This Robot Vacuums and Mops Just As Half-Arsed As You Do

This Robot Vacuums and Mops Just As Half-Arsed As You Do
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One of the downsides of spending all this extra time at home is noticing how dirty my floors are. I vacuum quite frequently, and certainly mop the kitchen and bathrooms often, and yet I must admit to a general malaise when it comes to mopping the rest of my wooden floors. I know it must be done, but who has time when there’s capitalism to be a slave to and a pandemic to have an existential crisis over?

This is where the Ecovacs Deebot T9+ comes in (available from The Good Guys for $1279). It’s a smart robot vacuum cleaner that can map out your home, vacuum your floors, mop them, and then empty itself. This is frankly the smart future I’ve always dreamed of. But is it any good at those things? And, if not, does it really matter?

Ecovacs Deebot T9+ Vacuuming Performance

Ecovacs Deebot T9+
Ecovacs Deebot T9+ on the charging stand. Image: Alice Clarke

This is the main function of a vacuum cleaner, so it’s good that the T9+ is pretty decent at it. The poor little robot definitely missed some areas that I thought would be easy to reach, and fought valiantly to get to areas that seemed physically impossible. But with each clean it gets a little better at discovering everything, because of the intelligent mapping function.

A word of warning, though: The map is only as good as you let it be, particularly on its initial ride. Make sure all the cupboard doors are closed, and as much stuff is off the floor as possible, because that’ll give you a better experience for all your future uses.

Another problem is that the bin in the robot is really small and fills up fast. That would be fine, given there’s an auto empty station, except the robot doesn’t have a sensor to tell it when the bin is full, which seems like a big oversight. So instead of emptying itself when it’s full and then continuing the clean, it just continues going around, not picking anything up.

Mopping

Robot vacuum cleaners of old just had a reservoir of water that you could attach a cloth to and then it would half-heartedly drag the lightly damp cloth over the floor. The T9+ has evolved past that to have the cloth jerkily move back and forth to put a little more elbow grease into mopping, and it actually makes a huge difference. Before I would have said that the mopping was just a gimmick, but this is actually useful.

It doesn’t do an amazing job of mopping with just a single pass, but my floors are noticeably cleaner, and the cloth looked super gross, so I’m calling it a win. With a second pass the effect was much better. Probably wouldn’t suffice for somewhere like the kitchen or the bathroom, but was great for the halls, bedroom and living room.

Cable consumption

The T9+ box and app proudly state that its intelligent mapping and sensors mean that it won’t try to eat your cables. Unfortunately, no one told the T9+ this. It is better than other robots I’ve tried, I’ll grant you, but it did still try to eat a Surface charger, the cables for my surround sound system, and the power cable for my drum kit. So it doesn’t exactly fail, but it’s getting a solid C.

Although you can set up digital no-go zones in the app, I find you have to exclude too much floor space for the actual small area to be avoided, so instead I just place physical barriers and it works fine.

Ecovacs Deebot T9+ Auto Empty Station

Ecovacs Deebot T9+ docking station
The Ecovacs Deebot T9+ charging/auto emptying station. Image: Alice Clarke.

The way the auto empty station works is that the robot docks itself, and then the dock vacuums out the contents from the robot into a little bag in the dock. This works really well, as long as the robot hasn’t sucked up a tissue, then physics works against it.

Having to replace the little bags in the auto empty station is a bit tiresome, as there weren’t many included in the box (though, to be fair, that could be because I wasn’t the first with the review unit). Replacing the bags will also get expensive, fast, given that a 3-pack is $26 from Godfrey’s.

Overall

It’s not perfect by any stretch. It definitely has a long way to go. But you have to compare its performance not to a skilled cleaner who knows what they’re doing, but to what you’d actually do.

I’d say its vacuuming skills are 60% as good as me using a Dyson V15 with the laser properly, and 50% as good as if I put actual effort into mopping the whole floor, both counts with me fully focussed on the task with proper time to dedicate to it. But how often are you going to do that and do it properly? Be realistic.

If you have the time to spend a couple of hours each week vacuuming and mopping your floor multiple times, then this won’t help you. But even this half-arsed attempt at mopping is better than my current no-or-rarely-arsed attempt. This little guy can vacuum every second day, and then I can go around spot cleaning on the weekend, spending half an hour instead of god knows how long. To me, that’s worth the slight drop in expected quality for the huge rise in actual cleaning.

Now, if it could just wash my windows and put my clean laundry away…