My Quest for a Mopping Robot

By: Kelly Burgess on December 06, 2017

I bought myself an early Christmas present: A mopping robot. I have three cats and a fairly large kitchen/dining room space that I have to mop nearly every day, which is time-consuming. After reading an article about how buying yourself time can be a key to happiness, I decided that I'd try to replace my half-hour or so of daily mopping with a bot. Especially since finding a new excuse to buy a new cleaning (or kitchen) gadget is what really makes me happy.

Here's the problem I had: When I went to research mopping robots, I found that there are very few expert reviews or tests -- I only found one from 2014 -- and they tend to get pretty poor user reviews, regardless of price. In fact, all else being equal, the lower-priced ones tend to get better reviews simply because people aren't as disappointed when they spend less and have problems as they are when they spend more.

The main complaints people seem to have about these mopping robots are as follows, in the order in which I saw the most complaints:

1. Doesn't navigate very well in larger spaces. Unlike robotic vacuums, these have no "logic" built in to help them navigate. They merely go back and forth in a space, hopefully not missing any spots. The Braava mopping robot by iRobot does have the option of navigational cubes so you can direct it to some extent, but it includes only one Navigation Cube, extras will cost extra. This was not a consideration for me as the space I want to clean is pretty clear and uncomplicated.

2. Battery doesn't last very long. I read a LOT of durability/battery complaints about these mopping robots, some that broke down within a few months or after just a year. And yet, just as many people don't seem to have that issue, so this is an area in which you just have to take your chances and hope customer service steps up if you do have an early breakdown.

3. Doesn't clean well. Those who use this for touch-ups in between sessions with their regular mop -- as I intend to do -- seem to be much happier with how it performs. I certainly don't expect it to scrub my floor to a sheen, just to help me keep the paw tracks and pet dander under control without me having to haul out the mop every day.

So, having addressed the reasons for the poor ratings, here are the mopping robots I considered, along with the reasons why I did or did not pick them:

1. Deik Robot Vacuum with Smart Mopping (Est. $200). This was the first one I looked at because it has the highest rating on Amazon, 4.2 stars overall, and is a pretty good price at less than $200. However, the second I dug into the reviews my Spidey senses started tingling -- I've been doing this job long enough that I can spot fake reviews from a mile away. I ran the link through Fake Spot and found that I was right -- it got an "F" there. So, basically, you can't trust anything you read about this robot. Next!

2. iRobot Braava 380t (Est $300). I went into this whole enterprise leaning toward an iRobot simply because I have a Roomba and am really impressed with how well it works. However, since mopping robots are still in their infancy, technology-wise, and this pricier robot was plagued by the same complaints as cheaper ones -- ultimately earning just a 3.9-star rating -- I decided to move on.

3. iLife V5s Pro (Est. $190). I finally settled on this one -- it had a 4.1 star rating in more than 1,000 reviews, which is pretty impressive, and it got an "A" rating at Fake Spot, so I know the reviews are legit (as they seemed to be). I was more comfortable with this price level, too, over the Roomba. I figure if it saves me a few hours a week mopping, and saves me money on buying Swiffer liquid and pad refills, it will eventually make up for its cost.

So, stay tuned for my full review once the magic mop arrives and I get it unboxed and use it for a couple of weeks. I will then post a full update on how well it works, how easy it is to use, and whether I think it was worth buying. Or not.