Time to call in Robomop: We’ve all heard of robot vacuums. But what about cleaning stains and spills? FEMAIL tests them out
- Liz Spiring has two children, a sheepdog and cream floor tiles
- She spends a lot of time mopping and so tests out robotics mops
- A couple got her floor sparkling but the rest were damp squibs
With two children, a mud-soaked Old English sheepdog and ludicrous pale cream floor tiles, you may not be surprised to learn that I loathe mopping.
It has to be done every single day and, nine times out of ten, no sooner have I finished cleaning the kitchen floor of our London home than someone has tramped their dirty paws or feet across it. ‘Why do I bother?’ might as well be my catchphrase.
But now there are robots that can do it for you. We’ve all heard of robot vacuum cleaners, but these small, disc-shaped machines can whizz around not only scrubbing away dirt, but then polishing the floor and drying up after themselves.
But which ones got my floor sparkling - and which were a damp squib?
Jess Spiring admires the robotic mops cleaning her floor - but is it any better than a good old mop and bucket?
TOP OF THE MOPS
iRobot Braava 380
This beams a signal up to the ceiling of the room you want to clean, maps its size and shape, then instructs the Braava to clean only that area.
It’s a square, 9 in device that can cover 344 sq ft, which is more than adequate for a kitchen. It takes four hours to charge and needs to be plugged into the wall, but stands upright - so it takes up the least space of any robot we tested while charging (a mere 9 in by 3 in rectangle). It also comes with a dry cloth for sweeping. This was far and away the quietest robot, which really matters if you’re at home while it’s cleaning.
It did a great job. It leaves hardly any moisture behind, so would be just as effective on less hard-wearing surfaces, such as wood. Best of all, though, you throw the cloth in the wash, then it’s ready to go again.
My only complaint? It comes with only one cloth, so I’d have to invest in spares in order to use it every day. Still, I’ll be stocking up - every home needs one of these.
iRobot Scooba 450 £599, irobot.co.uk
THE POSHEST, PRICIEST MOP
iRobot Scooba 450
This has a three-step cleaning process - starting by sweeping and squirting water to soak stuck-on mess, then returning over the same spot to scrub, and finally passing over to squeegee and remove any last drops of water.
It comes with a hard-floor cleaning solution that you add to the water tank and which promises to kill up to 99.3 per cent of bacteria, and it also has a sophisticated on-board navigation system to map where it has been.
The iRobot measures just 14 in in diameter and can cover 290 sq ft in one go - easily getting across a large kitchen, though you’ll need to charge it for four hours.
This mop actually talks to you - the soothing female voice warns you if it needs refilling, recharging or there’s something in its way.
I loved this because, frankly, who has time to read instructions?
At the end there was a satisfyingly disgusting pool of dirty water and bits of fluff and dog hair to be washed away. But there’s the rub.
You are supposed to clean the brushes and tank after every use and I worry this would make it too much of a hassle, leading me back to the simpler mop and bucket.
Equally disappointing is that it is super noisy - so much so that I couldn’t hear the TV, which is surely the point of having a robot to do your dirty work.
Lelec Automatic Vacuum Robot Recharge Robotic Cleaner Hard FloorMop £119.99, amazon.co.uk
BEST FOR SMALLER AREAS
Lelec Automatic Vacuum Robot Recharge Robotic Cleaner Hard FloorMop
This 12 in, disc-shaped robot has a charging station, and can be programmed to clean up at a certain time each day.
It mops with a microfibre cloth, which you run under the tap first, and has a dry, spinning, feathered arm to dust the skirting as it trundles along. It can clean up to 2,150 sq ft in one cycle, equivalent to all floors in a large house, on a four-hour charge. This is a bit of a budget model, which shows in its plasticky design.
When it mopped, it also left a clean, damp patch for the first five minutes, but by then the cloth had dried out, so it couldn’t do much beyond dusting. That said, you could put it into ‘spot mode’ where it stays in one 10 sq ft area and cleans it intensively, so I got it to mop just the particularly grubby area by the front door.
Pifco P28021 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner £58, allgoodsdirect.co.uk
BEST BET FOR A BASIC CLEAN
Pifco P28021 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
This robot has a rubber bumper at the front to protect furniture, can move easily from hard floor to carpet and promises anti-fall navigation (which detects where the floor drops away, for example at the top of the stairs). It’s an 11 in disc and will clean however far it can reach in 35 minutes with a dry cloth.
It takes eight hours to charge and comes with three spare mopping cloths.
This robot is either on or off - there is no way to program different modes - and while I admire that kind of simplicity, it’s pretty so-so.
Its navigation is fairly basic - it simply changes direction when it bumps into furniture or the wall, so you have no real way of knowing if it has covered the whole floor.
Claiming that it has a mopping function is a bit much: it’s more of a souped-up duster.
That said, the cloth was filthy by the time it had completed its cleaning cycle, so while it wasn’t great at tackling the ground-in stains at my house, if you don’t have children or pets it’s not a bad bet for the money.
Robomop £17.65, snapetail.com
BEST ENTERTAINMENT FOR YOUR PETS
This cheap and cheerful gadget from Norway is driven by a rolling ball, which spins around inside a plastic cage with a microfibre cloth skirt.
It changes direction when it encounters furniture or walls, but it’s so light it won’t damage anything it hits. It’s also a mere 8 in in diameter - the microfibre skirt extends beyond this, but only the ball is plugged into the mains, so it takes up very little space during a five-hour charge.
It can cover 645 sq ft, or two large rooms.
If entertaining your dog is a high priority, this is for you - it moves just like a small nippy animal that they’ll find irresistible to chase - but I’m afraid, despite its name, I consider it to be a duster.
Vileda ViRobi, £19.99, Lidl
THE DUSTER THAT THINKS IT'S A MOP
Two small, spinning wheels send this robot buzzing around the floor, changing direction when it hits something.
It’s an 11½ in disc with disposable cloths that attach underneath the central unit and spread out like a skirt, so it can get into tight corners and tricky angles. There is no wet-cleaning function.
It has two cleaning programs, lasting 30 minutes or 120 minutes, but it does move quite fast so had got around most of my kitchen in half an hour.
It’s impossible to say how much floorspace it covers in total as it travels around randomly, so if you have a lot of furniture it will have to keep navigating around it.
It takes six hours to charge, and comes with three extra cloths. A replacement set of 20 cloths can be bought from Amazon for £5.58.
But beware - despite often being called a robotic mop online, like the Robomop, it is essentially a dusting device.
To its credit this gadget is very low profile at less than 11½ in in height, so it can easily reach under furniture. You’ll still have to mop after though.
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