room.
This rabbit came along when Mr. Hungry and I and a friend all moved in together our senior year. At this house, oreo, who was called pooper 99% of the time, lived on a large tarp that took up half the kitchen surrounded by a baby gate. I tell you all this to tell you that at no point before our marriage did I recognize the disdain Mr. Hungry held for dirty floors. I mean, I had a rabbit that pooped all over the floor, for God’s sake, and he never really seemed bothered by it.
But apparently, my indifference to what falls on the floor and his attention to every spec, crumb, and dust mite that lies there was something we both missed in our five years together before we got married and during our wedding prep. Slowly I learned always to have a napkin or plate under a muffin and that a handheld vacuum was a simple tool to prevent his eye from starting to twitch. And with the introduction of pets and kids, Mr. Hungry has learned to ignore or tolerate floors that fall below his ideal standard, although sometimes I still feel an odd sensation of someone watching me whenever I eat a muffin.
And of course, every week, Mr. Hungry was spending 30 minutes vacuuming and swiftering the floors throughout the house, which isn’t an extended amount of time, but with all the chores and crap you have to get done on the weekend, I thought if I could shave 30 minutes from our to-do list, especially with a new baby on the way, I’d be happy to do so.
So I did a TON of research. I conducted full-on interviews with friends who had Roombas, watched and read countless reviews so that I knew what to expect and could choose the right machine for us.
One of the reasons I did SO much research is that this purchase wasn’t for me. It was for Mr. Hungry’s happiness. Well, his happiness and mine, because I knew if I had to hear him bitch about the floors while I was recently post-partum, I’d lose myself to blind rage. And that’s a joke, but also not because I had suffered from Post Partum Aggression (a form of Post Partum Depression) before (and I did again.) So I researched the hell out of it, both for him and for me. So I wanted to share with y’all a review of these purchases today! I know many of you may be considering them for Black Friday, for gifts for yourself or others, or whatever, so I thought pre-holidays would be a good time to share!
Plus, we’ve owned our machines for six months now, so I feel I can adequately speak to their capabilities and it’s shortcomings. So, here we go.
iRobot Roomba i8+ Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum with Automatic Dirt Disposal
The features that drew me to this machine were:
Self-emptying – I had heard stories of the Roomba stopping mid-cleaning because it needed to empty, but if you aren’t home or don’t realize it, then you end up with a half-cleaned house. Defeats the point. This feature on this model has worked flawlessly for us.
House mapping – My friend told me she barely uses her Roomba anymore because she had to create blockades in the house if she only wanted it to run in a specific room. This seemed like extra work that made the Roomba pointless. This was a must. The downside here is that it took at least 12 hours of run time and seven runs for it to map our 2200 square foot one-story home finally. But now, I can tell it to clean the kitchen and dining room after I’ve cooked and shot a recipe, and it will do so flawlessly without me having to block it in those areas manually.
Imprint Technology – Allows the Roomba and Brava to run together. I run them together sometimes, and I’ve never seen them crash into one another, so that’s good. But I hardly ever automatically run one after the other, because I have to prep the Brava first. More below.
Sold at Costco – I had a friend who swore of Roombas forever because she had one whose battery died nine months after purchase, and the company refused to do anything about it. Well, I checked (called and reviewed the website), and Roombas are not under the large appliance category; therefore, they fall under the return to Costco at any time, no questions asked policy, so I wanted to purchase at Costco if they had them. Plus, Costco sells the cleaning base and vacuum for one price, which is not the case at other retailers.
I also had realistic expectations of what life with a Roomba would be like:
Pre-cleaning was difficult initially because I didn’t know all the areas where Roomba may get stuck or where cords might be a problem. Now it’s no big deal, just pick everything up off the floor and let it run.
Cleaning Efficiency – Roomba is great at getting up hair, dog hair, cat hair, and large debris. However, when it comes to small, sandlike debris, like sand from the playground or sugar, Roomba isn’t an award winner. That’s where our Makita shines. Also, there are some corners and areas (like next to the toilet) the Roomba can not reach. So, we still have to clean those areas manually. I also expected to not leave the Roomba running while gone, lest the cat have a hair ball that gets dragged all over the house. I see the newer models can detect and avoid things like cat vomit, I’d like to see that in action!
Dislikes about this model:
Connectivity – sometimes the connectivity seems a little shotty, but for the most part, it works effortlessly.
Going Rogue – occasionally, the Roomba will seem to go rogue. My husband will ask, “did you send it to the living room? I thought you were running it in the kitchen?” Sure enough, he’s right. This only happens occasionally, though.
Replacement parts – I watched a youtube video where a guy was demonstrating cleaning the throw-away vacuum bag in the self-emptying canister. After a painstaking 10 minutes, he concluded the time spent was not worth the money saved on trying to clean out the bags. So it can be done, but most recommend just purchasing them. I’ve had to replace mine twice since I bought it six months ago.
Brava m6 Review
We decided to go with the Brava after a friend raved about how much she loved hers. This is the same friend who swore of Roombas, so I figured it was a stellar machine, and I did little research before purchasing. Come to find out, she has the old model, which seemingly works a lot better than the m6.
Features I like:
House mapping – Like the Roomba, this took 7-12 hours to complete. However, the process seemed WAY less efficient. AND Brava has a known error where it has trouble scaling thresholds. You can set it to recognize them after its initial run, but I’ve never been able to get it to recognize the threshold between the hallway and our master bedroom. I’ve had to set the master bedroom and bathroom as a second floor as a workaround. Also, it took months to figure out the threshold between the dining area and the living room. I’d often find it stuck trying to scale it going back and forth. But, overall, it works the same way. You can pick and choose which areas of the house you want it to go to.
Sold at Costco – I liked the idea of purchasing at Costco for the same reason as above. (Use my Costco Affiliate link to get a $20 shop card when you join!)
Multiple Cleaning Modes – I like that it has a dry and wet swifter mode, although I’ll be honest, the only time I’ve ever used the dry swifter mode was when I was mapping the house.
Life with Brava –
Set up – Unlike the Roomba, there is some setup required to run the Brava. First, you must fill the water tank and change the pad. Not a big deal. However, it lacks the convenience of starting the Roomba from my phone while holding the baby or whatever else.
Dislikes about this model:
Connectivity – the connectivity is always shotty on this model. I can’t count the times I’ve had to restart it and reconnect it.
Replacement parts – no one likes to buy extra things, so I’m putting this down here. But, first, you have to buy the special hard surface cleaner and replacement pads for the Brava.
Cleaning efficiency – meh. This model of the brava is just okay. While the older model has a three-pass system, the m6 does not appear to have that. Let me put it this way, we’ve asked ourselves what feels like a hundred times, “should we return it?” But, Mr. Hungry ultimately decides to keep it. It thinks of it as a top layer duster. So, we can run it, and it reduces the frequency at which he has to swifter himself to every other week or every three weeks. Also, there are some corners and areas (like next to the toilet) the Brava can not reach. So, we still have to clean those areas manually.
And the Brava leaves streaks on the flooring in the master bedroom. I started using distilled water (we have a lot of hard water here in AZ), which seemed to help a little bit. We have five types of flooring in our house, and it drives me NUTS, but, you know, supply shortages and all-time high costs of remodeling don’t motivate me to fix that. Plus, we’re talking about maybe getting a hot tub, so screw the floors. Anyways the other three hard surfaces it doesn’t leave any streaks, just the master bedroom. I’m guessing this is a lighting issue, etc. The distilled water does help a little, though.
Lastly, my major complaint is that it takes over 2 hours to clean the dining room and kitchen in deep clean mode. That’s a lot of run time, so we often run it at night.
In summary, we are delighted with the Roomba as a purchase. We hardly ever use our vacuum anymore. We do still use the Makita for quick pick-ups (a gift from Mr. Hungry’s parents.) I love the convenience of running it whenever from the touch of my phone in whichever room I want. Mr. Hungry starts to complain, and bam goes the vacuum. And I always run it in the kitchen and dining room after a recipe shoot. It’s been worth every penny.
The Brava I’m a little less jazzed about. We kept it, but only after much debate about sending it back. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have $400 to spend on something about 50% as good as doing it yourself. Or, like us, you just want to delay the times between having to do it yourself. Or, maybe skip Costco and get the older model as it seems to work better.
Remember for both these machines to set aside ample time to do the mapping, especially if you have 2000 square feet plus. And now that I’ve written 2000 words about a vacuum, I’m out! Haha, Let me know if you have questions!