Robot Vacuums

Is this robot mop the answer to your spring cleaning woes?

It's no Rosie the Robot, but it gets the job done.

The iLife Shinebot W400 cleans wood-look tile floors. Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

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Spring is just around the corner and that means it's time to start getting your home ready to usher in the warmer weather. I’m talking about spring cleaning, of course.

The vast majority of Americans participate in spring cleaning, with around 60% telling the American Cleaning Institute that their home needs a "thorough cleaning" at the start of the season. But, if you're like me, you don't really want to spend your free time giving your home a deep cleaning—or even a good scrub each week.

Automated home cleaning gadgets like the best robot vacuum can help you tackle your floors without much effort on your part, but what about a robot mop? It’s a nifty invention that attempts to solve one of my least favorite chores: mopping. So, I decided to give the iLife Shinebot W400 Floor Washing Scrubbing Robot a whirl.

How often should you mop your floors anyway?

Cleaning floors
Credit: Getty / HAKINMHAN

Before you mop, make sure to sweep or vacuum to rid your floors of dirt and debris.

How often you mop your floors depends on a variety of circumstances like the number of people that live in your household, whether or not you have pets, if you wear your shoes inside, and other variables that determine the cleanliness of your floors.

Mopping once a week can help maintain the look and cleanliness of your floors—especially in high-traffic areas of your home like the entryway, kitchen, bathrooms, and hallways. However, guest bedrooms, home offices, and other rooms that don’t get used by all members of the family on a daily basis can be mopped once a month (or more frequently depending on the needs of your home).

Before mopping, it’s best to prep your floors with a thorough vacuum. Whether you’re using a bagless upright vacuum, a cordless vacuum, or a robot vacuum, sucking up all of the dirt and debris will help ensure your floors are spick and span after your cleaning session instead of spreading them around your home. Oh, and don’t forget to quickly vacuum any rugs while you’re at it, too.

About the iLife Shinebot

iLife Shinebot W400 on floors
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

All in all, the iLife Shinebot W400 did a good job of cleaning my floors, but it could benefit from some extra smart features.

Living with two tiny humans and one slobbery English bulldog, my floors are put through the wringer on a daily basis. But even if you don't have kids and pets, who doesn’t want some extra help around the house? Here’s how the iLife Shinebot W400 Floor Washing Scrubbing Robot works.

The robot has an easy-to-read display panel on the top portion, which shows information about what cleaning mode it’s in and the status of the battery. It’s also where you’ll find the power button. The status light is great because it’s a quick way to find out how much time the robot mop will run before it needs a charge. Green means it’s got 30 or more minutes of power left, the orange means fewer than 30 minutes, and the red light means you need to charge it ASAP.

Once it's on, it starts by spraying the floor with water, followed by a good scrub courtesy of the microfiber roller, which continuously rotates as the mop propels itself forward. This helps loosen stains before the rubber scraper, which operates much like a squeegee, wipes up the dirty water residue into one of two tanks.

This all sounded pretty fancy to me, but does it actually do a good job of cleaning? After a few weeks of using the iLife Shinebot, I found that this thing doesn't really clean any better than a traditional mop. Still, since no one actually wants to mop, it could be helpful when it comes to maintenance. I found this mop ideal for regular cleaning, and it’s by no means a power-scrubbing robot mop that will rid your floors of days-old stains or caked-on food. Much like robot vacuums, this floor-washing robot works best when incorporated into your regular cleaning routine.

However, if you’re short on time and don’t have the desire to tackle all of your chores, then it’s a pretty good time-saving gadget to add to your cleaning arsenal.

What we like

It sucks up dirty water as it cleans

One thing I liked about this particular robot mop versus my tried-and-true Bissell Powerwave is that it sucks up the dirty water as it cleans. Whenever I mop, I stand on an old, ratty towel and scoot my feet to sop up the grimy liquid. It’s just an all-around bad look. While the iLife Shinebot doesn’t leave the floor completely dry, the liquid is mostly gone and the tile is dry within five to ten minutes.

After your floors are clean, and you turn the iLife Shinebot off, you may notice a little bit of water on your floor after you pick it up. That’s to be expected. Just grab a paper towel or small rag to sop up the left behind liquid. Then, place the device back on the charging dock so that it’s ready to go for next time.

It runs quietly

iLife Shinebot W400 on charger
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

The charging station plugs into the wall and is similar to what you might see with robot vacuums.

Especially considering the iLife Shinebot robot mop is fairly hefty compared to my iRobot Roomba 690, it's impressive that it is quieter to operate. While the Roomba sounds almost as loud as a traditional upright vacuum, I was able to run the mop during several of my toddler’s naps and while I was on the phone without any noise-related problems.

The difference in size is also to be expected since the iLife Shinebot is built with two separate compartments for clean and dirty water. The 0.85-liter water tank is used to house fresh water during the cleaning process, and the 0.9-liter tank holds the dirty water that’s sucked back into the mop after cleaning.

It has a variety of cleaning modes

The robot’s “Path Mode” works best for a general clean of your floors and is best for cleaning large areas. When finished, the iLife Shinebot returns to the starting point. A full tank of water lasts for 30 to 40 minutes and covers about 400 sq. ft. I found that timeline to be accurate when using the robot mop in my own home.

“Spot Mode” is intended for specific spots on your floors that need a little extra TLC. In this mode, the mop performs two rounds of cleaning on a particular part of your floor, following a square, spiral route before returning back to where it originated. “Area Mode” means that the robot will only wash the area directly in front of the starting point within 25 square meters.

There’s also “Edge Mode,” which targets the edges and corners of your home. The only problem I ran into with this setting was that the iLife Shinebot would sometimes get stuck while trying to clean under my dishwasher door and refrigerator. There’s just not enough clearance for the robot mop to get all the way under.

It's easy to clean

Inside of iLife Shinebot W400
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

Here's a look into the guts of the iLife Shinebot W400, which has two water tanks, a removable squeegee brush, and a microfiber roller.

Yes, even your robot mop needs to be cleaned after each use. First, press down on the water tank release button and pull up on the handle. The dual tanks make it easy to fill up with clean water and dispose of the dirty water without making a huge mess. There are release buttons for each tank so you can easily dump the water outside or down the drain.

Before reassembling the robot, pull up on the roller brush and give it a good rinse. I left mine to air dry on my OXO Good Grips Silicone Drying Mat. Oh, and make sure to wipe down the scraper tool to remove any dirt or grime that may have accumulated during the cleaning process. There’s also a small filter near the scraper that should be rinsed after each use to keep the robot mop working properly.

Finally, make sure to dump out any water left behind in the main water tanks. Even if there’s no water left in the dirty tank, there’s likely to be some debris still hanging out in there. Rinse with fresh water and repeat until the tank is clean.

Additionally, two brush heads are included with your purchase but it never hurts to have additional rollers on hand for your next cleaning session.

It has its own voice alerts

While the iLife Shinebot doesn’t work with Google or Alexa (bummer), it does have voice alerts that are somewhat helpful. You won’t be able to hear these messages from across the house, but if you’re in the room or nearby it’s a nice feature to have. The mop says things like, “The robot is stuck,” “Please check the dirty water tank,” and “Low battery.”

What we don’t like

There's no app or smart control

Sadly, the iLife Shinebot is lacking a companion app, which is a shame for such a good robot mop.

However, it does come with a remote control that allows you to start and stop the mop whenever you want. You can also use the remote to select which cleaning mode you would like. I didn’t use the remote much because life with two kids means things like remotes go missing on the regular, so I mostly relied on the mops built-in buttons to control it.

There's no smart mapping technology

Although it mostly excelled at cleaning my floors, it’s missing a key component that really makes these sorts of devices worth the while and that's mapping technology. Robot mops equipped with smart mapping technology like the iRobot Braava Jet M6, learn the layout of your home and placement of your furniture to create a custom cleaning map of your floor plan. While I found the four different cleaning modes helpful, this mop could really benefit from smart mapping technology.

Should you buy the iLife Shinebot?

iLife Shinebot W400
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

The iLife Shinebot W400 comes with a one-year warranty.

If you don't care much about smart features, sure. Automated floor care is a growing industry with more and more options coming to market. While the iLife Shinebot W400 Floor Washing Scrubbing Robot does a good job of cleaning my floors, its lack of smart mapping technology and app control is a real bummer for a smart home junkie like me. This product could really benefit from a couple of smart upgrades to make it even better. But as a robotic mop, it does a fair job of helping maintain floors between major cleanings.

Get the iLife Shinebot W400 Floor Washing Scrubbing Robot on Amazon for $199.99 (Save $50 with on-page coupon)

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