The next level of maid free living

8:30 AM

As many of you know, when we moved to our new flat in 2017, we made the decision to manage our household without a maid, and we are going to close on 2 years doing so this April.

In fact, my blog post "How we manage without a maid" is a permanent resident in my "Popular blog post" widget and the numbers of Google searches on the topic that leads people to my blog keep increasing.
I guess it's safe to say more and more people in India are getting fed up with the drama and slacking that comes with having a maid and are looking into ways to do without.

Last year, I even did a summary of our 1 year anniversary of doing it without. Back then, after a long year of wasting nearly 2 hours of our day doing the dishes by hand, we lucked out on a very sweet deal getting a second hand dishwasher for close to nothing and it had made our lives that much easier, all we had left to do was the floor, and the usual heavy load of laundry and deep bathroom cleaning on weekends.

Fast forward to now, and we have a new member in our cleaning team :

This is frankly, the purchase I never even thought of making...EVER. I never even considered a Robot cleaner as a viable option, to me they really sounded like this useless household gadget that just looks fun to have.

I obviously was totally wrong and I stand corrected.

I only became a proud owner of one a few days ago, and only because my mom, who is still staying with us decided I needed one and gifted it to me because I'm turning 40 later this year.
When she mentioned robot cleaners, I'm pretty sure my eyes popped out of my head and I did ask her if it was really THAT effective.
Apparently she has a friend that pretty much swears by hers and has 5 dogs. She also told me how those things go charge themselves on their own, are able to chart the optimal path through your flat after a few use and how they reach all possible corners, and even come with a wet mop!

Strong of all that, my mom asked me to go check what was available on Amazon India, that led to her  buying us the iLife X620  (This is an affiliate link by the way). If you are reading this from the US, iLife has changed the name of the model, it's called the A6 model there.

Where has this thing been all my life!

Thanks to Amazon Prime, my new toy reached me within 24 hours of ordering, and after unboxing it, reading the instructions and putting it to charge I got to use it. 

At that time, Ishita, my mom and I were home and I kid you not we were like children on Christmas day. We obsessively watched the robot's every twists, turns and sweep, saw it glide under furnitures with ease, spin around the table legs, and leaving nothing alone. 
We bust in laughter when my cat freaked out seeing it in action for the first time and laughed some more when the robot took on cleaning precisely all around Jasmine with laser precision (Jasmine couldn't be bothered to move).

By the time hubby made it home, we were done with the vacuum cleaner mode and had attached the wet mopping tank and he joined us for a Robot gawking session until it finished cleaning the last spot in our living room. 

The end result was that we were all thoroughly impressed with how clean everything was. For almost 2 years, we've been sweeping and mopping daily, and frankly we were good at it already. But that clean-bot bested us in one session. 

Sure it takes more time than us covering the whole flat, but what it does, it does it way better than we ever could. It covered the whole flat in about one hour and a half of vacuuming and then thanks to the fact it had memorized some paths across our home already, it did the mopping in just one hour. The floor felt squeaky clean under our bare feet, and I don't think it ever felt that way before, not even after using a combination of sweeping and steam mopping. 

What it does and how it works

According to the iLife website and the description on Amazon, our model has "GPS" of sorts, it is able to map paths around your home after a few repeated uses. When we used it the first time, it went spinning around, and bumped into things a lot. It also went back and forth and visited a corner or room more than once, which led to it taking an hour and a half to vacuum the whole flat. When we put the mop on, it had already figured out a few paths and bumped a lot less into walls and furnitures and accomplished its task in about an hour. 
The next morning it was done with vacuuming in 45 minutes but because we had bags and stuff on the ground that wasn't there the night before, it bumped into them and paused a few times to figure out how to deal with it. 

The robot comes with its charging station, a mop attachment, a set of spare brushes, and a remote control. 
According to the instruction manual, the robot can be even programmed to start cleaning on it's own at a given time, which means that even if you are sleeping or out of the house, it will clean the home everyday if you instructed it to do so at let's say 1pm. 

Once the battery is low, it will go put itself back on its charging station all on its own, though I am yet to see it do that because its battery life is more than sufficient to do the whole flat in both dry and wet mode. It also will go back to its dock once it has completed its task, something it didn't do the first few uses as it was still mapping the flat surface but now it does it everytime, unless for a reason or another we had to switch it off or move it, it then lost track of what it did already and will redo the whole route before it feels compelled to "Go Home".

The remote also has a "Go Home" button, so that whenever you need it to stop, you can instruct it to go back to its charging dock, and it is amazing to watch. It will stop it's work, and find the path back to its home, sometimes it will roam a bit more until it homes in on the beacon, but once it catches it, it pretty much goes for the home run. 

Yet another time saving tool

It's not that sweeping and mopping really took that much time in my day, it was a 45 minutes a day chore, but looking back at it already, I noticed that I pretty much planned my day around it because while I was cleaning the floor, I wasn't doing anything else. 

There were days I would wonder if I would get the time to sweep, go grocery shopping, go for a workout, work on a design and then conduct a class in the evening. Inevitably, the workout would go down the drain, or I would forego other chores like cleaning the kitchen a bit more thoroughly or dusting behind the TV. 
With this robot, I seriously don't have to worry at all, it's just about pressing start, and let it do it's thing. 
Once it's done cleaning, it automatically goes back to its charging station, the only thing I need to do, is remember to remove the dust container and switch it for the mop tank attachment if I want to mop immediately after vacuuming. 

And in the end, even if it just freed 45 minutes of my day, it is still a big difference, you never really know how much until you suddenly have it back.  
We live in a world were time is a precious commodity, it makes no sense for anybody to waste it on cleaning if there is an alternative within reach (any alternative)
For me, having a maid simply wasn't working, I spend more time arguing with her about her not moping properly or attempting to cut corner. I took it upon myself to do the job, and while it wasn't a biggie, I'm still really happy not to have to do it every mornings.

The robot has it's limitation, every cleaning tool does, and it struggles getting the stains off the kitchen floor, or the permanent film of grease that comes with the whole cooking without a chimney territory, and yes, we will continue to steam mop once a week all through the flat to really prevent sticky dirt from piling up, but all in all, it has eliminated the whole daily chore of cleaning the floor.

On a windy dusty day, we just run the vacuum mode twice, and it's amazing to see how much crap has collected on the floor in a short 8 hours between cleaning sessions. 

It's not necessarily cheap though

Like with anything, you get what you pay for, and while some of these robot cleaners come withing the price range of a few thousands rupees, do make sure to read the reviews first. Not all robots are equal, some only vacuum clean, others do both, some are more efficient than others dealing with pet hairs, and cheaper ones also means less battery life, or no real ability to memorise what your home layout is. 
Mine came up with a 34k price tag, some of the same brand will set you off between 18 and 20k other brands will still be around 10k for one that comes with fair reviews. And there are some even pricier than the one I own. If you search "Roomba" in Amazon it yields you a fair selection of what is available in India. 

In the end, I did calculate that our former maid used to charge us 6k a month to do the dishes, mob the floor, clean the bathroom and cook. This amounted to a total of 72k rupees a year spent for what was essentially an all round half assed job punctuated with drama, whining, and more leaves than hubby gets in a year. 
In our new home, we only have a cook charging us 3k a month, so we save a total of 36k a year cleaning things ourselves. So even if we had paid full price for a dishwasher last year, and the robot this year, we would still have been under what it cost us to have a maid clean over a period of 2 years. 
And both the dishwasher and the robot do not serve us stories of relatives either dying or getting married every 2 weeks, they don't come late, and they don't complain the job is too difficult and take too much time. They also don't ask us for a hefty Diwali bonus, extra money for their kids school fees, or for a trip they need to take somewhere. 

Going maid free is all about investing in the right tool

I said it before, I'll say it again you need the right tool to get started on that maid free gig. In 2017 I wrote a blog post about the essentials you need to spend money on in the beginning, it was a list of what is the best cleaning tools you can get in India
In that blog post, the most high tech of them was the steam mop, I still love and use mine regularly, but seriously, the more upgrades on your tools you can afford over the year, the better. 

And remember, the real magic of managing without a maid in India is to get all family member to pitch in, regardless of which gadget and appliance you may have to help you. 
In our home, the cleaning is still everyone's job, and we each do our bit, even our visiting guests. 

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  1. Fantastic to say the least, a gadget straight from doremon's pocket. The only problem is the price but as u said the a cheaper version won't be as good.

    Do u have to lift it and put it in places where it won't go due to some obstacle and how does that alter its path? Does it go on and on in particular spot till it is completelly clean, Just curious.

    1. It doesn't need to be lifted at each obstacles, there is a number in the front that is equipped with sensors, each time it bumps into something it swivel and rotate a few degrees before resuming its course, it will rotate and adjust the course a few degrees at a time until it's course is clear again. It will also only go under furnitures that are high enough for it to pass without the sensor being bumped.
      The only time I need to lift it is when it's brushes underneath get tangled into something. When that happens the robot stops and beeps to let me know it's brushes are jammed. A sock, a cable or a big piece of paper are the things that get jammed.

    2. Happy basant panchami to u and family. May goddess saraswati bless u with more creativity and wisdom.

  2. Wow! I wondered if those things really worked. In California the floors only needed mopping once a week- here it is every day!
    We have both carpet and marble floors in our house- will the iLife do that?

    1. It seems to handle all floor surfaces, it has a big rotating brush underneath that lift the dust off the floor and throw it inside the dust collecting bin. If the floor is too greasy, the mopping is a bit less efficient, but I can handle mopping the floor manually once or twice a week, so it isn't a huge problem. The only thing to be carful is to not have socks, tissues or cables in the robot's path because it will get tangled in it, and loose its digital marbles for a while and remap the whole flat because it got interrupted.

    2. I am so tempted by this. But we are planning to invest in a miele/dyson vaccum cleaner. Definitely cant compare with robotic vacuum but will manage with scotch brite fibre broom & flat mop till we can afford this. Do you have any opinion on miele C2 or dyson v8? only downside I am seeing with miele is that its bagged. I am not sure how long does it take for one bag to be full. Regarding dyson we arent sure about the service.

    3. I haven't experience with these, but all the people I know who invested in a Dyson rave about it.
      I would go for bagless, it's easier to maintain and clean. I once upon a time had a Eureka Forbes vaccum cleaner that came with a washable dust bag but it was a pain in the butt to clean, on the plus side, it took about 10 vacuuming sessions to fill the bag.

      The Miele has disposable bags? I thought most vacuum cleaner moved away from these.

    4. Somehow I missed your reply. Yes miele still uses disposable bags. and we have still not bought a vaccum. Took a demo of miele & dyson both. Didnt like any of them for one or the other reason. In the mean while i read a little more and now planning to look at the following too: 1. Xiaomi robot vaccum 2. Muji cleaning system 3. Black & decker steam mop 4. I definitely need something to make dusting & cleaning windows, balcony & bathroom glasses easier. Any suggestions are welcome. Are you still happy with your robot vaccum?

  3. I have the Black & Decker steam mop, it's awesome, though I don't use is as much as I once did because with the cleaning robot in the house, my floors are less dirty and I just have to use the regular mop every couple of days to supplement the robot mop mode. I have the steam mop with the detachable tank, so it's still super handy to have to clean the windows on the sticky oily grime in the kitchen .

    I'm still very happy with the robot vaccum, that thing is saving me a lot of time.


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