It's time to automate your household chores
With us all spending a lot more time at home in 2020 – and potentially now making space for that home office you always wanted – you have probably found yourself cleaning more than ever.
Thankfully, help is at hand. 2020 may not have lived up to many expectations – and we still don't have all those autonomous cars we were promised – but it's still a good time to invest in a fleet of robots to help with the cleaning.
These aren't quite the humanoid robots envisioned back in the Fifties, but they are genuinely helpful, and in some cases not too expensive either. We're talking robotic vacuum cleaners, of course, but also robotic floor mops, pool cleaners, self-cleaning pet litter trays, and even robots that clean your windows by sucking themselves to the glass.
Here are some of our favorite household cleaning gadgets for 2020.
Robotic vacuum cleaner
With so many options to pick from, the robotic vacuum cleaner is an obvious place to start. Prices range from just under $100 to beyond $1,000, with more dollars generally meaning more features, smartphone connectivity, extra suction power and battery life, and even models that automatically empty their bins when they get full.
Brands to consider include Roomba by iRobot, of course, but also Roborock, Neato, Eufy and Ecovacs. Features to look out for are suction power and battery life, but also whether or not the robot can be told to ignore, or specifically target, certain rooms, and if it will recharge itself if the battery gets low mid-clean.
We recommend the circa-$150 Eufy RoboVac 11S to buyers on a tighter budget (you can read our review here), and the $600 Roborock S5 Max, which also acts as a mop, for those with more money to spend (you can read our review here).
Robotic mop and floor sweep
The Braava Jet m Series robotic floor mopiRobot
As we mentioned above, some robotic vacuum cleaners also double as mops and floor sweeps. These include the aforementioned Roborock S5 Max, which is priced at $600, and the more affordable $210 Ecovac Deebot 661, which can be used with either a dust bin or water tank (both included).
iRobot also has a range of dedicated floor mops and sweepers, including the $200 200 Series, $300 300 Series, and the m Series, which costs $500.
Robotic window cleaner
The Winbot sucks to windows to clean themEcovacs
A lesser-known type of domestic cleaning robot, these devices use a powerful vacuum to suck themselves to your windows, then drive up and down to clean them.
Popular options include the Winbot X and Winbot 880, which both cost $450 and are made by Ecovacs. The former is battery-powered and cordless with a 50-minute battery life, while the latter plugs into a wall outlet to clean for longer.
Designed to work on the inside and outside of your windows, both robots come with a tether that attaches them to a strong suction cup; should they fall from the window, the tether will catch them before hitting the ground. Additionally, if the robot loses some suction strength, the tethered suction cup will pull the robot back towards it, reducing the length of tether and the distance the robot could potentially fall.
Robotic pool cleaner
Dolphin Sigma robotic pool cleanerDolphin
Yet another robotic cleaning option, only this time for your pool. These automated robots plug into a wall outlet then drive themselves across the floor and walls of your pool, climbing the sides using suction and scrubbing at the tiles.
They aren't cheap, with options from Dolphin hovering around the $1,000 mark, but they do a lot of the hard work for you. Dolphin says the Premier model, which costs $1,150, is designed for pools up to 50 feet in length, and takes approximately three hours to clean the entire floor, walls and waterline. Two scrubbing brushes and a washable and reusable filter are used to pick up grime and dirt from your pool.
The pricier $1,300 Dolphin Sigma works in a similar way, but can be controlled and scheduled using a smartphone app.
Grill scrubbing robot
A much smaller robot this time, but one that could prove equally useful. The Grillbot is like a Roomba for your barbecue grill, driving itself along while powerful brushes spin to clean the surface below.
Available in a range of colors, the Grillbot is priced at $90 and is battery powered. Although primarily designed for scrubbing grills, it can also be used on other cooking surfaces, as well as chopping boards and the shelves of your barbecue or garden cooking area.
Self-cleaning cat litter tray
Litter-Robot 3 automated cat litter trayLitter-Robot
Not a robot as such, but nevertheless called the Litter-Robot 3, this is a self-cleaning cat litter box that automatically adjusts to cats of all sizes, then moves their litter into a waste receptacle a few minutes after your pet has visited.
Powered from a wall outlet, the Litter-Robot notifies you when the waste receptacle is full, and features an automatic nighttime light to make it easier for cats to use in the dark. Priced at $449, this is certainly a luxury item for your pet, but there are some more budget-friendly alternatives.
Cleaning your home doesn't have to just mean scrubbing at surfaces. Air purifiers can help clean the air you breath, quietly and automatically removing toxins, carbon dioxide and allergens.
We have been using the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool for the last few months, an all-in-one device that acts as a heater, fan, air quality monitor and air purifier. It also has a smartphone app and Alexa integration for voice controls. Although expensive, at around $600, the Dyson automatically gets to work whenever air quality drops (such as when we are cooking), then quickly cleans up the air in a matter of minutes.
UV sanitizer box
Ultraviolet light has been proven to remove almost all surface bacteria from everyday items like your smartphone, keys, wallet and earphones. And, with 2020 putting a renewed focus on personal hygiene, companies like Mophie and Samsung have begun selling UV sanitizing boxes intended to help rid our gadgets of harmful bacteria.
Generally priced at around $50 to $100, these light boxes take around five minutes to remove 99.9 percent of surface bacteria from whatever is placed inside. Given our smartphones are often teeming with invisible dirt, regularly using a light box should be a new habit to get into. Some also double up as wireless chargers.
Smart steam closet
The LG Styler freshens and sanitizes clothesLG
Finally – and we admit this is something of a luxury – we have the LG Styler. This is a smart steam closet designed to refresh and cleanse your clothes, helping to sanitize them, removing odours and bacteria.
Instead of being plumbed in, the Styler uses a water tank to steam your clothes, removing creases and bacteria from cotton, wool, linen, cashmere, polyester and other fabrics. It's certainly not cheap, at $2,099, but at least means fewer trips to the dry cleaners.
LG STLYERDSPLAY Styler Refresh Smart Steam Clothing Care System