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I originally bought Roomba and I was so impressed that I thought Scooba might be worth a try- and I wasn't disappointed.
Firstly the negatives- charging is a little less convenient as Scooba doesn't have a docking station so has to be plugged it. There is a little effort involved- to clean a large room the water in the tank will probably need changing. Though having said that, changing the water is fairly easy- Scooba beeps and the water light flashes, you unclick the water tank, empty the 'dirty' chamber, fill the 'clean' chamber from the tap and click it back into place. Scooba does need a little maintenance, just a bit of cleaning and making sure the tubes are clear.
Now the positives, which completely outweigh the negatives. Not only does cleaning the floor take minimal effort, the result is amazing- so much better than you could ever do with a mop or steam mop. I think it's because the dirty water gets sucked back into the tank rather than being left behind. After a couple of cleans with Scooba, my floors were cleaner and shinier than they've ever been.
I have laminate flooring which Scooba isn't specifically recommended for, but it's absolutely fine. There's not a significant amount of water left on the floor so it dries pretty quickly, which means that unless the laminate is already quite damaged, the water doesn't cause a problem. I've also used Scooba on hard wood floor, vinyl and ceramic tiles, and the result is always shiny and streak free (if there are streaks, it just means the floor isn't quite clean and needs another run).
I had the Roomba for 6 weeks before it packed up. In this time it didn't do a bad job at all and I think would be good on small areas or floors that don't get too dirty. You can then leave it cleaning and go out. But with 2 dogs in winter the floor gets grubby and the machine quickly stops with dirty water and needs cleaning & refilling so you need to go back to it. Then after you restart it the battery dies before it finishes. The battery life is not good enough to cover a larger area so you have to recharge and this means cleaning over 2 days for 1 floor - if you have a number of rooms to do it needs to be running every day!
But I could put up with all that as I am outside most of the day & can pop in & out to deal with it - if only it worked and I still had it. It just stopped working 6 weeks after I got it - April 6th (easter), reported it by phone & email'd invoice on the 10th & was promised collection would be arranged that afternoon. Rang 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th - different story every time, "wrong department" "didn't someone collect last week?" "no trace of your report" - usual rubbish. Finally they collected it on the 23rd April and they still have it (10th May now). It has now gone to some repair centre and when I ask to be kept informed I hear nothing, when I email the customer care (care - that's a joke) they say they can't get the part they need - they make the things don't they? If they hadn't got the parts they would go out of business. I have warned them I would tell all in a review if they didn't repair or replace or refund but I got no response to that. I have people coming to stay in a few days, it has rained daily, I have 2 dogs in a farmhouse & no floor cleaner - imagine the state the floors are in, do I buy a different machine or spend a week on my knees with a cloth & bucket (ouch)?
Last year while browsing in our local 'Leekes' store we spotted this iRobot Scooba 385 robotic floor washer. I had personally never seen a robot floor washer before and it seemed a 'must have' as we have owned a robot vacuum cleaner by iRobot for quite a while which we were extremely impressed with... In the trolley she went at a whopping £399 but boy was she worth it!
*** A bit about the Scooba floor washing robot ***
The Scooba is a lovely looking blue robot floor washer that washes your hard floors using its very unique and effective cleaning method. You simply charge it up, add water and detergent and set her free in your room to return slightly later to a delightfully clean floor! Now I refer to ours as a 'her' but it could also be a boy, ours is called Florence and I swear that we instantly saw her as a human from the first time that we set her off to clean. The Scooba robot is deigned to cover up to 80 square metres on a single charge and you may need to top the water up about half way through the cleaning but this mainly depends on the type of surface that the machine is washing. It can be used successfully on wooden floors, marble, tile etc without worries. I have tested ours on most of these and I can confirm that it works well on all of them.
*** Time to open the box and set the robot up ***
The box was easy to open and inside we found;
Battery and Charger
Small starter sachets of Scooba cleaning detergent
A Measuring bottle and not forgetting the all-important instruction manual!
Setting the robot up for the first use was an absolute breeze; there was a little sticker on the robot recommending a full charge to get started so on charge she went. The Scooba is slightly different to charge than the vacuum cleaning version as you have to plug it into the wall using a normal plug in charger; most vacuum cleaning robots have a charger base that the machine returns to itself after cleaning but not the Scooba. This is not really a problem as you have to empty and wash out the dirty water container anyway but it would be handy I guess.
Once it was charged I simply removed the water container on top of the robot and filled it with slightly warm water and some cleaning solution as was recommended in the manual. Once the tank was back on the robot was ready for the first cleaning session and the on button of the machine was pressed, guess what? The robot cleaned our hard floors for us; it was as easy as that!
*** Cleaning performance and method ***
Underneath the Scooba robot you will find a vacuum channel, a water jet type of thing, a spinning brush and a squeegee that removes the dirty water from the floor. I must say that it looks very impressive underneath and well-built compared to some robot that we have owned. The cleaning system is very clever and it ensures that dirty water is never replaced back onto your floor like when using a mop making the Scooba a much safer option to wash your floors.
I will try and describe the robots thorough cleaning method here, basically the robot has a light suction vacuum built in that sucks up any sand / hair or other items from your floor through the first squeegee, this is followed by a spray of clean cleaning solution from the robots tank. The large fast spinning brush bar underneath then scrubs the floors with the fresh cleaning solution removing stains and loosening debris as the last vacuum squeegee follows while removing the excess dirty water and disgusting bits which it deposits in to the robots dirty water tank... Clever huh?
*** How well does this cleaning method work? ***
Well I must be honest that as a whole family we had our doubts that the small battery powered robot could clean our floors as well as we could with a good old mop and bucket, how wrong were we! From the very first cleaning session the robot disgusted us with the huge amount of brown (Well black really!) water that was lifted from our floors that we thought were originally clean. It didn't just remove the dirty water though, there is a small filter inside that collects any hairs or dirt that cannot pass the vacuum motor and this was absolute full of disgusting hairs and bits despite us cleaning the floors with a powerful manual vacuum cleaner first.
Our floors instantly looked cleaner than usual and even stains from our white tiles in the utility room had been lifted. The floor was actually shining and it honestly looked like a different floor, with these results from the first use our robot was back on charge ready for another run on the same floor later the same day to ensure it was clean. The first use of the robot only gave us roughly 40 minutes of cleaning time but over the weeks it gradually got better and better with a final battery life of about 1 hour and 20 minutes. This is more than enough time for the robot to clean two large rooms in our house and I have no complaints about the battery life at all.
The robot seems to be very clever and after an hour of watching it wash our living room floor I considered it to be a genuine genius! The robot is obviously a hard floor washer only and it is not allowed to go on carpets, to my surprise I watched it clean around the living room mat without trying to climb it! After reading the manual I read that it is actually programmed not to climb onto mats or items that it is likely to get stuck on, how innovative! I find that the robot is best started in the centre of a large room, it starts by circling the area judging the size of the room being cleaned and when it touches an item of furniture or a wall it starts following them to get a better idea of its surroundings. It continues randomly crossing the room until its battery or water tank are empty, although the robotic cleaning action is slightly random we find that it covers every part of the room more than once and ours has never missed a single part of the room. Our living room is roughly 7 metres by 6 metres and it cleans this in roughly half an hour to give you a coverage idea.
*** Reliability and general maintenance ***
The robot does your entire floor washing for you but this does not mean that you can leave it do all of the work, unfortunately there is some maintenance that has to be done after each use but it is very simple and much simpler than washing the floors yourself. I find that you have to empty the filthy water from the dirty tank and thoroughly rinse it out to avoid any strange smells. Along with this you do need to remove the spinning brush from underneath every couple of uses and wash out any dirt that has stuck in the underneath brush chamber. You will also need to wipe the underneath to keep it clean, apart from this there is only the battery to keep topped up and you will have clean floors every day.
As for reliability I would say it is a very reliable machine, our little bot has been used almost daily for a year and she is still going extremely strong. It came with an iRobot 12 month UK guarantee and fortunately we have not had to call them once as the robot has been an absolute gem in our household. If you do need any spares for the robot then they can be purchased from the iRobot website at rather good pricey, we have yet to need any spares for ours and it has been used very often so I doubt that anyone else experience will be any different.
*** Overall opinion ***
We genuinely love this robot floor washer and I doubt that we could live without it with all of us in the house working, especially as we have two dogs that constantly walk dirt in with them from their outdoor adventures! The robot has coped over a year in our household and not a day has gone by that it has not impressed us with its cleaning ability and performance.
The noise of the cleaner is slightly strange; I can only describe it as a cheap sounding whine with some strange noises going along with it. I can only suggest that this is the noise of the different pumps and vacuums working together that make it sound strange. It's not a terrible noise by any means and it is not loud, just annoying is all! Not as annoying as washing the floors myself though so I shall not knock any stars off for that!
The only other slightly petty disadvantage that I can mention is that the catch that holds the top water tank on is sometimes hard to use but this is probably just me, I'm generally useless with things like this but it sometimes does not want to come off. This of course could be a one off fault with my machine and again I shall not knock off any stars as we love this robot so much.
The robot will not clean the edge of a room but it does get rater close, I recommend brushing any bits from the corners or edges using a manual brush and leaving the cleaner run. The beauty of this machine is that it does not push dirt into the corners like a manual mop does, dirty water is picked up and not deposited at the edges of a room making the robot in my opinion, a better product than a mop;)
Overall congratulations to iRobot for creating such a fantastic creature - it is perfect for the busy households or of course the disabled and elderly. It washes floors perfectly and please don't be afraid to buy one thinking that your 'wasting your money', you can always return it within 2 weeks if you're not overly happy but I'm sure that you will love it as much as we do!
Thanks for reading
The worlds first floor washing robot for the home! The iRobot Scooba 385 Floor Washing Robot can cover up to 80 square meters which is about 3 or 4 average sized rooms in one cleaning cycle / Forget washing your floors and let Scooba do the hard work for you! Scooba navigates through each room using a 4-stage cleaning system to gently and efficiently clean sealed wood tile and linoleum floors / Scooba preps washes scrubs and then squeegees hard floors cleaning the entire area under and around furniture and along wall and cabinet edges while automatically avoiding carpets stairs and drop-offs / How does it work? The iRobot Scooba Vacuuming Robot washes floors intelligently and effectively / Scooba uses a four stage cleaning system to prep wash scrub and dry floors all by itself / Scooba features iRobot AWARE Robot Intelligence Systems / AWARE uses dozens of sensors to monitor the robot's environment and adjusts its behavior up to 67 times per second ensuring that Scooba cleans effectively intelligently and safely / Scooba will clean a standard size kitchen on a single tank full of cleaning solution / Preps washes scrubs and dries hard floors Picks up dirty solution leaving floors clean and dry Cleans under tables and along baSeboards With wall units it knows where to clean-and where not to Only puts down fresh clean solution as it cleans Intelligent sensors focus cleaning on where its most needed No need to program before use Box includes iRobot Roomba Scooba 385 Floor Washing Robot Advanced Power Supply Battery Scooba Power Supply iRobot Hard Floor Cleaner sachets Virtual Wall Unit Measuring cup / Short name: iRobot Scooba 385