A roomba makes its way across a dusty hardwood floor.

Harvey the Roomba, One More Weapon in My Fight with Eczema

One of the weapons in my arsenal in the fight against atopic dermatitis, that I use without even thinking of it as such, is my Roomba.

When I moved into a new condo about 10 years ago, I discovered it was the dustiest place I had ever lived. Perhaps because I’m now only a few blocks from the highway?

Why wasn't my condo perfect for my eczema?

This almost new building had no carpets or drapes, perfect for someone with a high dust mite allergy. Within a very short time, I discovered the beautiful dark wood floors showed every speck of dust, every dry skin flake. I found I was vacuuming every day and was still bothered by the dust, the flakes.

I tried everything to keep the dust down. I had read that spraying a mist or having a humidifier on while you vacuum helps keep the dust from flying around. I bought a softball-sized one for the living/dining room and found it seems to make a difference. I use it regularly.

When did I get my Roomba?

Then in my first year here, I started seeing ads for Black Friday sales. It looked like one of the new robot vacuums might be affordable, which is when I decided the Roomba was within my reach. If I could make it to the sale in time. Which I didn’t. I waited for the Boxing Day sale. As luck would have it, they were on again. Determined to get one this time, I was first in line at the store. Success! My Roomba came home with me. I bought the basic model, with no bells and whistles, no schedules, just random passes over the floor.

After charging for a bit, I put Harvey, as I named it, to work.

How has my Roomba worked?

I’m amazed at how much dust is collected. How can one person cause so much dust? I find I need to empty the dust collector almost every time it’s used. Some of the newer robot vacuum cleaners now self-empty into larger bins. There are ones you can talk to, ones that program themselves when they map out your room on their own. Even ones that can mop the floor as they go!

It has now become second nature to have Harvey clean whenever I leave the house. But occasionally it’s like a toddler or a puppy, following you around and getting underfoot.

In the summer, I have a large, portable air conditioner with a HEPA filter, which helps, but not as much as I had expected.

So many things I’ve used to keep my allergies at bay. So many things I’ve tried. Some with success, others not so much. So much money was spent.

I just replaced the battery in my Roomba for the second time, which is not bad considering it’s been about nine years. When the battery is dying, it begins to clean for a shorter time before needing to be recharged. They are not expensive to replace online.

What surprises come with a robot vacuum?

After sending Harvey in to clean the bedroom yesterday, I went searching for my slippers this morning, only to discover they had been pushed under the dresser. Harvey is back stronger than ever.

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