05 September 2013

This is not a gadget.

The Reluctant Farmer decided that purchasing a robotic floor cleaner would be a good investment in our relationship. I was skeptical, I mean, I ought to be doing the floors myself. It’s expensive. It’s a gadget. Surely a broom and a mop …

Well, the broom and mop haven’t really been keeping up very well, since they are powered by me. And I haven’t got a lot of extra juice these days. So I accepted his generous offer, and today, the Braava 380T arrived in the mail. A little square device, a bit smaller than those countertop sandwich makers that were popular in the 90s, it was super easy to set up. Batteries for the little cube that it uses to assist with navigation were even included in the box!

Now, I wasn’t really sure how well this thing would work. Obviously, I figured it would be better than what I was doing – sweeping with a broom every other day or so and mopping with either a steam mop or a sponge mop about once a week – but I really wasn’t sure how it would work on our floors. We have wide plank hardwood in the south wing (which is badly scratched and dinged up and needs to be sanded and refinished, but that’s another tale) and engineered hardwood in most of the north wing.

I was STUNNED by how well it cleaned.

I made things a little more straightforward by putting the chairs up on top of the dining table, like you do at the end of the shift at the restaurant, and I moved most of the spinning wheels out of the way so it would have fewer obstacles to go around. Then I just watched.

The cats weren’t quite sure what to make of it at first, but after stalking it for a little while, they decided it was harmless and ignored it. It went under the couch and around the table legs and puttered back and forth across the floor for about 45 minutes.

By the time it was done, the microfibre cloth was thoroughly loaded with pet hair and dirt, because I hadn’t done a preliminary sweep with the broom – I wanted to see what it could do by itself. As it went around the room, I did occasionally swipe the dust bunnies off the side, but when it returned the starting point and sang it’s little “all done now” song, I was amazed. The floor felt way cleaner to my bare feet than it does after sweeping: no doubt the effect of having been gone over very slowly with a microfibre cloth rather than quickly with rather tired synthetic broom bristles.

Now that the worst of the dust and dirt were picked up, I filled the little water reservoir at the sink, rinsed and wrung out one of the damp mopping pads, and set Matilda loose again.

(She is called Matilda because the movement of the mopping action looks like a waltz step to me: forward and to the right, back, forward and to the left, back, forward and to the right…)

The damp mopping amazed me even further.

The floor is CLEAN.

I am barefoot, and it feels wonderfully clean. Of course it’s not as clean as having been scrubbed on hands and knees, but it’s way cleaner than I normally get it, even with the steamer. Again, no doubt because it has been gone over slowly and methodically with a damp cloth, rather than quickly and haphazardly with a squishy mop.

And I didn’t have to do any scrubbing. Or sweeping. I washed the mats, since they needed to be picked up anyway and were pretty dusty, and I moved a few things around to clear the path, and that was it. While Matilda swept and mopped, I worked on an assignment that needs to be done for the weekend.

Now, see, you need to realize that I do not like gadgets in general. I used to have a food processor, but I got rid of it: I prefer a bowl and a spoon for mixing and a knife and board or my v-slicer for chopping things. I don’t want a rototiller. I have no need of a panini press or a toaster oven or an electric can opener or any of the fancier gadgets. This high-tech machine is not the kind of thing you’d expect a girl like me to be impressed with. I mean, it sweeps and mops. I can sweep and mop.

Except that when I sweep and mop it costs me spoons. When I sweep and mop, it costs me spoons and even then, it’s not a great job – it’s just enough: never any more than enough, and often not quite enough, truth be told. But I have so few spoons to go around and such a big list of things to do that it gets tough to prioritize floor mopping.

Matilda is not a gadget, see.

Matilda is spoons. In a little black box that meanders across my floor in near silence, quietly sweeping up the mess and leaving me free to spend my spoons on other tasks.

The Reluctant Farmer bought me spoons.


  1. Anonymous7:11 pm

    What a great gift - the spoons that is! May you, and the reluctant farmer both enjoy the benefits of the gadget and the spoons!

  2. Haven't checked in for awhile, and I'm so glad I did today. The 'spoons' had me laughing AND crying. THANK YOU for this post... and I wish you many, many spoons!

  3. Just an update on Matilda: having had her working here for more than a month I can confidently say her presence here has made a *huge* difference. The floors are just ... clean. Always. It's no trouble to grab a cloth from the pile and set her loose to sweep - and it's amazing the amount of dog and cat hair (and wool fluff) that gets picked up even when she's sweeping every day. The paw prints are wiped off the floor with no effort from me. I occasionally put a bit of floor cleaner just on the cloth (never in the reservoir, that just gets water) to give things a wee bit more shine, but plain dry cloths for most cleanings and damp cloths every other day or so and we have awesome, clean floors .. and I am not exhausted. What a fantastic investment.


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