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Robot Vacuums

Mop or robot mop? Here's what to use when

Don't mope while mopping

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To mop or to robot mop? This is an interesting query, because there are so many varieties of floor cleaners on the market, it’s easy to get lost in your options and feel like you should just go to the store and pick up whatever’s available.

In many ways, the answer is the same as to whether or not you should clean with a vacuum or a robot vacuum.

On the whole, there are three different types of mops, and they each serve a special purpose. Read on for more, and also, which specific models are the best in the business.

Robot mop vs. traditional mop vs. motorized mop: What’s what

Robot mops

The iRobot Braava Jet M6 cleaning chocolate
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

We tested the M6's abilities on chocolate stains.

Typically, robot mops are best at maintaining floors in between manual cleanings. On the high-end, they can scrub and spot clean, but our lab experiments indicate this is the expectation and not the rule.

Traditional mop

The O-Cedar mop and bucket on a hardwood floor
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

With its washable head and easy-to-use bucket, our testing showed the O-Cedar is the best traditional mop.

Technology has come a long way since the bucket-only days. Now, we have the WetJet and mops with machine-washable heads.

While traditional mops are the most labor-intensive to use, they provide the most customization. You can switch cleaners whenever, dial-in the amount of pressure, and control the type of motion much more easily. This is especially important if you have special floors like teak.

Motorized mops

The Karcher FC3 cleaning chocolate syrup off the floor

Mechanical mops keep you from having to break a sweat while cleaning.

You may not be as familiar with motorized mops. Models like the Karcher F3 or Tinceo S3 have a spinning brush that applies water and cleaner, then laps it up into a dirty-water tank. Changing out the tanks and swapping the brush heads can be complicated, but once you get started it’s about as easy as operating a cordless vacuum.

Which type of mop is right for me?

Karcher FC mop head in the wash
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

A washable head is only really useful if you have access to your own washer.

The first step is to take stock of your situation and decide what you really want. If you want to have floors you can eat off of all the time, you’re going to want to invest in both a robot mop and a manual one with a washable head. This double whammy allows for you to clean well and maintain your floors in between.

For people with a ton of floor space that don’t have the strength or desire to move around a water bucket, a motorized mop is the answer. They don’t provide as much elbow grease as a manual mop, but even if they take longer to clean, you won’t break a sweat while in action.

Homes with low amounts of bare floor space and where storage space is at a premium you’re going to want to go with either a disposable mop or a robot vacuum/mop hybrid. Running a robot mop every day can keep dust and stray hair at bay, along with a bit of spot cleaning. However, it's rare to find a model that can get a truly dirty floor clean.

What mops do we recommend?

In terms of cleaning, the iRobot Braava Jet M6 is the top-tier robot mop. During our lab tests, the M6 was able to scrub dried chocolate syrup off a linoleum floor using its spot clean feature. We also like the fact that the M6 has an abundance of smart features. With virtual maps, you can schedule the M6 to clean certain areas at certain times. For example, under the kitchen table after dinner.

If you’re taking the old-fashioned route, nothing quite inspires as much confidence in your cleaning as the O-Cedar EasyWring Spin Mop & Bucket System. Our testers found it easy to set up, easy to use, and, with its machine-washable head, easy to clean. It does take up a lot of space. However, with this system, you can go as gentle or as hard on your floors as you want and never have to worry about batteries or app updates. That’s why it rose to the top of our mop round-up.

Lastly, if you want a mop that literally propels itself across the floor, you need to check out the Karcher FC 3. During testing, we cleaned sticky syrup off the floor without breaking a sweat. The clean and dirty water tanks are detachable—meaning you don’t need to bend down to refill or empty this unit. It’s also rechargeable, so no need to think about batteries.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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