Meet My Friend Scooba

June 24, 2014

This post is sponsored by iRobot

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Say hello to my little friend! iRobot ask if I’d like to review their new Scooba 450. Scooba is the iRobot floor scrubbing robot. You may recall that I have had trouble finding the best way to clean my floors for years. I wrote this post way back in the day about trying different cleaners with a microfiber mop and bucket. Then I was into a steam mop after we moved to Charlottesville. While the steam mop was a big improvement from mopping, I found it to be rather cumbersome to use and it didn’t work well without a cleaner as well, so I didn’t end up using it very often. Thus, I defaulted to a washable head microfiber mop and spray cleaner and then finally to some Swiffer wet pads as recommended by my friends. They were quick and easy and got the job done but not a great long-term solution.

All that said, I have been eyeing the Scooba for years and have been debating whether it would be worth the cost, so I was thrilled with this opportunity.

So how’d she do?

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iRobot claims the Scooba:

  • Washes away 99.3% of bacteria (when used with the iRobot floor cleaner)
  • Cleans every section of floors multiple times
  • Maneuvers around and under furniture, fixtures, rugs and stairs

And she does this in a 3-step process:

  1. Sweep + pre-soak (light vacuuming and soaks crusted on gunk)
  2. Scrub & squeegee-vacuum (lifts dirty water off the floor)
  3. Squeegee finish (floor is almost dry upon finish)

See how this chamber detaches? That’s where the water is stored.

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You fill up the blue compartment with clean water and a squirt of cleaner and empty out the grey with dirty brown water when you’re finished. (Notice she’s wet because I had just finished a cycle).

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This cleaner comes with the package. Using anything else will void your warranty, unfortunately. But a little went a long way. And it smells great!

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The handle on top is great for moving her around

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Normally you can just plug her into the wall to charge, but there is also a sold-separately dock you can buy that allows her to air dry upright and charge at the same time. If you’re going to invest in a Scooba, I’d go ahead and get this too. It was really helpful to not have to worry about proper drying or mess around with cords. We have an outlet in our attic closet behind that door, so that’s where I store her when not in use.

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Scooba doesn’t mop – she “scoobs!” Her first chore was to scoob the kitchen. My kitchen floor is always the dirtiest, followed by the dining/living/foyer floors and then the basement, particularly the brewery.

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The Scooba got right to work mapping out the room in a circle and then began her workout across the floor. The threshold in my kitchen kept her in the space so she was quite efficient. Unfortunately she’s a little too tall to fit under my cabinets (bummer) but I can’t blame her for her genetics.

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We do have cork floors and there was a flurry of concern on Facebook when I posted a video. Our floors seem to be pretty well sealed, and we haven’t had trouble with wetter-than-spot-cleaning mopping before, so I’m going to roll with it. I can’t imagine not cleaning the floors with water – they are so dirty that a paper towel comes up black if it’s been a week since I’ve cleaned them! So far they seem to have tolerated Scooba just fine. Plus it’s not like the water is drenching – it’s just wetter than damp.

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Thar she blows in squeegee stage!

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And here’s some live action!

So how’d she do? AMAZING. My floors were spotless and wiped clean white with a paper towel. I feel confident in saying these are the cleanest my floors have been since we moved in. While we do have someone come clean regularly, he just uses a damp mop on our floors, so I don’t think they get nearly this clean (per the paper towel test). After this first room, I was really impressed.

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But of course there were more rooms to try.

Our dining room is rather narrow with a rug in the middle and Scooba had a bit more trouble in there.

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It took her a long time to figure out the shape, and she drooled on my rug quite a bit : ( I guess the sisal felt very natural to her. Luckily the rug was fine upon drying.

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The Scooba comes with a “lighthouse” that you can use to act as a virtual wall. I used this to block off other challenging parts of the room the next time and she cleaned the main part well.

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I also tested her out in our big basement family room, and she did really well in there. She tends to like open spaces the best, so if you have an open-floor plan with hardwoods, she would work really well for you. She is quite loud though, so since I was using her while Mazen was asleep at night, it made TV watching downstairs a bit difficult. You’ll want to find the right times to run her so she doesn’t make too much noise.

The Verdict

What I think is the absolute best pro to the Scooba is the fact that she doesn’t re-use dirty water. This is HUGE for me and a reason why all of my other floor cleaning methods ultimately left me unsatisfied. Because she has separate tanks for clean and dirty water, she is never pushing around dirt. The floors actually get clean! And once you see the brown color of the dirty water being dumped out of the tank, I think you’ll be convinced of her effectiveness.

Unlike the Roomba vacuums, the Scooba isn’t ideal to run while you’re away at work. She is a bit more high maintenance than her sucking brother and has to be fed and watered before and after she plays. You may be able to mop a room faster than the Scooba cleans one, but she is all about quality over quantity. The best cleaning tools are the ones you’ll actually use, and while a mop might be faster, it’s such an annoying job that I’d rather set up the Scooba than slosh dirty water around.

I was able to get through 2 small or one big room before the battery needed charging, which was about what I thought would happen, so don’t expect to be able to clean your entire house in one afternoon. Doing each heavy traffic room once a week on different days would be ideal.

Thus, if dirty floors drive you crazy and you can afford the price tag, I absolutely recommend the Scooba 450.

If you have a great mopping technique that works for you, a really oddly laid out house or lots of carpet and rugs, keep doing what you’re doing : )

Initially I was asked to return the Scooba after my review, but I liked it so much I asked if I could buy it directly from the company. They said yes, and now we have one more member of our family : )

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Thanks to iRobot for sponsoring this post!

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 elle June 24, 2014 at 7:17 am

That seems like just what I need! I have an open floor plan of all wood floors. Weird that they wanted you to return the used Scooba after a review though.

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2 KathEats June 24, 2014 at 7:35 am

It’s just the company’s policy for reviews

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3 CaitlinHTP June 24, 2014 at 7:55 am

GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH i am so jealous of this robot. I want it to so badly. Seriously, my Neato vac changed my cleaning life. I would LOVE to have an automatic mopper too. This is the future of cleaning! I bet in 20 years, all this stuff is automated.

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4 Laura@SneakersandSpatulas June 24, 2014 at 8:21 am

It sounds awesome! Although the $600 price tag is too much for me! I was expecting it to be around $300.

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5 Andrea June 24, 2014 at 8:22 am

I want a Roomba so badly!!!

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6 Livi June 24, 2014 at 8:36 am

That is crazy and awesome!!

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7 Liana@RunToMunch June 24, 2014 at 8:43 am

The looks awesome! We currently have a cleaner come in every two weeks but this might be a good replacement because I really just have them for the mopping!

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8 Jen June 24, 2014 at 9:01 am

For 600 bucks, I think I will stick with my steam mop. Looks cool though!

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9 Christine June 24, 2014 at 9:04 am

It’s just what I need but at $600 that’s a little too much to pay, we have a baby on the way :-( However it probably would be a good investment

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10 Kate @ Kate Lives Healthy June 24, 2014 at 9:22 am

I had a Roomba and loved it but sold it when I moved. It was the best. :)

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11 Becca June 24, 2014 at 9:46 am

Plus $70 for the docking device? So $700 for this. I would need it to make my dinner too in order to justify the price.

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12 Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio June 24, 2014 at 10:02 am

Technology really is amazing. I will admit though, I do like mopping. It’s actually a good workout when I do it.

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13 Katie June 24, 2014 at 10:15 am

As a fellow female, I suggest that we not default to referring to the cleaning robot as a “she” :)

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14 KathEats June 24, 2014 at 10:18 am

When she talks her voice is feminine! (For real). If the voice had been masculine, what would we say about it then?

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15 Katie June 24, 2014 at 10:27 am

Ooh interesting! I gotta say, that’s a big fail by iRobot in my opinion. Thanks for clarifying, Kath!

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16 Leah @ goodnight cheese June 24, 2014 at 10:50 am

How about “it,” since it’s an intimate object? I always call animals (and people obviously) by the proper gender, but I must admit it was a little weird to keep reading “she” in reference to a vacuum.

And I completely agree with Katie about the fail on iRobot’s part to have a female voice as the only option for an automated voice on a vacuum.

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17 KathEats June 24, 2014 at 11:09 am

I was being tongue in cheek making her like a pet, Leah. Trying to liven things up a bit.

An option to change the voice to either male or female would have been smart, but I wonder how many people would appreciate that to make it worth it. The female voice didn’t bother me. I see plenty of men in my life cleaning.

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18 Kimberly June 24, 2014 at 12:14 pm

I think I read somewhere that more people prefer the sound of a female voice, which is why things like GPS tend to have a female sounding voice (at least as the default). Why does the machine need to talk at all?

The idea behind this is cute, but way too much money for me. I can see it being really useful for elderly people or people with some type of handicap that made it hard for them to mop their own floors.

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19 Leah June 24, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Oh, I didn’t realize you were trying to make a joke. I thought you just referred to the vacuum as a “she” because the voice on it is female. That is what bothered me.

I, too, have seen plenty of men cleaning (I assume you mean family/friends and not employees). But just because we have men in our lives who consider us equal partners doesn’t mean it can’t bother me that some $600 vacuum robot only has a female voice. Maybe it’s a minor thing, but it’s a problem that’s part of a larger system which is way too prominent in advertising and products: the implication that women should do the cleaning and laundry, and men should do the grilling. How many cleaning products feature a man trying to get those dishes to sparkle, or those counter messes cleaned up? You would never see a vacuum with a male-only voice, even if you can find a vacuum that features both.

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20 Patricia June 24, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I think female is fine as she’s a brilliant robot! She has a great sense of direction, she thinks independently, and she is innovative and energetic

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21 Heather June 25, 2014 at 8:26 am

I agree Patricia. It is a shame people get their panties in a wad over such a non issue. If the manufacturer wanted it to have a voice they had to pick male or female. Most people find a female voice more pleasing which is why siri and most automated systems use a female voice.

Also, it was totally obvious Kath was being tongue in cheek about the scooba being a pet or living thing. Give me a break!

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22 Alex @ Kenzie Life June 24, 2014 at 10:58 am

I think the idea behind Roomba is really cool, but the price tag is a little too much for me right now. They use one at my Pure Barre studio and I get a kick out of it every time I see it because it reminds me of DJ Roomba from Parks and Rec :)

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23 JennieM June 24, 2014 at 11:58 am

Cool idea, but the best part of this post? “The best cleaning tools are the ones you’ll actually use” Amen!

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24 Cashmiere June 24, 2014 at 12:21 pm

First off, who cares about the voice? Seriously, kath was only trying to make the post fun!

Kath, did you pay $600 for the irobot or can you get a discount ordering straight through them?

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25 Carolyn June 24, 2014 at 12:51 pm

It certainly does look fun! For me though, I need things to be super easy or I’ll never use them. This would be way too complicated for me lol

I just clean up spots with a paper towel as I see them. My cleaning lady comes every other week and thankfully she does a great job mopping the floor! I know it’s awkward, but have you thought about taking to your cleaning man about spending more time mopping?

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26 KathEats June 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm

I have :) but our kitchen especially is dirty again by the next day

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27 Laurie June 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm

I’m just throwing this out there: my number one tip for keeping floors and houses clean is to take off your shoes. We raised our family in Asia so it seems natural for us to be a “shoe off” family but now that we live in the States, I highly recommend it. I have probably 3,000 sq ft of hard wood floor – just on my main level and I honestly never mop! I vacuum when the floors need it but I probably only mop maybe once a month because the floors stay so clean since we never wear shoes in the house. Our kids’ friends and our visitors are all used to it and I’ve found they don’t mind at all removing their shoes before they come in. When you think about where your shoes have been, it makes sense to leave them at your door! :)

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28 KathEats June 24, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I would love to do this in theory but it’s so hard to do! (I know that sounds dumb but the way we live in our house it just wouldn’t work). I believe your floors are spotless though!

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29 Starejša June 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm

yeah, I am from Europe – we do the same. Vacuuming once or twice a week, mopping once a month or two :) I like :)

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30 Samantha June 24, 2014 at 5:39 pm

I agree – living in Manhattan, it grosses me out to think about what we walk through every day. Subways, sidewalks, debauchery in the streets… we always remove our shoes. One tip I received early on is to keep a pair of “inside shoes” right by our entry way, so that its easy to transition out of the footwear into something cozy for inside. Of course, now I have a nice collection of expensive slippers – lol!

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31 KathEats June 24, 2014 at 5:48 pm

That’s a good tip. I hate going Barefoot

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32 Pat June 24, 2014 at 7:54 pm

“Shoes off” is also the norm in Alaska (where I live) and Hawaii. We keep indoor shoes in the entry way. This machine wouldn’t work for me for the less-than-open layout of my house, but it sure would be nice.

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33 Gauri June 26, 2014 at 9:04 am

Shoes off! especially with a crawling baby in the house :)

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34 Nina June 24, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Your floors look good, but do you think it’s worth $600? I guess I’m curious if you’d have purchased this without already having money in hand (or on the way) from the review versus, say, borrowing from a friend and then buying, or buying and returning if you weren’t satisfied. It just seems so pricey, but then again I’m in a small apartment, not a large house.

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35 KathEats June 24, 2014 at 2:29 pm

I have almost bought it with a BB&Beyond coupon before. I really just wanted to talk to someone who had used one first!

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36 Kristy June 24, 2014 at 3:02 pm

I have a Hoover Floormate that does exactly what this does (keeps the clean/dirty water separate and everything) and it only cost $45 at Sears! Can’t imagine paying the extra $555 just so I wouldn’t have to push it! ha!

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37 Rachel June 24, 2014 at 3:13 pm

I just don’t see how this is any easier than filling a steam mop with water, using it, and washing the pad. Oh, well! If you have the $700, more power to ya!

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38 KathEats June 24, 2014 at 3:22 pm

It’s not necessarily easier – but it cleans better per the not pushing around dirt thing.

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39 Annie June 24, 2014 at 3:23 pm

I have always wanted one of these, so this review was super helpful Kath! Thanks for doing what you do – I appreciate it!

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40 Mom June 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm

I visited Kath and saw the robot in action. I must say, after a while, she felt like a family friend. A few steps up from a pet rock and more useful.

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41 Bernie June 24, 2014 at 5:33 pm

I have a weird aversion to autonomous things moving around my house if they aren’t alive…my friends make fun of me because their Roomba freaks me out. I could never buy this for that reason but I’m intrigued by the steaming/using water on hardwood. I’ve been told never to do that and I use Bona spray on my floors for that reason. Have you seen any adverse effects?

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42 KathEats June 24, 2014 at 5:48 pm

None so far in two different houses

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43 Micki June 25, 2014 at 12:19 am

I have seen hardwood floors with serious damage due to steam mops and other cleaning methods. If your hardwood floors are more than 10 years old, I highly suggest sweeping, dry mopping, or using a stick-vaccum instead of using any water or oil products, even just vinegar and water. It can cause some very serious damage that can warp the floor and cause structural issues over time. My floor was laid in 1941 and is beautiful. Replacing it would be very expensive not to mention sad, with such a rich history and craftsmanship!

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44 Karen H. June 24, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Love your Mom’s comment (above)! I have seriously thought about this for years now, but we have 3 dogs, and I’m afraid the poor Roomba or Scooba would be attacked. :)

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45 Michele June 24, 2014 at 6:40 pm

I never wear shoes in the house. I can’t get past the yuck factor of where they have been and what might be on them, especially on any hard floors and even more so in the kitchen.

I had a Roomba many years ago when they first came out and I liked it but it wasn’t as good as a regular vacuum. The Scooba looks cool and it looks like it cleans pretty well. I would love to try one for my kitchen, even though I only do the floors once every few months, but not for $600! Yikes!!

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46 Katie June 24, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Ok I just did my floors tonight with my swiffer wet jet and was thinking how I desperately need something new that does a better job. When I saw your post I was so excited but wow that’s one pricey piece of equipment!! Thanks for the review though, looks pretty amazing, would love one of those some day….dare to dream:)

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47 Kathy June 24, 2014 at 9:34 pm

I agree with the no shoes in the house rule…the pesticides and chemicals, animal droppings and just plain garbage on sideways, streets and in parks does not belong in the house and goes a long way to making kids and pets sick. However, we are overrun with dust bunnies from cat hair so a little robot action would be great…although probably terrorize the cat

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48 Laura@SneakersandSpatulas June 25, 2014 at 9:25 am

Does anyone struggle with asking people to take off their shoes? I always feel so awkward having to ask them to. It’s habit for me to remove my shoes when entering someones house or if I see them barefoot/in socks then I take mine off right away. I’m surprised when people just wear their shoes in our house even though I’m barefoot. My husband thinks it’s rude to ask people to take their shoes off. Some of his friends know not to and others leave them on. I drew the line when one of his buddies put his shoes on our couch! I told him to get his feet of my couch ASAP. :)

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49 Gauri June 26, 2014 at 9:06 am

I always found it awkward too. It is now super easy though because with a baby I just tell them they have to take them off since the baby is crawling around on the floors so we prefer to not have shoes inside.

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50 Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork June 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I have to admit that I don’t mop nearly as much as I should (though I vacuum regularly–one of those weird chores I actually like to do because the results are so satisfying!). This is tempting to buy, but where it’s $450 and you can only use their products, I’m not sure. Our house is all wood floors (except for tile in the kitchen and bathroom), so there is plenty of real estate to wash, though there are also rugs thrown in there that may confuse it (love how you refer to it lovingly as, “her.”). Food for thought, though, especially once there’s a kid in the picture.
Thanks for sharing!

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51 Anne June 29, 2014 at 8:04 am

Kath – how long did it take to do your kitchen? Thanks

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52 KathEats June 29, 2014 at 12:02 pm

About 20 mins

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53 Donna July 1, 2014 at 2:47 pm

As for removing shoes in a house….I won’t visit anyone who requires me to take my shoes off. I have multiple foot problems and I cannot tolerate going barefoot or wearing slippers (very painful for someone like me). It is a medically necessity for me to wear my shoes because they offer support to my aching feet. It’s way too much trouble to explain this to a hostess, so I just quit going to anyone’s home where I was required to remove my shoes.
Not everyone can go barefoot or wear flimsy slippers! More power to you, if you can, but you’re not being considerate of others, IMO, to ask them to take off their shoes.

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