How well can a robot scrub your floors?

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Situation

iRobot makes robots for home and business.

Its major consumer products include: vacuum cleaning, floor scrubbing, floor mopping, pool cleaning and gutter cleaning as well as a mobile presence for business.

I regularly use a couple of Roombas that are great for floor and rug vacuuming, but can a robot really scrub a floor?

What is it?

Get more information on all irobots at www.irobot.com.

How it works

To mop or scrub? That is the question. There are two separate robots for flat floor care, the Braava 380t floor mopping robot (MSRP $399.99) and the Scooba 450 scrubbing robot (MSRP $599.99).

The main difference, besides price, is that the Braava can dry or wet mop floors using a reusable or disposable pad (think Swiffer), while the Scooba uses a three-cycle vacuuming/scrubbing process.

I’ll be discussing the Scooba 450 in this article.

First, Scooba sweeps and pre-soaks the floor surface, picking up loose dirt, hair, etc., while laying down a thin film of water/cleaning concentrate mix to soak into stuck-on debris. In the next cycle, a brush scrubs and squeegee-vacuums dirty water off the floor into a holding tank, then completes the cleaning process with a final squeegee-finish cycle. This device can be used any place where you would use a mop and bucket.

Unlike a mop that reuses dirty water, Scooba uses fresh solution from start to finish.

It avoids stairs and comes with a battery powered, fist-sized, electrical “wall” that can be placed on the floor as a barrier to tell it where not to go. Scooba has an information button that talks to you and provides audible cues as to when it’s finished and gives you a choice of a 20-minute cycle for small rooms and a 40-minute cycle for large ones. When the holding tank is filled, the battery needs recharging, or the cleaning cycle is completed, it will give an audible alert, shut off and allow you to empty the tank and clean the removable brushes and squeegee, which only takes a few minutes.

What you need

Everything, including batteries, is included in the product box.

Where to get it

Amazon, Home Depot and most home appliance retailers. Amazon’s price for the Scooba 450 is $599.99. Cleaning concentrate is $12.99 for 16 oz. which is about 32 uses.

How hard is it to use?

Unpacking Scooba, reading the “Quick-Start” guide and setting it up takes about 20 minutes. You should fully charge any electronic device before using it. It is really easy to learn and to use — just push the start button, choose small or large room, and it gets to work.

Pros

Regular Scooba use keeps your floors reasonably clean. I hate to vacuum and mop, so I’m a big Scooba fan. The fact that you are not reusing dirty water and that it is vacuuming, wetting and scrubbing then squeegeeing the floor dry gives the floor a “cleaner” look and even feels cleaner to bare feet!

Cons/Caveats

This product works best when used regularly. In a one-shot test, I found that it did not completely clean an area that had been covered by a throw-rug as well as I might have done by hand. But after a number of runs, that area is now about as clean as the rest of the floor.

Bottom-line

In preparing this article, I noticed a number of negative reviews and comments online, which were mainly about older versions of the device. My experience with Scooba has been very positive and I would recommend it to friends. Using Roomba for rooms with rugs and Scooba for wood, tile and solid floors is a good combination for keeping your floors well maintained without spending a great deal of time and effort on the task.