The Wayback Machine -

Sunday, March 04, 2007

And They Call It...Scooba Loooooove

by Ctein

There is photographic import to this column. Be patient.

By now every reader of this web site must know about the Roomba, the platter-sized rug-vacuuming automaton from iRobot. (And is that not the absolutely best and coolest name for high-tech company?)

But, do you know about the Scooba? Scooba scrubs any wet-washable floor. Paula bought us a Scooba last Christmas. We don't keep an unsanitary house, but scrubbing floors is definitely not our thing. Wiping up spills and obvious messes, sure—but a real, thorough scrubbing? Happens to the kitchen floor maybe once every two or three years, whether it needs it or not. Maybe. A great test for the Scooba!

Scooba begins its washing cycle by spiraling out from its starting point, leaving behind a damp, scrubbed trail.

We charged it up with cleaning solution (either a special detergent solution or dilute vinegar) and set it loose. Dutifully it meandered back and forth across the kitchen floor like some blue trilobite, laying down a film of cleaning solution, scrubbing, and vacuuming the waste back up. 45 minutes later, it was done with a scrubbing cycle. The floor was definitely not clean. But it was visibly cleaner!

A half-dozen more floor-washings and and we actually had an entirely clean kitchen floor! Very impressive, considering the several years' worth of ground-in dirt.

And that got me thinking. There's another room in my house that gets stuff spilled on a waterproof floor but that, in twenty years, has never, ever been thoroughly scrubbed. That's right—my darkroom. Oh, yes, I wipe up spills and I occasionally mop it down lightly, but honestly, that's it.

That is Scooba's new task. Strip off all the layers of grime and chemicals that have embedded themselves in the concrete floor of my darkroom. One pass doesn't do it; even a dozen aren't enough. But with every pass, another layer of chemicals come out of the concrete. The waste water that I empty out of the Scooba still comes out an opaque, dirty brown, and the floor gets one shade lighter (figure 2).

In the corner of my darkroom, where Scooba's circular form can't go, there's a dark crescent of unscrubbed floor (upper right). See how much grime Scooba's removed!

A well-cleaned darkroom means less dust and aerosols in the air, less crud settling on prints, and fewer dust specks on negatives. I've always known that; I've just never gotten around doing it properly. Now I have a faithful little droid to do it for me. Yes, I love my Scooba.

Posted by: CTEIN


oren said...

Egads, I was thinking about attacking my darkroom with a mop this weekend - it's long overdue. Ctein, how well does it navigate around obstacles like sink legs and shelving uprights?

11:48 AM  
JeffH said...

We have had both a Scooba and a Roomba now for almost a year. The Roomba does a good job vacuuming carpet, we are quiet happy with it. It’s amazing to see all of the dust and lint that it picks up. But I have to say that the Scooba is awesome! We use it on both vinyl and tile floors and they come out absolutely clean and looking like brand new every time. We used to mop/scrub our floors by hand about once a month, now with a couple of kids traipsing dirt and spilling stuff on them constantly, they tend get pretty dirty very fast. We run the Scooba around the kitchen once every week or two and the floor comes out looking as good as new. It works well in our laundry room and bathrooms too. The Scooba does a great job getting around the sides of the toilets, leaving only a small sliver of floor behind the toilet that requires wiping by hand. If you have baby wipes in your house, they work great for quickly wiping up the small areas that the Scooba can not get to. I highly recommend the both robots, especially the Scooba. I definitely don’t miss pushing a mop around the kitchen and bathrooms anymore!


12:37 PM  
Jammy Straub said...

Damn, that would have been wonderful back when I was in university darkrooms. Those public darkrooms were alwasy HORRIBLE!

I thought it was expensive at first... then I thought about how much a nice vacuum costs... shudder...

5:47 PM  
John Roberts said...

And they say digital photography requires more expensive equipment? My digital darkroom never needs to be mopped! ;-)

5:28 AM  
Mike Johnston said...

[Ctein Replies:]

Hey, Oren!

It does pretty well with obstacles. The robot is 14 in. in diameter and a little over 3 in. high. I've seen it navigate in between and back out of chair legs that were spaced 16 in. apart. A bigger problem I've run into are overhangs: our refrigerator door is just a hair over 3 in. above the floor. The Scooba can wedge its bumper underneath the refrigerator door and get stuck. If that happens, it usually shuts itself down after trying to extricate itself for a couple of minutes, but it can get confused and just keep spinning its wheels. Our hack for getting around that is to stick a brick in the middle of the space under the refrigerator door so that the Scooba bounces off.


6:28 AM  
Arthur said...

Have to agree ... this is one of the best Leica books I have ever owned, besides Erwin's Compendium.

9:50 AM