If You Work From Home, You Need This Robot Vacuum That Also Mops

The $649 Roborock S7 is totally worth it

Over the last year of working from home through the pandemic, there’s been one constant: The house is eternally messy, and we’re eternally cleaning it. Because we’re home with our two pets all the time, if we aren’t vacuuming and mopping daily, our hard floors get dirty quickly.

I’m a huge fan of robot vacuum cleaners because they make it easier to keep on top of that cleaning when you don’t have time for proper vacuuming. For years we relied on a Neato D5 robot vacuum, which automatically vacuums the floors on a schedule, but since we got our dog, Kaya, that robot finally died, choked full of pet hair.

In search of a replacement, I stumbled on the Roborock S7, which seemed like the holy grail of robot cleaners: It’s a “hybrid” that both vacuums and mops your floors. Robot mops exist, but they’re generally separate robots entirely, requiring you to keep both of them around and run them separately, but the Roborock combines the two devices into one.

I’ve been testing the Roborock S7 for the last two weeks and have been impressed to find that my floors are almost constantly clean because the robot is dutifully vacuuming and mopping regularly, with few incidents. The robot vacuums on one side and mops on the other, which makes an enormous difference. It picks up the dirt and scrubs off things like dirty paw prints.

Unlike the more common Roomba-branded robots that bump into everything while they navigate around the room to clean, Roborocks use lidar technology (the same technology used in self-driving cars) to make a map of your home, and they rarely bump into anything.

That means after the Roborock finishes cleaning for the first time, you can label each room and then tell it to vacuum or mop a specific room quickly. When you tap “kitchen” and hit start, for example, it’ll quietly drive directly to the kitchen, clean the floors, and drive back to base like magic.

What’s impressive is just how adept it is at figuring out the house and adapting to obstacles or different surfaces, thanks to all the onboard sensors. When it encounters a rug while it’s cleaning, for example, it’s smart enough to lift up the mop and just vacuum that area at high speed before lowering it again once it’s back on hard floors. You can also set it up to avoid certain areas entirely, such as under the couch, and it’ll just drive right around it.

If you have a larger house and the battery dies while it’s cleaning, the robot will drive itself back to base, charge up, and carry on where it left off. This wasn’t really a problem in my tiny house and it generally finishes cleaning our downstairs in about 30 minutes.

Once a day at 10 a.m., I’ve set it up to zip around the house to vacuum and mop, which doesn’t make too much noise to cause problems even when I’m in virtual meetings. At 9 p.m., after we’re done cooking, it runs around and does a quick vacuum and mop of just the kitchen as well.

It does a great job despite how fast it is, leaving the floor cleaner than you’d expect for a robot cleaner, scrubbing out messy paw prints and footmarks, and generally doesn’t get as stuck or tangled on wires as easily as my old robot. It seems far better at taking on all of the floof around the house from our dog and cat, which is generally enough to fill the dustbin after every run.

Like all robot mops on the market, you can’t put any chemical cleaners in the tank, or it’ll eventually destroy the robot.

You should temper any dreams of never vacuuming or mopping. Robots like these do a great job of bridging the gap between a proper clean, but you’ll still need to do a manual one occasionally. That’s especially true because, like all robot mops on the market, you can’t put any chemical cleaners in the tank, or it’ll eventually destroy the robot.

All of this said, with a powerful robot like the S7, you’ll find yourself cleaning far less frequently than you were before. Instead of needing to vacuum and mop the whole place once every week or two, you can do it far less than you might have because the robot helps you stay on top of things.

It isn’t maintenance-free, of course. You’ll need to regularly empty the robot’s dust bin, fill its water container, and occasionally clean out its brushes. Still, any hassle is minuscule compared to how much time you’ll save. The company is also planning an auto-emptying dustbin accessory later in 2021, if you feel like you’re emptying it too often.

For $649, it’s definitely a luxury, but if you’re in a situation like me where you expect to work from home for the long run, have fluffy pets, and find that your house is getting dirty far faster than it used to, it might be an investment that makes your day a little easier.

If you’re in the market for a robot cleaner and have hard floors, I can’t recommend a hybrid vacuum/mop robot like the S7 enough; it makes a world of difference to mop the floors on top of vacuuming them, and I feel far less guilty about not feeling like cleaning up enough after eight hours a day glued to video calls when all I want to do is retreat to the couch.

Having a robot just driving around, cleaning your house for you feels like living in the distant future sometimes (and occasionally a little bit over the top). But, given the state of things, it’s a relief that makes the eternity of shutdowns we’re in a bit more bearable.

Developer, accidental wordsmith. OneZero columnist trying to debug the why behind tech news. Follow: https://twitter.com/ow Blog: https://char.gd

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