Review: Scooba Washes My Floors (and Rocks My World)

Last year for Christmas I got my parents an iRobot Scooba and Roomba kit, which they have insisted to me is possibly the best thing I have ever gotten them. In particular, they're crazy about their Scooba. I'd seen them use it once or twice, and I thought it was cool, but never ended up with one of my own. After a Black Friday Woot refurb deal for $99, though... well, I couldn't pass that up.

And so, my friends, let me tell you about why my Scooba is my new best friend. Review is after the jump.

Scooba

Scooba was the second home robot that iRobot introduced, the first being, of course, the Roomba (of which I am also a big fan). The one I have is part of that original series; the Scooba has undergone a slight update since then.

Before you Scooba, there's some room prep required -- move rugs and cords, pick up shoes and bags, move chairs if necessary. This step (and its analog with the Roomba) really seems to bother some people, but I'd be doing it anyway if I were mopping or Swiffering, so it seems like no big deal to me. If you want to constrain the area that Scooba can work in, you can use a virtual wall (a battery operated device about the size of a camera) that emits an invisible IR beam that Scooba can sense. This is particularly a good idea if you have smooth transitions between your tile/hardwood floor and some other surface. My parents' Scooba detects the edge of the carpet with its bump sensor with no problem, so they can do without the invisible wall, but they have a small curved metal thing (scientific term there) at the edge of the carpet that does it. Scooba also has the same cliff sensors to detect steps that the Roomba does, and they've always worked very reliably for me on both robots.

Scooba plugs into the wall to charge -- my parents have one with a battery charging cradle as well. Prepping the Scooba itself for washing is no big deal: remove the tank, fill up the "clean" tank with a few ounces of special Chlorox solution (vinegar works as well) and warm water, replace the tank, and hit go.

Lifting out the Scooba tank

Filling the clean water tank

During its operation, Scooba does a couple of things. First it vacuums very lightly; I wouldn't recommend using it on your dirty carpet, but it did a nice job of picking up dustbunnies, stickers from Clementines, and crumbs that had fallen on the floor. Next, it lays down a thin layer of soapy water, which is then scrubbed up by a rubber brush. It leaves the floor a bit wet behind it, but that pretty quickly evaporates.

Following the wall

So at the end, you're left with a happily beeping robot with a full "dirty" tank. The after-maintenance is pretty quick: remove the tank, clean out the vacuum filter with a finger, and empty the water tank. I also wiped off the bottom with a paper towel to remove some gunky dust that had stuck just in front of the rubber scrubber brush.

Now below I have a picture for you of the water from this tank. Please bear in mind that I ran my Scooba last Thursday, I basically wore socks or slippers around my apartment all weekend, and before my Scooba purchase I pretty regularly Swiffered (both wet and dry). And look at what Scooba picked up.

Love that dirty water!

That is why Scooba is my new best friend.

Special thanks to friend and colleague Deanna Abraham for being a photographer

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