If Elizabeth Barrett Browning had a Roomba — AD


If Elizabeth Barrett Browning had a Roomba then Sonnet 43 might have read like this:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee for relieving me of the plight
Of carpet cleaning that you get just right
For your gentle whirring and idle grace.
I love thee at 11am every day’s
As you do your deed, come rain or shine.
I love thee freely, as you go back and forth in a line.
I love thee purely, when you go back to your dock.
I love thee with your little downloadable app
That sets you off, and beeps when it bumps into a discarded sock.
I love thee for showing me where you’ve cleaned on my map
All other vacuums are a lost cause. I love thee with the breath,
Dust, fluff, you clean it all; and, if iRobot choose,
I shall but love thee until my death.

No I haven’t finally lost the plot.  Really I haven’t.   It’s just that every time I hear our new Roomba vacuum cleaner go off each morning I think of the opening line of this Sonnet.

But why would our vaccum cleaner be “going off” every morning?  Well I am pleased you asked that my friend.   Because it is the iRobot 980 and it’s a robot vacuum.   It also might just be the greatest invention the world has ever seen.

It arrived about a month ago and within minutes was unboxed and set up.  All we had to do was download the iRobot app from the app store (available for Android and Apple devices) and then follow the instructions to connect your Roomba to the app.  It is so simple even I could do it.   There is nothing to assemble, no attachments to store, no bags to buy and keep in a drawer, it is all ready to go straight out of the box (once you have plugged it in obviously).

The app allows you to set up a regular cleaning schedule for it, at a set time every day if you wish, or you can choose later or earlier at the weekends, it’s entirely up to you.  We have it set to go off at 11am every day which means that if we are out we come home at the end of the day to a spotless carpet.  I had no idea how exciting this would be until I came home from Tesco last Sunday to find the hallway was immaculate and the bits off fluff off our new lounge rug had all been removed.    There is also a “clean” button on the top so if you want it to go before then, well you can just press the button and off it goes.   When it’s done it goes back to the base station to recharge ready for the next day.   Each charge allows for up to 120 minutes of cleaning so it can cover the biggest of houses, running between multiple rooms.

First time if heads off it maps your house, going backwards and forwards, learning where permanent pieces of furniture are so it knows next time to stop just short of them.  Don’t worry though if something gets in the way, it just works its way around it and if it is still there the next time, adds it to the map, and if it has gone the next time well it just reverts to the last cleaning route.

Should the bin get full then it will head back to the base station (oh yes it even knows where that is) and beeps so you can hear it.  It will also send an alert to the app (so that your son who also has the app but is in Bristol for the weekend can send you a Whatsapp message alerting you.  Ditto if something gets stuck in the wheel)  Emptying the bin is just a case of pulling the compartment out from the front of the iRobot and dropping the contents in the bin, before sliding the compartment back into place.

Who knew that family communications could be so exciting!

That is all well and good I hear you cry, but how well does it actually clean?  Well brilliantly is the short answer.    It has something called a “3 stage cleaning system” which uses a combination of agitation, brushing and suction with something they call Aeroforce which gives ten times the power.  The Aeroforce high efficiency filters mean that 99% of allergens, pollen and particles as small as 10 microns are captured (I don’t know what a micron is but I am guessing it’s pretty tiny).

It also detects different floorings so automatically boosts when on carpet to really clean more thoroughly, and then if it gets onto tiles or laminate it decreases the power again.    And if there is an area that you don’t want it to venture near (such as water bowls for the dog) you can put one of the two Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barriers in place (these come supplied with some iRobot models or are accessories you can purchase separately).  These have two modes, one is a “halo” which stops the iRobot coming within a certain area around the halo, and the other mode is a simple line which means the iRobot won’t cross it.  We have this second one near our utility room as there are always things on the floor in there that would get trapped so we just don’t let the iRobot go in there by putting one of the barriers against the door frame.

As well as the full clean mode button there is a more targeted setting you can use if you need to just clean one particular area as a one off, such as crumbs being dropped.  Or your son sprinkling coconut on the carpet to see how well it would clean (and because there was nothing on the telly and you were bored).  Don’t believe me?  Well check this out:


So now do you see why Sonnet 43 springs to mind every morning at 11am?


You can find out more about the iRobot family here:  Roomba Robot Vacuum and compare the different models and their functions. 

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  • Oh how I love this post, favourite poet and favourite people having silly fun with a rather awesome invention!

    • Thanks Penny. It is funny how the most random of thoughts come to the forefront when we least expect it. I had forgotten all about this poem until I watched this little robot doing it’s thing. Why I am not surprised this is your favourite poet?!

  • Amazing!
    Get another, breed them and sell the surplus. (5% commission, please)
    I look forward to the mobile bar with an ice maker, a citrus slicer and a menu of cocktails, Gins, Whiskies and mixers plus a wide range of bottled beers and nibbles.
    Dyson must be aware of this opportunity?