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You’ve already known about robot vacuum cleaners—you might even have one running around in your carpeted living room right now. Well, the latest and greatest smart home appliance is the robot mop that—you guessed it—sops up spills and scrubs schmutz off of your hard flooring. If a mopping robot sounds right up your street, you might be excited to know that you can get a combined robot vacuum and mop (although for reasons that will become clear, you might not want to!) This guide will give you the insider info you need to help you find the best robot mop for you.
Things to consider when shopping for the best robot mop
There’s something about the task of mopping that just seems really onerous. Maybe it’s because there are no shortcuts and all your hard work can be undone in an instant by one muddy footprint, or the tiniest amount of food spillage. So, little wonder that the concept of a robotic mop is an attractive one. However, before you get carried away, it’s worth bearing in mind that these robots are still in their relative infancy and come with certain limitations. Even the best robot mop isn’t going to do what a person-powered mop can. We still think robot mops are worth a go if you have kids or pets and need a device to do constant little cleanups to keep the chaos at bay.
If you think about the way that you’d clean a floor the old-fashioned way, you’d probably vacuum it first, then use a combination of water and detergent over the surface, and once you’d done that, you’d get a clean bucket of water and rinse away the dirty water and soap.
That’s not how mopping robots work. Most are more akin to a Swiffer-style sweeper mop in that either they spray the floor with water (a lot specifically advise against using any form of detergent, although some do have proprietary formulations) to loosen any grime, and then drag a cloth over it to remove, or, in the case of “dry mop” robots, use damp cloths or pads to go over a surface. That said, there are also scrubby spin mops, and vacuum-and-mop combos to consider—here’s the lowdown on what you need to know.
- Best robot vacuum and mop combo: Ecovacs Deebot T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum Cleaner
- Best robot mop for smart charging: iRobot Braava Jet M6 (6110) Ultimate Robot Mop
- Best mapping robot mop: eufy by Anker, RoboVac G30 Hybrid Robot Vacuum
- Best robot spin mop: BISSELL SpinWave Hard Floor Expert Wet and Dry Robot Vacuum
- Best budget robot mop: iRobot 240 Braava Robot Mop
Should I get a robot vacuum and mop combo?
At first glance, it makes perfect sense: one machine that can do it all. But if you’re buying a combination product, it’s worth checking a few things first. One of the complaints about the earliest vacuum and mop combo models was that although they were meant to be able to differentiate between hard floors and carpet when they didn’t, you ended up with a soggy rug. That said, advances in technology now mean that these are far smarter devices that, with a little bit of prep, are able to map out the whole of your home (see below). Once mapped, you can limit certain areas as “no-go areas”—where you don’t want the machine going at all—or as “no-mop” areas where it’s fine for it to vacuum but not for it to mop.
Machines differ, while some are able to switch seamlessly from vacuum to mopping, others require you to swap in a mopping module and fill a tank with water before it can mop.
Best robot vacuum and mop combo: Ecovacs Deebot T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum Cleaner
Sophisticated mapping software allows you to designate no-go and no-mop zones with this robot vacuum and mop, while the 240ml water tank allows for more than 2,000 square feet of mopping. Object recognition technology means it won’t get tripped up by socks and cables, and the built-in camera means it can even be used as a remote security device with on-demand live video.
What do I need to know about robot mops, battery life, and charging?
There’s a general feeling that rather like a watched pot never boiling, a watched robot doesn’t do its best work when it’s being observed. This is why battery life shouldn’t really be a concern of yours. In an ideal world you’ll just set and forget—essentially schedule for it to clean when you’re out of the house, and then just come back to tidier floors without worrying about exactly how that happened.
However, that’s only possible if your robot mop has a feature that makes sure it returns to the base station to charge itself when its juice is running low and then has the smarts to get itself back to where it left off so that it can finish the job. Otherwise, you end up with a device that runs out of power and leaves the job half done. So don’t look at battery life exclusively. It’s also tricky to know exactly what battery life equates to until you get the device rolling, so you’re better off looking for gadgets that offer this sort of return, recharge, reboot approach. And unfortunately, there’s no standardized name for this sort of tech—some brands call it “pinpoint return” others “smart charging” so you really do need to read the small print.
Best robot mop for smart charging: iRobot Braava Jet M6 (6110) Ultimate Robot Mop
Featuring smart charge and resume technology that allows it to resume cleaning where it left off, this smart mop accurately maps your home and integrates with home assistants so you can literally tell it to “mop in front of the kitchen table” after a spill. Works with water or proprietary cleaning solution and with single-use or washable pads.
Does my robot mop need mapping technology?
There are various ways in which you can “tell” a robot vacuum or robot mop where it should and shouldn’t go in your home. The most simplistic requires you to use tape, known as barrier tape, boundary tape, or just magnetic tape. You literally tape around areas that you don’t want the mop to go into, such as where your pet’s food bowls are, or around the perimeter of your Persian rug. Other solutions include virtual barriers that are like beacons that emit infrared which communicates to your robot that the area is a no-go zone.
However, both of these relatively rudimentary and unsightly approaches have been superseded by far better technology. Using a variety of sensors, the robot mop moves around your home and creates an accurate picture of the layout of your house. The most sophisticated devices can generate and store multiple maps (ideal for houses with several floors) which are viewable on a smartphone app. And, with the help of this app, you can not only track how your robot is doing in real-time, but you can also create zones that should be cleaned more frequently, as well as virtually rope off areas. So while good mapping technology does add to the cost of a robot mop, when it works well, it’s a worthwhile investment.
Best mapping robot mop: eufy by Anker, RoboVac G30 Hybrid Robot Vacuum
Vacuum with 2000Pa of suction power and an interchangeable mopping module with adjustable power settings for different surfaces. This robot vacuum and mop uses laser navigation to create accurate maps of your home and returns to the base station to recharge before returning to the place where it stopped with pinpoint accuracy.
Spin mop or spray mop?
While some robot mops work in a “dry mop” fashion, where you attach a damp cloth or pad to it and it wipes it across the floor, “wet mops” have an on-board reservoir of water (or occasionally cleaning fluid) which they distribute across the floor—some will gradually feed water into a pad, while others have a spray function so that stains and sticky patches get blitzed away and then swiped over with a cloth.
Some other mops have a spin function which means that rather than having static pads, they have spinning pads. Spin mops are tougher on sticky splodges and dirty marks than water alone.
Best robot spin mop: BISSELL SpinWave Hard Floor Expert Wet and Dry Robot Vacuum
This superior robot vacuum doubles as a mop that comes with machine-washable mopping pads that work in conjunction with a cleaning solution to efficiently scrub and clean floors. A soft surface avoidance sensor means it effectively avoids carpets and rugs when in mopping mode.
The best robot mop you can get for under $200
As is often the case with new technology, you can get a robot mop on a budget, but it’s probably not going to have the same bells and whistles as a top-of-the-range, top-of-the-budget one. So don’t expect sophisticated mapping technologies, control via an app, or intuitive features that will prevent the robot from drenching rugs or tipping downstairs.
But budget robot mops do exist. They tend to be a lot smaller, which means shorter battery life (and these definitely won’t have a return, recharge, reboot function) so these mop robots are better for focusing exclusively on self-contained kitchens or bathrooms, rather than larger open plan spaces. They’re also likely to have even more limited cleaning power so maybe think of them as a maintenance mop, rather than something that’s going to do a thorough clean of ingrained dirt. But if you’re tight for time, live in a relatively small space, and hate mopping, they’re definitely worth considering.
Best budget robot mop: iRobot 240 Braava Robot Mop
Works with disposable pads to dry sweep, damp mop, or wet mop hardwood, tile, and stone. The clever design of this iRobot robot mop means it cleans easily around furniture, under cupboards, and right up to the edges of walls. Relatively small tank and battery means it’s best suited to compact rooms.
Q: Are robot mops worth it?
Whether a robot mop is worth it for your depends how much you value your time, and what your expectations are. If you’ve got a filthy, mud-caked floor with ingrained dirt that hasn’t been cleaned in years, expecting a robot mop to get it sparkling clean might be a bit much. But if you like the idea of a quick maintenance mop on a daily basis but are never going to do it yourself, a robot mop will.
Q: Can you use a robot mop on laminate floors?
Yes, you can use a robot mop on laminate floors. Obviously double-check both the small print of your device, and the small print of any cleaning fluid that you’re using before you use a robot mop on any flooring. But most are designed not to scratch hard floors, and not to leave a lot of water on the floor and, as such most hard floorings—from tile, stone and concrete, to vinyl, hardwood and laminate—can be maintained with a robot mop.
Q: How do I choose a robot mop?
As with any purchase, how you choose a robot mop comes down to your priorities. Budget has to be the first consideration, but you also want to think about whether you want a combined vacuum and mop—and if so, whether your priority is vacuuming or mopping, and whether you want one that can seamlessly do both without needing you to switch in a mopping module. Hopefully some of the information here has helped you to identify what’s out there and how a robot mop could work in your home.
A final word on shopping for the best robot mop for you
Choosing the best robot mop for you might well come down to choosing the best robot vacuum and mop, or the best spray mop, but at least now you should have an idea of the tech that is out there and what it can do. These are still very much household appliances in their infancy and over the next few years we can expect to see huge advances—especially now brands such as Dyson have started to get into the robot vacuum game. This invariably means that there will be more models coming to the market, improved efficiency, more features and prices will come down, so watch this space.