Are robot vacuum cleaner mops any good?

Moptimus Prime.

There are some household chores we try to do as infrequently as possible, and others we have no choice but to do on a regular basis, like vacuuming and cleaning the toilet. Mopping, however, tends to fall to the wayside unless there’s a major mess or spill to clean up. So, now that more and more robot vacuum cleaners are also offering mopping functionality, the question stands: do they actually do a good job?

What is a robot mop?

For the purposes of this guide, when we talk about robot mops, we’re generally referring to robot vacuum cleaners that double as mops. While there are some standalone robot mops, they’re much more common as an attachment for robot vacuums, and usually represent better value and more convenience.

How do robot mops work?

Robot mops work much the same way as robot vacuum cleaners, cleaning in a pre-programmed pattern. Since they use the same sensors as their robovac half, their navigation abilities depend on whether or not they have the ability to map the layout of your home, or simply run until they hit a wall or obstacle.

Deebot U2 robot vacuum mopping a black lino floor

Hybrid robot vacuum/mops typically have a separate wiping attachment and a water reservoir which will need to be filled to a certain level before it begins cleaning. Unfortunately, given space is tight, having a mop function (and thus a water reservoir) will take precious room away from the vacuum dustbin, meaning you’ll have to empty it more often than you would a standalone robot vacuum.

It’s also important to note that most robot vacuum mops work using only water and the compatible wipe attachment – you can’t add any disinfectant or cleaning product to the water reservoir.

You’ll also have to regularly wash any mopping wipes regularly, however, it appears one Kickstarter project is attempting to do away with even that. Narwal claims to be the world’s first self-cleaning robot vacuum and mop. It can wash and dry its own mop attachments and even refill itself when the water tank is running low. It’s currently only available in the US (for the eye watering price of US$1,099, around AU$1,400), but still worth keeping an eye on.

Can robot mops tell the difference between hard floors and carpet?

It depends on the make and model of your robot vacuum cleaner, but generally speaking, spending more money will get you a unit that knows to avoid mopping on carpet and rugs. Cheaper models will need a little bit more babysitting (or be shut in a room completely) in order to avoid spraying water all over your carpet.

For example, we tested the $399 Ecovacs Deebot U2 and the $1,199 Ecovacs Deebot T8+. The more expensive model, as you might expect, was able to stop mopping as soon as it approached carpet. The cheaper unit, on the other hand, needed a little human intervention to get the job done.

Can robot mops replace manual mopping?

Realistically, no. Just like a robot vacuum will never be able to do quite as good a job as you and your old upright, neither can a robo mop. Having a robot vacuum/mop hybrid in the house will make your life easier and cut down on how often you have to mop manually, but it won’t replace elbow grease entirely. That’s partly because you can’t use cleaning products with them, and partly because they’re not capable of using as much pressure as us superior humans.

Where can I get a robot mop? And how much do they cost?

Most of the usual robot vacuum suspects have also dipped their feet in the mopping biz. Ecovacs, Roborock and Xiaomi all make hybrid models, however, iRobot (the maker of the famous Roomba) only make standalone robot vacs and standalone robot mops (called the iRobot Braava). To get both vacuuming and mopping functions, you’ll need to fork out a minimum of $399, with prices reaching $1,299.

You can find most of these brands at Amazon, The Good Guys, Godfreys, JB Hi-Fi and other electronics retailers.