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


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