Really. I know they mean well. But when someone you love gets you a vacuum as a gift, despite perhaps your need for a new one or your love of clean floors, it just doesn’t go over well. So if you were the recipient of a cleaning devices this holiday season, my apologies. There are, however, a few exceptions. Like if he got you one of these.

Neato Robotics Vacuum: It’s not science fiction anymore. There are robots among us and some of them like to vacuum. I fell in love with this product even before I opened the box. “Our goal is to free everyone from the drudgery of household cleaning. Why? Because we all have better things to do with our time.” Amen. With three boys and a dog, I could easily justify vacuuming my house every day, yet surprisingly, I don’t actually enjoy vacuuming this often. Neato does. I’ve used other robot vacuums in the past and Neato has them beat in a few areas:

(1) It’s simple to use. Simple to set up, simple to schedule, simple to empty.

(2) It’s quiet(ish). It is a vacuum, but earplugs are not required.

(3) It’s (almost) as good as I am. I’m not going to sell myself short here – I’m a pretty awesome vacuumer. Dust bunnies? No problem. Cheerios? I won’t break a sweat. But I have eyes that can actually see these things. Neato only has a sensor. But it’s a darn good one that surveys the room via laser and then navigates around your furniture to hit all the nooks and crannies.

(4) It’s effortless. Every morning at 9:15am, my bedroom floor gets vacuumed. I however, am likely enjoying a cup of coffee.

Dyson DC41 Animal: If you’re not familiar with the brand, Dyson is to vacuums what Tiffany’s is to diamonds. (Note: Guys – do not attempt to propose with a Dyson.) The DC41 Animal is one of the newest additions to the Dyson family and it is a beast. This Animal sucked things out of my carpet I didn’t even know existed. Looking at the canister is a little bit like a freak-show. You’re grossed out that all that was in your carpet and on your floors and yet you Can’t. Look. Away. Some of my favorite features of the DC41 Animal:

Strongest suction at cleaner head: 235 constant Air Watts of suction if you want to get specific. One of my favorite games is to position the vacuum at the base of the couch and see what that powerful suction pulls out from underneath. So far, it’s been Legos, goldfish and dust bunnies. Keeping my fingers crossed it finds an iPad.

Washable filters: Buying filters takes time, money and brain space to remember that you need them. With Dyson’s washable filters, I get a clean start (for free!) as often as I like.

The Ball: The design of the Ball makes turning a breeze and keeps all the nuts and bolts confined to a small area, leaving the rest for dust-sucking capacity.

35 foot cord: I know this feature may not win over some, but at 35 feet, I can vacuum my whole living room, dining room and kitchen – without unplugging. Win!

“No Touch” canister emptying: No touching the vacuumed-up gunk at least. One button releases the canister from the vacuum. Pressing the button again, opens the bottom to release the contents into the trash. House clean. Hands clean. Done.

Seeing a cleaning device under the tree would likely earn raised eyebrows instead of roaring applause. But if it was a Dyson or Neato? Well, you just might be in luck.


Kate Bayless is a freelance writer and editor with bylines in Parents, American Baby, Parenting, Babble and Momtrends. She is slightly embarrassed to admit that her holiday wish list included this item, but still would have rolled her eyes had her husband purchased it for her. Visit her at

MWS was not paid for this review. Samples were provided.

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