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Neato Robotic Vacuum for pet owners

With our household pet population currently standing at two dogs and two cats it is not surprising that we are in a constant fur and fluff warzone. I like to think we keep our place relatively neat and clean vacuuming several times a week, as well as general dusting, wiping and mopping. But we still get those furry tumbleweeds that suddenly appear in the corner of the living room and manage to roll by exactly when someone comes to visit. Thus I was more than delighted when Neato wrote to me and asked if I would like to try their new robotic vacuum targeted specifically at pet owners. Any new recruits in this war on fur are more than welcome.

Neato XV-21 box

When the Neato arrived I suddenly had doubts about how the dogs and cats would take to having a vacuum that would operate independently. Our younger dog Eddie has always been slightly nervous and she hates loud noises, especially our big vacuum when it gets going. This worry did stop me pulling the Neato out of its box for a few days as I wondered if I could have it on at all without Eddie panicking. But who can resist having their very own robot, so I had to see how the two of them would get along.

Setup and instructions

From the moment you first open the box you do get the sense this little machine has its own personality. All the messaging is personalised with ‘hellos’ and ‘thank yous’ and the setup is very simple. Once you have unscrewed the back (with the tool that is enclosed) and connected the battery pack you are nearly ready to go. Just plug in Neato’s charging base and put Neato onto charge. When the light goes green Neato is ready to clean.

Neato set-up and charging

In operation

We set Neato to work in our open-plan living/dining/kitchen area. Part of Neato’s technology is that before it starts to move, it surveys and maps everything in a room, including furniture, objects and doorways. Once a room has been mapped, Neato starts cleaning in straight, overlapping lines. Neato has been cleaning our house for nearly three weeks now and it does appear to work in this way. I am actually surprised at how well it does navigate our furniture and get into corners. The most difficult areas are definitely our dining table and my toddler’s tiny table, both of which have a lot of chair legs (I do sometimes take two minutes to lift these up so it can clean properly). But Neato still gets in where it can and has not got stuck in the legs as yet. Two places Neato also dares to go are under our lounge (not so bad as we do get our regular vacuum head under there) and under our oven (hmmm … I wouldn’t go under there!). Neato, however, always pops back out having picked up quite a bit of fluff and dust.

Neato is not silent (check out our video below to hear the start up noise) but it is also not an intense vacuum noise like our large vacuum. I probably wouldn’t watch TV while Neato was going in the same room, but it is very easy to carry on with other tasks without being bothered.

Neato is bagless and easy to empty (see video). However, the dirt bin is not large (as Neato itself is not huge) so try to empty the bin often.

Neato will run a scheduled clean until the floor has been completely covered or the battery runs low. If the Neato runs low on power mid-cleaning, it will go back to its charging base, recharge, and then return to where it left off. In our experience Neato has always returned home to her base except for one time she got caught in between my mop, bucket and the wall. This just meant when we got home we moved the bucket and Neato powered up again and finished the clean.

How the pets reacted

For me this was the all important question as there was no point in having a vacuum that could run when I wasn’t at home if our pets freaked out and I came home to chaos. I was surprised from the moment I put it on at how they all reacted. The cats watched it from the lounge with much curiosity, but they eventually settled down into their usual sleeping spots. Cress watched it for all of 10 seconds and then went about his business. He even sometimes lays down in its path and lets Neato clean around him. Eddie whom I was most concerned about did watch Neato with more interest but did not leave the room when I put it on. She will happily go about usual activities with Neato on but if Neato approaches her she will hop on the lounge or move out of its way and go and sit somewhere else. I now have no concerns leaving Neato to clean while we are away. Every time I return home Neato is back at her base and the dogs and cats are happy and calm.

Neato with dogs

How we use it

We currently run our Neato 4-5 times a week mainly in our open plan living/dining and kitchen area, as this is the space us and our pets are in the most. I have scheduled it to run at times we are usually out and it is always a pleasant surprise to come home find no fur floating around and Neato back in its dock. I also occasionally run Neato on a ‘spot clean’ while I hang out the washing or do some other chore around the house. As a mum who works part-time plus runs a blog and online store I have to multi-task a lot. Having Neato vacuum while I do something else is a good feeling, and I don’t have to ask!

Neato’s needs

Neato doesn’t need much but a few tips that definitely help it operate and clean are:

  • Place Neato’s charging base in a spot where it has plenty of room around it. The instructions clearly show you how to do this and we have found under our TV cabinet is a great spot as there is enough space for it to easily navigate in and out but it’s not in the way of our other activities.
  • Pick-up household items for Neato. I just make sure our floor is clear of smaller objects like toys, clothing and shoes. These are things I try to clear everyday anyway.
  • If you have places you don’t want Neato to go you have ‘boundary markers’ which are magnetic strips that lay flat on the floor. These tell your robot to ‘keep out’ of an area.
  • We try to regularly empty our Neato as the dirt bin can fill up quickly. While it definitely filled up on our first cleans, because we now use it quite regularly this has meant there is generally less fur and dust to pick up, so Neato doesn’t get full as quickly.

Five quick questions

1. Will I still use my other vacuum cleaner?
Yes, but a lot less. We have gone from vacuuming several times a week to now using our large vacuum every 7-10 days. There are obviously a lot of places Neato can’t reach like down the back of our lounge, inside the cat beds, along the top of our skirting boards and the list goes on. So we still need to get out our regular vacuum with all its attachments and get into these places. Plus give our persian carpets a thorough once over with the specific carpet head brush.
2. Does the Neato work well in a household full of pets?
Yes, our dogs and cats all seem to get on fine with Neato, even our nervous Spoodle who hates my hairdryer and our other vacuum.
3. Would I buy a Neato?
Yes, I would say that Neato has improved my life enough that I would definitely buy one myself. It is also easy to use and clean.
4. Would I recommend the Neato?
Yes, so far I have recommended it to a few friends who have pets, plus I also think that it would be handy to have a Neato that operates in our office space after hours.
5. Did we name our Neato?
Ok, this might sound like a funny question but within half-an-hour of getting our Neato out of the box it was given a name and a sex. Our Neato is called Nessy and she is now part of the family. When we come home my 22-month-old daughter often says “Hi Nessy” and we regularly point her out to visitors! I do know from friends who have had robots in their own houses that you can get attached to them, one friend told us they sent something to get fixed and made sure the repair person was going to return their robot, not a replacement! 🙂

Extra notes

We have mainly only operated our Neato on timber floors that have some small carpets. We have not used it on a fully carpeted room. Our house has is pretty much all on one level and so we have no issue with stairs.

Neato website

In Australia Neato Robotic Vacuums retail for $799 (AUD) and are now available for purchase in all David Jones Stores. Check out the current Australian Neato Website.


Our Neato Video (featuring Nessy)

Disclaimer: Puppy Tales was sent a Neato to test and keep but was not paid for this post and has no other affiliation with Neato robotics.

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Dog Mum Kerry Martin is the editor and photographer at Puppy Tales.

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