Hang on to your mop: Five robo-floor-scrubbers reviewed
Do any of these robot cleaners make decent alternatives to traditional mopping? Sadly, no.
The only chore I dislike more than vacuuming is mopping -- and my hardwood floor has suffered for it. Naturally, I was intrigued when I heard about robot floor cleaners. Having never used one before, I envisioned a robot vacuum with a water tank instead of a dust bin and otherwise-identical functionality.
After testing five robot mops, though, it's clear that my early expectations were off base. None of the models we reviewed come close to matching the delightfully hands-off-nature of most robot vacuums. Options like autodocking and scheduling are almost completely missing from the mopping bot category, making them more of a pain than their vacuum counterparts. Here's an overview of the models we've reviewed to date.
iRobot's $300 Braava 380t is a quiet little bot that does a pretty good job at maintenance cleaning. That means that it can handle your garden-variety dust and dirt, but nothing that requires more advanced scrubbing. Combine that with its inability to schedule or autodock, and you may not think the end result equals the effort involved.
The $600 iRobot Scooba 450 comes the closest to a real mop replacement. It has dual tanks; one that dispenses clean water (or water mixed with concentrated cleaning solution) and one that collects dirty water. It also uses a three-stage cleaning process that sweeps, scrubs, and dries the floors -- that's pretty advanced compared to the other four bots. Unfortunately, a full charge lasts only about 40 minutes (that's roughly 300 square feet of floor cleaning), so don't expect it to efficiently mop large spaces.
Moneual's $400 Rydis H67 Pro disappointed in every single category. It was error-message-happy in vacuum mode, triggering a distress call at every turn. In mop mode, it stopped regularly -- its side brushes spinning in place -- without explanation, and often was disabled completely. It also consistently struggled to find its dock, often to the extent that it had to be rescued and returned manually.
Ry Crist compared Techko Maid's Smart Maid RS118 to a sad clown in his review -- that should signal your alarm bells. This oddly designed $250 mopping bot can't reach corners. You also can't schedule it to run at a certain time, and it doesn't automatically return to its charger after a run. It also follows a random navigation pattern. Basically, it has no idea where it has cleaned or when it should be finished with a cycle.
Yujin Robot's $500 iClebo Arte was underwhelming in spite of its long list of features. And while it navigated efficiently and easily found its way back to the dock, that didn't help with its overall performance. In vacuum mode, it placed in the bottom tier of testing, while in mop mode, it mostly spread the debris from one section of the floor to another.