How to Choose the Right Robot Vacuum
Put Down the Mop
No one likes mopping. From buckets full of dirty water, to unsanitary (and gross) mop fibers, it’s a labor-intensive chore that’s in dire need of an upgrade. Thankfully, robot mops are here to make your life easier. All you have to do is fill up the tank, press start, and let them do their thing. Some of them can be controlled by your phone or voice, and some even double as robot vacuums. We’ve rounded up the best we’ve tested here, along with some buying tips to help you keep your floors sparkling.
To Hybrid or Not To Hybrid?
Every robot mop shares a few things in common. They generally come with reservoirs you need to fill up with water and/or cleaning solution, and microfiber cloths that scrub your floors and pick up dirt. They also feature sensors to help them autonomously navigate around your furniture.
Robot mops generally come in one of two flavors: single purpose or hybrid. Single-purpose mops, like the iRobot Braava Jet 240 and Braava 380t, can’t vacuum your floors. Some can however, perform a dry sweep to clear the area before they start mopping.
Hybrids, as you might expect, can mop and vacuum. They typically have attachments for microfiber cloths that you manually wet with water or a solution before it runs around your home. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, however, as the iLife V8s has an interchangeable dustbin and water tank, so you don’t need to do any presoaking before it starts cleaning.
These hybrid models are typically more expensive, but they’re also more likely to have features like app control via your phone, voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and even interactivity with other smart home devices.
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How We Test Robot Mops
We test robot mops in our actual homes, keeping the following criteria in mind: battery life, navigation, ease of setup and operation, and performance.
The whole point of robotic cleaners is to let them do the work for you. Having to intervene defeats the purpose. To that end, we look to see whether the robot is able to handle different floor types such as tile and wood with equal ease. We also check to see if it’s able to avoid textiles like rugs and carpeting, or if it comes with peripherals like virtual walls (or app control) to make this easier.
Battery life is also important. This will help determine what robot you should pick based on the size of your home. The longer you get on one charge, the better it is for larger homes. We consider battery life of 90 minutes to be sufficient for small homes and apartments, though ideally we like to see results in the 130- to 160-minute range. To test battery life, we fully charge the robot before running a cleaning cycle. We then let it clean for as long as it takes to run the battery down completely.
Setup is another factor we take into consideration. Most involve charging your robot, programming the time and date, and filling up water tanks. Once again, you want these processes to be as simple as possible, or you wouldn’t be buying a robot to do your chores for you. And while not every robot mop comes with app control, hybrid models often do. In these instances, we check to see how intuitive app use is, and what benefits it brings to the table.
Lastly, and most importantly, we check to see how well a robot mop cleans in real-life conditions. We take into consideration things such as whether or not it uses a cleaning solution or water only. We also see how well it tackles dry stains versus wet, and on a variety of surfaces. We make sure it doesn’t scuff tile or wood, and at the end of every cleaning session, we check the microfiber cloth to see how dirty it gets.
Should You Throw Out Your Swiffer?
As with robot vacuums, robot mops do a nice job of keeping your floors clean, but they aren’t complete substitutes for a little elbow grease. They’re great for maintenance and fresh spills. Deep-set stains, however, will likely require a bit of manual scrubbing.
Robot mops are still a growing category. See our reviews for detailed analysis of each model listed here, and check back soon, because we’re reviewing new ones all the time.
Where To Buy
Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI
Pros: Automatically recognizes and avoids obstacles
Exceptional battery life
Allows for remote home monitoring with built-in camera
Supports virtual boundaries
Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice support
Mops with water, not cleaning solution
Moderate learning curve
Bottom Line: The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI is a pricey 2-in-1 robot vacuum and mop with excellent battery life, the ability to identify and avoid obstacles, and a unique home monitoring feature.
Mops and vacuums.
Good for low-profile furniture.
Multiple cleaning styles.
Cons: No way to block off cleaning specific areas.
Lacks app and voice control.
Bottom Line: The iLife V8s Robot Vacuum Cleaner doesn’t connect to your phone or support voice control, but it will diligently vacuum and mop your floors for less than $300.
iRobot Braava Jet 240
Pros: Multiple cleaning modes, including wet mopping, damp sweeping, and dry sweeping.
Cons: Tough stains required manual intervention in testing.
Small coverage area.
Additional cleaning pads can get expensive.
Bottom Line: The iRobot Braava Jet 240 is a small, quiet robot that mops and sweeps floors in small spaces, making it a good choice for apartment dwellers.
iRobot Braava Jet m6
Pros: Quiet. Small. Solid navigation capabilities. Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Cons: Expensive. Deep stains still require some elbow grease.
Bottom Line: The iRobot Braava Jet m6 is a powerful, pricey robot that sweeps and mops your floors until they shine.
iRobot Braava 380t
Pros: Sweeps and mops.
Cons: No specialized cleaning solution.
Not effective on tough stains.
Occasionally takes a while to connect to Navigation Cube.
Bottom Line: The iRobot Braava 380t is a great accessory for lazy neat freaks, but you’ll still need to lend the occasional helping hand.
Roborock S5 Robot Vacuum
Pros: Powerful suction.
Comes with mopping attachment.
Strong navigation with virtual barriers.
Long battery life.
Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control.
Cons: Buggy app.
May not fit under low furniture.
Bottom Line: The Roborock S5 is a versatile robot vacuum with good navigation, powerful suction, long battery life, and decent mopping capabilities.
But it’s held back by a buggy app experience.
Roborock S6 MaxV
Pros: Vacuums and mops
Strong suction power
Large water tank and mopping plate
Integrates with Amazon Alexa
Allows for scheduled cleanings
Supports virtual boundaries
Lackluster obstacle avoidance technology
Doesn’t automatically avoid carpet when mopping
Bottom Line: The expensive Roborock S6 MaxV does an excellent job vacuuming and mopping, but its AI-based obstacle avoidance technology isn’t as reliable as it should be for the price.
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