Which Robot Floor Cleaner Is Best?
So you've already got a robotic vacuum cleaner? Or perhaps you already know how useful they are for cleaning carpets? But what do you do about cleaning your floors? While a robot vacuum can hoover the dirt off your floors, that's not enough, is it?
You still need to go through the pain and hassle of getting out your mop, and bucket of cleaning fluid. That's just the way it is with flooring - wet is best.
The robot vacuum cleaner makers have noticed this and have created a growing family of robot cleaners aimed at mopping and scrubbing floors.
If you are new to the world of robotic cleaning devices, you may think that you can buy a carpet cleaning robot and just use it for all your floors as well. But as you read on you will see that there are fundamental differences between robotic carpet cleaners and robotic floor mops.
What Are The Differences Between Robotic Vacuums and Robotic Mops?
The major difference, of course, is that when you are mopping you require water whereas when you are cleaning the carpet, all that is needed is a bag to collect the dust that was hoovered up. As you may expect, carpets and water do not go well together.
Then there's the question of what do you do with the dirty water that the mop has accumulated? You cannot simply reuse it to clean other parts of the floor. To deal with this, often a robotic mop will contain two tanks, one for dirty water and one for clean. Obviously, a carpet cleaning device that does nothing else except clean carpets requires no tanks at all.
Some robotic floor cleaners do not even carry water at all. These kinds of mops rely on cleaning and scrubbing pads or cloths to get the job done. They may not do as thorough a job as a water-based cleaner but they will still get your floors reasonably clean. And again, as we compare them to robotic carpet cleaners, it becomes apparent that this kind of device is a very different beast to them.
For these kinds of reasons, the design of robotic mops is quite different to that of carpet cleaners, and you are usually better off with separate devices for each purpose.
Some manufacturers have tried to combine floor and carpet cleaners together. But as of this time, those hybrid devices have yet to match the capabilities and performance of robots targeted specifically at carpets and floors separately.
It is your choice whether you wish to investigate hybrid floor/carpet cleaning robots but our recommendation is to stick to a robotic cleaner that is built specially for the surface for which you need it.
How Does A Robotic Floor Cleaner Work?
They work pretty much the same way as a human being armed with a mop and bucket would work. Just wash away the dirt with your preferred cleaning solution, rub harder on persistent stains, and then leave the clean area to dry.
In some ways, the robots are better than a mop and bucket - or, at least the good ones are. The better floor cleaning robots make sure they only use clean water by having two separate water tanks, one for dirty and one for clean.
The really good ones even do the equivalent of sweeping the floor first so that you don't have to. And they can pre-soak the floor beforehand so that by the time they come back around to do the mopping up, many of the persistent stains have loosened their grip.
In many respects, the robot floor cleaners are like their robotic vacuum cousins.
But given the constraints of having to carry their own water and cleaning solution around, and making sure they don't mess up areas they have already cleaned, you can understand that the features are not identical to vacuums and, in some cases, they are markedly different.
Floor cleaning robots are still lagging behind their vacuum-based counterparts in technology, and that is probably due to there being a greater demand for cleaning carpets than floors. Most people have more carpeted areas than floor areas, don't they?
One of the main things to consider when deciding which floor robot cleaner to buy is how big an area do you want it to clean.
If you only want to clean a small bathroom floor, then you are not going to need the kind of robot that is built to maintain the floor in a large sports hall.
You will also need to decide what specialist features you might need. The price you will pay is often determined by how many features the robot floor vacuum has.
Automatic floor vacuums with features like the ability to map out a room before cleaning are going to cost more than those that just randomly move around until they hit an obstacle.
One more thing to consider is whether you need separate robotic cleaners for your carpets and floors. There are several floor robots now that can handle both surfaces but, as we said earlier, they rarely do as good a job as a robot that specializes in carpet or one that specializes in mopping and scrubbing floor surfaces.
We have listed below some of the best robot floor sweeper we've found for each category in which you might be interested.
So what's the best robotic floor cleaner? That is a difficult question to answer because we don't know who you are, we don't know what kind of place you live in, what pets you have, and we don't know how much money you want to spend on a floor vacuum robot.
But it's not very helpful of us not to give you any advice at all. So, below, we've indicated a few broad categories of robot cleaner for floors and provided our recommendations for which robot floor cleaner is best.
iRobot Scooba 450
- Scrubs, sweeps, mops, dries
- Can handle almost any floor type
- Almost a replacement for a human being with a mop
- Only runs for 40 minutes on a full charge
This little technological marvel is probably the closest thing yet to a human being mopping your floors clean. It scrubs, sweeps, mops, and even dries the floor afterwards.
The Scooba 450 appears to be able to handle almost any kind of flooring you throw at it, from hardwood flooring to plain simple floor tiles.
As far as we know, it doesn't yet put its feet up afterwards with a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit and complain about the price of sausages. But we're sure the boffins at iRobot are working on it.
One major downside to it is that it can only run for about 40 minutes on a full charge. That is easily enough time to clean the floors in a typical home but probably not enough to clean up after a stadium-sized rock concert.
You should also note that a mopping robot like this one requires more hands-on interaction than its carpet cleaning counterparts. When it runs out of clean water, you are going to have to fill it up again and empty out the used dirty water.
iRobot Braava 380t
- Much cheaper than the Scooba 450
- Does a reasonable basic job so that you don't have to
- Will not do advanced scrubbing
It will not do any advanced scrubbing, and it lacks many features of the pricier model.
But it still does a reasonable basic job. And, of course, that means you don't have to do the mopping yourself.
Yujin Robot iClebo YCR-M05-10 Arte
- Probably the best of the hybrid floor/carpet cleaners
- A reasonable compromise if you only want one robotic cleaner for carpets and floors together
- Still not going to be as good as a specialist device for each surface
And you'd be absolutely right in thinking that.
Yujin Robot's iClebo YCR-M05-10 Arte attempts to be a robot vacuum combined with a robotic mopper. It falls short of the standards set by specialist cleaners. But it still might be worth considering if the idea of an all-in-one device appeals to you.
You might be willing to accept a robotic device that does an average job on both surfaces against the cost savings of buying two separate devices.
iRobot Roomba 880
- One of the best all-round robotic carpet vacuums available
- Especially good on hardwood flooring
- Is not a robotic mop but will still hoover your floor well
Just sweeping your floor, and not mopping it at all, can be another cost-effective and easy option. It would enable you to use a dedicated carpet cleaning robot instead of going to the time and cost of investigating and buying a mopping robot.
Many people do not need their floors to be shiny and spotlessly clean, just clean enough. So this is an option that may be worth considering.
If you choose this option then obviously you will need to buy a robotic carpet cleaner that also performs reasonably well when sweeping floors. In other words, you need a great all-rounder.
One of the best that we have come across so far is the iRobot Roomba 880 - and it deals particularly well with hardwood flooring.
While it is true that they cannot yet compete technologically with their carpet cleaning cousins, mainly because they have to deal with the complexities of handling dirty water, they can still prove to be valuable cleaning tools.
Realistically, you still can't expect any floor cleaning robot to do as good a job as a highly-motivated human being.
But we still think it is better to have your floors cleaned acceptably well by a machine than not have them cleaned at all by you.
If you haven't considered investing in a floor cleaning or mopping robot up to now, the technology has improved to such a point that it may be worth some serious consideration.
Photo by AudreyTang