How we tested
Mashable product reviewers (especially our unofficial vacuum specialist, Senior Shopping Reporter Leah Stodart) have tested a lot of robot vacuums in recent years, from $150 budget models that mindlessly zig-zag back and forth to $1,500 cleaning robots that can do double duty as home security guards (or allow you to check in on your doggos!). However, testing hybrid robot vacuums and mops requires some additional steps.
For this review, we separately tested several bots’ ability to vacuum and mop on hardwood, rug, and tile surfaces. When cleaning up dry waste, we scattered debris (read: Cocoa Pebbles) around the floor and along the edges of a wall to test suction and edge cleaning. When that process was complete, we then stained the floor with a small patch of syrup. We wanted to see how well these bots could handle a stubborn stain, which isn’t what they’re technically designed to do. If these vacs would simply drive over the syrup stain without mopping it up, what’s the point of getting a hybrid vac versus a normal vac, after all?
We found that in order to effectively mop, the best hybrid models needed to do more than rub a wet mop pad across your floor. The Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1, the best mopper we tested for this guide (and one which you can read our dedicated, in-depth review of), used a combination of sonic scrubbing and floor cleaning solution for a deep clean that other bots simply couldn’t match.
However, to earn a spot in our guide to the best robot vacuum/mop hybrids, these cleaning machines had to do more than vacuum and mop. We also tested their navigation capabilities, obstacle avoidance, self-emptying, and smart-mapping features. For devices with special features such as sonic mopping, carpet detection, or spot cleaning, we also tried out these functions to ensure they could actually deliver what they promised. All this is to say: We had high standards for the vac/mop hybrids we sampled and you should, too!
In our testing, we discovered that the best hybrid robot vacuums offered a combination of essential features — effective mapping and navigation, carpet detection, sonic mopping, and self-emptying. We chose to include a handful of robot vacuums that offered some of these features even though we weren’t able to test them for this story (yet). All of these chosen products are made by companies with a proven reputation for delivering high-quality goods (psst… we recommend avoiding unknown budget brands in this product category).