Product Review: iRobot 110 Dirt Dog Workshop Robot

I recently treated myself to something I'd been wanting forever: a Roomba. Ever since I saw it on Gilmore Girls three years ago, in fact, I have longed to have a robot clean my floors. The least expensive model I could find was the iRobot 110 Dirt Dog Workshop Robot, a model that is designed to clean workshops and garages. While I wanted it to clean my house, not a workshop, the reviews on Amazon suggested that it would do a fine job on my hardwood floors.

The problem was this: even when I cleaned my floors thoroughly, they still felt dirty underfoot. If you've ever walked barefoot across a hardwood floor that wasn't perfectly clean, you know that icky feeling of dirt and grit sticking to your feet. Also, hardwood floors show dirt a lot more than carpet, and I didn't like spending an hour a week cleaning my floors. Enter the Dirt Dog, which could clean my floors for me and, hopefully, get them cleaner than I could.

The product is not a vacuum, but a sweeper. If you've ever seen a street cleaning truck, the design is similar. A little brush spins out of the side, sweeping dirt underneath the Roomba, where another brush sweeps the dirt into the dust bin.

Roombas come in a wide variety of price points. This was the cheapest model at the time of my purchase, and is priced at $158 as of this writing. At the time I purchased it, the price had mysteriously dropped to $99--I got lucky. Maybe I stumbed across a Gold Box deal without realizing it. I also had an Amazon gift certificate left over from last December's CoinStar promotion, so I was able to get it for around $50--quite a steal.

The product works as well as I'd hoped--I've never had such clean floors, and I can happily walk across them barefoot. With the new kittens, there is more cat fur, tracked cat litter, and bits of carpet torn off of cat scratching posts than ever and the floor needs to be cleaned twice a week now instead of once.

The downsides are these:
-It is very noisy. I prefer to not be in the room while it's running.
-The battery lasts for two hours. This is long enough to clean maybe 600 SF, but not long enough to clean my whole house.
-It takes much longer to clean a room than I would. And watching it can drive you crazy, as it appears to have no rhyme or reason to its cleaning pattern.
-It bumps into things harder than I expected.
-It's not very tall (maybe 3 to 4 inches), but is too tall to fit under my couch.

That being said, overall I'm very happy with it:
-I don't have to do anything but move it to the room I want cleaned and press the clean button. In between, I sometimes have to clean the brushes, empty the dust bin, and plug it into the charger. That's it.
-It doesn't seem to be damaging anything, yet, though the bumping does make a gal worry.
-In particular, it seems to be gentle enough to not scratch my floors, which was one of my main concerns.
-My floors have never been so clean.
-It's very thorough. It doesn't miss a single spot, except the ones it can't get to. It's a little over a foot wide, so it can't fit into spaces narrower than that. However, it cleans under my bed a lot easier than I can.

I do wonder if a different model would be quieter, but I don't think it's worth the extra expense to find out. The iRobot Roomba® Silver is more widely available and costs $200 (I did see it on sale at Target once for, I think, $130). There's also the red model, iRobot Roomba 410 Intelligent Floorvac Robotic Vacuum Cleaner, which is currently $150--now more expensive than the Dirt Dog, but at the time of my purchase, significantly more. If you have the extra money, it may be worth trying a higher-end model to see if it's quieter or doesn't bump into things as hard, but if your main concern is function, I think the iRobot 110 Dirt Dog Workshop Robot is just fine.

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