Best robot mops: We review the most scrupulous scrubbers for your home's hard surface floors

Skip the bucket and the back-bending labor and let one of these specialized robots scour the stains from your hardwood, laminate, tile, vinyl, linoleum, and other solid surface flooring.

bestrobotmops Rob Schultz / IDG

As hated household chores go, mopping is probably despised more than even vacuuming (though let’s agree cleaning toilets tops the list). The dirty water, the back-aching labor, and the fact that most homes have far less moppable flooring than they do carpeting makes the job all too easy to neglect.

As with vacuuming, though, robotics has come to rescue. Robot mops don’t require cumbersome buckets or ringing out filthy mop heads. All you need to do is fill their tank with water, set them on the floor, press the start button, and get out of the way. Some will even vacuum or sweep the floor first, relieving you of that chore as well. They won’t eliminate the need to use an old-fashioned stick mop from time to time, but they can make the floor significantly easier to clean when you do.

Here are our current top picks for robot mops. This is an evolving category— manufacturers are still experimenting with what makes a good robot mop—so there can be a significant variance between products in terms of features and functions. Still, there are some basic things to look for and we’ve included them below our picks to help guide you if our top picks don’t meet your unique needs. Or you can click here to skip to our latest robot mop reviews.

Best robot mop

Roombas aren’t the only products iRobot has in its cleaning closet. The company also has a line of robot mops. The best we’ve tested so far is the Braava Jet 240. With three cleaning modes that correspond to color-coded mop pads, it’s a breeze to use and kept our floors clean enough to reduce the frequency of manual moppings. The iRobot companion app gives you some remote control, allowing to you start and stop cleanings and control the amount of water used. Perhaps best of all, is its size: at just 6.7 x 7 x 3.3 inches (L x W x H), it easily got in and out of tight spaces in the kitchen and bathrooms, something most other robot mops we’ve tested have trouble with.

Runner-up

 

The iLife Shinebot W400 uses a unique four-step mopping method that moistens the floor with clean water to loosen dirt and stains, scrubs them free with a microfiber roller brush, sucks the dirty water into the robot, and scrapes off any residue left behind. It also keeps clean and dirty water in separate tanks to avoid cross-contaminating your floors. The results come pretty close to what you would get using a push mop. The Shinebot w400’s bulk can be a hindrance in small spaces, though, so it’s best suited to homes with lots of wide-open floors.

Best vacuum/mop hybrid

 

The Roborock S6 combines a top-shelf vacuum with a better-than-most mopping function. As with most vacuum/mop hybrids, you attach a reservoir to the bottom for mopping, but the S6 allows you control how much water it dispenses with a simple switch. That makes it equally effective for light maintenance mopping and tackling stubborn stains. Plus, you get the advantage of the S6’s superb laser navigation and voice control, courtesy of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

What to look for in a robot mop

Dedicated floor mop or vacuum/mop hybrid: At their heart, all robot mops function similarly: You fill a tank with water, and the water is dispensed as the robot navigates across your floors, using an attached cloth/pad to scrub dirt off your floor.

The robots, however, generally come in two types. Models like the iRobot Braava Jet 240 and the iLife Shinebot W400 can’t vacuum your floors (though the former can do a dry sweep of debris) before mopping.

Vacuum/mop hybrids are essentially robot vacuums that come with an attachable water reservoir. When you want to mop, you fill this small-capacity tank with tap water, attach a microfiber cloth to it, and slot it onto the bottom of the vacuum.

irobot app jet Michael Ansaldo/IDG

The ability to program the amount of water dispensed on the floor is one of the reasons we’re such fans of iRobot’s Braava Jet 240.

There are no hard and fast rules regarding which type of robot mop is better, but we have observed some general trends. Hybrid types tend to be more likely to come with features like app control and smart home integration. And, of course, they give you the advantage of tackling two chores with one device. We’ve found, however, that their method of dragging a damp microfiber cloth across the floor isn’t the best for tough stains. Dedicated robot mops usually spray water directly on the floor to soften gunk and stains and apply some agitation via a scrubbing pad or brush. In our tests, these have brushes consistently been more effective on deeper dirt.

Navigation: Like their vacuuming counterparts, robot mops navigate around furniture, walls, and other obstacles using a collection of sensors. Some hybrid models also take advantage of mapping technology. Most of the ones we’ve tested, though, can’t tell what type of floor surface they’re on. That presents potential problems if the floor you want to mop adjoins a carpeted room, as kitchens and bathrooms often do. Fortunately, many robot mops come with some kind of virtual barrier you can position between hard flooring and carpeting to keep the robot out of trouble.

Battery Life: Battery life correlates to how much a robot mop can cover in a single charge. We’ve found one hour to be the sweet spot for most apartments and condominiums, but a minimum of 90 minutes is recommended for larger homes. It’s also important to remember that mopping will use more battery life than vacuuming, so if you go with a hybrid model, expect to get less than the manufacturer’s claimed run time when using the mopping function.

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