I spent a week using a robot mop—here's what happened
Can the iRobot Braava Jet M6 mop live up to the hype?
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As the lab manager at Reviewed, I have been one of the first people to return to the office since COVID-19 restrictions sent the staff to work from home. It was eerie walking through a place that is always so vibrant and now devoid of people. Imagine: wilted Valentine’s Day flowers, a broken air conditioning unit, and accumulated floor grime.
Since the floors clearly needed sprucing up, I decided to test out the iRobot Braava Jet M6, a smart mop—not a vacuum—that iRobot promises can tackle sticky messes, grime, and kitchen grease. It sounded perfect for cleaning the break room floor, but did it work? Here's what happened.
What is iRobot Braava Jet M6?
The iRobot Braava Jet M6 is like a motorized Swiffer—both the wet and dusting kind. It zips across hard surfaces (read: no carpeting), sweeping up dust and dirt and/or spraying water and a cleaning solution as it goes, while its absorbent pads mop and scrub the area it just sprayed.
It’s eco-friendly, too, in that it’s compatible with reusable washing pads, although disposable pads are also an option.
To generate the jet spray, users fill the tank with simple water or a combination of water and iRobot’s proprietary cleaning fluid. In theory, you could fill it with whatever cleaning solution you like, but doing so could damage the unit and will definitely void your warranty.
Setting up the Braava Jet M6
Right off the bat, Braava Jet M6’s setup was easy—much more so than I thought it would be. Previous testing of other Braava models required me to clip and wrap the cleaning pad into place—if it wasn’t properly secured, it would come off or bunch up, preventing a proper clean. I didn’t have to do any of that with the Braava Jet M6.
Braava Jet M6 utilizes cardboard tabs on the back of the cleaning pads, and these slide on rails into place. After running the Braava Jet M6 for 20 cycles, the pad never came loose. Filling the tank was also easy. Braava Jet M6’s tank is slightly tinted, but not enough to obscure the water level.
One of the best features of the Braava Jet M6 is its ability to create smart maps, which increases the robot mop's efficiency by having it clean only where you want it to. What this means is that you let the Braava Jet M6 loose, allowing it to map the room you want cleaned. Once this is done, you can "draw" virtual barriers on the smart map to cordon off areas where you do and don't want the Braava Jet M6 to mop. For example, we have a television and some gaming equipment at one end of the break room that I didn’t want to get wet.
The mapping process does take a very long time—about half a dozen runs over six hours. This robot mop uses a technology called vSLAM to map its surroundings; it's accurate, but fairly slow.
You don't have to use the Braava Jet M6's smart mapping technology. It'll take about half the time, and you'll get similar cleaning results, at least initially. But over time, you'll get better cleaning when you do use smart mapping, because you'll be able to target problem areas. Without the smart mapping, the Braava Jet M6 moves around more haphazardly.
I highly recommend using the smart mapping feature, and to run your robot mops and vacuums when you're not around. They're automated, so you can let them do their work when it won't inconvenience you.
I first wanted to observe the Braava Jet M6 in an isolated environment, so I placed it on a linoleum-covered, raised platform. The Braava Jet M6 kept getting stuck, and upon investigation, I noticed that a bubble had formed in the linoleum, which caught the pad and caused it to curl up. So, if the floors in your home have any major divots, bubbles, or gaps, the Braava Jet M6 may have trouble getting around.
I also learned, during the first few runs, that you have to install the plastic drip tray that snaps into the charging dock. If you do not install it, the Braava Jet M6 will be unable to return home and will run out of batteries trying to back into the dock.
The ultimate test: Could it clean the break room?
Having an entire office building to myself presented a lot of interesting opportunities.
However, what I did do was run a bunch of robot vacuums and mops in the general office area because there were no people around to trip over them. At about 400 sq. ft. with 21 chairs, five tables, and an assortment of shelves, the break room provided the best spot for testing the Braava Jet M6.
The time taken for Braava Jet M6’s cleaning cycles varied, ranging from an hour-and-a-half to around three hours, depending on the settings. You can set the M6 to light, standard, and deep clean.
Testing spot-cleaning mode
The last thing I wanted to test out was the Braava Jet M6’s spot-cleaning mode since iRobot makes the claim on its website that the Braava Jet M6 can clean up sticky messes. Chocolate syrup is pretty sticky, and it’s something I could put on my expense account—you know, for science. For this test on our break room floor, I spread about a tablespoon of chocolate syrup.
I had low expectations, because of the combination of the syrup’s viscosity and the break room’s textured floor. It turns out, I was wrong. The Braava Jet M6’s spray jets, fluffy pad, and scrubbing action took on this chocolate syrup challenge with ease, and in only five minutes.
Cleaning small, sticky spills only works when the Braava Jet M6 is in spot-cleaning mode. If you just hit the clean button, the Braava Jet M6 will smear stuff everywhere.
After its first cleaning cycle, the Braava Jet M6 impressed me with its ability to go under chairs, including ones with skirts. It scooted around table legs and pushed aside a throw rug without getting stuck. The Braava Jet M6 also hugged the wall so it very clearly cleaned the perimeter of the room.
The amount of grime and dirt on the Braava Jet M6’s cleaning pad was significant—and it didn’t leave much behind. I inspected the floors, and I’d say that the Braava Jet M6 is a solid floor cleaner.
However, I’d suggest using it between manual cleanings. My extensive experience testing robot vacuums has proven that automated floor cleaners are better for maintenance rather than a deep clean.
Should you buy this robot mop?
If you have non-carpeted floors, then it's a definite yes. The Braava Jet M6 is the best hard-floor maintainer we’ve tested, and the fact that it can deal with a sticky mess at a touch of a button makes it worth checking out. The Braava Jet M6 will beef up your cleaning arsenal. It also works in conjunction with iRobot’s i7 series or S9 robot vacuums; a bundle purchase of both from iRobot's website runs between $800 and $1,300. I'll finish this by saying, I'd choose the M6 over a Swiffer. You get similar cleaning performance without all the hassle and the M6 does it without an overwhelmingly sweet-smelling cleaning fluid.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.