Tag Archives: Mopping

Robot Hot Rod: Souping up my Mint

I was in the store the other day and happened to be looking around in the cleaning section when one of these mop heads caught my eye. Seeing that it was “microfiber” like the other regular cleaning cloths for the Mint robot, I wondered if it would make for an interesting experiment. Besides this, I thought it would be kind of funny. Seeing as how this was obviously a Swiffer competitor, I figured it would probably be about the same size. At worst, it would be really wild looking. At best, it would be a great new cleaning sensation.

Microfiber cloth mop head on a Mint robot

As you can see, it was basically the exact right size. There were two modifications that needed to be made. First off, since the mop cover was built to put on a mop head that folded, it wouldn’t go on the Mint robot without having slits cut in the top parts. Second, the green part was simply too thick. The robot couldn’t get enough traction to push it around, because it was at a funny angle. So I ended up cutting out half of the green fingers. This reduced the volume enough that the Mint could run around the room.

Here it is trying to mate with our area rug.

Just for the sake of the experiment, I ran the Mint in two different rooms, just like I would any other day with a Swiffer cloth or one of the microfiber cloths that come with the robot. On the plus side, the robot sweeper was still able to see things, and also was able to tell that it had run into something when it bumped a piece of furniture. On the minus side, its cliff detection stopped working altogether, and it threw itself off a (luckily short) landing. So try this at your own risk!

Mont Robot with Microfiber Mop Head Cover

I think this answers the question: “What would you get if you crossed a Mint with Animal from the Muppets?” Unfortunately, the mop head didn’t really seem to clean the floor very well. It mostly seemed like it pushed things around, whereas the Swiffer cloths and the microfiber cloths that come with the Mint definitely do pick up a lot of dirt.

12 Reasons Why Mint Cleaner is Better than the Scooba 230

Mint vs Scooba

Trying to decide between buying the new Scooba 230 and the Evolution Mint? We can help. I was going to write a long article comparing the Mint Robot Cleaner with the iRobot Scooba 230, but the results with the Scooba 230 were kind of unfavorable – see our review. So instead of a Mint vs Scooba post like I did with the Roomba, I decided to make a list of reasons why a person would want to get an Evolution Mint instead. Here they are:

1) The Mint is less work, part 1. The Mint also sweeps as it mops, so it picks up hairs and dirt as it goes. Before running the Scooba 230, you have to sweep first, and even then it will find and deposit hairs around the floor. For me, I would find myself using the Mint to sweep up before running the Scooba, which made me wonder why I even bothered with the second robot.

2) The Mint cleans our bathroom in under seven minutes. The Scooba takes 45 minutes.

3) The Mint can clean more space on one charge. After finishing the bathroom, the Mint is ready to take on three more rooms (about 600 square feet). The Scooba needs to be charged.

4) The Mint cleans silently. In addition to the vacuum noise, the Scooba emits an annoying squeaking noise.

5) Mint works smart, not hard. The Mint maps a room as it goes, and gets every bit of the floor. iRobot fans will doubtlessly debate the relevancy of this topic, but you really need to see how the Mint cleans. It methodically goes back and forth over the whole floor, and then does the perimeters.

6) The Mint comes with everything you need to get started in the box. With the iRobot Scooba, you have to buy a bottle of the cleaning solution and some batteries. Sure the Scooba comes with four soap packets, but that’s only good for four cleanings.

7) Clean floors. According to our informal testing, the Evolution Mint does a better job of cleaning.

8) Clean floors, part 2: The Scooba 230 left a lot of water on the floor, and after the floor dried, a lot of streaks.

9) The Scooba is more work, part 2: When the Mint is done, you grab it by its handle, take off the cleaning pad, put the cleaning pad in the wash, and put the robot away. When the Scooba finishes, you have to open all the ports, rinse it out thoroughly (which means filling it up, closing the holes, shaking it, and then pouring it out several times – which you have to do with both sides), pull the bottom off and rinse the hairs and debris off of it, put the bottom back on, and then you can put it away.

Mint is Shorter

10) The Mint is shorter. It’s only by about 1/2 inch, but even that difference makes the Mint fit under more furniture.

11) Dual membership has its benefits. In addition to mopping, the Mint is also built to sweep. The Scooba just mops.

12) More for your dollar. The Mint is 1/3 less expensive than the Scooba 230.

Tips for using Mint Cleaner for Mopping

Here’s a quick tip on using the Mint as a mop: Before running the robot, pour or flick a little warm water on any dirty or sticky spots on your floor.

iRobot Scooba 230 In-Depth Review

The iRobot Scooba is a mopping robot. I’ve been curious about the iRobot Scooba line since it was first introduced. But they tended to get bad reviews on Amazon. Of course, if you go to that Amazon link, the top three reviews are happy ones, but if you look at some of the ones on the side, there are reviews that’ll make a person want to avoid the Scoobas, and they worked on me. So this year iRobot introduced the Scooba 230, which is a smaller version of the old ones. The smaller size was a definite attraction for me, considering that the robot can fit behind your typical toilet.

So how well does this new robot work? Let’s take a look.

As mentioned above, the Scoobas are robot mops. Like other iRobot cleaners, they have a multi-stage cleaning system. So they lay down water, scrub it, and then use a specially designed squeegee with a vacuum to suck the water back up. iRobot makes some special soaps for the Scooba. For example, there is a “Clorox Scooba Cleaning Solution” and a “Natural Enzyme Formula.” (The 230 can’t use the Clorox solution.)

Scooba 230 Box Contents

Here’s what comes in the box:

  • iRobot Scooba 230 robot
  • Rechargeable battery for the robot
  • Charger
  • 2 Virtual Walls
  • 3 Extra bottoms
  • Printed product manual (16 pages)
  • Storage base (not a dock)
  • 4 Packets of the Natural Enzyme Formula cleaning solution

Here’s what is missing: 4 D cell batteries for the Virtual Walls. The Virtual Walls take 2 batteries each. I really prefer it when manufacturers include batteries, so I find this disappointing.

Scooba 230 with an orange for scale

Here is the robot itself next to a navel orange. As you can see, the Scooba 230 is pretty small. It is 3.5 inches tall and 6.5 inches wide. The engineers at iRobot have packed a lot of things into this little package. There is a port for filling the robot, a port for emptying, a recessed carrying handle, three cliff sensors, a wall-following sensor on the right side, a charging port, indicator lights and buttons. On top is a power and Clean button. Like the Roombas and older Scoobas, the Scooba 230 has a bumper on the front so that it knows when it runs into things.

Scooba bottom showing brushes and squeegee

The bottom has wheels, brushes, and the squeegee for picking up the water while it works. The wheels are easy to pull off for cleaning. The light grey part of the undercarriage there is removable, so when the brushes and squeegee wear down, you can replace it. As mentioned above, the robot ships with 3 replacement bottom plates. You can also see the cliff sensors there on the bottom of the bumper. They’re recessed.

Here is the door for filling the robot with water. This is kind of in an awkward place. It’s not a good idea to get the robot totally wet, so popping it under a running faucet made me kind of nervous. I ended up filling a measuring cup with warm water, and then filling the robot that way. When filling the robot (or emptying it, for that matter) both the fill port and the empty port need to be open, so you can’t put the robot down on a flat surface and fill it.

One piece of good news is that the cleaning solution isn’t stinky. Sometimes cleaners can smell nasty or smell like obnoxious air freshener. The Natural Enzyme Formula has a rather mild, pleasant cleaner smell.

Scooba 230 in action - behind toilet

And here it is in action. (Sorry about the camera shake on the film. I’m working to get some better equipment for making my movies. It’s actually pretty hard to make good product films.) We were pretty excited about the job the Scooba did on the bathroom. It got behind the toilet, which is a pain to clean manually. A person has to get down on their hands and knees to clean back there, so the Scooba 230 gets major points for this trick.

Dirty water from emptying the Scooba

Here is an example of what the dirty water from our Scooba looked like after cleaning one of our rooms. This is what it looked like after every time it cleaned a room. I felt kind of mixed emotions about this result. On one hand, you can tell that there is some dirt in there, and that’s definitely some dirt and grime that is no longer on your floor, which is a good thing. At the same time, it doesn’t really seem like as much as it should.

Scooba has hair problems

Sadly, we have a lot more bad news to relate about this robot. Our Scooba had a lot of problems. For one thing, it left a lot of water on our floor. This is tile, so maybe it would do a better job on totally flat surfaces, but it seemed to leave a lot of water. Also, you have to sweep up before you use the Scooba. The Scooba will not pick up larger debris or hairs. Instead it kind of drags hairs around and leaves them stuck to the floor. Also, the Scooba’s size turns out to be a disadvantage when navigating a room. Both our kitchen and bathroom had a place where the Scooba would get stuck – the heating vent.

The Scooba also had a lot of trouble with the Virtual Walls. The Scooba would approach the wall and either bounce off while still several feet away, or it would get kind of close and then get kind of “stuck” where it would turn again and again in a tight spot. I finally stopped using the Virtual Walls, which was kind of irksome, considering how useful they are when you’re using a robot to clean your floor.

More problems: The battery runs out from cleaning one room with the Scooba, and takes a long time to charge. I didn’t test it, but ours takes at least five hours to charge. So really, you clean one room and then have to charge the robot overnight.

Scooba leaves streaks

Our Scooba left streaks, and although it seemed to do a good job with the bathroom, it didn’t do a great job of cleaning the kitchen floor. Basically it left the entire kitchen floor with a kind of waxy, sticky feeling, and then to make matters worse, the robot stopped working.

After it left the floor feeling sticky, I decided that I should give it another go with just water in the hopes that it would clean up more. So after waiting for the robot to charge up again, I refilled the robot and ran it a second time. Forty minutes later, I returned to find that although the robot had run all over the place, it hadn’t been dispensing water. So it hadn’t cleaned anything. Sadly, the battery was dead. So I charged the battery overnight, and then turned on the Scooba and ran out the door to go to work. Unfortunately, I left in such a rush that I didn’t notice that the Scooba never started moving. So when I can home from work, I found the robot sitting in the exact same place I left it, in the middle of a puddle.

Since the Scooba left us with a sticky, gross floor, I broke down at this point and mopped our kitchen by hand. This is not what a person wants to be doing on a Wednesday night after having spent three hundred clams on a robot mop. It could be my imagination, but while I was mopping the floor myself, it seemed to take quite a bit of mopping to make our floor stop feeling sticky. I had to go over each area several times. I don’t know if that was because of the cleaning solution, or if we had something really sticky that the Scooba just spread around for us.

Over the next couple of days I found that sometimes the wheels would start working again, but the water dispensing part wouldn’t work. Then later, it would all stop working. There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason. The manual doesn’t have anything useful to say about what to do if your Scooba stops working. I tried some different ways of turning it on with the hopes that I could “reset” it. Also, I tried pulling the battery to see if that would make a difference. Neither strategy seemed to help. I have yet to call iRobot’s customer service about it, but will report back here when I do. In the meantime, I have to give the iRobot Scooba 230 a failing grade. I plan to send ours back for a refund.

Just in case you’re still curious, here’s a link to the iRobot official page for the Scooba 230. Or buy iRobot Scooba 230 + Essentials Kit Robotic Vacuum from Amazon.

Here is a our page with further information about iRobot’s products that aren’t robot vacuum cleaners.