iRobot Roomba 880 Vacuum Cleaner Review

Robotic vacuum cleaners might still seem like the new direction in Vacuum cleaners. In fact, iRobot sold its first robotic vacuum cleaner in 2002. Now, with over 15 million iRobot vacuums sold, the iRobot Roomba 880 has a wealth of research and development behind it, and it shows.

IRobot Roomba 880 Surprised me

The first time I let this robot cleaner loose in my home I got quite a surprise.

iRobot Roomba 880


I previously had a cleaning routine with my old upright, and kept the place at a high standard, I thought. So when I found myself having to empty the iRobot Roomba three times. just to clean my living room Carpet, I was amazed.

This first application also took a lot longer than expected. It actually continued cleaning the same room for over 40 minutes (not the 25-minute session described by the manual). Iwas starting to think that the unit was malfunctioning. Not so. Once it had cleaned my carpet properly the first time, this never happened again.

I had to arrive at the conclusion that this Robotic Vacuum Cleaner actually did a better job of cleaning my Carpet than I did. For that reason, I suggest you stay with the cleaner on its first time through, just to empty the bin as needed.


Our floors home consist of timber, rugs and Carpeted areas. Because of the Carpets, I invested the extra cash and purchased the 880 model. This cleaner has specially designed extractors that remain pretty much tangle free when dealing with fibers and hair.

It also has a much stronger airflow, which means more power, essential for removing dirt from deep down in your carpet.

You need to think ahead

Unlike using a Human guided vacuum Cleaner, you do have to think ahead a little when using iRobot.

Firstly, unlike you, the iRobot Roomba 880 cannot stop to pick up items of clothing, discarded socks etc. These it is likely to attempt to consume, and the cleaning routine will stop.

Similarly with things like a telephone charger cord. The vacuum will navigate away from a regular Electrical cord that it comes across on the floor, but it will again try to vacuum up a thinner cord and that will lead to a jam.

Secondly, this cleaner has no difficulty in moving from Timber to Carpet and is pretty efficient when it comes to getting under and around furniture.

irobot Roomba 880 carpet vacuum


But, whilst it manages to get around the room and clean, it is also likely to bang into furniture legs, then back up and change direction.


I found that it is much more time efficient when I remove unnecessary obstacles. I move dining chairs, and I don’t leave fragile decor items that might crack, or chip if struck by the Robot.


The cleaner comes with two “Virtual Wall Lighthouses”, which is how you tell the vacuum which areas to clean. With these positioned, you push the clean button, which also activates the lighthouses.

Initially, these keep the cleaner working in the area between the two lighthouses. It will stay there until the built-in dirt sensors indicate that the area is clean. At that point the first Lighthouse allows the cleaner to cross the virtual barrier into the second zone, before reactivating to keep it there. The Lighthouses also keep the Vacuum from falling down the stairs as well.

It’s an Ingenious System

When you buy an iRobot Roomba 880, you are buying an ingenious system. I can schedule it to clean up to 7 times per week remotely. The lighthouse technology, coupled with extra power, and regular scheduling, mean I am really confident my Carpets are clean now.

The iRobot Roomba 880 has no trouble dealing with the smaller items that land on a floor. Things like crumbs or the odd dead bug, and it does a brilliant job despite my discarded hair, and the hair regularly shed by my dog.

I will admit that it took me a while to really work out how to use it. In my opinion, the user guide could do with a decent re-write. I have found that many things in the manual do not reflect actual usage, and that includes the cleaning pattern the Robot follows.

Another thing that I find helpful is the series of clear indicator lights on the unit itself. These tell you if the unit is sensing heavy dirt areas, if the side brushes are being restricted (and need cleaning), etc.

Like a regular vacuum, the iRobot can throw up dust whilst working, especially from the side brushes. For this reason, I keep my allergy prone son well away from areas that the Robot is cleaning. This is not an issue as it is usually doing most of its work when we are not around.

It is a good idea to wipe the optical dirt sensor clean regularly for best results. Beyond that, and the occasional tangle. the unit is largely maintenance free. It easily cleans under beds and other furniture, it makes much less noise than most vacuum cleaners, but it is certainly not silent.

My overall impression

My only real criticism relates to the inaccurate manual. Once I worked out a few things for myself I have been more than satisfied with the cleaning capacity. I love the freedom of no longer having to do the Vacuuming myself. Everything considered, it is possibly the best Carpet Vacuum I have ever owned.